|Explaining the peace process in Britain and Ireland|
|Tuesday, 27 May 2008|
En route to and from Geneva to attend the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Secretary-General of the Peace Secretariat took the opportunity to engage with individuals and institutions in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, to explain recent progress in the peace process.
Immediately following the election of Boris Johnson as the new Mayor of London, Prof Wijesinha, accompanied by Mr Maxwell Keegel of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, met the new Deputy Mayor for Government Relations, Mr Ian Clement. Prof Wijesinha explained the difficulties Sri Lanka faced in view of what seemed support extended to the LTTE and its front organizations by the former Mayor of London. It was known that the LTTE, by whipping up votes for the previous Mayor amongst the Tamil community in London, thought to receive continuing support. It was hoped that the change in incumbency would lead to an approach more in conformity with the actions the British government was now taking to control terrorist funding.
In response Mr Clement noted that the previous administration's conduct of a 'foreign policy' independent of the British government's had been regarded as an abuse by Londoners and the new Mayor had a very different approach. Whilst the new administration would not take up any political position on such international issues, it was opposed to terrorism and would not wish to see London used for fund raising for terrorist purposes. Mr. Clement concluded by wishing Sri Lanka well.
He explained matters relating to the national Human Rights Commission, and that a favourable report on the efforts it was making and how these could be assisted had been suppressed within the UN system. It was agreed that building up the Commission, which the UN in Sri Lanka was finally engaging in, was desirable, as was enhanced training with regard to human rights as well as professional skills for the police. The Irish experience of ensuring integration in the police in Northern Ireland was also discussed, and it was noted that the innovation introduced by the current Sri Lankan government, of recruiting Tamil policemen, was a healthy step forward.With regard to questions of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings, as well as threats to journalists, Prof Wijesinha explained why the situation had been bad in 2006 and early 2007, following the loosening of the tight controls the LTTE had exercised in areas brought under its sway through the Ceasefire Agreement. He noted that there had been significant improvements since, and that the government was committed to stopping abuses altogether, but it was agreed that swifter action was required with regard to indictments so that a clear message was conveyed to those acting in contravention of government policy.Prof Wijesinha explained the importance of ongoing political developments, and the appointment of a Tamil Chief Minister for the East, which should serve to make clear that the road to empowerment lay through politics rather than terrorism. In response to the claim that extremists also had to be accommodated, Prof Wijesinha noted that the government was always ready to engage, but this would not be at the expense of moderates. He pointed out how intransigent the LTTE had been, and also how Western elements in the international community, in citing Irish precedents, failed to note that the IRA had actively entered the political process only after their fundraising had been curtailed and operations had been weakened by British infiltration. It was also noted that confidence had arisen because they had decommissioned arms, but this was not insisted on as far as the LTTE was concerned.
It was agreed that, whilst study of other processes was always useful, there would always be differences which needed to be taken into consideration. The meeting concluded with the Irish welcoming the engagement and noting that they were always ready to assist as possible if invited to do so.
(Courtesy : SCOPP)
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 04 January 2009 )|
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