Statement by H.E. Kshenuka Senewiratne, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Geneva on the Statement of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay on 30 May 2011
My delegation is perplexed to note the High Commissioner’s reference as stated, to the report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka. It is widely known that the said report was borne outside of an intergovernmental process. It is a report which was initiated solely by the UNSG to advise himself on the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience relevant to an accountability process in respect to the conflict in Sri Lanka. It is extremely unfortunate, Mr President, that the High Commissioner has thought fit to refer to it in her report to the 17th Session of the HRC, a document which was compiled by a Panel to advise the SG, that too at his own request, and well exceeding its mandate, thereby bringing into question her objectivity. In this context, the High Commissioner has resorted to drawing on recommendations culminating from a report of a non intergovernmental process, which also has no official status in the UN system. This Council would agree that at no point has it sought this so called information referred to by the High Commissioner.
Further the High Commissioner unbecomingly deems it appropriate to call for action on the recommendations of the said report which are based on unverified information and also un-sourced, and would remain so for the next 20 years. Infact the Report itself states that the facts are unsubstantiated, whereas the information being processed by Sri Lanka’s domestic mechanism, has been collected through the conduct of open and transparent hearings, including from the former theatre of conflict, which would enable a careful evaluation of such material to culminate in considered conclusions.
The High Commissioner continues with a seeming preoccupation of calling for the establishment of an international monitoring mechanism, which also has been recommended in the report based on unverified information, and if adhered to will call into question, the professionalism and independence of the Council. The High Commissioner through her references in the statement seems to attempt to legitimise an internal document by seeking to push it into an intergovernmental body, ignoring all relevant rules of procedure. This, Mr President, would establish a dangerous precedent and certainly undermine the credibility and objectives of this august body. We call upon the member states of the World Body to unite against such possible machinations, by disallowing negative precedents to become concretised. It may wrongly be us today and one of you tomorrow.
In addition, the High Commissioner has prejudged the ability of the domestic mechanism even before it has concluded by pledging her full support to an international mechanism being established to monitor national investigations. The bona fides of her position in this regard comes into question, as the accepted practice is to provide the domestic processes adequate time and exhaust all available domestic recourse, prior to resorting to any international mechanism. This basic requirement of the need to give the domestic mechanism space, time and opportunity should be known by the High Commissioner, unless she wishes to ignore it for a reason of her own choice. The continued demonstrable lack of objectivity and impropriety on the part of the High Commissioner does not augur well on the work of her office in constructive engagement with the Government of Sri Lanka which we have consistently sought through our interactions. The unrelenting criticism, constant negativity in approach and the unwillingness to recognize the enormous strides made by the GoSL are counterproductive to the process of engagement, which has been pursued so actively by the Government with the High Commissioner.
Unfortunately the High Commissioner’s statement has also given the cue for similar references by some countries. We say to them that while taking cognisance of our aforesaid position, the policies of the GoSL are solely based on ensuring the welfare of its people and therefore is well aware of its responsibilities. Therefore it is time for genuine, demonstrable constructive engagement by those countries with the Government of Sri Lanka. We can only seek to look forward to the dawn of a better era of engagement with them and the High Commissioner, free from prejudice.
The Government of Sri Lanka has consistently espoused and been guided by the gentle tenets of Buddhism, which emphasizes Karuna, Metta, Muditha and Upeksha meaning -kindness, loving compassion, thoughtfulness and equanimity said Kshenuka Senewiratne addressing a large international gathering at the commemoration of the 2600th Anniversary of Sri Sambuddhathva Jayanthi, which was celebrated at the United Nations in Geneva on the 11th May 2011. This commemorative event was organized by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva, at the United Nations Assembly Hall, which is considered a most prestigious venue. This occasion was also graced by Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Disaster Management and Mr. Kassym Jomart Tokayev, United Nations Under-Secretary General and the newly appointed Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, who is the former Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan.
• Statement by Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, M.P., Minister of Plantation Industries, Special Envoy of His Excellency the President on human rights, and Head of Sri Lanka delegation at the 16th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, 28 February 2011
• Statement by Hon. Mohan Peiris, Attorney-General of Sri Lanka during the Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner’s annual report - 16th Session of the Human Rights Council, 3 March 2011
• Statement by Hon. Mohan Peiris, Attorney-General of Sri Lanka during the general debate under Item 2 of the 15th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 13 September 2010
• Statement by Hon. Mohan Peiris, Attorney-General of Sri Lanka exercising the Right of Reply during the general debate under Item 4 of the 15th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 17 September 2010
• Statement of the delegation of Sri Lanka at the panel discussion on elimination of discrimination against women, Human Rights Council, 20 September 2010
• Statement made By Hon. Mohan Peiris, Attorney-General, during the General Debate on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: 31 May 2010
• Right of Reply by Delegation of Sri Lanka under Item 2: Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the office of the High Commissioner
• Statement of Sri Lanka at the general debate on the attack by Israeli security forces on the flotilla of Humanitarian aid to the Gaza:1 June 2010
International Labour Organization 99th Session of the International Labour Conference address by Hon Gamini Lokuge Minister of Labour Relations and Productivity Promotions Sri Lanka on 10th June 2010 Geneva
On behalf of the government and the delegation of Sri Lanka, let me congratulate you and the Vice Presidents on your election to preside over the 99th session of the International Labour Conference.
· Statement by Hon. Mohan Peiris, Attorney-General of Sri Lanka during the Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights 4 March 2010
· Statement by H.E. Mrs. Kshenuka Seneviratne, Ambassador of Sri Lanka during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Counter Terrorism and Torture - 8 March 2010
Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, met with Navanetham Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the Palais Wilson in Geneva on Tuesday (09). The Minister, who was accompanied by Attorney General Mohan Peiris, PC, and Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN at Geneva, Ambassador Kshenuka Senewiratne, briefed High Commissioner Pillay, on the progress achieved in developing a National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NAP) in Sri Lanka. Noting that the NAP was the outcome of a pledge made in 2008 at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council, he outlined the process to date and also the next steps contemplated towards finalization of the first draft Action Plan.
As a part of the continuing efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to provide clarifications on the alleged cases of disappearances submitted by the UN Working Group on Disappearances, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights has now provided an analysis of 47 possible cases of disappearances, which can be closed/clarified by the Working Group. The details of these cases have been forwarded to the UN Working Group by the Permanent Mission in Geneva.
Prior to their submission, the aforementioned 47 cases were compared with the findings of the following Commissions of Inquiry established by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to investigate the alleged cases of disappearances:
· Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal and Disappearance of Certain Persons (All Island) March 2001
· Human Rights Taskforce Annual Report—10 August 1992 to 10 August 1993
· Human Rights Taskforce Annual Report—10 August 1993 to 10 August 1994
· Report of the Committee on Disappearances in the Jaffna Region of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, October 2003
Of the forty seven (47) cases clarified, there were:
· Four (4) cases where death certificates had been issued to the next of kin;
· Twenty four (24) cases where the person was found to have returned home as reported by the next of kin, and registered as returned by the 2001 Commission.
· Nineteen (19) cases where the persons were found in official custody having been arrested under the laws of Sri Lanka.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN
16 December 2009
H.E. Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne presented her credentials, accrediting her as Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland, to H.E. Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva. H. E. Mrs. Senewiratne will also function as the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Switzerland.
Speaking at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, 10th June, during the consideration of Russia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report, Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka made the following statement:
Sri Lanka welcomes the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation and applauds his remarks here today. We also applaud the role played by the distinguished Ambassador of Russia, His Excellency Valery Loshchinin, in the Human Rights Council, in its institution/building package, in the UPR process and the Durban Review conference.
Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka of Sri Lanka speaking at the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report of Cuba:
Mr. Vice President,
Cuba participated in the UPR process on a very important landmark anniversary in its history: 50 years after the victory of the Cuban revolution. Cuba’s participation in the UPR has been a model of dynamism and active engagement. Here, Sri Lanka would like to salute the role played by Ambassador Juan Antonio Fernandez Palacios, who has been a militant combatant and a field commander in the battle of ideas in the Human Rights Council.
Full transcript of the Ambassador's statement:
Thank you, Mr. President,
Mr. President, we thank the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Navanethan Pillay for her statement this afternoon that provides useful updates on human rights themes and on situations of particular concern. We wish to raise a matter of some concern to our delegation with regard to the remarks made by the High Commissioner on Sri Lanka and the recently concluded special session in her statement.
Sri Lanka's Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka tells UK, France, to submit their own past military conduct to international inquiry
Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka responding to statements by the EU, UK and France supporting High Commissioner Navi Pillay’s call for an international inquiry into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Sri Lanka, made the following remarks at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva during the General Debate today:
Sri Lanka noted with some degree of amusement that the EU, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France were all cheering on the notion of an International Inquiry into allegations of human rights violations conducted “by all sides”, as they put it, to the Sri Lankan conflict.
Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka responds to UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay’s call for International Inquiry:
Thank you Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner,
Madam High Commissioner welcomed last week’s Human Rights Council Special Session – may I echo that with a slight modification – Sri Lanka welcomes the outcome of last week’s Human Rights Council Special Session. We hope it was as good for the co-sponsors of the Special Session as it was for us in Sri Lanka, though I am not sure I’d recommend that we should all do it again sometime soon.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka speaks at the recently concluded 11th special session of the UN Human Rights Council
The Resolution submitted by Sri Lanka and co-sponsors was adopted with a convincing majority of 29 for and 12 against with 6 abstaining.
The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva, in collaboration with the Geneva Press Club - Club suisse de la presse –, organised a press conference on the topic ‘Current Situation in Sri Lanka’, today (24 April 2009) at ‘la pastorale,’ Geneva.
Hon. Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, led a high-level Sri Lankan delegation to the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference, which was held in Geneva 20-24 April 2009 to evaluate the progress made towards achieving the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001.
In addition to Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka and officers of the Mission, the delegation consisted of Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights and Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process, and Mr. Yasantha Kodagoda, Deputy Solicitor General.
The UN Durban Review Conference was declared open by Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, who appealed to the international community, in his address, to grow beyond divisions and move ahead in the fight against Racism. Mr. Miguel d’Escoto, President of the General Assembly, issued a statement in which he pointed out that the most terrible experiences of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance had been generated by models and projects of development that were opposed to human rights.
Addresses were delivered by Ms. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary General of the Conference and Mr. Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, President of the Human Rights Council. A statement by Mr. Nelson Mandela was also read out.
Speaking during the High Level segment of the Conference, Hon. Douglas Devananda gave a brief history of Sri Lanka’s political problems. The Hon. Minister requested the international community to pressurize the LTTE to surrender, or at least to release the rest of the civilians whom they are holding. He also stated that H.E. Mahinda Rajapakse is committed to the full implementation of the 13th amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution which ensures substantive provincial autonomy, and that further changes, including the establishment of a Second Chamber of Parliament, are being considered. He also made reference to the sittings of the All Party Representative Committee and its proposals for amending the Constitution to devolve more power to the provinces.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights and Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process, intervened in the General Debate, and he was warmly congratulated for his remarks by several Asian and other delegations. Mr. Kodagoda also was actively engaged in rebutting falsehoods presented about Sri Lanka in one of the NGO meetings that took place on the sidelines of the Conference.
Hon. Devananda had an opportunity to brief Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, at a lunch hosted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Hon. Minister and the delegation also met with the High Commissioner for Human Rights separately at which the delegation thanked the High Commissioner for Human Rights for assisting with the police training which Sri Lanka had long been requiring.
The delegation also met with the High Commissioner for Refugees, who welcomed recent developments in Sri Lanka and pledged further assistance. The Hon. Minister thanked the High Commissioner for Refugees for the ready assistance of his staff in Sri Lanka. The Hon. Minister appreciated the ready acknowledgment of Mr. Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, of the care the government had exercised throughout the operations while recognizing the difficulties Sri Lanka faced in dealing with terrorism.
The delegation also met with a number of Ministers and other dignitaries from Pakistan, Indonesia, Palestine, Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador and Mr. Anders B. Johnson, the Secretary General of the Inter Parliamentary Union. As the incoming President of the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt affirmed its appreciation of the long standing connection between Sri Lanka and Egypt, and spoke of plans to restore the influence of the Movement. The Hon. Minister said he was impressed by the work in Brazil of the Secretariat for promoting Racial Equality, and said that he would suggest a similar Secretariat in Sri Lanka that would also work on Regional disparity, given the limitations on development in many provinces in Sri Lanka that are distant from the capital.
During his stay in Geneva the Hon. Minister also interacted with members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.
Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen declared open the ‘Victims of Terrorism’ Exhibition at an event organized by the Mission which was attended by many Sri Lankans of all communities as well as other invitees.
The delegation gave several interviews to the Press, and conducted a press briefing at the Press Club of Geneva.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Geneva 29 April 2009
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva briefs Swiss press on Sri Lankan situation
The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva, in collaboration with the Geneva Press Club - Club suisse de la presse –, organised a press conference on the topic of the ‘Current Situation in Sri Lanka’, on 24 April 2009 at ‘la pastorale,’ Geneva.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Human Rights and Disaster Management and Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process, and Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva were the two main speakers at this press meeting.
At the outset, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha explained the events that took place from 2002 to 2005, providing a brief sketch of the situation. Briefing the gathering on the political means to address the issues that the government has proposed before, during and after the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), Prof. Wijesinha outlined the key incidents that took place during the CFA. He said that while there had been only about 350 recorded violations by the government, the LTTE had violated the CFA about 3800 times.
After the election of H.E. Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, despite the government’s efforts to politically negotiate a settlement, the LTTE not only walked away from the peace talks but also launched two major attacks in the North and East and also attempted to kill the army commander of Sri Lanka using a pregnant suicide bomber.
The government then launched its military offensive in the East and liberated the East from the LTTE in 2007. An ex-LTTE cadre, who had been recruited as a child soldier and had become the leader of a political party formed after a group of fighters broke away from the LTTE in 2004, was made the chief minister of the eastern province after a democratic election. Prof. Wijesinha maintained that despite the fact that the government has launched 400 air strikes until December, only 78 civilian casualties were reported. He further elaborated and said that major civilian casualties were from the LTTE.
Prof. Wijesinha also highlighted as extremely helpful, the visit to Sri Lanka by Mr. Walter Kalin, Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights of IDPs which took place in early April. With the help of the ICRC the government and the LTTE allowed the elderly, sick and wounded civilians to be transported to the government controlled areas. Nevertheless, the LTTE prevented a large number of civilians from moving into the government controlled areas. As the military engagements progressed and the government troops continued advancing on the LTTE, the latter, as they were retreating, took the civilians along with them. Even then, around 30,000 civilians escaped and came to those areas controlled by the government in January 2009.
In the second week of April, taking in to consideration the suffering of the civilians, the government declared a pause in fighting so that the civilians could come out of the fighting area. During this time, as in the past, LTTE built a wall around the area that they were holding on to in order to prevent the civilians from escaping. This was confirmed and criticized by the UN. Sir John Holmes, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who said that the LTTE was very active in preventing civilians from crossing the area of fighting to the no fire zone.
In the latter part of April, the government troops were able to destroy the wall built by the LTTE, which allowed the entrapped civilians to escape into the government controlled areas. Since last week, 110,000 civilians have come out of the LTTE controlled areas. The government has been taking measures to address the welfare and well-being of these civilians. Prof. Wijesinha also praised the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP), both of whom have helped the government to put up shelters and provide food to these civilians in great numbers. Local NGOs have also been very helpful in providing food for these escaped civilians. Several local NGOs are providing lunch for the civilians in the camps, while the WFP and the government are providing them with the other two meals.
Last week there was another major development when two LTTE intellectuals who were members of the LTTE political wing, surrendered to the government. According to them, there remain only about 20,000 civilians with the LTTE.
After this initial briefing, questions were called for. A journalist from AFP asked how accurate the figures of civilians coming out of the LTTE area are. Prof. Wijesinha said that so far around 200,000 civilians have escaped and come to government controlled areas. Certain people estimate the number of civilians held by the LTTE to be 400,000, but this is due to double counting.
A journalist from Le Temps, a Geneva based news paper asked whether the government will take revenge when refugees and ex-soldiers of the LTTE come to government controlled areas. Prof. Wijesinha replied that around 3000 of those who have surrendered to the Sri Lankan armed forces have said that they had been fighting against the government for the LTTE, and that these former LTTE cadres have been directed to legal authorities. Only 32 out of these were proved to be strong LTTE fighters and they have been sent to rehabilitation camps. Most of the other cadres were underage children who had been forcefully recruited by the LTTE.
Addressing the issue of civilians crossing into government controlled areas, while acknowledging that families are divided, Prof. Wijesinha highlighted that the process of reuniting families in the camps, though initially slow, has sped up and has been successful.
A journalist from the AFP asked whether there will be a humanitarian pause to allow the civilians to come out. Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka said that such a pause was not necessary and that the facts speak for this. He pointed out that already without such a pause, 180,000 civilians have escaped from the LTTE held area. Dr. Jayatilleka further pointed out that if there is a pause in fighting, the LTTE will only use it to launch attacks on the armed forces and escaping civilians. Highlighting further atrocities committed by the LTTE, Dr. Jayatilleka highlighted that the LTTE have already launched two suicide attacks on civilians trying to escape and built a wall around their stronghold to prevent people from crossing. In addition, they have also seized the food rations sent by the government and resold them to destitute civilians held by them. Therefore, Dr. Jayatilleka emphasized that what is needed is not a humanitarian pause but a surgical military operation, similar to that carried out by the armed forces a few days ago, to liberate these civilians from the clutches of the LTTE.
Ambassador Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka said that it is important to understand the nature of the LTTE. He quoted Pulitzer Prize winner John F. Burns, who said that Prabhakaran is the Pol Pot of South Asia. Barbara Crossette of New York Times has also said that the LTTE is the most lethal and totalitarian contemporary armed movement in Asia. The LTTE is a fanatical movement like Al Qaeda and with such movements, humanitarian pauses will not work.
Ambassador Jayatilleka said that Sri Lanka is partially dismayed but also partially amused by the fact that certain countries who are against talking to Taliban have suggested that the government should talk to the LTTE, an internationally banned terrorist organization.
The Security Council has clearly said that the LTTE should lay down arms. The Tigers have a clear cut record of rearming themselves during a ceasefire. Since 1985, the LTTE did not accept any peaceful solution. During the Indo-Lanka accord, the LTTE did not accept the peaceful solutions presented by the Governments of India and Sri Lanka. Instead, they started fighting with the Indian Peace Keeping Forces. In 1987, a proposal was made to grant provincial autonomy to the North and East through a provincial council system. At the same time, about 70,000 troops of the Indian Peace Keeping force were deployed in northern Sri Lanka. Due to this, the Sri Lankan forces were confined to the barracks while the Indian Army was maintaining the security and the peace in the North and the East. Without accepting the political solution proposed through the Indo-Sri Lanka peace accord, LTTE fought the Indian peace keepers. In 1991, in Tamil Nadu, an LTTE suicide cadre blew herself up and killed the then Indian Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, grandson of Nehru, first Prime Minister in India and the son of Indira Ghandi.
In 1990, President Premadasa engaged in direct talks with the LTTE and 14 meetings were convened. In 1993, President Premadasa was blown up by an LTTE suicide attack. After that, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was elected and she exchanged 45 letters with the leader of the LTTE. In 1999, an LTTE suicide bomber attempted to kill President Chandrika and left her blinded in one eye.
Ambassador Jayatilleka further said that LTTE not only killed leaders of the government but also killed their own community members. Anita Pratap, a journalist and the author of The Island of Blood, who was a sympathizer of the LTTE, interviewed Mr. Prabhakaran in 1990s. She requested from the LTTE to see Mahaththaya, deputy leader of the LTTE, who was at that time in the custody of the LTTE. A weakened and demoralized Mahaththaya was shown to Ms. Pratap, who asked from Mr. Prabhakaran as to why Mahaththaya was being punished and Prabhakaran told her that it was because he had been too soft when negotiating with President Premadasa. Later in 1994, Mahaththaya was killed by the LTTE.
A question was asked how the surgical military operation would bring a solution to the problem. Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka said that this is the best available option. The armed forces sliced in to the territory held by the LTTE in order to allow the trapped civilians to escape the LTTE and come to the area controlled by the government. However, he added, the operation may not have been perfect, although the forces did their best.
The journalist of Le Temps asked the two speakers what they could say about the great numbers of Tamils protesting in the streets.
Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka said that the LTTE is not the sole representative of the Tamil community. They have killed all the moderate Tamils, to name a few, Neelan Thiruchelvam and Rajini Thiranagama, who followed the footsteps of her elder sister Nirmala Rajasingham. Nirmala Rajasingham has written an article criticizing these Tamil demonstrations in favour of the LTTE. Rajini’s two daughters who are studying in Oxford and Cambridge are still traumatized by their mother’s death because they heard the LTTE gunshot that killed their mother, who was on her way home from the University. Rajini was a medical doctor who had a PhD and who fought against the army, LTTE and the Indian peace keeping forces.
If the protestors who lead comfortable lives in Western countries, are genuinely concerned about the welfare of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, they should demand that the LTTE release the sick, hungry and wounded civilians that they are forcibly holding. Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha said that not only the UNHCR and WFP, but also local and international NGOs are present in the camps and liberated areas. As already mentioned, these NGOs are providing mid day meals to the refugees.
Hon. Minister Douglas Devananda, who has been targeted 13 times to be assassinated by the LTTE, addressed the Durban Review conference last week. He lost the sight in one of his eyes due to an attack by the LTTE. While addressing the Conference, the Hon. Minister said the following: “Although over 70, 000 of those held initially succeeded in getting away, despite being shot at by the LTTE as they escaped, there are still a large number held in captivity. Yet even as I speak today, thousands managed to get away to refuge with the government. If the international community can pressurize the LTTE to surrender or at least to release the rest of these civilians unconditionally, that will go a long way in ending the suffering of the Tamil minority.”
Prof. Wijesinha also said that he had been appealing to the UN to publicly state that the LTTE was taking civilians as hostages from September 2008. But the UN, even though they knew it was happening, did not say it openly because they were afraid that the UN staff and their families may be harmed by the LTTE. However, in November, the UN at last acknowledged that the LTTE was taking civilians as hostages. Although the government appreciates this late action by the UN, it feels that the call to release the civilians by the UN should have made much earlier.
The Sri Lankan government admires the encouragement given by the Japanese government. The Japanese government asked the LTTE to surrender, while asking the government to continue its military operation of zero civilian casualties, which they openly hailed.
Dr. Edward Perera, a member of the Sri Lankan diaspora asked what the speakers’ opinion was on the Bishop of Jaffna’s comparison of the LTTE leader to Jesus. Both Ambassador Jayatilleka and Prof. Wijesinha said that the Bishop of Jaffna has not supported terrorism and that they are not aware of his making such a comparison. They queried the sources of the alleged statement.
Referring to the incidents happened in 1981 and 1983, Prof. Wijesinha said that he will not try to defend such indefensible incidents which were backed by certain elements in the Government of the time. However, what is important to keep in mind is that such incidents have not been repeated ever since.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
27 April 2009
A high-level delegation led by the Hon. Minister Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare, which also included the Hon. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador/ Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, and Mr. Yasantha Kodagoda, Deputy Solicitor General, Attorney General's Department, represented Sri Lanka at the Durban Review Conference.
Organized by the United Nations, the Durban Review Conference provides an opportunity to assess and accelerate progress on implementation of measures adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, including assessment of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. On the opening day of this conference, Hon. Douglas Devananda made a statement behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka.
On the sidelines of the Durban Review Conference which is being held from 20th to 24th of April 2009, the Sri Lankan delegation met with senior UN officials, and a number of dignitaries from diverse countries and updated them on the current situation in Sri Lanka against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s fight against separatism and terrorism.
Hon. Devananda and Hon. Bathiudeen, along with the rest of the delegation, held meetings with Ms. Navanethem Pillai, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (and a former Prime Minister of Portugal) and Mr. Anders Johnsson, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Meeting with Ms. Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Meeting with Mr. Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa
Meeting with H.E. Mr. Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan
The Sri Lankan delegation briefed the UN officials and other dignitaries on the new developments of Sri Lanka’s war against LTTE terrorists and the steps the Sri Lankan government has been taking to meet the immediate requirements of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are crossing into government controlled areas.
H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations-Geneva, hosted a working lunch in honour of the visiting Sri Lankan delegation to the Durban Review Conference. On this occasion, Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives/ diplomats of the following foreign Missions to the United Nations were present: Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, India, Japan, Mexico, Algeria, Turkey, Ethiopia, Egypt, Denmark, United Kingdom, Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Costa Rica.
Ministers Douglas Devananda and Rishard Bathiudeen and Deputy Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda left Geneva on April 22nd -23rd.
Meeting with H.E. Ms. Fayza Aboulnaga, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt
Meeting with the Foreign Minister of Palestine, H.E. Dr. Riyad Al-Maliki at the Lobby of the Hotel interContinental
Meeting with the Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs of Indonesia H.E. Mr. Rezlan I Jenie
Meeting with H.E. Mr. Alfonso Lopez, Vice Minister for External Affairs of Ecuador
Meeting with Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Colombia,H.E. Ms. Adriana Mejia Hernadez
Let me, first of all, thank Mr. Bustamante, Special Rapportuer on the human rights of migrants through you for his useful report and update.
Migration and human rights are increasingly major issues of concern for the international community today. There is an estimated 200 million migrants world over, women accounting for half this number.
On behalf of Sri Lanka delegation, let me thank through you to the United Nations Secretary General and the High Comissioner for Human Rights for launching a year-long celebration leading up to the 60th Aniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from today, the International Human Rights Day. This is a historic opportunity for us to take stock of the concept and of the means of bringing it to as wide global audience as possible. My delegation highly values the theme of the commermrative year; ‘Dignity and Justice for al’.