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Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 6.06 GMT
Sri Lanka dismayed at UNHR High Commissioner’s approach - Minister G.L. Peiris


Addressing the Third Defence Seminar held in Colombo today (September 5), External Affairs Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris questioned as to why the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay (High Commissioner) in her statement prior to her departure from Sri Lanka, ignored a UN report that projects the genuine sentiments of the residents in the North. In the report compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), based on a survey carried out by UN officials having themselves interviewed nearly 200 people, chosen by the UN itself, an overwhelming number of persons had very positive views about the salutary nature of the Sri Lankan military.

Prof. Peiris recalling that he had personally handed over a copy of the report to the High Commissioner, also mentioned that her allegation of sexual harassment in her statement is clearly refuted from the survey results in that a significant number of persons express satisfaction of their own personal security.

The minister said that he is compelled to refute several unwarranted parts of the statement of the Human Rights Commissioner since Sri Lanka is dismayed at her approach.

What is clearly lacking in the statement of the High Commissioner is an objective assessment of the actual situation in Sri Lanka which has contributed to the growing perception in the country about the lack of fairness in the treatment meted out to Sri Lanka. The Minister added that Sri Lanka accepts constructive and justified criticism but resents vicious and baseless positions which are incessantly repeated disregarding facts presented by the UN itself.

Prof. Peiris said that the High Commissioner has glossed over the legitimate achievements of the Sri Lanka Government while taking great pains to highlight perceived deficiencies.

The Minister of External Affairs introduced Sri Lanka to the distinguished audience at the Defence Seminar as a country that has been historically bestowed with vibrant institutions, which remained intact and engaged with the public even during turbulent times. He called the Sri Lanka Army as one of those effervescent institutions. The Minister mentioned that the much respected armed forces continue to play a catalytic role in the difficult time of transition. The Minister emphasized that however there are attempts byvarious elements to destabilize these institutions including the armed forces and to drive a wedge between those organizations and the general public. In this regard, he pointed out that at present there is a great deal of misinformation and propaganda against the armed forces, which the public need to be aware and vigilant over this tendency.

The Minister expressed his surprise over the practice of refusal by some segments of the UN system the application of accepted global standards on Sri Lanka. Accordingly, there is a highly selective and subjective approach towards Sri Lanka which is disturbing. The Minister highlighted the fact that while the Government of Sri Lanka released the LLRC report in its entirety, a report on the Iraq war has not been released to-date.

In the High Commissioner’s statement, two epithets are used to describe the LTTE as “murderous” and “ruthless”, recalled the Minister. However, it was surprising that the same person who visited Sri Lanka to pay her last respect to Mr. Neelan Thiruchelvam who was murdered by the LTTE had expressed a desire to offer a floral tribute at Mullavaikkal, the place where the leader of the LTTE was killed.

Prof. Peiris said that the Government vehemently denies the calculated and deliberate accusation made by the High Commissioner that the Sri Lanka Government is moving towards “authoritarianism.” The Minister stated categorically that it is the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa that is conducting elections to the Provincial Council of the North after more than 25 years even though during that particular period the people of the country had elected four governments and had four presidents. Moreover, conducting frequent elections in the country is a hallmark of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s efforts at upholding the vibrant democratic framework of the country. The High Commissioner has failed to take account of the fact that at every election in recent years President Rajapaksa's government has been increasingly endorsed by the public showing their confidence in the government.

Sighting another example of the lack of fairness in the approach of the High Commissioner towards Sri Lanka, the Minister regretted the continued prominence given by her to the Panel of Experts report by including it in the recent report by the High Commissioner submitted to the Human Rights Council. Calling the Panel of Experts report as an internal document for the exclusive reference of the UN Secretary General, Prof. Peiris added that the report is “incurably flawed” and termed the anonymity guaranteed for witnesses that gave testimony to the panel for 20 years as a “total travesty of justice.”Moreover, this report characterizes the LTTE as a ‘disciplined’ and ‘nationalist’ organization even though FBI of the United States has been characterized as “the most ruthless organization.”

The defeat of the LTTE has enabled the Sri Lankan people to live freely and has also brought about stability to the entire region, the Minister concluded.




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Last modified: September 05, 2013.

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