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We can defuse UNHRC Resolution simply by taking steps to implement our own LLRC Report recommendations – Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

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Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanmuttu

By Dinouk Colombage

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanmuttu, political analyst and head of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, spoke to The Sunday Leader about the recently passed US backed Resolution and what it will mean to the country. He expressed his hope that this will see Sri Lanka move forward from ‘post-war to post-conflict’.

Excerpts:

Q:Now that the Resolution has been passed, what does this mean for Sri Lanka?

A: I hope that it means Sri Lanka will turn over an entirely new leaf and engage with the international community constructively as well as with our own civil society and move forward as far as reconciliation is concerned. The challenge remains of reconciliation and human rights protection, and irrespective of what has happened in the past it is now the time to move forward.

Q: Do you feel that implementation of the LLRC report, as called for in the Resolution, will be a success after all the time spent by the government in turning public opinion against it?

A: I hope that the government will explain to the public that it is implementing the LLRC because it considers it to be the right thing, and also that they show them that the recommendations are good for Sri Lanka. What we must not forget at the end of the day is that the LLRC is a Presidential commission appointed by the President of Sri Lanka. In the case of all the criticism about its mandate and its composition, the government stated that it is an independent Commission which will answer all the charges against them. Reconciliation cannot wait; it is a process that must be followed to ensure this country moves from post-war to post-conflict.

Q: You campaigned vigorously to win over support for the US Resolution; at the same time you faced heavy criticism. Why do you feel there was such opposition to this Resolution?

A: I think that the government of Sri Lanka totally disparaged the whole thing; they blew it out of proportion. The Resolution is extremely mild and diluted. The United States invited Sri Lanka to come and draft the Resolution with them. The Resolution is talking about, in my opinion, the international community extending a hand facilitating the implementation of a presidentially appointed Commission.

They mismanaged the whole thing. If you look at the statements made by the US right along, they made it very clear that they supported Sri Lanka’s domestic mechanisms in this regard. We spent a whole lot of money and expended a whole lot of energy with regard to this against the rest of the world and against our own people.

The irony is that this is all about reconciliation, and the way it has been dealt with has been in the most vicious terms.

Q:The government has based their opposition against the US Resolution by calling it interference. Do you see them as actually believing this is interference or are there ulterior motives?

A: If you look at parts of the Resolution it is simply calling on the government of Sri Lanka to implement its own recommendations. It is also saying that the Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights should in consultation with the government of Sri Lanka provide assistance for implementation. I cannot see what interference there is in this regard. Some will make the point that the issue of interference lies with the fact that the question of human rights in Sri Lanka is now on the agenda of a multilateral UN organisation. It calls for it to be taken up at the 22nd UNHRC summit. Now we can defuse this very simply by taking steps towards implementing the recommendations.

Q: Do you believe the government’s opposition to this Resolution as being opposition to the LLRC report?

A: Personally I have always felt that the government has never been sincere with regard to anything on the reconciliation front. You take the talks with the TNA as an example, there is no parliamentary select committee and the talks have stalled.

When you look at past events such as the commissions of inquiry or all party representatives; all of these things were done for international consumption. The classic example is the National Human Rights Action Plan, now how many people have seen this?

The LLRC has not even been fully translated into Tamil or Sinhala. So who are they doing all of this for? In my opinion they have not fulfilled their responsibilities to their own citizens.

Q: The government has claimed that they are already working towards reconciliation and that the UN does not need to come in and tell them to do so. Do you feel that this is happening?

A: The one example I will give you in response to that is in September 2010 the LLRC came up with interim recommendations. The final report of the LLRC in November 2011 talks about the non-implementation of those recommendations. We are now in March 2012 and still there have been no signs of implementation. When you look at the recommendations there are some that can be done overnight, while there are some that will take time.

Yes, reconciliation will take time; however, I cannot see what the delay is. This is a government that rushed the 18th Amendment through the Supreme Court claiming it is in the national interest and it was passed. They have a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The recommendation that the national anthem be sung in both languages could have been implemented by February 4. This leads me to believe that unless they are jolted into doing it, the government will be happy not doing anything.

Q: Do you feel the number of countries who voted against the Resolution is a sign that the LLRC is not accepted by the international community?

A: You have to recognise that when you get a Resolution in an international body, the vote is not a direct indication of the merits and demerits of the Resolution. There are a whole lot of other issues which come to the forefront. What I find interesting is that 40 countries co-sponsored this resolution.

If you look at the countries that voted, barring Russia and China, the US, the entirety of Europe, India and Nigeria all voted for it. The other key countries chose to abstain, so at the end of the day it would have been better for the resolution if more Asian countries had voted in favour.

However, I think there is a broad spectrum in the world which is telling Sri Lanka that this is not personal but rather we are extending a hand to you to help you implement your own report.

Q: Speaking to those against the Resolution and even those who supported it, it became evident very few people knew what it contained. Do you feel we are off on the wrong footing already?

A: I do not think you can have a proper functioning democracy in a country based on ignorance. That is a major challenge for not only the government of the day, but also civil society and the media as well. We need to be able to provide as much information to our citizens to allow them to make informed decisions. courtesy: The Sunday Leader
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Related: Dr. P Saranavamuttu on human rights, accountability and the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, Aired on Feb 28, 2012:

Jovita Arulanantham

To find out more about the hearings, and their significance to Sri Lanka, as well as the US backed resolution on Sri Lanka – Jovita talked to civil society activist Dr. Saravanamuttu-about what the people of Sri Lanka, would like to see as the outcome.

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11 Comments

  1. Everyone thinks just because the resolution was passed they have cornered the Rajapaske bros. The bros are very likely to reject the resolution. They may not care about the fall out.

  2. I do not understand why this hype about UN Resolution. There is nothing there for the Sinhalese feel bad about or the Tamils to feel good about. Everyone knows LLRC was an initiative by the Sri Lankan Government. I hope they did it with good intention. LLRC was not the product of UNP or other parties or TNA. Delaying the implementation of LLRC’s recommendation was the fault of the Sri Lankan Government, that paved the way for criticism from within the SLG and without. This should have been done when the iron was hot but by letting it cool down Sri Lankan Government has that created more problems. When LLRC report became a subject of International discussion they should not have challenged it so vigorously and ambitiously as if they were fighting LTTE in the battle front. By doing so they have only created suspicion that their intention was not implementing it but the purpose was only to diffuse the gas. Not only that by their action they also have hardened the opinion of Sinhalese people for their own commission, that is the irony.
    .
    While I appreciate the defeat of LTTE by the Government I also have to criticize some stupid moves by the Government for the current predicament. One such move was Mahinda Chinthanya, now they are jailed in their own cell created by them, with no way to get out of it. The second stupid thing they did was dancing with devils like Hela Urimaya and JVP. They have to now keep on dancing otherwise they will be consumed by the devils, unless they have a good Kattadiya to get rid of the devils. Hope they understand their mistakes, and positively look at the situation to set things right. By whining or whipping up fear and tensions among the people, they can only lead the country into more trouble in the coming years. India is a good friend of Sri Lanka, they should work with them with sincerity, to ward off many fatal blows that are waiting to happen, rather than blackmailing them with China card. In fact China card is nothing for Indians it has lost its usefulness. If Sri Lankan Government can not positively look at things and continue to be adamant in their position, at one point even India can not help them, I hope wise counsel would prevail for MR Government..

  3. More than 80% sri lankans believe that this guy is a major LTTE supporter and a dollar mercenary. Maybe he is not ! But does it matter? It is the perception that counts and the vast majority of sri lankans and the government will not listen to a word he says. So these words are for a small minority who will like to hear these words and feel good. But they have zero effect on the future of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Just like the way the resolution will not improve one hour in the life of an ordinary sri lankan tamil.It is much more important to have a rights activist and a Tamil personality that Sinhalese will trust. Only then the Sinhalese would at least listen. Only then the government will listen. Only then any possible real reconciliation will start and a realistic future for the Tamil man in the street will take place.

  4. He should have been asked, what the Govt has implemented with regard to the recommendations in LLRC, relatively in a short period of time…

  5. DELETED……..DBSJ

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Your racist comment has taken its cue from your pseudonym and taken a hike!

  6. We all as Sri Lankans lack human rights. Everyone knows about it. I think most of the people oppose UNHCR resolution does not even know about the LLRC recommendations. Sinhalese only know what government is saying. They still don’t know about the suffering of Tamils. I think TNA should reach out to Sinhalese community through media or some sort and tell them about the suffering of Tamil. I’m 100% sure if they do that majority of the Sinhalese would support them. I want to see a one country where Tamils and Sinhalese live like a one family. I want to see a Tamil president in Sri Lanka in future. TNA has to reach Sinhalese community. Sinhalese think that TNA want to separate the country. If they genuinely want to live in one country they should reach out to Sinhalese community as well and win the trust of Sinhalese as well. If that happens majority of he Sinhalese would support TNA. I’m quite sure of that. If that happens constitution would change and we all will have equal rights in Sri Lanka. Let us forget about past and build a better future for coming generations. We don’t live forever…let us live a meaningful life for everyone in our country. We can build trust among communities. Tamils and Sinhalese lived in harmony for centuries. We all are brothers and sisters. Let us make this country a prosperous country together. LLRC recommendations are the stepping stone for that. TNA should reach out to all communities in Sri Lanka to get the support.

  7. Dr Paikiasothy is a very brave and sensible man but his voice is drowned out by the loud shouts of the ignorant and hero worshipping sinhala electorate. I don’t think the majority of the sinhala population is aware of the LLRC recommendations or the contents of the UNHRC resolution.

    Rajapaksa is dragging the country and its people through the mud and people should remind themselves that, as the good doctor says, governments come and go but Sri lanka is there forever.

  8. I am very sorry for the suffering people .I wish voices are raised for their betterment than for accountability based reconciliation

  9. We should be grateful for the brave services of these kinds of activists for the greater good of the society at large despite enormous potential personal risks, harassment and vilification.

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