A memorandum was handed over by the representatives of the aggrieved families of the disappeared persons two days ago to Northern Governor Dr. Suren Raghavan who is one of the five members of the delegation sent by President TMaithripala Sirisena to attend the UNHRC session in Geneva.
It was on the request made by Governor Dr. Raghavan, soon after he was handpicked by President Sirisena to be present at the 40th UNHRC session, a delegation of eight persons including mothers of the involuntarily disappeared persons had handed over a memorandum to the Governor highlighting their plight with regard to the disappearances of their beloved ones.
In the meantime former Provincial Councillors M. K. Sivajilingam and Ananthi Sasitharan had handed over a memorandum, last week, to the Northern Governor elaborating on the humanitarian problems in the North and the East to be tabled at the ongoing UNHRC session in Geneva.
From the time the UNHRC focused on the post-war humanitarian issues in the North and the East of Sri Lanka it is for the first time this year, a member from the Government delegation, Northern Governor Dr. Raghavan, focused on even accommodating the expectations of the aggrieved families from the North and the East at Geneva.
President Sirisena would have expected Governor Dr. Raghavan to elaborate on the Government’s role in dealing with the post-war humanitarian issues. However, as far as the humanitarian issues are concerned being the Governor of Northern Province Dr. Raghavan cannot simply ignore the realities in the Province.
Already there were demonstrations held in various parts of the North and the East by the people directly affected due to the war in the two provinces seeking the attention of the UNHRC in Geneva.
On the other hand the recent report by High Commissioner of the UNHRC Michelle Bachelet has pointed out that there was virtually no progress on Sri Lanka’s efforts towards implementing the UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of 2015 which was meant to resolve the post-war humanitarian problems as well as to strengthen peace and reconciliation in the island.
Therefore, Northern Governor Dr. Raghavan while representing the Government in Geneva, should also be in a position to speak on the true situation in his province over the existing humanitarian issues such as the families of the involuntarily disappeared persons seeking justice, prolonged detention of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) prisoners, land issues as well as the progress made in strengthening peace and reconciliation in the country.
So, the Northern Governor made a wise move by taking with him the memorandum submitted by the aggrieved families from his province to represent the country with a balanced outlook at the UNHRC session in Geneva.
However, the UNHRC High Commissioner Bachelet’s latest report on Sri Lanka’s failure towards implementing the UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of 2015 in full is based on the observations made by the UNHRC officials and other affiliated institutions to the UN body from the time the resolution which was cosponsored by Sri Lanka was brought in year 2015.
So, any move to backtrack on the UNHRC resolution by the Government of Sri Lanka is expected to create an adverse effect with regard to the country’s international relations.
United States of America
With the withdrawal of United States of America from the UNHRC, the United Kingdom will take the lead role in dealing with the resolution on Sri Lanka accompanied by Germany and Canada in Geneva this year.
Unlike in the USA, the Tamil Diaspora in the UK, Canada and Germany remain very strong. Already a huge number of Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates have gathered in Geneva to emphasise the full implementation of the UNHRC resolution of 2015 while highlighting the alleged atrocities committed during the three decades of darker period in the island.
A significant number of those who gathered in Geneva were from various countries in Europe and the family members of those who were affected in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.
When the UNHRC resolution cosponsored by Sri Lanka is taken up on 21 March, an extensive analysis on the progress made in the implementation of the resolution based on the UNHRC High Commissioner Bachelet’s latest report is expected to be made in Geneva.
As the UNHRC Resolution 30/1 is considered a remedial measure to heal the wounds of the three decades of the past and to strengthen peace and reconciliation through constructive political moves with the support of the international community, Sri Lanka cannot continue with its `hide and seek’ game by pleading for the extension of the period to implement the resolution.
UNHRC High Commissioner Michelle’s report on Sri Lanka has pointed out that, despite granting the extensions to implement the resolution in the past three years, Sri Lanka has hardly made any progress in the implementation of the resolution.
So, the UNHRC is of the view that Sri Lanka cannot consider the grace period offered to the country so far as granted and delay the implementation of the resolution.
Therefore, the ball is now in the Sri Lankan court, and the country has to prove its credibility by playing its role without taking the international community for a ride.