26 October, 2021

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Effect Of The EP Resolution & The NATO Communique To Sri Lanka

By Harsha Gunasena

Harsha Gunasena

There were new developments in the world affairs in the recent past with the G7 summit and the NATO summit. In relation to Sri Lanka the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the current situation. It is pertinent to examine the effects of these events to the affairs of Sri Lanka.

EP adopted the resolution on 10th June 2021 calling on the Commission and the European External Action Service to use the GSP+ as a leverage to push for advancement on Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations and demand the repeal or replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act(PTA), to carefully assess whether there is sufficient reason, as a last resort, to initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status and the benefits that come with it, and to report to Parliament on this matter as soon as possible.

Although the content of the resolution was stronger than the motion which was placed on 8th June 2021 , the situation is not that grave as claimed by many since the outcome expected by EP is mild. Sri Lanka has enough time to respond. However, this resolution should be read along with a point mentioned in the body of it that it expresses concern about the growing role and interference of China in Sri Lanka which has nothing to do with GSP+ scheme and the communique of NATO on 14th June 2021 which confronted military ambitions of China for the first time, saying Beijing presents “systemic challenges” for the transatlantic security alliance.

Considering the situation during the Trump era that Europe was eager to engage in business transactions with China and also with Russia, it can be concluded that the communique of NATO was a result of the influence of the US President Joe Biden. This shows the narrowness of the America First policy of Donald Trump which focused merely on the trade deficit of the US and the broadness of Joe Biden’s ‘US is back’ policy which focused on strategic alliance of the allies of the US against China with the intention of broadening it to the democratic states worldwide which shares the common values. As commented by political analysts we are experiencing the early stages of new cold war between China and Russia on one side and the US led democratic alliance on the other side. During the previous cold war Sri Lanka adopted a non-aligned foreign policy and the current regime of Sri Lanka is dragging the country towards China which will be harmful to the people of the country.   The bilateral relationship of Sri Lanka with China which is a long-time friend of Sri Lanka would also be affected by Sri Lanka trying to be an ally of China since latter relationship would be vulnerable with the force of the rival block.

The move of the European Parliament should be looked at in this background. The assistance of the European Union (EU) under the scheme of generalised tariff preferences, which applies reduced import duties to certain items of certain countries, is threefold. Firstly, it provides assistance under the general arrangement. Secondly there is a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance which is called GSP+ and Sri Lanka is benefited under this scheme. Thirdly there is a special arrangement for the least-developed countries called Everything But Arms.

GSP+ was granted to Sri Lanka in 2005 to support the Tsunami affected economy. The EU in return expected that Sri Lanka would honor 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance which were ratified by Sri Lanka. The EU had withdrawn this facility in 2010 on the grounds that Sri Lanka had not honoured three conventions, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Convention on the Rights of the Child. The EU readmitted Sri Lanka to the GSP+ scheme in 2017 due to the initiatives taken by the previous government.

The intention of the EU is innocent. They grant concessionary tariff to their market to the deserved countries which comply with the 27 international conventions to which these countries are parties as members of the United Nations. These international conventions represent the values, the EU is adhering. If Sri Lanka is not willing to adhere to these conventions Sri Lanka can, not only leave the GSP+ scheme but also the United Nations.

Therefore, Sri Lankans should not think that the EU by this resolution interfering with the internal matters of Sri Lanka. They have just pointed out the instances where Sri Lanka has deviated from the agreed norms, and it is their right to do so. However, they have stepped outside of the mandate when they mentioned the Chinese influence.

In this resolution it is noteworthy to point out that they have named Shani Abeysekera, Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem as victims of non-compliance of those conventions by the present government.

These examples show two basic streams where the autocratic power is exercised by the present regime. The first and foremost is to save themselves from the judicial proceedings against them. In this direction they have appointed a commission to investigate political victimization which was a Kekille commission headed by a former Supreme Court judge, and it was a disgrace to Supreme Court to be associated with such a person. In democratic countries right from the US it was reported of happening certain deviations from the accepted rules. However, this was a blatant violation of all democratic norms and I believe that it was the most extreme example one can cite against the natural justice and rule of law. Shani Abeysekera was arrested to punish him since he was the investigator of most of these cases. He was released on bail on 16th June 2021 purely because of EU intervention.

The second is to victimize ethnic and religious minorities where Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem fit in. Shakthika Sathkumara who was released later without any punishment also came into this category. All of them were detained under PTA.

Ethnocentrism and religiocentrism were the main causes that brought votes to the present regime at last two elections. In this respect the President shows his intentions very openly. After becoming the President, he has never met TNA. The first meeting with TNA scheduled on 16th June 2021 about constitutional reforms was postponed indefinitely. The regime wants to safeguard this “values” and the associated vote base which goes against the values of the EU, the West and for that matter against the entire civilized world. This friction drives Sri Lanka towards China and Russia, two authoritarian regimes who do not care for those values. The Government is of the view that China is the rising star and would be the most powerful superpower of the world in time to come so that it would be beneficial to be an ally of China.

This is happening in the economic arena as well. The Government, when they came into power, slashed the taxes with the blessings of the private sector which were imposed by the previous regime to consolidate the fiscal structure. Affected by corona as well the country is having a high budget deficit. The Government does not want to go to IMF which will certainly impose conditions which will be beneficial to the country in the long run. When Greece was in similar difficulties few years back both IMF and EU supported Greece with strong conditions. As a result, now Greece was able to reduce the budget deficit and the current account deficit. Sri Lanka also will have to go in this path if it wants to get out of this tragic economic situation. Instead, the government increasingly relying on the other avenues of financing including currency swaps and Chinese loans which will postpone and may prolong the adverse effects.

The path taken by Sri Lanka to lean towards China politically and economically is challenged by the US, EU and NATO. More importantly India who dared to invade our air space in the 1980s during the time of the cold war is with the West and is a member of the Quad, an alliance of the US, Japan, Australia and India against China. President Jayewardene had only one remark to make when the Indian planes dropped humanitarian aid in Jaffna. He said that all Sri Lankans were prepared to die facing the enemy in the event of an invasion.

In 1980s President Jayewardene was perceived to be aligned with the US and India was in the opposite block. After the incident he was asked by the US to settle the matters with India. During the cold war Sri Lanka was safer when the foreign policy was perceived to be non-aligned especially during the time of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

The President is fond of learning and probably applying here the governing methods of the Communist Party of China. In 1971 North Korean Mission in Sri Lanka was closed  on suspicion of involving in an uncovered plot to overthrow the government.

All the problems are interwoven. Around 60% of the exports of Sri Lanka are to the EU, the UK and North America. The US is the biggest importer of our goods amounting to 25% of our total exports. The problem should be viewed in this light.

The actions we have to take to safeguard the GSP+ scheme are the actions safeguarding the basic human rights of the citizens of Sri Lanka. Those are a drawback for an autocratic regime. Therefore, those actions have nothing to do with the sovereignty of Sri Lanka which is vested with the people and not with the leaders. Yes, the regime should be ashamed, and they might lose self-respect since an outsider is pointing out to the regime how to protect the basic human rights of Sri Lankan citizens. By doing so the country would get a double benefit, the GSP+ and the human rights of its citizens.

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Latest comments

  • 16
    2

    A war criminal , murderer o 250 Easter bombing victims and their is not worried about all thse he wants he and his family wants to make money and go to US
    Poor Namal and his siblings are left to face the music

    • 15
      0

      Dunno ………. about all these resolutions.

      All I know is, once this shindig is over ……… the Rajapakses will be a lot richer ……… and the country/people a lot poorer.

      Many people will be left without much to eat except sand ……… especially the 6.9million.

      And Native will be having the time of his life with Chinese gals!

      Such is life!

      • 5
        0

        nimal fernando

        “And Native will be having the time of his life with Chinese gals!”

        If and when that happens SJ would be over the moon.
        In the meantime I will be searching my private part all over Deep South just like John Wayne Bobbitt did whose willy was chopped off by his wife in 1993 .
        I cannot afford to travel to USA to have Reconstructive Surgery.

        No thank you.

        By the way did you know the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has appointed five-member economic advisory council which comprises:
        Nobel Prize-winning economist Esther Duflo,
        former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan,
        Arvind Subramanian, former Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India; Jean Dreze, welfare economist and social scientist;
        and S Narayan, former Union Finance Secretary and former Economic Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

        As you know our own Economic Expert Basil is still in USA perhaps advising Biden on how to be Economical with the truth.

  • 7
    1

    AFTER THE NATO Communique To Sri Lanka

    India step strong terms of Twin fears for India over the Colombo Port City concerns that have been raised in Sri Lanka. We expect Sri Lanka will remain mindful of our excellent bilateral cooperation, including mutual security in our shared environment, path taken by Sri Lanka to lean towards China which includes the sea area

    • 1
      9

      “including mutual security in our shared environment”
      What kind of mutual security one may wonder. For the poachers in the Northern waters?
      Dictating terms in internal affairs?

      • 5
        0

        SJ

        “What kind of mutual security one may wonder. For the poachers in the Northern waters? Dictating terms in internal affairs?”

        What is internal affair.
        Pandemic like Covid 19?
        Port City?
        Harbour?
        Buying arms ammunition, security equipment, from abroad to deal with internal affairs, …?
        Money Laundering?


        It never occur to you we have our own home grown thieves, murderers, poachers, land grabbers, racists ………………………………….. war criminals,…..
        We should deal with our own failures than …. pointing fingers at others.

        Lakvijaya Power Station failure was costly and internal matter, who made the mistake of contracting Chinese crooks to build the power station?

        There is nothing called internal affair.

        • 3
          0

          Native pardon the colour blind who see different day and night.. I wonder the origin of pathology is it eyes ?? Brain ?? Or both ??

  • 3
    1

    UN, G7, EU if they treat our head as the greatest, perhaps will receive correction like a spoilt child. But we need a statesman to lead and not to enslave. Perhaps an internal uproar will work better.

    • 0
      4

      D
      I fully agree on internal uproar. That will be the only guarantee against any future tyranny,

  • 7
    2

    Harsha Gunasena,

    An excellent piece,

    EU is correct in pressurizing for a good course and sovereignty could not be a defense for the government.

    Human rights is a universal right and by adhering to Human right measures the citizens of our country will benefit not EU or any other human rights advocates.

    The Government should adopt a two-way approach, first it should abolish the present PTA unconditionally through an Act of Parliament.

    Then bring in new legislation to safeguard citizens from terrorist acts.

    The new Act should be in compliance with the international norms and at the same time formulated with the concurrence of all communities and should ensure that it will have bipartisan support.

  • 10
    0

    Rajapaksas think they can cheat every one including the people of Sri Lanka, Buddhist clergy, other politicians, neighbouring India and western world. They were successful to some extent such as convincing Buddhist clergy, Buddhist Sinhala people with anti Indian policy, anti Tamil and Muslim policy and anti western policies, bribing minority politicians (money, minister posts). Unfortunately they couldn’t successful with China and they were trapped with China.
    Now the ground reality is changing after Covid deaths, increased fuel and other prices, environmental and economic disaster after ship burning, increased loans from China, unsatisfied partnership and Buddhist clergy opposition shows that the country is now realised that they made a mistake in handing over the country into wrong hands.

  • 3
    13

    Western countries have no Prevention of Terrorism Acts similar to Sri Lanka’s PTA as they never experienced internationally funded, armed and trained, organized “guerrilla” terrorism in their countries, other than random acts of terror. On such occasions, they kill terrorists who are in action on the spot, if they are non-Whites. White terrorists of course are protected until their trials, in some cases, going as far as to provide them with bullet proof jackets.
    If the EU Parliament wants Sri Lanka to repeal PTA, that means they want us to deny trials/jail terms to terrorists and kill them on the spot while they are in action, as Westerners do.
    Well, Sri Lanka could consider western style punishment for future terrorists, but the terrorists who are in jail should be treated under PTA to protect the rights of victims.

    • 3
      1

      Champa:

      Have you read Sri Lanka’s PTA? and the Western PTAs against which you’re comparing SL’s PTA?

      If your comments here are based on a keen comprehension of the intent of counter terrorism laws and how SL’s PTA falls short of international standards of counter terrorism laws, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the double-Paksa military centred regime are the best fit for your ideologies.

      • 3
        1

        Sugandh
        Read my first sentence again. I have clearly given the reason why should we have a PTA that fits our situation.

        • 3
          1

          Champa,
          This is your first sentence:
          “Western countries have no Prevention of Terrorism Acts similar to Sri Lanka’s PTA as they never experienced internationally funded, armed and trained, organized “guerrilla” terrorism in their countries, “
          Please look up the IRA and its ancestors, ETA, and even the early PLO .
          ALWAYS do your research before you pontificate.

          • 1
            1

            old codger
            You have conveniently dropped the last part of my sentence; Read in full with “other than random acts of terror.”
            The following list may be helpful for you to understand my above mentioned sentence:-
            Let me start from:
            — 28,708 soldiers were killed by the LTTE.
            — 774 police officers were killed in one place (Eastern Province Massacre-1990).
            — 40,107 soldiers were disabled by terrorists.
            Unarmed civilians were killed in the following LTTE massacres:
            -Kent farm massacre
            -Dollar farm massacre
            -Kokilai massacre
            -Yal-Devi train massacre
            -Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi massacre
            -Air Lanka flight massacre
            -Havelock Road massacre
            -Aluth Oya (Habarana) bus massacre
            -Colombo bus station massacre
            -Aranthalawa massacre
            -Peliyagodalla massacre
            -Armour Street massacre
            -Sinking of Navy Ship Sagarawardana off-coast Mannar
            -Thotalanga massacre
            -Kallarawa massacre
            -Eastern Province massacre (1995)
            -Kolonnawa and Orugodawatte masscare
            -Central Bank massacre
            -Dehiwela train massacre (1996)
            -Mullativu camp massacre
            -World Trade Centre massacre
            -Dalada Maligawa massacre
            -Gonagala massacre
            -Lionair flight massacre
            -Town Hall massacre
            -Ratmalana massacre
            -Katunayaka Airport massacre
            -Kebithigollawa bus massacre
            -Digampathana bus massacre
            -Gomarankadawala massacre
            -Nugegoda shopping mall massacre
            -Okkampitiya bus massacre
            -Dambulla bus massacre
            -Fort Railway Station massacre
            -Weliweriya massacre
            -Piliyandala bus massacre
            -Dehiwela train massacre (2008)
            -Akuressa massacre
            -Colombo suicide air raid (2009 – last one)

            • 0
              1

              Champa

              This article is entirely about the state’s infractions and gross offences including state-run terrorism in relation to GSP+ commitments since 2005.

              It would’ve been relevant to examine the gross misuse of the PTA by the SriLankan state to terrorize civilians and carry out enforced disappearances. The startling statistics on those would have been relevant to present here and fairly examine SL’s PTA.

              • 0
                1

                Champa,
                According to government statistics, about 3000 civilians were killed by the Tamil terrorists in 30 years. That’s about 100 per annum. Less than traffic accidents.
                Soldiers aren’t civilians.

    • 3
      1

      Champa,

      Do you want PTA to arrest you and jail for ever because you speak against Rajapaksa regime now?
      Did you kill Lasantha, Raviraj because they were a LTTE terrorist?
      Are you against Palestinian Guerilla terrorists?
      Are you against Nelson Mandela terrorist?

      • 1
        2

        Ajith
        Your sun god and his terrorist outfit do not fit in any of the categories mentioned by you.

        • 2
          1

          Champa,

          I know you can’t answer my questions because you may have involved in the burning of innocents in 1958 and 1983.
          My sun god helps the whole world by giving light and energy and at times destroy the bad ones who kills innocents.

          • 1
            1

            Ajith
            Read my reply to old codger above and see how many innocent people were killed by your sun god.
            Still there are people like you who justify barbaric acts of Prabhakaran. That is why we need a strong PTA. If everybody condemns terrorism we don’t need a PTA.

            • 0
              1

              Every state needs to have laws to counter terrorism as in order to prevent it as well as to act on it whenever there’s an emergence.

              But those laws should not avail the state to harass, arrest, and imprison citizens indefinitely without laying charges. To lay charges, the state needs evidence; if the state doesn’t have evidence, it should not be allowed to imprison citizens indefinitely. When charges have been laid, the accused have to be availed trial in a reasonable length of time and not kept in prison indefinitely without trial, and not on made up charges.

              Here’s a current article on CT about the SL police’s defiance of our judicial system;
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-sisters-20-year-long-struggle-for-justice-for-her-brother-killed-by-the-police/

              Hope you begin to grasp what we are really talking about here.

  • 7
    1

    No country wants to be in our situation right now except for North Korea which after years of family dynasty is now isolated and it,s leader recently warned of food scarcity and impending starvation. Even countries like Pakistan , Afghan and Myanmar which do not follow any world order have consciously avoided being put in such situation. Whereas Rajapaksas will soon turn us from being Myanmar to next North Korea. Russia to support in the UN and for survival solely dependent on China. Port city will come in handy as a Chinese administrstive capital. Job well done.

  • 1
    2

    I wonder do we really.getting benefiting from the GSP+ according to DM they found 92 Indian nationals out of 124 working in steel factory,looks like it may …….Indian co
    even they have send covid patients to Jaffna having language problem,most of us can sing Hindi songs,they opened all the factories as essentials then covid spread,should given the jobs for locals,don’t know even they pay the right tax,

  • 0
    0

    Correction
    92 tested positive out of 124

  • 2
    0

    A fine piece that I enjoyed reading.
    However, I am not sure of “(Shani Abedekera)was released on bail on 16th June 2021 purely because of EU intervention.”
    He was released because of two brave judges on the Court of Appeal.

  • 3
    0

    Native pardon the colour blind who see different day and night.. I wonder the origin of pathology is it eyes ?? Brain ?? Or both ??

  • 0
    3

    Western colonial genociders do not care about human rights or human lives. That’s a big lie. Right now they are looking at ways to hang onto their weakening global power. China is knocking their door. LTTE destruction was a great defeat of EU(including UK). That’s the real reason behind their current irate behavior. They carefully planted the idea that Sri Lankan army is not capable of defeating LTTE and European mediated peace talks are the only option. As we all know EU mediated cease fires and peace talks were total sham and a complete waste of time. Doing the undoable in 2009 our great army completely destroyed LTTE. EU has turned into a big joke on that day. If the government kept on listening to the European peace lectures we would still be dealing with prabakaran. EU can’t bring peace to Sri Lanka. They have to admit it and stop lecturing us on peace and reconciliation.

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