28 May, 2022


Lalith Meets Navi, Briefs Diplomats In Geneva Ahead Of UNHRC

The Sri Lankan Government announced today that Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunge had met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in Geneva, ahead of the UNHRC’s March Session that will kick off in a few weeks.

Weeratunga had updated her on developments that had taken place since her visit to Colombo in August 2013, the Government said. During his tour Weeratunge also briefed diplomats in Geneva, and inadvertently contradicted President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his recent claim that only 12,000 soldiers remained in the former conflict zones of the Northern Province. Weeratunge during his presentation to diplomats said that the Sri Lanka Army alone had 120,000 personnel in the North when the war ended in 2009 and said that number had been decreased by 30 percent as of October 2013 – which means the total number currently in the North, is currently 80,000.

LLRC_Brief_p1Ironically, Weeratunge’s presentation to diplomats came two days after President Rajapaksa made the 12,000 troop claim. Weeratunge briefed diplomats on January 21 while President Rajapaksa announced the imaginary troop numbers on January 19 as he opened a new Cancer Hospital in Jaffna.

Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga who briefed Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva at the Palais des Nations on Tuesday (21st January 2014) on ‘Progress in the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka’, has said the Government of Sri Lanka has done all that was humanly possible to implement the recommendations of the National Plan of Action on the implementation of the LLRC, since its approval by the Cabinet of Ministers in July 2012, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva said in a media release.

The statement said that Weeratunga, who chairs the Committee Monitoring the National Plan of Action on the Implementation of the National Plan of Action of the LLRC who informed his audience of the state the country was left in following a near thirty year terrorist conflict which ended with the defeat of LTTE in May 2009, the effort that went into restoring normalcy to the lives of those affected due to the conflict and detailed the action taken by the Government over the past eighteen months to give effect to the recommendations of the LLRC in the areas of International Humanitarian Law Issues, Human Rights, Land Return & Resettlement, Restitution/Compensatory Relief and Reconciliation.

The Mission said he elaborated on key progress, including the successfully concluded Northern Provincial Council elections, the Government’s cooperation with the Chief Minister in continuing the massive development effort that had been undertaken in the area, developments relating to the Commission of Inquiry into alleged disappearances which recently held its first public sittings in Killinochchi, and in this regard, the cooperation with the ICRC as well as the recent Census on deaths/injuries to civilians and property damages due to the conflict,  the results of which are expected shortly. “Noting Sri Lanka’s continued cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr Weeratunga said since the visit of the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in August 2013, at the Government’s invitation, the Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons had visited Sri Lanka in December 2013 and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants is scheduled to visit in May 2014. While the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education had also been invited, he had indicated his inability to visit Sri Lanka in the current year. The government is giving due consideration to visits by other Special Rapporteurs,” the statement said.

During the Q&A session, while most of the countries that attended the briefing commended the  government for its commitment to and efforts in implementing the LLRC recommendations, some questioned aspects of the  implementation and the speed at which it was taking place. Many expressed the view that the international community should provide assistance to Sri Lanka and continue a constructive dialogue with Sri Lanka in dealing with human rights issues. Commenting on its own tragic experiences and continuing hardships in fighting terrorism, one country said “it is only the wearer who knows where the shoe pinches.”

Mr. Weeratunga thanked the international community for their support towards the implementation of the LLRC National Plan of Action. Responding to some of the concerns raised, he  said the Government would take constructive suggestions on board. Mr. Weeratunga emphasized that the solutions to reconciliation cannot be found overnight and that trying to do so at the stroke of a pen could be detrimental to a sustained process. He explained some of the complexities involved such as language issues, lack of senior Tamil administrators in the public service due to the LTTE preventing their recruitment since the conflict started in the early 1980s, and the ground level issues in administration in the former theatre of conflict. These included the destruction of previous land records which had caused serious difficulties in establishing ownership of property, the destruction of valuable infrastructure, and the need to take the sensitivities of all communities on board. He said while Sri Lanka was fortunate to have a stable Government which continued to enjoy popular support, some of the recommendations also required evolving a consensus across the ethnic, religious, regional and political diversity in the country, in order ensure that solutions are sustainable. He emphasized the importance of the opposition including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) joining the government to make the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) which had been constituted, fully functional. Mr. Weeratunga expressed regret that even responsible international figures were being misguided by parties with vested interests and gave instances of some such occurrences in recent times.

Responding to comments on Sri Lanka’s cooperation with the UN and international partners, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said very few countries would have cooperated as much with the UN, the OHCHR, the Human Rights Council (HRC), and international partners, as Sri Lanka had done in the past year.  In addition significant work is taking place under the UN Development Assistance Framework 2013-2017, which covers the areas of Equitable Economic Growth and Sustainable Livelihoods, Disparity Reduction, Equitable and Quality Social Services, Governance, Human Rights, Gender Equality, Social Inclusion and Protection and Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Responding to questions on what measures were being taken to  prevent terrorism recurring in the country, Ambassador Aryasinha explained that while terrorism had been eradicated in Sri Lanka, many former LTTE cadre and sympathizers continued to be active, particularly in the western countries. He said that for these elements it was important to keep  the pot boiling in Sri Lanka, as a means to stay relevant and to justify their continued existence in the more affluent host countries. He appealed to such countries to be very cautious of this fact, as it  ran the danger of derailing reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka.

Prior to the briefing to Member States, Mr Weeratunga also met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navaneethem Pillay and updated her on developments that had taken place since her visit to Colombo in August 2013.

He also had discussions with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at the UNHCR and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer, on ongoing collaboration between Sri Lanka and their respective organizations.

Associated with Weeratunga during his meetings were Mr. S.B. Divaratne, Secretary to Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security in Northern Province, Mr. Jayantha Jayasuriya, Additional Solicitor General, Ms. Manisha Gunasekera, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission in Geneva, Ms. Chandima Wickramasinghe, Senior Asst. Secretary to the President, Mr. Chandana Weerasena, Director/UN of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ms. Priyanga Wickramasinghe, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission in Geneva, Mr. Chatura Perera, Second Secretary the Permanent Mission in Geneva and Ms. Dilini Gunasekera, Second Secretary in the  Permanent Mission in Geneva.

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Ms Pillay is smart enough to distinguish why the numbers are interpreted in this way by these men, though lankan folks would not raise the question. President^s statements contained 12,000
    His secretary^s sounds 80,000 ?

  • 5

    I think the headline should read as “Lalith tries to bribe Ms Pillai”.
    It is a common practice adopted by the Rajapakse regime is to bribe or threat those people who voice against his crimes. He was successful in bribing from Sharma to Ban-ki-Moon”.

    • 2

      How did you missout on brains so badly?

      • 1

        He has to wait till Monday for his turn with the two communal brain cells :D

  • 3

    Lalith is a [Edited out].

    Don’t trust him. He is the brain behind the genocide.

    • 4

      He is also a part of the Helping Hambantota Tsunami Fund rouges; as revealed here:http://www.thesundayleader.lk/20050703/spotlight.htm

    • 0

      Hey fuckshitma, don’t you have any toilets to clean. Shut up and get back to work. Otherwise your Tamil handler is going to kick you skinny arse.

  • 0

    Lalith Weeratunge and Prof. Tissa Vithrane were also ‘ USED’ at one time to peddle the theme that the APRC report will be the basis for devolution of political power in SriLanka! The APRC report is in the President’s dustbin today and a PSC has been constituted to peddle the new hope of a false dawn. The LLRC recommendations that are purported to being implemented, appear to be a drama enacted to deceive the world than a perceivable ground reality.

    What Minister Rishad Badiuddin is enacting in the Vanni with much finesse, acute cunning and of course unstinting patronage extended to him by the President and in turn extended by him to various public service functionaries, is undermining the very concepts of ‘Justice, FairPlay and Reconciliation’ incorporated in the LLRC recommendations? There are also many other sinister undercurrents at play that are subverting the very spirit of the LLRC recommendations in the Vanni and the Jaffna peninsula.

    It is also saddening the TNA is in most instances chasing after the shadows than the substance, whilst also not acknowledging the positives, where they are obviously visible. The TNA has been crying wolf falsely on so many occasions on matters of least importance, but has been blind to the real wolves on the hunt or too timid to name them and their activities. Further, the inability of the TNA to identify real issues of concern, investigate them in depth and report them with specific details sans rhetoric, has been and is a big problem confronting the Tamils. The otherwise pragmatic and questioning Tamil community has been rendered largely emotive and most times irrational, by the antics of the TNA and its predecessors. Even, the bitter and tragic events of the past 60 odd years have not taught the lessons that should have been learned to the Tamils and their politicians in particular. The Sinhalese too are afflicted with the same disease, although the Tamils suffer the consequences more,

    What is very worrying is that the deliberate political manoeuvres of the government and the tolerance and patronage it extends to men who like mice are progressively nibbling at what is left of the very concepts of national unity and reconciliation, are in turn providing vital sustenance to the elements among the Tamils, who are yet in pursuit of a cause that to all intents and purposes failed at Nanthikadal. Many Tamils are now beginning to wonder whether things would have been better for them if the LTTE had survived! The voices from a past are finding resonance among sectors of the Tamils, because of the utter stupidity of this government in matters that are vital to a community that is acutely conscious of its identity, history, past grievances and suspects a sinister motive behind every move by the government or those closely associated with it. In such circumstances every move that is enacted in a cloak and dagger manner, lend credence to what is suspected. This is the reality in the north today.

    What a tragedy! Foolishness, dishonesty, viciousness and shortsightedness of the government in the post-war political development., are in turn sustaining and strengthening the very forces they were intended to smother. ‘Action and reaction are equal and opposite’ indeed is true in nature and politics.

    This is in sharp contrast to the physical transformation that has taken place in Mullaitivu and particularly in the locations where the final stages of the last war unfolded. I saw this transformation as recently as yesterday-after an interval of about a year and a half- and it was amazing to say the least, considering what I also saw in the immediate aftermath of the war. One cannot but be very saddened by what was a deliberately designed failure of the government to build the right super structure for national unity and reconciliation on the foundations of the infrastructure it has built and rebuilt with much planning, effort and great cost.

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

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