Candauda Arachchige Chandraprema better known in para-military circles as Thadi Priyantha (Large Priyantha) and current Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva has aligned Sri Lanka with some of the worst human rights violators in the world.
Colombo Telegraph can confirm that on Ambassador Chandraprema’s recommendation the Foreign Ministry has granted approval for the Sri Lanka delegation in Geneva to intervene at the Human Rights Council in support of Syria, Eretria, Belarus and several other autocratic regimes.
Just before discussing Human Rights High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet’s report on Sri Lanka, the Council discussed an oral update by the Special Rapporteur on Eretria. Many democratic and civilised countries from across the world, including those from Asia, Africa and Latin America spoke in sport of the work of the Special Rapporteur and called for decisive action on Eretria,
However Sri Lanka’s ambassador took the floor in support of Eritrea. Candauda Chandraprema said the Council should limit its interventions to the Universal Periodic Review, a once in four years review of each UN country. Sri Lanka criticized country specific actions on Eritrea and called on the UN not to interfere into internal affairs of countries.
Eritrea’s government remains one of the world’s most repressive, subjecting its population to widespread forced labour and conscription, imposing restrictions on freedom of expression, opinion, and faith, and restricting independent scrutiny by international monitors.
Eritrea remains a one-man dictatorship under President Isaias Afewerki, with no legislature, no independent civil society organizations or media outlets, and no independent judiciary. Elections have never been held in the country since it gained independence in 1993.
Ironically Eretria was also one of the few countries to openly support the LTTE. According to the Hindustan Times the LTTE were due to get 10 new aircraft through an Eritrea-based arms smuggling network in 2009 and it was widely speculated at that time that LTTE leader Prabhakaran had plans to escape to Eritrea by air.
A US Senate Foreign Relations Committee report in December 2006 stated that the Eritrean government provided direct support to the LTTE. The LTTE, according to news reports, had established a presence in Eritrea primarily to operate in the informal arms market.
Today Nandasena Rajapaksa’s handpicked Ambassador is speaking in defence of this very country.
Meanwhile Candauda Chandraprema’s other alliances with regimes that abuse human rights with impunity will alarm its long-time bilateral donors.
The authoritarian President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has ruled that country since 1994 is called the ‘Last Dictator of Europe.’ His government has cracked down on opposition leaders and movements and abused civil rights to freedom of assembly and association. The regime of Bashar Hafez al-Assad of Syria has not only brought that country to absolute ruin but has committed countless crimes against humanity. The record of the rest of Sri Lanka’s new allies are no better.
A Foreign Ministry source who confirmed that Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage had granted approval for Chandraprema’s actions in Geneva said that these actions have dragged Sri Lanka to an all-time low point in its engagement with the international community where it is now bundled along with some of the worst human rights violators in the world.
Chandraprema alias Thadi Priyantha was a known member of a government sponsored death squad in teh 1980s and was alleged by an ex policeman to have been responsible for the killing of at least three Sinhalese human lawyers in 1989.
(see full dossier on Chandraprema here)
During the late eighties Chandraprema was a key member of the PRRA, the People’s Revolutionary Red Army. In 2000 he was arrested in connection with the execution of two human rights lawyers, Kanchana Abhayapala and Charitha Lankapura but later released. Chandraprema’s arrest occurred after a former police officer, himself implicated in torture, was arrested on 3 August 2000. SSP Douglas Peiris gave an affidavit after his arrest saying that Thadi Priyatha (aka Chandraprema) had killed four people, including three human rights lawyers.
International media has already drawn attention to Sri Lanka sending an accused killer as its ambassador to the UN in Geneva, the seat of human rights in the world. A news report on Candauda Chandraprema appeared on the foreign policy site Just Security a few weeks ago. (By Chinthika De Silva)