Disgraced former Chief Justice and Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s envoy to the United Nations in New York Mohan Pieris embarrassed himself and the Government of Sri Lanka in his very first address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday (28), accusing the Human Rights Council in Geneva of being a tool of terrorists.
With the whole world in the chamber, Pieris also accused UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet of engaging in an “exercise” in regime change in Sri Lanka, in her latest report to the Human Rights Council, which was a damning assessment of the Nandasena Regime’s human rights trajectory.
The exercise was an attempt to score points with his masters in Colombo sources told Colombo Telegraph.
The humiliating incident occurred as the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres presented his annual report to the UN General Assembly that did not specifically mention Sri Lanka. However during an informal interactive session soon after the Guterres’ address, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Mohan Pieris thought it fit to question the motives of the UN Secretary General and the UN system with regard to its concerns on human rights in Sri Lanka.
“I was fascinated with the theme that we must make it happen together, which was perhaps said a countless number of times during your presentation.
But Sri Lanka has a problem. We are made to feel we are not in it together. It’s 12 years since the end of the conflict and we have come a long way from those times. The temperature in the country is very low now. It is peaceful. But it appears that the global temperature for Sri Lanka, particularly in the Human Rights Council has been maintained at an all time high and that’s regrettable.”
Mohan Pieris who has a dubious record as a gross human rights violator during his tenure on the bench added “It appears today that the vanquished…it appears that terrorist groups and terrorism is making use of very civilised mechanisms to unleash a different kind of terrorism. To walk themselves into the very mechanism that protect a civilised world.”
“Should our mandates extend to interfering with local processes such as perhaps an exercise in a change of regime which is being critiqued in a recent report form the human rights council,” the Sri Lankan Envoy continued.
Pieris’ decision to equate the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), victim groups and human rights organisations as tools of “vanquished terrorists” invoked a strong response from Secretary General Guterres who decided to use the opportunity to school the former “Chief Justice” in the UN’s commitment to truth, justice and reconciliation. The Secretary General told Pieris that the involvement of others would be drastically reduced if the Sri Lankan Government takes reconciliation and justice seriously.
“It is important to recognise that in today’s world there is a growing concern and interest including international institutes from the human rights and legal dimensions on post conflict situations, mainly reconciliation and accountability. I hope that all the interventions that are taking place at present will help the process of effective reconciliation and effective accountability. ..a country has to heal its wounds. Truth is essential for this and without truth and reconciliation it is impossible to move forward. ..Accountability is an important instrument in that regard. I can only hope that the Sri Lankan people and the Sri Lankan government will take seriously these two needs, reconciliation and accountability and reduce the interest of other entities to be also directly involved,” the Secretary General of the United Nations said.
Antonio Guterres is a former prime minister of Portugal and served as the UN High Commsioner for Refugees prior to being elected as the UN SG. He was an activist against the Portuguese dictatorship until 1974.
Mohan Pieris on the other had is a disgraced Chief Justice who in 2013 entered to through the ‘exit’ with a large contingent of military personnel to be placed as Chief Justice after the flawed impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
While Pieris was ‘CJ’ he informed the UN Committee on Torture that journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda was comfortably and safely living in a certain country; and when called upon by a court of law to disclose which country that was, replied that “only god knows”. Presiding over a torture and custodial death case as “Chief Justice” Pieris once proclaimed from the bench that terror suspects have no human rights after the custodial death of PTA prisoner Ganesan Nimalaruban, who died in police custody under torture. Nimalaruban was not charged for a crime at the time of his death. Nimalaruban’s parents had filed the fundamental rights petition that came before Peiris.
Prior to being elevated to the position of CJ Peiris was Chairman of the Seylan Bank, Director of Lanka Logistics (the arms purchasing unit of the Ministry of Defence), Director of Rakna Lanka Security (a security company established by then Defence Secretary Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa), Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Defence and Attorney General.
Through Mohan Peris the Sri Lankan government has framed its human rights issues as an extension of the war on terror and repeatedly eluded that those raising concerns on human rights, including the High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, activists victims and all others as terrorists.
In the past Sri Lanka has been successful in keeping its human rights war crimes related issues out of the agenda in New York. Mohan Pieris on his own volition, without reason or provocation has raised Sri Lanka’s human rights issues at the UNGA. A senior career diplomat quipped that Pieris’s desire to please his political masters and get a sound bite into local media has now not only highlighted Sri Lanka at the UNGA but ensured a strong and embarrassing rebuttal by the Secretary General himself.
Peiris’ irrational intervention before the General Assembly comes as the Tamil human rights lobby ups the ante on calls to move the Sri Lanka issue from Geneva to New York, which is the home of not only the UNGA but also the Security Council. The Sri Lankan Envoy’s idiotic submissions following a damning report by Bachelet, who urged member states of the Human Rights Council to consider the option of referring Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because the conduct of the Sri Lankan government had proved it was unwilling to seek justice for atrocities committed during the war. The Security Council of the UN, which meets in New York, must refer a country to the ICC for prosecutions to take place.
Prominent Tamil academic Dr K. Guruparan called for the Sri Lanka issue to be moved from the UN in Geneva to the UN in New York. Guruparan said in his tweet “There should be NO negotiation with Sri Lanka about a consensus resolution. Sri Lanka will whittle it down to the bare minimum and then refuse to co-sponsor. As the Tamil side has repeatedly said move it from Geneva to New York”. (By Chinthika De Silva)