23 July, 2024


Reject Dayan Jayatilleka’s Nomination: Civil Society Tells High Post Committee

94 Civil Society activists and 14 organisations have today urged Secretary to the High Post Committee to reject Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s nomination as the post of Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

We publish below the letter in full:

Secretary to the High Post Committee,

Parliament of Sri Lanka,

Sri Jayawardenapura, Kotte 

Representations on the Nomination of Dr. Jayatilleka as Ambassador to Russia

The following Sri Lankan civil society activists and organisations are deeply concerned by public reports indicating that the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed the name of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka to the post of Ambassador to the Russian Federation. We write in response to the public notice dated 12 June 2018 issued by the Committee of the High Post of Parliament of Sri Lanka calling for representations regarding nominations including that of Dr. Jayatilleka. 

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

At the outset it must be noted that Sri Lanka has a rich history of diplomatic engagement with the international community and cultivated standing and respect among its allies across the globe including in multilateral forums such as the United Nations. With the escalation of violence in the early 1980s, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission, and subsequently the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which replaced the Commission, discussed Sri Lanka’s human rights record where victim groups and civil society were able to make representations and successive governments of Sri Lanka engaged in constructive discussions. 

A marked shift in this stance was evident under the Rajapaksa regime when we experienced unprecedented levels of violence targeting civilians, civil society, media and other dissenting voices. It was during this period we witnessed a shift in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. Dr. Jayatilleka who served as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva at the time, took an aggressive and triumphalist line on the violence unfolding back home. For example, in 2009 a Special Session was called to discuss Sri Lanka and it was under his leadership we witnessed a hostile position taken and the deliberate targeting of those who held a different view to his own. Such a stance created divisions within the UNHRC and undermined Sri Lanka’s reputation of being able to diplomatically engage with the international community. The divisive line has had a lasting impression among missions and other entities in Geneva who remain dismayed by the negative impact the session had on the unity of the UNHRC and its impact on human rights globally. 

We also note that the line taken at the Special Session ultimately ran counter to Sri Lanka’s national interests. Professional diplomats have argued convincingly that the line espoused by Dr. Jayatilleka at the 2009 session, and triumphalism about his ability to ‘win’ a resolution congratulatory of Sri Lanka’s execution of the war, galvanised Geneva actors whose concerns had been cast aside by the Sri Lankan delegation. The 2009 Special Session debacle ultimately had a significant impact in convincing the international community including the members of the UNHRC that grave violations took place in Sri Lanka and that an independent international investigation was required. This hostile and triumphalist line was counter productive as it subsequently led to several resolutions being adopted by the UNHRC in 2012, 2013 and 2014. We also note that Dr. Jayatilleke who was subsequently appointed Ambassador to France was unable to prevent the French Government from voting against Sri Lanka in these resolutions, demonstrating his ineffectiveness as a head of mission. 

With the political change in 2015, we were relieved to see President Sirisena and the coalition government reverting to a more conciliatory tone where there was recognition of past abuses and the need for genuine reforms towards reconciliation. This was based on human rights being fundamentally a domestic issue, in recognition of the rights of all of Sri Lanka’s citizens rather than a game played with the international community. We were also heartened to see the Government of Sri Lanka rebuilding bridges with the international community and engaging in a constructive manner to further the interests of Sri Lanka, not the whims of particular individuals. This was also welcomed by the international community and in recognition invited President Sirisena to events such as the prestigious Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan and Anti-Corruption Summit in the United Kingdom both in 2016.  

This hard work of rebuilding Sri Lanka’s image and reputation to be a truly democratic and plural country where all citizens are equal and a country that values its international standing can be damaged with the promotion of individuals who were not only apologists of the previous Government but also, to date, its most ardent champions. 

We note that Dr Jayatilleka’s ideology and the ideology that shaped the January 8 2015 movement for change are poles apart. Dr. Jayatilleka has denounced the very concept of Yahapalanaya and members of this administration. He has stood stoically against democratic reform and reconciliation initiatives, repeatedly attacking progressive ministers and leaders of the current Government for making concessions to victims of the war, as seen when privately owned land is released by the military or a permanent office to investigate thousands of cases of disappeared is established. Where we fear the violence perpetuated by the previous regime, Dr Jayatilleke openly extols the virtues of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his ‘strong-man’ tactics. 

On both previous occasions when Dr. Jayatilleka was sent on diplomatic postings, to Geneva and Paris, he furthered a personal agenda which had detrimental consequences to Sri Lanka among its most important allies. If that was the case under the Rajapaksa administration, where Dr. Jayatilleka’s ideological inclinations found resonance, then the potential for damage to this current administration which seemingly does not align with his ethno-nationalist views will be significantly greater. 

It is in this context we question the nomination of Dr. Jayatilleka to a senior diplomatic post and urge the High Post Committee to reject the nomination. We also request President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the coalition government to acknowledge the work done since 2015 to rebuild Sri Lanka’s image and standing internationally and to nominate individuals who are able to best represent the reforms promised in 2015 and not those who deliberately seek to undermine them. 

Thank you



  1. A.C. Mohamed Rumaiz 
  2. A.D.J Rajani 
  3. A.L. Ratnayake 
  4. Anurasiri Hettige 
  5. A.R.A Ramees
  6. Bennette Ratnayake 
  7. Bhavani Fonseka 
  8. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  9. Brito Fernando 
  10. C. Ranitha Gnanarajah- Attorney-at-law
  11. Chandra Jayaratne 
  12. Chandra Hewa Gallage 
  13. Chandraguptha Thenuwara 
  14. Cyril Pathiranage
  15. Danesh Casie Chetty
  16. Deekshaya Illangasinghe 
  17. Dharmasiri Bandaranayaka
  18. Dileep Rohana 
  19. Dr. P. Saravanamuttu 
  20. Dr. Ranjith Pathirana
  21. Faaiz Ameer- Attorney-at-law 
  22. Faheema Begum Marsook
  23. Fathima Fayaza
  24. Freddy Gamage
  25. Gamini Viyangoda 
  26. Gnaweera Dissanaike 
  27. H.M Premasilee
  28. Harsha Gunasena- Charted Accountant 
  29. Harshana Makalanda
  30. Helen de Alwis 
  31. Herman Kumara
  32. J. Subashini 
  33. Jayatilleka Bandara
  34. Jayanta de S Wijeratne 
  35. Jeanne Samuel 
  36. Jeyakanthi Jena
  37. Juwairiya Mohideen 
  38. K.M.D Nilasini 
  39. K.W Janaranjana
  40. Kaushalya Fernando 
  41. Keerthi Kariyawasam
  42. Lakshman Gunasekara
  43. Lal Wijenayaka 
  44. Lala Hegoda 
  45. Lionel Guruge 
  46. Lucian Bulathsinhala 
  47. Lukshman Mendis 
  48. M.D Mahindapala 
  49. Mahaluxmy Karushanthan 
  50. Mahesh Senanayaka- Senior Lecturer, Colombo University 
  51. Mahinda Ratnayaka
  52. Mangalika Fernando 
  53. Marian Pradeepa 
  54. Marshal Fernando 
  55. Mohammed Dilshan 
  56. Mujeebur Rahman
  57. Nigel Nugawela 
  58. Nihal Attapattu 
  59. Noel Christine Fernando 
  60. P. Manoharan
  61. P.D. Dissanayake 
  62. P. D. Gunathilaka 
  63. Padmini Weerasooriya 
  64. Philip Dissanayake 
  65. Prabodha Rathnayaka 
  66. Prasanga Fernando 
  67. Priyadarshani Ebenezer 
  68. Prof. Arjuna Parakrama 
  69. Prof. Camena Guneratne 
  70. Prof. Desmond Mallikarachchi
  71. Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda
  72. Prof. Kumar David 
  73. Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya 
  74. Raisa Wickrematunge 
  75. Roshaan Hettiaratchi- Attorney-at-law 
  76. Saman Ratnapriya 
  77. Sampath Samarakoon 
  78. Sandun Thudugala 
  79. Sandya Ekneligoda 
  80. Sanjana Hattotuwa- Senior Researcher, Centre for Policy Alternatives 
  81. Sarah Arumugam- Attorney-at-law
  82. Seetha Gamage
  83. Shaheera Lafeer
  84. Shanthi Dissanayaka 
  85. Shreen Saroor 
  86. Sumika Perera
  87. Sumathipala Kariyawasam 
  88. Sunil Perera- Gypsies 
  89. Titus Fernando 
  90. Tharanga L. Patabandhi
  91. Upul Kumarapperuma 
  92. Ven. Dhambara Amila Thero
  93. Ven. Mahagalkadawala Pungnasara Thero
  94. Visaka Dharmadasa 


  1. Association of War Affected Women  
  2. Centre for Policy Alternatives 
  3. Families of the Disappeared 
  4. Janasansadaya 
  5. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka 
  6. Muslim Women’s Development Trust, Puttalam 
  7. Northern Muslim Civil Society 
  8. Northern Muslim Forum 
  9. Platform for Freedom 
  10. Rights Now Collective for Democracy 
  11. South Asian Centre for Legal Studies 
  12. Women’s Action Network 
  13. Women’s Centre 
  14. Women’s Resource Centre, Kurunegala 
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Latest comments

  • 0

    Nimal, you missed one critical ability, to run without his pants but in his underwear, in public.

  • 0

    Mr. Yayatileke has a true diplomat was espousing the cause of most Sri Lankans who hated the LTTE the deadliest terrorist organization in the world as such why blame him

  • 3

    Dear Medalankara de Choppe

    I believe you are referring to Maj Gen Denzil Kobbekaduwa’s funeral. Dayan J was attacked viciously by a mob at Borella cemetary where his pants were removed. The poor fella ran in underwear amid hoots by the large crowds present.

    The chap has not changed Melankara

    And, this is the guy whom we try to market as a proud Sri Lankan overseas!

  • 2

    Ambassadors serve the country and not a political party. Those who crow about democracy now cry about DJ’s political leanings as a citizen of the country. As Malinda Seneviratne has written elsewhere in CT, where were these signatories when so many nincompoops were appointed as Diplomats? Have they taken a stand on the grand heist of the Central Bank? Empty vessels make the biggest noise.

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