30 September, 2020

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The UNP Gets Geneva Wrong: Rebuttal Of Lakshman Kiriella

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

I write to contradict the assertions of Mr Lakshman Kiriella, Senior Vice President of the UNP, as reported in the lead story of The Island of Tuesday Feb 11th 2014, with regard to the UNHRC special session of May 2009 in Geneva and the needless yet impending catastrophe we face there today.

Mr. Kiriella is quoted as saying that “A series of blunders has led to the country being crucified at international forums. It all began shortly after the war with the LTTE ended on May 19, 2009. Our representative at the UN gave an undertaking that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution would be implemented in full. Subsequently, President Mahinda Rajapaksa went a step further and assured India that 13A Plus would be granted to the North and East. Thereafter the government entered into an MoU with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon undertaking to conduct an independent and credible domestic inquiry into the allegations of war crimes against the security forces and the LTTE, he noted.” (‘Kiriella Challenges GL, MS to Debate on Foreign Policy’, Zacky Jabbar, The Island, page1, Feb 11th 2014).

As our representative at the UNHRC in May 2009, I write to refute this statement which falsifies the dates, sequence and significance of Sri Lanka’s victory in the UNHRC five years ago and thereby prevents a proper understanding of the real blunders made by the managers of this regime’s foreign policy and the resultant crisis of Sri Lanka’s external relations.

Tracing how “it all began” Mr Kiriella says “Our representative at the UN gave an undertaking that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution would be implemented in full. Subsequently, President Mahinda Rajapaksa went a step further and assured India that 13A Plus would be granted to the North and East.” Now this is not merely illogical, it is untrue.

Firstly, the undertaking given in Geneva to implement the 13th amendment in full could not have been “how it all began” because that undertaking had been given in Colombo, not Geneva, on May 21st and May 23rd 2009, while the Special Session of the UNHRC in Geneva was on May 26-27th 2009. The commitment to implement 13A was made in Colombo, not Geneva and reached Geneva from Colombo.

Secondly, the President could not have “subsequently” gone a step further because those undertaking were prior to the Geneva resolution and not subsequent to it (May 21 and 23 being prior to May 26-27).

Thirdly, the President gave no explicit or formal undertaking in these documents that “13A Plus would be granted”, though he did undertake to implement 13A.

Fourthly, neither the President nor the government ever “entered into an MoU with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon undertaking to conduct an independent and credible domestic inquiry into the allegations of war crimes against the security forces and the LTTE”. Instead they undertook to “address the grievances” which Mr. Ban Ki Moon “underlined” as “important” with regard to accountability and allegations of human rights violations.

It is little wonder that Mr Kiriella engages in such falsification, wittingly or unwittingly, as he represents a party which wrecked Sri Lanka’s foreign policy to such an unprecedented degree that we had Indian warplanes intruding into our airspace, followed by 70, 000 foreign troops on our soil, all without a single vocal criticism by any state in the international system. Bad as this government’s foreign policy has been, we have not yet reached the degree of utter isolation that Sri Lanka experienced in the 1980s under the UNP.

The text of the Press Statement issued on May 21st 2009 after the top-level meeting with the Indian team and posted on the GoSL website reads, inter alia, as follows:

“Mr. M.K. Narayanan, National Security Advisor and Mr. S. Menon, Foreign Secretary of India visited Sri Lanka on 20 and 21 May. They called on His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka and met with senior officials, including Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, MP, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President and Defence Secretary, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa. They also interacted with a number of political parties in Sri Lanka…Both sides also emphasized the urgent necessity of arriving at a lasting political settlement in Sri Lanka. To this, the Government of Sri Lanka indicated that it will proceed with implementation of the 13th Amendment. Further, the Government of Sri Lanka also intends to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties, in the new circumstances, for further enhancement of political arrangements to bring about lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka”. (21 May 2009)

The text of the joint statement issued on 23rd May 2009 with the UN Secretary-General reads as follows:

“Following is the joint statement by the Government of Sri Lanka and the United Nations at the conclusion of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Sri Lanka on 23 May: At the invitation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, paid a visit to Sri Lanka.  During the course of his visit, he held talks with the President, Foreign Minister as well as other senior leaders of Sri Lanka…President Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long-term socio-economic development.  The Secretary-General welcomed the assurance of the President of Sri Lanka contained in his statement in Parliament on 19 May 2009 that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved.  President Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as well as to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties in the new circumstances, to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka…Sri Lanka reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations.  The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The Government will take measures to address those grievances.” (May 23, 2009)

The two documents were sent to us in Geneva and had of course reached all delegations through their respective missions in Colombo and their capitals, as we were drafting our text in Geneva with our allies. The “firm resolve” of the President to “proceed with the implementation of the 13th amendment” reached the level of the United Nations, not because of our Geneva representative or the UNHRC resolution, but precisely because it was in the official communiqué released in New York and Colombo after President Rajapaksa made the pledge to no less than the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon himself.

There was no question of non-inclusion of this commitment when Brazil, South Africa, India and Russia urged the mention in the text of the resolution of the two joint statements at the meetings of our ‘like-minded group’ (LMG) comprised of NAM plus BRICS, and did so with the fullest support of the Non Aligned Movement (with the Cuban Ambassador as Chair) and the complete concurrence of China.

If the UNP thinks that the President was wrong to declare his “firm resolve” to implement the 13th amendment even after the war had been won, it should come out and say so, instead of blaming the Geneva 2009 UN HRC resolution which accurately reflected the commitment made by the President to India and the UN only days before.

Unlike many critics of President Rajapaksa, local and foreign, I do not think he was either duplicitous or in error when he made that commitment. I believe the inordinate delays in implementation and today’s difficulties are of a piece with the ones that detained President Jayewardene who would have legislated provincial devolution any time between 1984 and 1987, thereby pre-empting the Indian intervention, but felt unable to do so because of the hawks in his ranks, most notably National Security Minister Athulathmudali, whose myopic aggressiveness and inability to calculate the balance of forces, almost cost us our sovereignty.

In a piece significantly entitled ‘Lessons to Learn from Geneva’ the international award-winning journalist and author Nirupama Subramanian made this observation in 2012 (when Sri Lanka was again the subject of a hostile resolution which was carried successfully at the UNHRC): “As Sri Lanka mulls over last month’s United Nations Human Rights Council resolution, it may look back with nostalgia at its 2009 triumph at Geneva. Then, barely a week after its victory over the LTTE, a group of western countries wanted a resolution passed against Sri Lanka for the civilian deaths and other alleged rights violations by the army during the last stages of the operation. With the blood on the battlefield not still dry, Sri Lanka managed to snatch victory from the jaws of diplomatic defeat, with a resolution that praised the government for its humane handling of civilians and asserted faith in its abilities to bring about reconciliation.” (The Hindu, April 7th 2012)

Nirupama Subramanian’s article is preceded with the summary that “Had Sri Lanka taken steps to implement the 13th amendment, India may never have associated itself with the UNHRC resolution.” Which is true. India’s diplomatic support, then and now, is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic success and indeed safety. In and of itself it is insufficient, as votes on Myanmar in 2009 demonstrated. Despite the support of Russia, China and India, Myanmar lost those votes. Thus even in May 2009, securing India’s support would not have done the job for us, but as the votes of March 2012 and 2013 show, without India, the job cannot be done either.  As Mervyn de Silva cautioned in a lecture at Marga Institute on ‘External Aspects of The Ethnic Issue’ three decades ago, in 1985, two years before the airdrop, the Accord, the IPKF and 13A, “Sri Lankan foreign policy must be centered on a non-hostile relationship with India”.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    UNP Should restrict Kirella on media statements.This guy should understand the time sensitivity when making statements especially where there is an election in south few weeks time. People in south are still not clear with UNP viewpoint in regard to Geneva resolution. Unfortunately Kiriella is supplying ammunition to PA to further isolate southern voters from UNP.

  • 4
    2

    It is the UNP fellows who messed up the foreign policy & also escalated the ethnic issue.
    1. The UNP President JRJ spineless fellow slept in 1983 until the innocent Tamils were attacked & killed. The European & USA was eager to give asylum to these fellows as they needed fellows to do scavenging and other labor jobs.
    2. Antoganised India, specially Indira Ghandi and the family. They were hostile to teh country & when PARIPPU was dropped this backboneless leader JRJ accepted the Indian army to Sri Lanka and signed an agreement under Indian threat to give Provincial Councils with powers as in India in 13th amendment.
    3. When Premadasa became Prsident the fellow kept BABU the LTTE fellow at home and allowed his lorries *& containers to transport arms imported by LTTE.
    4. Made Paskerlingam, the LTTE fellow as the Secretary to Treasury/de facto Minister of Finance and issued all the money needed by LTTE.

    • 2
      2

      Ranjith,

      tell me any of the predecessors inteh past fulfil utopic agendas ?This is common to other countries too.

      Why to attack them the UNP REPEATEDLY now if you and the many are in the view that the current bunch has been driving the nation to a totally wrong direction ? Direction that we make enemies than the friends. Anti than pro.

      I have no doubt, I cant say about you but many, that are with sanity would not feel fine with MR politics looking at the way he has been leading this nation, specially, in the post war scenario. The man was fine with WAR ENDING, but that is just one PART ONLY. Achieving peace and recociliation should be achieved through PEACEFUL efforts; PEACEFUL EFFORTS can only be winnable thorugh patience, love and care. None of latter mentioned qualities are part of Rajapakshes.

      As Rev. Sobitha Thero makes it very clear – what we need is a GREATER change of the current rule, which will pave the way for democratic and human values. We enjoyed those values more in the past than it is today. There are enough lanken seniors to lead the nation to the progress. This you would not achieve so long oligarchy of MR, GR, BR, CR and the family members handle the country´s issues to the manner they have proved it to everyone to this day.

      Why dont you guys pose the quesiton, if the lanken diplomatic missions across the globe did their job properly, why should President, His secretary, Foreign minister should waste millions of poor people´s funds these days by making all efforts to win them for the UNHRC sessions. Today world is made a small village thorugh with the revolution of tel sector – if right peple are appointed to the right bodies – being in srilanka, foreign minister personnels shold be able to work effciently. In that way, they could save millions. The key problem is that Rajapakshe administration has failed to appoint SKILLED, EXPERIENCED PERSONNELS to those embassies today. This is clear to everyone but not to Rajapakshe oligarchs.

    • 0
      0

      Ranjith, may I correct you.Read Prof Hooles articles. JRJ,ElleGunawansa among others were directly involved in the 1983 fracas.

  • 0
    1

    PeaceMinded,
    Please go back at least to a night school and learn English without murdering the Queen in cold blood

  • 0
    0

    Wonder Dayan, if you have any recollection of another hawk by the name of Jayatilleka who jumped from he North East provincial council into Premadasa’s pocket – to help him protect the “vast majority” by arming the LTTE helping also to annihilate the members of the organization that you jumped from ?

    • 0
      0

      Kiri Yaka, you are right. dayan will help any criminal to stay in public focus.He had prostituted himself.

  • 0
    0

    Kiriella is just a mouth piece of UNP hidden agenda. UNP is still paying the prise for not supporting the war and they will pay more for their betrayals to the motherland. What can we expect from a party who invited C4 seperatists to the Sirikotha. A party who always stand with the politicians who work with Tamil seperatists. They have not learnt a lesson yet from the past.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan:

    You have gone completely mad and your Doctorate is not worth a penny. I have seen your interviews and advice to GOSL and it is excentric and beggars belief not to say the least.

    ***1)”Firstly, the undertaking given in Geneva to implement the 13th amendment in full could not have been “how it all began” because that undertaking had been given in Colombo, not Geneva, on May 21st and May 23rd 2009, while the Special Session of the UNHRC in Geneva was on May 26-27th 2009. The commitment to implement 13A was made in Colombo, not Geneva and reached Geneva from Colombo.

    *** Does it matter where the undertaking was given and it is still binding. In any case if it was repeated in Geneva and it was only done to prempt UN taking a tougher decison. It was given to India and without Indias agreement it cannot be reciprocated. But the Corrupt Indian Politicians who have all been bribed handsomely by MR are palying dilly dally as they cannot betray the Paymaster. As I have said many times India has total Jurisdiction over Sinhala Lanka and when we have a change at the top after March the Tamil fortunes will change and the Iron Lady has already said so. USA Britain and Canada only play sencond fiddle.

    ***2)Secondly, the President could not have “subsequently” gone a step further because those undertaking were prior to the Geneva resolution and not subsequent to it (May 21 and 23 being prior to May 26-27).

    *** The above boils down to the fact that the 13th Amendment doesnt the Tamil Aspirations and is inadequate.

    *** 3) Thirdly, the President gave no explicit or formal undertaking in these documents that “13A Plus would be granted”, though he did undertake to implement 13A Amendment.

    *** Now you can see why the World has woken up to the fact that MR will never grant the minority Tamils anything willingly. He rules by deception to complete his agenda of Colonisation but he has been stopped in his tracks.

    **4) Fourthly, neither the President nor the government ever “entered into an MoU with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon undertaking to conduct an independent and credible domestic inquiry into the allegations of war crimes against the security forces and the LTTE”. Instead they undertook to “address the grievances” which Mr. Ban Ki Moon “underlined” as “important” with regard to accountability and allegations of human rights violations.

    *** I agree with the above and how do you expect a Criminal to agree to an Inquiry of his own role in the Genocide. Banki Moon the Buddhist Monk tried to fool the World but at last under pressure he has admitted he got it all wrong.

    But I am sure you have some intellingence and can work out where MR is heading and frankly to the HAGUE and consider the following and these are ominous signs.

    1) America only seeks Congress Approval whe she wants to intervene in a Foreign Country. She has 800 Lobbyist at her disposal.
    2) Biswal has added Corrupition to the Charge sheet of War Crimes aand it was America which brought Money Laundering checks. Mahinthas Loot is no longer safe and it will be traced.
    3) EU has backed a War Crimes Inquiry
    4)Even Tony Abbot has been defeated.

    The only thing that we are waiting for is the Tamil Nadu Army to arrive to enforce.
    MRs fate is sealed.

  • 0
    0

    Who is this Sobitha Thera now brought to the front for convenience to justify. Where was Sobitha when LTTE was ransacking the country. No one is speaking about what TNA is doing. Where is the corporation of the Tamils at large to rebuild the nation. It is the same all through the ages. Only government is burdened with finding a solution. The Tamils are on sideline finding fault on any resolution. At the same time Tamils do not offer any solution.

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