19 September, 2020

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Too Much At Stake For Government To Slip 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

In the run up to local government elections, the Joint Opposition has called for the withdrawal of Sri Lanka from the commitments it made to the UN Human Rights Council in 2015 in Geneva. On that occasion it co-signed a resolution on post-war reconciliation to which it had contributed and which was approved unanimously by the Council. This opposition demand has also come at a time when Sri Lanka has demonstrated its positive relationship with the international community on two occasions this month before the United Nations. The first was the Universal Periodic Review of the UN system in Geneva, where the government’s report on its adherence to human rights norms was scrutinized in detail by over one hundred countries out of which 88 countries also made their specific observations. The government delegation was led by Dr Harsha de Silva, deputy minister of national policies and economic affairs. The government delegation included those who had been part of the process of gathering information from a number of sources. These included consultations with civil society which were organized by civil society groups themselves.

The second occasion on which the government addressed the international community was at the special session of the UN Peacebuilding Commission in New York where a select group of countries which are elected to this Commission were present. The UN Peacebuilding Commission is an intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in various ways in countries emerging from conflict, particularly during the transitional phase. The Commission brings together a range of actors to discuss possible solutions for a country and generates support and resources for peacebuilding processes. It also seeks to ensure continued focus on countries in a post-conflict reconstruction phase with a view to preventing the recurrence of conflicts. The delegation to this forum comprised Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy and Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms Mano Tittawella.

It was evident at both these sessions that Sri Lanka had completely changed its image of being amongst the most troubled nations of the world and had established itself as a success story of post-war development. Those who live in Sri Lanka or whose attention is focused on human rights in the country, will see the complexity of the issues facing the country. They may even focus their attention on the more problematic issues, such as the communal violence in Gintota and the reported torture of those deemed to be LTTE suspects that have allegedly continued to the present day. But it was evident at the UN discussions that the international community would generally focus more on the broader picture and not on the details.

Dream Team 

The reason for Sri Lanka’s success with the international community has been three fold. First is that the government has accepted the broad contours of internationally accepted best practices including the UN framework for peacebuilding and transitional justice. Accordingly, it has opened the doors to UN rapporteurs to visit the country and submit their often critical reports. It has also invited international experts in human rights to join with their Sri Lankan counterparts and prepare action plans on achieving the ideals for which the UN system is expected to stand. The second is that the present government sends to international forums those who will not follow a confrontational approach, and engage in wars of words, and instead skillfully practice their diplomatic arts. Indeed, at the UN Peacebuilding Commission discussion, the representative from Japan praised the Sri Lankan delegation in New York as a “dream team.” This was not in the sense of living in a world of dreams, but as the best possible team a country could hope for.

The third reason is also significant. It is that Sri Lanka presently has a government of national unity comprising the two main political parties and which has the backing of the main ethnic minority parties. This factor alone gives the government a great credibility when it talks in terms of reconciliation and power-sharing as this has necessarily to happen first within the government itself if it is to carry on. It is notable that at the meeting of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, not only did the Western countries indicate their support for Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process. In addition the representatives of China, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya in addition to those from the EU, Japan, Norway, Belgium and USA made interventions to express support for Sri Lanka and appreciation for sharing its experiences with the Peacebuilding Commission, which would prove useful for other countries to learn from as well.

The government is often criticized within the country and internationally for going too slowly in its reconciliation process as well as in everything else. However, in an indication that dealing with the past, and its human rights violations and misgovernance is never easy, the representative from Colombia which is widely regarded as the latest success story in post-conflict reconciliation, with its president winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, stated that in some areas the Colombian peace process was going even slower than Sri Lanka’s. He reiterated that there was much they could learn from Sri Lanka’s experience.

Quell Pressure 

Despite its middle income status Sri Lanka remains a relatively poor country with an under resourced economy, burdened by three decades of war and further run down by the financial profligacy and corruptions of the past. Therefore its hopes for a speedy transformation require the support of the international community that would enable the country to catch up for the lost decades of development. This support will initially need to come from foreign governments rather than from the commercial sector. This is because the current labour and property legal framework, wage structures and physical infrastructure in the country are not attractive to foreign private investment. However, by projecting itself as a possible model of post-war reconciliation and reconstruction, Sri Lanka can hope to obtain international support for its economic development plans which would come from governments and multilateral aid agencies.

In this context it is unfortunate that the Joint Opposition has announced that it will seek Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from the commitments of the UNHRC resolution that the present government made in 2015. It has also said that the price of its cooperation with the SLFP headed by President Maithripala Sirisena at the forthcoming local government elections is the withdrawal of the SLFP from the government and its break up. Such a sequence of steps, if undertaken, could spell the end of Sri Lanka’s positive relationship with the international community. It was the new government’s decision to agree to the 2015 resolution in Geneva that led to the turnaround in Sri Lanka’s relationship with the international community. In addition, the Joint Opposition announcement shows how much the Sri Lanka’s policy on human rights and peacebuilding is dependent on the present government remaining in power.

The Joint Opposition’s threat to the UN mandated human rights and peacebuilding process has become more immediate due to the forthcoming local government elections. The dilemma for the SLFP component of the government that is headed by President Sirisena is that if the SLFP goes into these elections divided between themselves and the SLFP component in the Joint Opposition that is headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, they are both unlikely to fare well as the SLFP vote will be divided. This explains the high level negotiations currently underway between the two components to reunify for the purpose of contesting the local government elections together. But the price demanded by the Joint Opposition is very high. It is no less than the breakup of the UNP-SLFP government of national unity which has won international recognition and Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from its international commitments. President Sirisena is reported to be opposed to such an outcome. It is incumbent on the UNP to make its contribution to strengthening the President’s hand to quell the pressures from within his own party in a mutually beneficial manner.

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    Jehan,

    It is incumbent on the UNP to make its contribution to strengthening the President’s hand to quell the pressures within his own party in a mutually beneficial manner.

    True what you have said! But the President is under siege from the maha sanga

  • 2
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    Let us honor our commitments and behave like a civilized nation. We need to abide by them. Raja Senanayake

  • 4
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    Jehan, there’s no problem…..Ask Sirisena ( I believe he considers you as a buddy) to join with Ranil and contest on a joint ticket. What’s the issue? Let JO contest separately and loose the elections. You win…JO loose. Good outcome. Why do you have to write long essays? It’s just a phone call isn’t it? Or is there something we don’t understand which you are concerned of?

    • 0
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      Hela,

      seems like you have liked thumbs up for your own comment.
      Very funny my dear mischievous fellow.

      • 0
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        Hey Mudson,

        There’s no popularity contest here buddy…………Focus on the issue………..Please request readers to like your comments if it feels soothing………..

  • 3
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    Yes pressure from IC is critical to healing. US never accounted for war crimes in Vietnam but we must. US killed thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya but we are accountable not them because they are the world’s #1 nation. Please list 5 things you have done directly to help Tamil victims or refugees. I want examples of you using NPC money to create School rooms, or Wells or Hospital wards or even a mental healthcare facility with your American funds. Do not list your business class travel as things you have done. WHAT TANGIBLE CONCRETE things have you done with NPC money to help people? Then we can talk Mr Perera with a JD not PhD.

  • 0
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    It may be appropriate for Srilanka to withdraw its membership from UN fully, so that the need to attend meetings and abide by the UN’s resolution will not arise at all. The Sinhala Buddhists will be happy.

  • 2
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    The Sri Lankan Success in the International Community is that because Sambanthan of the TNA is giving his nod to whatever the government is doing against the Tamils and no voice against what is not done to the Tamil Community. It is a simple fact that the International community is happy as there is no opposition from the defeated Tamils. There is no agony, no sorrow, no rebuttal from the Tamil community and they have elected Sirisena as president. The crafty Sirisena , with his baby face smiles at the International community, they are hypnotised

  • 0
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    ”post-war development” ?????
    11 days before the war was over Presidential Task Force of 19 members without a single Tamil ( with only a single Muslim who hapened to be one of 10 Secretaries of Ministries) but with 7 members of the military and 2 members of the Police was formed that prevented aid agents from helping the war-ravaged returnees !!!!!

    Only the war of military assaults was over.

    ”War” by militarisation of space, militarised politics(military determines when and how much land is returned), militarised agriculture and other economies, militarised education(including nurseries), militarised social services, ….. is going on.

  • 0
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    Jehan [Edited out]is twisting all what they are doing behind the scene. Rajiv’s military mistake of invading prematurely and returning back after his Odyssey has left the Lankawe in protection mode. Ranil has done to Modi, (or even better) what JR did to Rajiv. Yahapalanaya played so many dramas to fool Mr. Modi. Even New King called Modi while Colombo Media was accusing India for Oil Shortage by holding, Trinco Oil Farms. Now Ranil’s return suggest that he ignored Mr. Modi in the last negotiations and ditched ETCA. The Long expected ETCA is not coming. It was always a Sampur Power plant that India getting Mahinda Bachan Naked International Airport. So far no Western Companies are ready to invest in Lankawe. So Jehan is reinstating the path of Ranil, the Chinese Government Loans, as the new path Lankawe to go. That is what Jehan PhD is describing in his Preamble. Though he is clearly explaining that Western styled private sector is not for Lankawe, which is long merged in the discriminatory labor practices and offending laws to laissez faire economy, he is warning the Joint Comedy to hush, not to jump up and down to wake up any sleeping monsters. This warning to them to protect a hard won success by a long struggle of Appa Diplomacy- with a dream teams. He wants readers to interpret that, which is why getting along with UNHRC is important (a pretension of improvement is human rights, but not arrest Old Royals and prosecute -especially no talk of that at this time of talk of how Yahapalanaya should share the power with them). So he hopes others (not IC-but Lankaweyans Yahapalanaya supporters) will understand the rest. He is clearly saying that there is no need to investigate war crime as long as Modayas (and/or Joint Comedies) not stir up the water, locally.

  • 0
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    Further, he is guaranteeing to Joint Comedy that TNA will not do traitor job against its dedicated masters and he is pleading to recognize that understanding. Not accidently in the rush of hiding the results of Ranil’s Visits’ end with Modi, but purposefully he dropped out mentioning the biggest saga going in the Colombo Media, UNP pretending arresting Brother Prince and New King pretending saving him. Though it was open Ranil’s hidden promise in darkness of election night to save Old Royals, here it is important to show it was New King who at the end saved the Old Royals. That is the only path to power sharing with Old Royals (i.e is the rejected ones in the election is ruling back the people), without IC suspecting UNP’s motives of Saving the criminal and establishing impunity to Sinhalese Buddhists across the all strata level, jobs, castes, creeds. That is here Jehan PhD argument is being logical that not to investigate Old Royals but to share power with them. His theory is not New King sharing it, but the UNP Yahapalanaya has to share the power to Old Royals, for its durability and recognition by IC.

    Everybody Remember how the Ex. American Secretary put faith on New King and outed out Old King from Temple Tree house. We practically wrote here every day how he was goofing without knowing who Ranil is and falsely hoping suppressing New Kings’ war crimes would make him to travel on new clean path. Now, that is how the Old and New Kings have become the resurrected powerful figures in the Lankawe politics and muscle flexing.

  • 0
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    Seeing his boss unrepairable-ly goofed, the assistant Nisha Biswas did all the best she could to persuade Mangala to go ahead and set up mechanism to investigate and if Old King launch the army on them (that was only army’s a threat to stop investigation), she could bring American help to restore democracy. It is not new America would not mind to send army if it sees it is safe and if a private party toppled a democratic country’s government. Not Sec. John Kerry, but the junior officer Nisha Biswas was the thorn in the path of Ranil. He did two things to remove it; one brought her and taught her how to cook Appa Diplomacy in a Lankawe restaurant, on TV show. Then put a cap on the World Greatest Liar Mangala. The Rest everybody know then how he sold Colombo Pong Cing, Hangbangtota Harbor and Five Villages Land, Maduro Oya, one Million Visa…. i.e the government helps that Jehan PhD advocating instead of failed resurrection of Sri Lankan Airlines with Western Investors.

    Total is, Jehan PhD is says that the investigations are thawed, Old Royal are cleaned and they stand as due shareholders to power sharing, , India is capped with Ranil’s last trip, ETCA the largest single mechanism to private investments is informed in Delhi by Ranil as not coming forth, so the path to go on Chinese Government loans is cleared now. This is also a hedge against Mr. Modi if he became a Rajiv Modaya in the future. But the Jewel in the Crown is his braveness to cover up Old Royals’ crime and recommending them shared power by Yahapalanaya is amazing. He is single handedly steering the world opinion of Lankawe to Inchcape rock of disaster.

  • 0
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    In hindsight we, the silent majority Lankans feel that the abrogation of the BC-pact was an opportunity lost. Since then we lost several more.
    the present one as Jahan points is yet another one up for grabs – we must not miss this.

  • 0
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    Yes too much at stake especially your credibility. Do you in the face of this monstrous debacle still attempting to obfuscate? Or are you afraid of the hordes who will deal with you very gently after the downfall of Yhahpalnaya?

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