20 September, 2017

WikiLeaks: Human Rights Minister Vows Not To Take Part In “White Wash”

“Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster Relief and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to share with him a list of suggested actions the Government could take to address the human rights situation. The deeply frustrated Minister (strictly protect throughout) expressed concern that the President and his two brothers have rendered his human rights and humanitarian access efforts ineffective and that he would not sacrifice his political career to become ‘part of a white wash’ for the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GSL) recent human rights violations. Ambassador invited the Minister to participate in a press conference with several other heads of mission to express support for the good work that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka and counter the recent negative publicity international NGOs have been subject to. Minister Samarasinghe agreed, and asked that Ambassador also take his humanitarian message directly to President Rajapaksa.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Mahinda Samarasinghe

Mahinda Samarasinghe

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database dated January 30, 2007. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and written by the US Ambassador to Colombo Robert O. Blake.

Under the subheading “Sidelined By Rajapaksa Brothers”, the ambassador wrote; “Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster Relief and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to share with him a list of requests from non-governmental organizations regarding access and the ability to work in Sri Lanka. Ambassador explained that the list grew out of a meeting the Ambassador chaired with all of Sri Lanka’s major human rights organizations. The Ambassador had asked for their advice of
what steps the Government should take to address the deteriorating human rights situation. The Ambassador presented Samarasinghe the following list, noting that they were not in any priority order:
Human rights organizations ask that the GSL:
— Implement or amend the 17th Amendment in order to activate the independent commissions. Due to their inactivity, there is little or no accountability by power holders.
— Allow the Constitutional Council to appoint suitable persons with good track records to the National Human Rights Commission. The persons who were appointed to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate into Serious Violations of Human Rights are good examples of suitable persons.
— Activate the MOU with the UNP to cooperate both on good governance and peace process.
— Reactivate the peace process by honoring the Ceasefire Agreement, and getting the Norwegian facilitators and the SLMM back into action.
— Give humanitarian access to NGOs to conflict areas in the east and in Jaffna.
— Stop anti-NGO propaganda by state media.
— Compensate civilian victims of violence equitably. The compensation packages extended to the victims of the bus bombings in the south should be extended to victims of air and mortar bombing and collateral damage in the north east.
— Permit freedom of expression to the media, and freedom of meeting to political and civic activists to peacefully canvass their causes without harassment.
— Implement a Media Freedom Act.
— Take seriously Ambassador Rock’s report of complicity between GOSL security forces and the Karuna Faction and address this concern within the military. Monitor the actions of the Karuna Faction and provide redress to families and communities who have had their children abducted.
— Investigate immediately human rights abuses, specifically abductions and extrajudicial killings and take appropriate measures to prosecute and punish those responsibly. Ensure transparency so the public is aware of actions taken to punish human rights violators.
— Implement a fair Freedom of Information Act to reduce corruption.
— Provide safe havens and protection to conflict-affected populations. Physically separate disputants to prevent further violence.

Read the cable below for further details;

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000176

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS, MCC FOR S GROFF, D NASSIRY, E BURKE
AND F REID

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE

SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER VOWS NOT TO TAKE
PART IN “WHITE WASH”

REF: COLOMBO 134 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d).

¶1. (C) Summary. Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster
Relief and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to
share with him a list of suggested actions the Government
could take to address the human rights situation. The deeply
frustrated Minister (strictly protect throughout) expressed
concern that the President and his two brothers have rendered
his human rights and humanitarian access efforts ineffective
and that he would not sacrifice his political career to
become “part of a white wash” for the Government of Sri
Lanka’s (GSL) recent human rights violations. Ambassador
invited the Minister to participate in a press conference
with several other heads of mission to express support for
the good work that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka and
counter the recent negative publicity international NGOs have
been subject to. Minister Samarasinghe agreed, and asked
that Ambassador also take his humanitarian message directly
to President Rajapaksa. End summary.

Sidelined By Rajapaksa Brothers
——————————-

¶2. (C) Ambassador met with Minister of Disaster Relief and
Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe January 30 to share with
him a list of requests from non-governmental organizations
regarding access and the ability to work in Sri Lanka.
Ambassador explained that the list grew out of a meeting the
Ambassador chaired with all of Sri Lanka’s major human rights
organizations. The Ambassador had asked for their advice of
what steps the Government should take to address the
deteriorating human rights situation. The Ambassador
presented Samarasinghe the following list, noting that they
were not in any priority order:

Human rights organizations ask that the GSL:

— Implement or amend the 17th Amendment in order to
activate the independent commissions. Due to their
inactivity, there is little or no accountability by power
holders.

— Allow the Constitutional Council to appoint suitable
persons with good track records to the National Human Rights
Commission. The persons who were appointed to the
Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate into
Serious Violations of Human Rights are good examples of
suitable persons.

— Activate the MOU with the UNP to cooperate both on good
governance and peace process.

— Reactivate the peace process by honoring the Ceasefire
Agreement, and getting the Norwegian facilitators and the
SLMM back into action.

— Give humanitarian access to NGOs to conflict areas in the
east and in Jaffna.

— Stop anti-NGO propaganda by state media.

— Compensate civilian victims of violence equitably. The
compensation packages extended to the victims of the bus
bombings in the south should be extended to victims of air
and mortar bombing and collateral damage in the north east.

— Permit freedom of expression to the media, and freedom of
meeting to political and civic activists to peacefully
canvass their causes without harassment.

— Implement a Media Freedom Act.

COLOMBO 00000176 002 OF 003

— Take seriously Ambassador Rock’s report of complicity
between GOSL security forces and the Karuna Faction and
address this concern within the military. Monitor the
actions of the Karuna Faction and provide redress to families
and communities who have had their children abducted.

— Investigate immediately human rights abuses, specifically
abductions and extrajudicial killings and take appropriate
measures to prosecute and punish those responsibly. Ensure
transparency so the public is aware of actions taken to
punish human rights violators.

— Implement a fair Freedom of Information Act to reduce
corruption.

— Provide safe havens and protection to conflict-affected
populations. Physically separate disputants to prevent
further violence.

¶3. (C) The Ambassador reiterated that the GSL should expect
to receive severe international criticism for its failure to
take action to address the grave human rights situation.
Ambassador stated that the GSL had made “process progress” on
such matters as the Commission of Inquiry but had not taken
concrete actions such as those listed above. Taking steps to
implement some or all of these good faith suggestions would
do much to pre-empt such criticism. A failure to take any
action would result in calls by many in the international
community to deploy international human rights monitors.
After reading the list, Samarasinghe noted that he had “been
working on the same issues” but felt ineffective against the
influence of the President’s brothers, Defense Secretary
Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa,
both of whom have taken a hard line view toward human rights.
Samarasinghe agreed with the Ambassador that the GSL would
face increased international criticism and pressure to
address the human rights record in 2007. He remarked that
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers “must stop the
rhetoric and start delivering. There doesn’t seem to be a
feeling of urgency among the President and his brothers of
the need to take action against what is happening. I’m very
concerned.”

Eloquence and Damage Control
—————————-

¶4. (C) Minister Samarasinghe lamented that he had been
appointed “for damage control” and to add credibility to the
GSL’s human rights efforts, but lacked true effectiveness.
“There is no point in sitting here calling myself the human
rights minister when I can’t go beyond the words. I’m able
to convince people to give me more time, but time is running
out.” He said that the International Independent Group of
Eminent Persons (IIGEP) had “come to this level because of my
perseverance. But I’m concerned that my name is being
associated with the IIGEP process, and that it (the
Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate human
rights abuses) will be a failure, and that I will be a
scapegoat.”

¶5. (C) The Minister contended that his other moves to improve
the infrastructure for accountability had been blocked. For
instance, he had not been selected to chair a Select
Committee on the 17th Amendment (for the establishment of
independent commissions to monitor the police, judiciary and
human rights) despite having introduced the bill “because
there was a feeling that I would have seen it through.”
Instead, Constitutional Affair Minister and committee chair
Dew Gunasekara “says he’s finished his work but needs the
President’s direction” to publish his findings on the defunct
Constitutional Council, according to Samarasinghe.

Not Working for a Whitewash
—————————

COLOMBO 00000176 003 OF 003

¶6. (C) Samarasinghe continued: “If I don’t see the Commission
of Inquiry going the way it should go, I will go public. I
can’t be part of a white wash. I have spent 18 years in
politics. The President must back me if he wants me to do
this. I haven’t had an easy time with his brothers. Some
sacrifices will have to be made to better the image of the
Government.” He added: “The international community is not
satisfied with what is happening in Sri Lanka. We will have
no support if we do not arrest the (human rights) situation.”

Supporting NGOs Publicly
————————

¶7. (C) Ambassador expressed concern about the ongoing
campaign of sections of the GSL against non-governmental
organizations and invited the Minister to participate in a
press conference that he and several other heads of mission
planned on February 7 to express support for the good work
that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka. The Ambassador
stressed that the press conference would illustrate the
positive work international NGOs are doing around the country
and counter claims that some are supporting the LTTE. The
Minister agreed that “it is time that a cabinet minister”
stands up for the solid work of NGOs and that he could only
take part in a press conference that promoted such a positive
agenda. Samarasinghe added that such a public conference
“would help the GSL also. I think some NGOs are considering
pulling out of Sri Lanka because they don’t feel wanted.”
He asked that the Ambassador raise these same issues with
President Rajapaksa. Ambassador undertook to do so.

Stop the Rhetoric, Deliver
————————–

¶8. (C) Comment: Mahinda Samarasinghe is an eloquent and
candid interlocutor who understands the problem but feels
deeply frustrated that the President and his brothers have
thus far failed to heed his repeated entreaties to them to
take action to address the grave human rights situation.
Samarasinghe also is disappointed that the President failed
to reward his loyalty by granting him a more senior Ministry
in the recent Ministerial re-shuffle.
BLAKE

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 3
    3

    This man will do anything to be a keep a Minister…

    Wonder how much his net worth now?…

    • 1
      1

      The Rajapaksa brothers’ human rights abuses and their duplicitous show of human rights protection undertakings have been exposed by this Wikileaks. Thank god the basta..s have been overthrown from power. Cage the bastar.s.

      • 1
        1

        What the wikipedia has yet to reveal if the illegal transactions bettween the LTTEpaymaster and the current finance minister, Ravindran Karunanayakam, and the day light robbery of 430 million Rupees by Rajaratnam’ childhood friend , and now the governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka , and personal friend of the current Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe. . Furthermore, the cover up of fraudulent imports by the company headed by Ravindran Karunanayakam of Betel nuts from Mlasia violating the import and export regulations should be the topics of conversation , given that the present government is now in power for 5 months and no irregularities of the previous government have been exposed by the people who shouted from roof tops with many a file in their hands. Come on UNP, Diaspora sympathisers, and Kalu Suddhas take this challenge.

    • 1
      0

      No wonder he was kicked out of his ministry and kept in cold storage!

  • 9
    3

    Another capable politician like Sarath Amunugama. Both of them are highly sensible, well read intelligent people but degrade themselves to the shallow thinking villager and his band of brothers. Both of these politicians in their own right could do wonders for Sri Lanka if they work with their conscience and not the mentality of the Rajapakses. The above article is self explanatory to what these men will stoop for- power, money that lead to the ruination of Sri Lanka.

  • 1
    3

    [ Ambassador invited the Minister to participate in a press conference with several other heads of mission to express support for the good work that NGOs do for the citizens of Sri Lanka and counter the recent negative publicity international NGOs have been subject to ]

    The issue here is Unites States government has a track record in using NGOs to further their geo political goals and also to destabilize countries – the activities of NGO “activists” dear to Ambassador’s bosom like Pakyasothy speaks for themselves – Colombo Telegraph itself exposed crooked activities of this guy’s NGO – Further readers are requested to search and learn about USA used USAID to destabilize Cuba as recently as 2012 – Hence this sudden humanitarian concerns of a rogue state like USA that carpet bombed Vietnamese civilians to oblivion has to be viewed in the perspective

    • 3
      1

      After the expulsion of Rajapaksa family from power, that God Sri Lanka is no longer a rogue state or a paraya state. Long live the NGOs for helping to dethrone the corrupt murderous dictator and his thieving family from power.

    • 1
      1

      The best example of US and INGO’s duplicity is that they are now mum about the illegal and unethical actions of Sirisena. If these were done by Mahinda these do gooders would bring the sky down.

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