Geneva commitments and President’s role

(Courtesy of The Island)

As per a news item in The Island dated 15 Nov 2017, under the title “Cabinet spokesman provoked by query on govt. response to Naseby move” Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera has said that the statement made by Lord Naseby in the House of Lords had not been taken up by the Cabinet on the basis it wasn’t considered so grave a matter.

While addressing the House of Loads, on 12 October 2017, Lord Naseby said ” I hope and pray that, as a result of this debate, the UK will recognise the truth that no one in the Sri Lankan Government ever wanted to kill Tamil civilians. Furthermore, the UK must now get the UN and the UNHCR in Geneva to accept a civilian casualty level of 7,000 to 8,000, not 40,000. On top of that, the UK must recognise that this was a war against terrorism, so the rules of engagement are based on international humanitarian law, not the European Convention on Human Rights. The West, and in particular the US and the UK, must remove the threat of war crimes and foreign judges that overhangs and overshadows all Sri Lankans, especially their leaders. We in the UK should reflect on the sacrifices of thousands of young Sri Lankan soldiers who died to create peace in that country.

When we read the above statement of Lord Naseby, the Cabinet Spokesman’s provocation and the silence maintained by the other two present were not surprising.

The entire world is aware what the Sirisena-Ranil Government’s commitments are, since the regime co-sponsored the UNHRC Resolution 30/1 in September 2015 which calls, among many other things, for the setting up of a war crimes tribunal to probe our own war heroes, with the participation of foreign judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators.

The Sirisena – Ranil government is also committed to fulfil the secret agreements reached, prior to January 2015, with the other interested parties of toppling MR such as TNA, GTF, NGOs who were doing a great service to the LTTE. Thus the statement made by Lord Nasby is not really helpful to a party who is committed to please those who made them powerful. Hence the Sirisena-Ranil combination will do whatever possible to achieve their goals at any cost.

The Island editorial “Confusion worse confounded” highlighting where the President Sirisena’s statements on the proposed war crimes tribunal are at variance with those government delegates make in Geneva from time to time, raised the question whether that the government is divided on the question of honouring its Geneva commitments?

The elements, both foreign and local, who were behind the toppling of MR were able to bring the SLFP (the main opponent of the UNP for nearly six decades), JVP (who lost 60,000 cadres, including its founder leader under UNP vigilantes, where Ranil was a key player ) and JHU (who were highly critical of LTTE, TNA, Ranil-Prabha Pact, etc) under Sirikotha’s guidance when reaching their objectives. As it is, under the so-called unity government, the leadership of the high jacked SLFP are under UNP surveillance and cannot go against the wishes of the latter.

Thus those elements, still active, know how to manipulate the public opinion to achieve their goals. President Sirisena’s role here appears to be the making of statements, whenever needed, to dilute the public opinion in a shrewd way when fulfilling their Geneva and other commitments.

By Sangadasa Akurugoda

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