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Govt urged to clarify its stance on Geneva resolution – FNO

By Shamindra Ferdinando

(Courtesy of The Island)

The Federation of National Organizations (FNO) yesterday, January 23, urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government to clarify its stand vis-a-vis controversial resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the previous administration at the Geneva based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Oct 2015.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, Dr. Wasantha Bandara and attorney-at-law-law Kalyananda Thiranagama on behalf of the FNO emphasized that the new administration owed an explanation in the wake of government spokesman State Investment Promotion Minister Keheliya Rambukwella’s declaration that the line taken by former Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC, would be pursued.

One-time Attorney-General Marapana told March 2019 Geneva session that judicial mechanisms inclusive of foreign judges couldn’t be established in terms of the Geneva resolution in violation of the Constitution.

Lawmaker Rambukwella on Wednesday, January 22, told the media the incumbent government could build its defence on the basis of Marapana’s stand.

Addressing the media at FNO office, Rajagiriya, Dr. Amarasekera said that they were quite disappointed and surprised by the Government Spokesman’s declaration at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Dr. Amarasekera said that lawmaker Marapana followed the treacherous UNP strategy. Pointing out that Mangala Samaraweera (Jan 2015-May 2017), Ravi Karunanayake (May – Aug 2017) and Tilak Marapana (Aug 2017-Oct 2018/Dec 2018-Nov 2019) held foreign ministry portfolio, he said that all of them pursued the same strategy. Dr. Amarasekera said that it would be foolish on the part of the new government to adopt Marapana’s stand.

President’s Counsel Marapana, having reiterated Sri Lanka’s commitment to Geneva process pointed out their inability to implement certain provisions therein contrary to the Constitution, Dr. Amarasekera said. Referring to the abortive new constitution making process undertaken by under former Premier Wickremesinghe leadership, the nationalist said that the new government should take tangible measures to disprove unsubstantiated accusations. Geneva sessions begin next month

Dr. Amarasekera said that the forthcoming session would be the first since the last presidential election in Nov 2019.

The country was at a crossroads, Dr. Amarasekera said, warning of dire consequences unless the government took tangible measures to set the record straight.

“We expected the new government to counter Geneva project properly,” Dr. Amarasekera said. The writer said that the vast majority of those who backed the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna candidate at the 2019 presidential poll expected to clear the armed forces of human rights accusations.

Dr. Amaradasa recalled the much publicized promise given by the then FM Marapana in late Nov 2017 to use official British documents available to the then government to disprove war crimes accusations (counter Geneva resolution) at an appropriate forum. That assurance was given in parliament in response to a query raised by the then Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena, Dr. Amarasekera said. The UNP government never used those British documents in Sri Lanka’s defence, Dr. Amarasekera said. The betrayal of the war winning military by way of Geneva resolution, too, contributed to the overall decline of the previous government’s popularity, he said adding that the electorate certainly wouldn’t want the new administration to pursue UNP strategies under any circumstances.

The String nationalist said that they expected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to exploit the overwhelming public support he received at the presidential poll to take a strong stand, both here and abroad.

There were ample evidence relevant to the Geneva resolution in the public domain which could be utilized in Geneva, he pointed out while calling for a thorough examination of all available facts in preparation of the Geneva defence.

Attorney-at-law Thiranagama said that the recent Swiss embassy bid to evacuate local employee Garnier Banister Francis to Switzerland on the bogus claim she had been sexually molested and threatened with death by government agents could be a continuation of the vile UN operation directed against Sri Lanka.

In spite of the exposure of their lie, the Swiss continued to play high profile drama with the suspect granted bail still being accompanied by Swiss representatives when she appeared before Fort Magistrate court, Thiranagama said. The human rights lawyer said that similarly the UN recommended action on the basis of bogus war crimes accusations.

Dr. Wasantha Bandara said that Marapana’s move in March 2019 Geneva session was nothing but extension of Mangala Samaraweera’s strategy. Dr. Bandara said that lawmaker Marapana explained Sri Lanka’s inability to carry out some recommendations while taking credit for the overall implementation of the Geneva resolution. The civil society activist said that they were aware that the government was in the process of addressing the accountability issue. Dr. Bandara emphasized the seriousness of State Minister Rambukwelle’s statement whether he made the declaration in his official capacity as the government spokesman or member of parliament.

Dr. Bandara said that they were quite shaken by lawmaker Rambukwella’s response to The Island query as to what would be their stand in Geneva.

Dr. Bandara said that the new government couldn’t afford not to undertake a thorough but swift examination of all available data. The FNO representative said that successive governments never bothered at least to request the UN to make available still mysteriously classified UN report that dealt with the Vanni war deaths between Aug 2008 and May 13, 2009. That report placed the number of deaths at 7,721 (both civilians and LTTE terrorists) therefore contradicted the UN Panel of Experts’ (PoE) claim of 40,000 killings, Dr. Bandara said. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka never raised that report much to the disappointment of the armed forces still being humiliated and harassed, Dr. Bandara said.



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