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UN Colombo yet to comment on civil society rebuttal to war crimes accusations

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Coutersy of The Island

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The UN mission in Colombo yesterday said that it would soon respond to The Island query whether a report received from the Federation of National Organizations (FNO) on ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces’ to be submitted to the UN and Geneva-based UNHRC.

The FNO submitted a copy of the report to the UN mission in Colombo on March 20. A UN official accepted the report on behalf of the UN Resident Representative Una McCauley.

Asked on March 22 whether it would be submitted to the UN and UNHRC for further action, a spokesperson for the UN mission yesterday said that they would respond soon.

The FNO wanted McCauley to forward the report to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Before taking up the Geneva issue with the UN, the FNO requested President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of armed forces to commission an ‘official assessment’ on OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka). The appeal has been made before western powers with the participation of Sri Lanka moved a resolution on Thursday approving a further two year period for the yahapalana government to fulfill obligations in terms of Geneva Resolution 30/1.

In spite of both President Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe ruling out foreign judges in the proposed judicial mechanism in line with Geneva Resolution of 2015, Sri Lanka has reiterated her acceptance of foreign judges again this week.

Attorney-at-law Raja Goonaratne, co-Chairman of National University Teachers Association made available a copy of the letter handed over to UN mission in Colombo to The Island. According to the letter, the UNSG’s intervention had been sought by People’s Tribunal of Sri Lanka on behalf of the FNO to revoke two controversial resolutions that paved the way for unjustifiable international interference in Sri Lanka.

Retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, too, made representations to the UNHRC during the ongoing session requesting reappraisal of UN strategy in Sri Lanka. Weerasekera represented the FNO as well as the People’s Tribunal of Sri Lanka in a bid to thwart Sri Lanka co sponsoring resolution seeking two years to fulfill promises made in 2015 resolution.

The Rear Admiral requested the UNGA to assign a Special Rapporteur to inquire into Geneva intervention, impose a moratorium on the UNHRC from pursuing the resolution any further until the completion of the inquiry.

During Rear Admiral’s brief presentation, an LTTE activist called him a war criminal. The navy veteran submitted ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces.’

A spokesperson for the Global Sri Lanka Front (GSLF) told The Island that the FNO and the People’s Tribunal of Sri Lanka eagerly awaited the UN response to ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces.’ The spokesperson said that the UN had accepted unsubstantiated allegations directed at a member state and moved Geneva on the basis of such accusations. Alleging the UN project had humiliated Sri Lanka, the GSLF spokesperson said that they, too, should be given a hearing.

The UN should examine its strategy as regards Sri Lanka in the wake of the government reiterating its commitment to Geneva Resolution 30/1, the GSLF said, urging the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government to speak with one voice.

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