UN Chief begins 3-day visit to Sri Lanka with tour to Galle and meetings with President, PM

Friday, 2 September 2016 00:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Smiles of United Nations


By Dharisha Bastians

Small crowds of protestors demonstrated outside the United Nations Headquarters in Colombo yesterday as UN Chief Ban Ki-moon commenced a three-day visit to Sri Lanka that will focus on rebuilding and reconciliation.

The hardline Ravana Balaya movement staged the demonstration and handed over petitions for the visiting Secretary General at the UN Office, but Police obtained a court order against the protest in the interest of maintaining the peace and dispersed the crowd. The demonstrators claimed that the United Nations had looked the other way during LTTE atrocities and suicide bombings.

The UN Secretary General spoke at a youth and reconciliation event in Galle last afternoon and met with President Maithripala Sirisena for talks at the Presidential Palace last evening, the UN in Sri Lanka said.

Ban arrived on Wedne-sday (31) for his second visit to Sri Lanka. His first was on 23 May 2009, five days after the end of the war, when he toured the final theatre of battle by air and visited the mass IDP camp Menik Farm to speak to the war displaced.

He held talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickreme-singhe on Wednesday shortly before the Premier left for Singapore on an official visit. Ban will hold talks with the Tamil National Alliance and Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in Jaffna today. During his tour of the North, the UN Secretary General will also visit a resettlement site.

The ‘Joint Opposition’ aligning itself with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a strongly worded ‘Advisory Note’ to the UN Secretary General upon his arrival, calling itself the “biggest grouping of MPs in the parliamentary opposition of Sri Lanka, which was not consulted prior to making international commitments and decisions about the country.”

Reminding Ban that the UN had no mandate to get involved in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, the Joint Opposition said the resolutions against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council had stemmed from the Panel of Experts (Darusman) report the Secretary General had commissioned. The JO also slammed the investigative report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released in September 2015, saying it was based on erroneous and distorted information.

“While all these reports contain distorted, inaccurate details and partisan and untruthful evidence, obtained by violating the norms of natural justice, they include recommendations, harmful to the sovereignty, freedom and independence of Sri Lanka,” the Joint Opposition’s ‘Advisory Note’ to the Secretary General said.

Signed by JO Convenor Dinesh Gunewardane, the note said the UNHRC had gone beyond its mandate to censure Sri Lanka.

“We wish to advise Your Excellency that the aforementioned resolution passed by the UNHRC, on 29 September 2015, attempts to force the participation of foreign judges to look into domestic matters; and to allow foreign countries to investigate and lay charges with regard to incidents alleged to have taken place in Sri Lanka is not only a grave insult to the country’s judicial system, but a grave violation of Sri Lanka’s dignity, sovereignty and its constitution,” the note said.