The government renewed a call for the main Tamil party the TNA, to join a parliamentary select committee to discuss minority issues yesterday amid the island’s human rights record being dissected at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions.
Government spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella rejected criticism voiced by United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay on Monday in Geneva that the government had not pushed ahead with finding a political solution despite the end of a three decade war in 2009: “We have invited the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to participate in a Parliamentary Select Committee comprised of all political parties belonging to different ethnicities to discuss an inclusive power sharing mechanism but they have so far refused to do so. We are prepared for discussions so all we can do is ask them to participate again,” he said.
The call comes as the U.S. prepares to pass a second resolution on Sri Lanka at the on-going UNHRC sessions in Geneva.
The Minister also vehemently rejected a Human Rights Watch report accusing the military of using sexual violence against the Tamil minority.
In a 141-page report titled “ ‘We Will Teach You a Lesson’: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces,’ the New York-based Human Rights Watch details the personal accounts of 75 alleged cases of rapes and assaults that occurred since 2006.
The report says the politically motivated violence occurred in both official and secret detention centres throughout the country with the participation of police, army and paramilitary groups.
“This is a blatant lie. We have asked Human Rights Watch to release evidence to prove these allegations but they have refused to do so. The government is attempting to do the responsible thing to clear its reputation but we are not being allowed to do so. Therefore we completely reject these unsubstantiated allegations.”