By Dharisha Bastians
The UN Human Rights Council Resolution calling for progress on Sri Lanka’s outstanding reconciliation and accountability is merely asking the Government to deliver on promises made to the international community since 2009, the main Opposition said yesterday, reiterating its call for an all-party approach to implement reconciliation measure and avoid further international censure against the country.
Reacting to the US-backed resolution that was adopted at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, UNP Senior Vice President Lakshman Kiriella claimed that the Government had consistently broken its promises to the world, on political devolution, the full implementation of the 17th Amendment and an inquiry into alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the war.
“The Government can’t keep making promises internationally every year hoping the world will forget by the next year,” Kiriella told a media briefing yesterday.
The UNP MP criticised the Government’s handling of the UNHRC Session in Geneva. While the world was crying out demilitarisation, greater freedom of movement and media freedom in the north, the Government was telling the council how many roads and bridges had been constructed in the north, Kiriella said.
“The UNHRC is not the forum that calls on states to fulfil their obligations on road and bridge building,” he quipped.
He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa had issued a joint statement with UN Chief Ban Ki Moon following a visit by the latter in Colombo after the end of the war, which reiterated all the undertakings the Sri Lankan Government provided at the UNHRC in 2009 to prevent the adoption of a resolution against the country.
Kiriella said instead of surrounding the US Embassy and Indian High Commission in Colombo, anti-resolution demonstrators should be protesting in front of Temple Trees. “These are the Government’s own promises to the international community. It is the Government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report the resolution is calling on Sri Lanka to implement,” he said.
The UNP Parliamentarian accused the Government of having botched the country’s foreign relations due to a lack of credibility.
“Just because the Government engages in public relations manoeuvres, it will not address Sri Lanka’s international challenges. Genuine, credible policy changes alone will restore Sri Lanka’s standing internationally,” he said.
Kiriella accused the ruling administration of having ruined Sri Lanka’s relationship with India. India formed the cornerstone of Colombo’s foreign relations, he said, adding that this was constantly reinforced by UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during his tenure as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2004.
“He constantly emphasised to us that engagement with Tamil Nadu was a must. He said Tamil Nadu was more important than New Delhi in terms of Sri Lanka’s national interest. Today, because of the Government’s poor handling of the situation, no Sri Lankan is safe in Tamil Nadu, not even a Buddhist monk,” he said.