Yahapalanaya a battle ground for HR crusaders!

Yahapalanaya a battle ground for HR crusaders!

President Maithripala Sirisena, by telling the UN General Assembly "to allow Sri Lankan people to solve their problems on their own" and adding that "as an independent country we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us", exposed his Sinhala racist ideology and let the cat out of the bag to expose to all humans.

There is no question whether the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other coalition partners of the Government got to hear a new thing, they knew his betrayal and waited for gamaya to come out. The President called meetings of all MPs and gave a pep talk about his position before coming to New York. Even before, he came out with this silly position in relation to defending human rights in this country. All his understanding of responsibility, his knowledge, comes from day-to-day experience, pragmatically sorted out over 40 years as a SLFP parliamentarian. As a counter, the PM has already declared that he is bringing the new draft Constitution to Parliament on 25 of October that should be the ruling to be followed by Sirisena if he has an iota of responsibility. All this shows that Yahapalana decision-makers knew what Sri Lanka’s presentation to the UNGA was all about; beyond what the President had told media editors days before leaving for New York.

Some say that, looking back, it would appear as if Sirisena did not possibly get the opportunity to read his UNGA speech in the first year of his Presidency, 2015. In that session, he committed Sri Lanka to an independent probe of the kind that the ‘international community’ had sought into ‘accountability issues’ and ‘war crimes’. One of the main allegations against the predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa was that he did not yield. It was the kind of commitment that the global democratic community wanted and the Tamil Diaspora accepted. Even then back in Colombo Sirisena would go sometimes into anger and dismiss war crimes and defend officials suspected of crimes with harsh words to the investigators. Thus he would say exactly the opposite thing that he had told the UNGA. These interventions took place while the Government would still go ahead with the US and the rest of the West in co-sponsoring the UNHRC resolution calling for war-crimes probes, and also move with them and through them, request for time-extension and mild modifications to the original resolution.

Today, Sirisena has done a betrayal by taking a full U-turn. There was no reference whatsoever in his speech to war-crimes and accountability issues, or any investigations of any kind, internal or international, credible or not so credible. Between 2015 and 2018, not only has President Sirisena moved away from the nation’s commitment to the UNGA, by this one act, he has betrayed his commitment to the nation on the war crimes probe that there would be an all Sri Lankan affair of the kind promised at the UNHRC. He has gone to the UN with a purpose. The President does not have to address the UNHRC, or even be present there. That job falls on the Foreign Ministry, if not the Foreign Minister himself. Foreign Minister, Tilak Marapana, was there but Sirisena usurped the job in order to betray the country while Tilak was listening intently to the speech. Seated along Marapana were at least two other Ministers, namely, Champika Ranawaka, and Upcountry Tamil representative Mano Ganeshan. In his time, the international community came down heavily on President Rajapaksa for ‘constantly shifting the goal post’ on the war-crimes probe. Today, at one stroke, or without playing any stroke at all, President Sirisena has removed the goal post altogether from the arena. The thinking seems to have been that the world could complain about ‘shifting goal post’ only if there was one.

Whether the three Ministers supported the President’s views on the HR commitments, that the latter declared, remains to be explained. The position of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s UNP partner on Sirisena’s declaration is clear as he is for implementation of the UN resolution. Hence the Yahapalanaya has become a battle ground for HR crusaders!

(Ceylon Today)

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