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Tuesday April 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka leader hits at US, West for double standards on human rights after Gaza failure 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe in a public speech hit hard on the double standards of the United States-led West over human rights citing what they have done to the South Asian Island nation and Palestine where over 10,000 civilians including children have already been brutally murdered. 

Since an October 7 surprise attack by Palestine militant group Hamas, Israel military has been bombing the Gaza strip where tens of thousands of native Palestinians are cornered following gradual encroachment by Israelis in the past seven decades. 

The critical comments by Wickremesinghe, who has been seen as a pro-Western leader, comes as the Western nation led by the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom have been raising concerns over Sri Lanka’s human rights and accountability.

The United States last month vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have called for humanitarian pauses in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants to allow humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip. 

Since then, thousands of Palestinians have been killed by Israel aerial’s indiscriminate bombing including hospitals.  

“Why is it that they are acting in this manner? Because, last year in October, at the Human Rights Council, they all got together and passed a resolution against Sri Lanka,” President Wickremesinghe said while addressing a gathering at the opening of the Courts complex in central town of Welimada on Friday (3)

“The country that moved it was Canada who, also at this time, moved the amendment to the ceasefire resolution. Canada has now become the henchman for moving these resolutions. The resolution has been moved against and passed by them. And we all have to follow it.”

Western nations like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have consistently put pressure on successive Sri Lankan governments to address past human rights violations, demanded to uphold minority rights, and backed a series of resolutions to probe alleged war crimes in the final phase of a 26-year war that ended in 2009.

“What applies to us must also apply in Gaza. What the US has told us, they must also ensure it is enforced in Gaza. Now we are having two different systems,” the president questioned.

“So, what you are being asked here, in Gaza, is to address the concerns of the Muslim population. If the Sri Lankan government must address it, why is there another rule?”

The Palestinians are all Muslims and they have all been marginalized in their own place. So, I ask them, why is it that the US applies this to us but not in Gaza?

Following is the address delivered by President Ranil Wickremesinghe declaring open the modern courts complex in Welimada;

“The administration of justice we have is about the oldest in Asia coming from the Dutch and the British and we are the oldest as far as the rule of law is concerned. It was applied here before it was applied anywhere else. Not even in India not in Japan, so that is the history we have and we have upheld this rule of law. Now the rule of law, though at that time confined to a few countries, have now become universal and it is also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we have all to follow.

And that is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which we have all respected and will continue to respect.  But it requires every country to adhere to it. Today, there are major issues that have arisen with regard to the declaration of human rights and the course of normal international affairs. I only must refer to the war that is taking place in Gaza. When Hamas attacked Israel, on the 07th of October the Government of Sri Lanka condemned it. I said though Sri Lanka stands by the principle of Palestine in statehood, we cannot condone this act. We can’t condone terrorism and it also left the government with the right of retaliation within the laws and rules available in the international community.

But, that in my view does not in any way justify the killing of over 10,000 people in the Gaza strip. This is not figures that I have, these are figures that are being quoted by the UN agencies. Now, this raises another issue. Are you entitled to declare war to one area of your own country. Can you go to war against it? Now we have gone through this question. And can countries condone it? Because, when we brought a motion for the ceasefire, many of our countries, all of us voted for it, USA opposed it and some other countries also opposed it.

Now, this is the question. Why is it that they are acting in this manner? Because, last year in October, at the Human Rights Council, they all got together and passed a resolution against Sri Lanka. The country that moved it was Canada who, also at this time, moved the amendment to the ceasefire resolution. Canada has now become the

henchman for moving these resolutions. The resolution has been moved against and passed by them. And we all have to follow it.

So I only want to point out, now what is this difference? We have been asked in this, underscoring the importance of addressing the underlying governance factors and root causes that have contributed to that crisis including deepening militarization, lack of accountability in governments and impunity of human rights violations abolished and abuses. Now if this is good for Sri Lanka, it must also apply to Palestine.  After all what is taking place in West Bank and the bringing in of settlers is a big issue.

Then why is it one rule applies to us, and another rule applies to them. This is the question I have and reaffirming also that all measures taken to combat terrorism must comply fully with states obligation under international law. In particular, international human rights law and as applicable, international refugee law and international human rights law. So, what applies to us must also apply in the Gaza. What US has told us, they must also ensure is enforced in the Gaza. Now we are having two different systems.

Then, express concerns that the human rights impact of the economic crisis, including as a result of increased food insecurity, severe shortages in fuel, shortage in essential medicine and reductions in household incomes. As what they said of Sri Lanka last year, it is much worse in Gaza today. I stress the importance of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the grievances and demands of the Tamil and Muslim population.

So, what you are being asked here, in Gaza, is to address the concerns of the Muslim population. If the Sri Lankan government must address it, why is there another rule?

To take measures to address the marginalization and discrimination against persons from the Muslim community. The Palestinians are all Muslims and they have all been marginalized in their own place. So, I ask them, why is it that the US applies this to us but not in Gaza?

They in fact, tell us that there is no need for a ceasefire, only what is called a humanitarian pause. Now, this is the issue we are faced with. Now, my problem is, ok let’s say the US is handling the Gaza issue, when we go next year, to the UN Human Rights Council, we will be judged by this.

There is one law for us, one standard for the others.

So that’s why I am now thinking of that rule which all of you apply in courts That you must come to courts with clean hands. That is in the domestic jurisdictions. Sometimes in international tribunals they have also said that you must come to courts with clean hands.  So why shouldn’t it then apply here also? Next September come with clean

hands and we will also answer you. If you haven’t got clean hands, why should we answer you?

That’s the question I have.  So, I thought I’ll ask the Minister of Justice and the Minister of ForeignAffairs together with Attorney General and our permanent representative of the UN to consult international legal opinions on this application that you must come

to court in clean hands, why shouldn’t it apply to the Human Rights Council? Can you ask a country which as condoned so much of violations then to come and say that we shouldn’t do it. So, this is what we must study and go ahead. It’s a matter in which we will require the advice of our BAR Association of our other legal practitioners and even the Chief Justice and theSupreme Court.

The advisory power or the president can ask for the advice of the Supreme Court.  I think we must make this arule you can’t have one law for us and another law for some one else, am against it. If it applies to all I will stand by it. Sri Lanka will stand by it. If it doesn’t apply to all why on earth should we do it? But when we go there, we must remember that our hands must also be clean from today to that day. That’s why I say the agreement reached between President Rajapaksa and Ban ki Moonmust be implemented and we must not have any incidents based on race or religion in the country. We had an unfortunate incident about a week back in Batticaloa, but law and order must be enforced. Let’s enforce the law and order, uphold it and take this up.

I think we are in a position this time, to canvass a lot of support in this case from the global south and part of the global north.  Let’s take the principle up here.  Youhave taken it up against us, we will take it up against you. We are all, as the United States says, for the rules-based order.

We want a rules-based order, but then the rules must apply to everyone.  It can’t apply to some and not to others.  So, in that sense what we have to test next year with the support of many other countries in the United Nations.  I thought I’ll share this thought with you because we could get your views also informulating the principles, let’s take it forward.

Like any lawyer will do.  And let’s see where we do.  I’m sure we will succeed.”

Comments (5)

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  1. wsw says:

    The US and its band of lackeys are self serving mega hypocrites. Such duplicity dished out by these US led Western powers have brought in so much of instability and misery to the world. A China led super power entity will balance the negative western influence engulfing the world.

  2. MosheS says:

    It is very rich coming from a country that committed war crimes against its minority tamils.

  3. Ruwan Amarakoon says:

    Well said President. Western countries led by USA use HR violations to bully 3rd world nations!

  4. Kumar says:

    You Sri Lankans slaughtered hundreds of innocent Tamils in 1983 when Prabakaran’s gang attacked a military truck in Jaffna. Some Tamils burnt alive, and homes looted. Even the military participated. You are no better than the current warring factions.

  5. Dr P Thilakawardhana says:

    Exactly, well said Mr President.
    The superpowers and their followers have legitimised war against small countries, while they themselves go on killing and maiming hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians, the same path followed by their predecessors over the centuries. It has never changed.
    But they have the cheek to criticise and sanction small poorer countries like Sri Lanka.

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Comments (5)

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. wsw says:

    The US and its band of lackeys are self serving mega hypocrites. Such duplicity dished out by these US led Western powers have brought in so much of instability and misery to the world. A China led super power entity will balance the negative western influence engulfing the world.

  2. MosheS says:

    It is very rich coming from a country that committed war crimes against its minority tamils.

  3. Ruwan Amarakoon says:

    Well said President. Western countries led by USA use HR violations to bully 3rd world nations!

  4. Kumar says:

    You Sri Lankans slaughtered hundreds of innocent Tamils in 1983 when Prabakaran’s gang attacked a military truck in Jaffna. Some Tamils burnt alive, and homes looted. Even the military participated. You are no better than the current warring factions.

  5. Dr P Thilakawardhana says:

    Exactly, well said Mr President.
    The superpowers and their followers have legitimised war against small countries, while they themselves go on killing and maiming hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians, the same path followed by their predecessors over the centuries. It has never changed.
    But they have the cheek to criticise and sanction small poorer countries like Sri Lanka.

Iran President to open Sri Lanka $514mn irrigation, hydro power project

MULTIPURPOSE: Uma Oya multipurpose development project is the largest since the end of the Mahaweli projects.

ECONOMYNEXT – Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm and was also initially financed before international sanctions hit the project.

The Uma Oya (River) project will irrigate 4,500 acres of new agricultural land, generate 290 Gigawatt hours of electricity and also provide drinking water, a government statement said.

Sri Lanka had awarded an engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) to Iran’s FARAB engineering group to design and construct the 514 million dollar multipurpose project in 2010.

The project was funded until 2013 with a million US dollar credit from the Export Development Bank of Iran but international sanctions prevented the country from continuing financing, a government statement said.

The project continued with funding from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had since repaid 19.3 million dollars of the credit and 35.2 million remains outstanding.

The Uma Oya project has a 120MW of hydro power generators, which can generate 290 Giga Watt hours of energy.

Each year 145 million cubic metres of water will be taken from Uma Oya to the Kirindi Oya river valley after generating electricity in an underground power station.

It will irrigate 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural and 4,500 hectares of new land in the Moneragala district, where crops can be cultivated in both the Maha and Yala seasons.

About 39 million cubic meters of water will be used for drinking and industrial purposes.

Two reservoirs built at Dyraaba and Puhulpola in Uma Oya basin is connected by a 3.98 kilometre conveyance tunnel and water is taken through a 15.2 kilomtre headrace tunnel to an underground power station. A tailrace tunnel takes water from the power station to the Kirindi Oya basin.

The project was originally expected to be completed in 2015, but due to financing delays and later water leaking into the headrace tunnel and the Covid pandemic had delayed it. The project completion date was extended to March 31, 2024 and defect liability date to March 31, 2025.

(Colombo/April23/2024 – CORRECTED Iran President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi will inaugurate an irrigation and hydropower project that was designed and built by Iranian engineering firm.)

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Sri Lanka state oligopoly allowed to import some black gram

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has allowed the import of some black gram, by three state agencies, according to a gazette notice issued under the hand of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Import licenses will be given for 2,000 metric tonnes of the seed classified under HS Code 7312.31.22 and 29.

Sri Lanka State Trading Corporation, National Food Promotion Board and Sri Lanka Hadabima Authority is to be given import licenses.

Traders have resorted to smuggling some types of black gram (ulundu) mis classified as chick peas, to get over high taxes and import restrictions.

Tamil legislators have also protested the import controls, which they go into several key ethnic foods they consume. (Colombo/Apr23/2024)

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Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry consular division shifted to Battaramulla

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said it consular division would be shifted to the Suhurupaya building in Subuthipura, Battaramulla from May 02, 2024.

Document authentication services provided by the Consular Affairs Division in Colombo will be suspended on 29 and 30 April 2024 held transfer the Electronic Document Authentication System (e-DAS) to the new premises at Suhurupaya.

Urgent applications for authentication to the Consular Division in Colombo, or any Regional Consular Offices by 4.15 pm on 26 April 2024, the Foreign Ministry said.

Regional Consular Offices in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matara will remain open to accept applications.

Authenticated documents will be delivered to the applicants only on Thursday, 02 May 2024.

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