ECONOMYNEXT – Confirming a government decision to withdraw from cosponsorship of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution 30/1, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa drew a line between what he called the patriotic camp and “born traitors” looking to betray the country.
“Our government has decided to withdraw from the process of co-sponsorship in relation to Resolution 30/1,” he said.
Rajapaksa made these remarks in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office a short while ago on the US government’s decision to impose an entry bar on Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva and his family.
“Even though we are now in the 21st Century, even members of his family who have not been accused of any wrongdoing have been subjected to a collective punishment reminiscent of the practice in medieval Europe,” he said.
Repeating a familiar refrain, Rajapaksa claimed that no one knows the exact nature of the allegations levelled against Silva.
“Even though the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) says that until a person accused of a crime is proved guilty according to law, he should be deemed innocent, this principle does not seem to apply to Sri Lanka’s Army Commander or even to members of his family,” he added.
Though touted as a strongly worded response to the Trump administration’s controversial decision announced last Friday (14), any anti-American sentiment in the statement was largely muted, with local politics taking pride of place in the core message.
Rajapaksa blamed the rival United National Party (UNP), the Tamil National Alliance and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) for the punitive action taken against the army commander.
“It is because of the historic betrayal committed by the Yahapalana government formed by the UNP, the TNA and the JVP in co-sponsoring UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 in 2015 that other countries are able to name members of our armed forces as violators of human rights,” he said.
“The first operative paragraph of that Resolution had taken note ‘with appreciation’ the September 2015 Report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights which accused the Sri Lankan armed forces of human rights violations. This report was based on the previous 2011 unofficial report prepared by a three member committee appointed by the then UN Secretary General outside the established procedure of that organisation. In this manner, the UNP-TNA-JVP combine ended up accepting all the unfounded allegations made against our armed forces by various interested parties,” he added.
The Prime Minister also criticised the “Yahapalana parties’” for not condemning the punishment on Silva.
“UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella says that this travel ban imposed on the Army Commander and his family is the responsibility of the present government. The JVP says that the USA has imposed a travel ban on the Army Commander and his family at this particular moment due to a deal to ensure that the SLPP obtains a resounding victory at the forthcoming parliamentary elections. For its part, the TNA has welcomed the collective travel ban imposed on the Army Commander and his family. The people should take note of the fact that when the UNP government co-sponsored Resolution 30/1 in the UN Human Rights Council, the so called anti-imperialist JVP did not oppose it,” he said.
“From the discussion that has taken place with regard to the collective punishment imposed on the Army Commander and his family, it becomes clear that the political divide in this country is between the patriotic camp which puts the country first, on the one hand, and born traitors who are waiting for the first opportunity to betray the country, on the other hand,” he added. (Colombo/Feb 19/2020)