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Govt. Not Focused On HR Issues ” Sunil Hadunnetti

2014 Feb 17

By Camelia Nathaniel

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti is of the view that the government is not focused on dealing with the Human Rights issues faced by the country and is instead focusing on using the UNHRC sessions to be held in Geneva to gain more votes at the upcoming elections. He says that while the JVP had advised the government from the very beginning on setting up credible investigations in a bid to find solutions to the issues within the country, the government had not heeded their advice.

In an interview with The Sunday Leader he said that many of the issues the country is facing from international forces could have been easily avoided had the government made a genuine effort to set up a credible investigation. However, he charges that due to the government’s arrogant approach and indifference, today the country has to take the brunt of the actions taken against it at the HR sessions in Geneva.
Following are excerpts of the interview

Q: What will be the most significant outcome of the Geneva HR sessions in March?
A: The UN cannot bring in such huge sanctions that would cripple the country as the government makes it out to be. The reason is that as there is a process, and war crimes allegations cannot be investigated overnight and it takes a long time. As we have witnessed in other cases concerning war crimes, by the time these are investigated those concerned may no longer be alive.

Now what the government needs to do is instead of worrying about the international community and what they are doing, they need to come up with a proper home grown solution which is credible in order to establish good governance, proper civil administration and protect the human rights of our people. Without doing what we have to there is no point in howling before the world.

The other point is that when we are under fire by international forces, the ministers need to focus on the issue at hand and act appropriately. However what is happening is that the ministers are more interested in promoting their sons in this election. If these ministers had any concern for the country they would be acting more responsibly. These government politicians are going to ask people’s support for Geneva in Matara, Hakmana, Dundara etc. this clearly shows that these politicians are only using Geneva in order to collect support for themselves, and not to save the country. The government is using Geneva in order to regain the votes that they lost.

Q: Many parties have claimed not to have any faith in the LLRC and a credible internal investigation. What is your parties take on this?
A: When the LLRC recommendations were made, at the very inception we stated that it was no solution to the national issue. The whole LLRC process was doomed from the start as they had not initially identified the real issued that we were facing in order to formulate remedial measures. The LLRC was formulated based on just a series of incidents. However even that is not properly implemented.
It has been reported that even 30% of the LLRC recommendations are not implemented, which means that even the recommendations that need to be implemented have so far not been done. Moreover even if there was no LLRC, there is a certain amount of human rights issues that need to be addressed by the government, and to date the government has not even focused on those.

Q: Navi Pillai’s report will be presented to the HR council and what do you think will be the salient point of her report?
A: Well I have no idea as I have not seen her report and therefore I cannot comment on it.

Q: Will her report make an impact on the vote on the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka?
A: Her report will never be partial towards Sri Lanka and that is to be expected. None of these reports are designed to protect the people of this country or to protect their human rights or for the love of the people.

Q: Will the US resolution push for an international inquiry into war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka?
A: First and foremost Sri Lanka has to decide if we are to go before an international tribunal for human rights allegations. We don’t ask America to conduct investigations on what transpired in Iraq. Likewise they will not tolerate us digging into the actions of the US in Cuba, Iraq and such places. So international forces should allow us to resolve our internal issues and not interfere.

Q: The majority of the member nations of the HR council are from Asian and African countries, do you think this will stand in favour of Sri Lanka?
A: All these countries work according to their own agendas. None of these countries will vote for us based on friendship and just because our President goes there and eats and drinks with them. It is only a country like ours that will stand by other nations based on friendship, but those countries all act according to their own political agendas.

For instance see what India did, they made it seem like they would support Sri Lanka and got the Sampoor deal. However when it was not beneficial to them, they backed down. All these countries that show their support for us, is in one way or the other, have some motive. All these countries only have deals to suit their own agendas. We on the other hand are paying them ransoms. As a country we are in a precarious position, as none of these countries are supporting us out of genuine love for our country.

Q: Will Sri Lanka’s strong bilateral relations with China rescue it from the mounting international pressure?
A: No most certainly not.

Q: As much as the western countries such as US, UK Germany and France for instance are pushing for a harder resolution, some countries are saying that the resolution should take a milder tone, so do you think that division will be advantages to Sri Lanka ?
A: It’s hard to think that there will be any advantage to Sri Lanka, as we are not their topic of focus. It is hard to imagine that there are countries that are totally committed to us and who will really stand by us in our time of need, putting aside their benefits and their own political agendas. One reason is that Sri Lanka’s international transactions are very minimal in comparison to the larger and more powerful countries and no country will jeopardize or compromise their positions with the powerful nations in order to help or support us.

Q: Do you think India will stand on behalf of SL or will they turn their back on us?
A: India will always think of their country and its people first and will certainly not support Sri Lanka if it will have repercussions for them. They always meddle in Sri Lanka’s affairs only on the pressure is brought on by Tamil Nadu. India has always maintained that big brother policy when it came to issues pertaining to Sri Lanka, and they have not looked favorably on us, except if it has benefits for them. So if we have any hopes that India will support us then we are really delusional.

Q: How powerful is the Tamil Diaspora in pushing the western bloc for an international investigation, and do you think they will succeed?
A: It does not necessarily have to be so. We should collectively work towards defeating the Diaspora’s sinister plans. The Sri Lankan government must make sure the sovereignty of our country is protected and no other country should be allowed to interfere in our internal issues.

We have told the government what needs to be done at the very beginning and we proposed several measures to the government in order to resolve the land issues, resettlement etc. At a time when the government had not even thought of it we told them about the setting up of a truth and reconciliation commission but unfortunately they did not listen. We did so as we wanted to prevent the country from having to face this situation we are facing today.

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