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UN dictates terms to sovereign nations - Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa

2014 Mar 24

By Uditha Kumarasinge

Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is biased and is predetermined to take action against our country.

The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said Navi Pillay has no right to violate the UN Charter and interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. To safeguard human rights and help countries to promote human rights is a good move but to dictate terms and interfere into our internal affairs is not a healthy precedent for the UN Human Rights Commission. As a sovereign nation, we will not tolerate such actions and we will continue to protest against it. Our External Affairs Ministry has categorically stated that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is biased and she has exceeded her legitimate mandate.

The Minister said it is not only in Sri Lanka but also in other countries, the so-called human rights situation has given good opportunity for anarchists to disrupt the day-to-day peace of the countries. In some cases, they have toppled governments. Ultimately after they topple governments, those countries have turned from bad to worse. We have seen anarchists operating even in some of the European countries. We can see this in Brazil, Venezuela, Turkey and the Middle East. We should not allow anarchists to take the law into their hands under the guise of democracy and human rights. We have to distinguish between the two. Democratic governments must remember that they should not allow these unlawful elements to disrupt the day- to-day peace of the country and its people.

Q: The agenda behind the Geneva circus engineered by the US, UK and a few of their allies is to dislodge Sri Lanka through a regime change as was done in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. How would you look at this scenario?

A: After the Cold War was over, Western countries backed by America are trying to be the "world Policeman". Now they use the UN system to interfere into domestic affairs of sovereign nations. That is our problem. We are also a part of the UN system. The UN system has its own charter and principles. But in the guise of protecting human rights, they are trying to poke their fingers into lot of other countries. Countries such as America as well as the European nations have committed grave human rights violations in other countries. If we take Iraq, Afghanistan and any country where they are still there, agitation has come from their own people to move away from their countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan are classic examples. The Afghan President is openly asking the Americans to go. We are protesting that the UN system cannot in the guise of democracy, good governance and human rights, dictate terms to sovereign nations. That is the crux of the matter.

Q: Sri Lanka's position is that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is biased and has exceeded her legitimate mandate in interfering with Sri Lanka's internal matters. Do you agree?

A: Absolutely. Because Navi Pillay is biased and she is predetermined to take action against our country. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has no right to violate the UN Charter and interfere into the internal affairs of sovereign nations. We know safeguarding human rights and helping countries to promote human rights is a good thing that has to be done. But dictate terms to us and interfere into our internal affairs is not a healthy precedent for UN Human Rights Commission. Our External Affairs Ministry has categorically stated that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is biased and she has exceeded her legitimate mandate.

Q: The nature of country-specific resolutions is to penalize a particular country on arbitrary grounds ignoring its domestic credentials. Could you elaborate on this?

A: If we take countries where they have long standing conflicts, we have seen the grave human rights violations committed in those countries. It is still happening. But this UN system has not been able to overcome those issues. Still these human rights violations have become a serious problem to those countries. Instead of looking out those issues, they are trying to coming after one particular country because they have some kind of agenda. We believe there is an agenda with or without their knowledge. I would like to say as a sovereign nation we will not tolerate such actions and we will continue to protest against it.

Q: Since the original US and UK sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka has now been somewhat toned down, does it mean that they have understood the true ground situation prevailing in Sri Lanka?

A: We have said that several times. Because after the situation of this nature, we are the only country which has been able to overcome most of the obstacles and difficulties. If you go through the LLRC report and its recommendations, we have already taken lot of actions to implement those recommendations. One of the classic example is the Government's de-mining program. I think we are the only country which has done this de-mining process within a very short duration. We have also set up example in the areas of development, rehabilitation of LTTE child soldiers and ex-LTTE combatants and the resettlement of displaced people. Those are credible piece of evidence that we have done in the appropriate manner. So in our report, we have said the initiatives that we have taken so far and we are continued to do the rest. All this can't be done overnight and we need time. As an example, in most of the areas in Jaffna and even in the East, the original owners were evicted from their lands and it had been given to some other party. When the original owners came, there was no place for them. Because those lands had been occupied by some other people. In such a situation, it takes time to find ways and means of doing it. In that way, we have done a lot. We urge the international community and also our people to accept that.

Q: The Opposition says that the Government has stepped up a Geneva-phobia to divert public attention from burning issues. What have you go to say about this?

A: Though we have defeated LTTE terrorism, LTTE sympathizers living in the West and other countries are still active. As a group, they are trying to portray a different story about Sri Lanka to the countries where they live. They have demanded certain action from their governments and some of them have gone to Geneva as well. But most of them have not seen the country after the end of terrorism. They have not seen the significant development that has taken place and they are not aware about the work the Government has done for the Tamils. Even some of our people in Geneva are instrumental in destabilizing the Government with their false propaganda. We are not trying to create a phobia among the people. We have to take serious note of this situation. Because we are the only country in recent history which has defeated the tyranny of terrorism. Unfortunately, some of the Western countries are not prepared to listen to us. They are doing it because of the pressure from LTTE propagandists and sympathizers who live in those countries. This is the prevailing situation so that the people have to be cautious and mindful on what we are telling. If we don't tell this to the people, they will not understand this. That is why we are telling this to the people.

Q: Could you substantiate the claim that some anarchists are planning to disrupt the country invoking the boggy of human rights?

A: I am of the view that it is not only in Sri Lanka but also in other countries, the so called human rights situation has given good opportunity for anarchists to disrupt the day today peace of the countries. In some cases, they have toppled the governments. Ultimately after they toppled governments, those countries have turned from bad to worse. In a democratic country, the people can protest and show their displeasure towards anything. But before that there is a law in the country and they will have to abide by the law. However without doing so, these people want to disrupt the country's peace. It is not hidden in our country. It is common to all the countries. Even in some of the European countries, we have seen these anarchists are operating. We can see this in Brazil, Venezuela, Turkey and the Middle East. My point of view is that we should not allow anarchists to take the law into their hands under the guise of democracy and human rights. We have to distinguish these two. If somebody has a grievance, the Government will have to listen to it and remedy it. But here it is not so. Without giving a proper opportunity to the Government and its institutions, these people try to take law into their hands. So the anarchists are creating issues in this country seen by many incidents that are happening here. I believe that human rights and democracy is important. But democratic governments must remember that we must now allow this unlawful elements to disrupt the day-to-day peace of the people and the country.

Q: The Opposition has charged that the Human Rights Commission has failed to act as it has not released its reports on several recent incidents. Could you explain implications, if any?

A: I don't agree with that view. The Human Rights Commission can work in certain areas and not in others. History tells us and I also mentioned this in Parliament on Tuesday the amount of work that they have done. In certain instances we need time. The latest Thunnane incident, can we give a report tomorrow? A Police officer has been killed as some of the anarchists have deliberately cut down trees to fall on to the police officers. In such a situation can we take action in a day? The Police, environment authorities and other institutions should step in and give a concrete version to the people. If there is an issue like that because of that factory, they should tell, "yes it is happening". Then the Government has to take action. What I am saying is they also must come forward. What can the Human Rights Commission do in such a situation? They can only give a report.

Q: Don't you think the UNP's no-confidence motion is only an attempt to embarrass rather than expose the Government?

A: In a democratic country, no-confidence motions are filed for different reasons. But here we have seen no-confidence motions filed without a valid reasons. The purpose is to topple the government after the Parliament debate is over. the main Opposition UNP has not been able to establish a prima facie case in any of the no-confidence motions. They brought a no-confidence motion against Minister Dilan Perera recently which failed miserably. Because of the democracy, the Opposition can bring no-confidence motions against the Government. Finally it boomerangs on them. If they don't have a purpose of bringing a no-confidence motion, there is no use in just for the sake of bringing a no confidence motion introducing it. The Opposition has not gained anything by bringing such no-confidence motions.

Q: The CPC has failed to cut down its mounting debt and there is no action plan to make it a viable concern while the IOC is flourishing. What has gone wrong with the CPC? Is it mismanagement, corruption or lack of commitment?

A: Really the IOC is not making profit from the sale of diesel. The issue in Sri Lanka is we have subsidized fuel prices for a number of years. I don't think we can do it forever. This is an accumulation because of that. Most of the revenue areas of the CPC was handed over to the others by former UNP Government. The distribution part was given to the CPC and storage was given to some other company. One third of it belongs to the IOC.

The bunkering and motor oil sections have been given to private companies. We are deprived of revenue earning sections. In addition, we have to sell fuel at a lower price than the market price. That is why the corporation's losses are high. It is high time for us to go with the realistic value. The Government cannot subsidize a particular fuel which we have to purchase from the open market. During my tenure, I streamlined many areas. Tender procedure has been streamlined while purchasing has been done in a transparent manner. However, due to the decisions taken by former UNP regime, I cannot bring more revenue. That is the problem. I am slowly building on that. I need time and patience from other people to bring down at least a certain amount of debt. Then we can move forward.

Q: What is the UPFA Government's message to the people at the forthcoming Western and Southern PC Polls?

A: The message is simple. The Government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa has a majority in all Provincial Councils. The Provincial Councils have done a large amount of work. The people will accepted that. I hope they overwhelmingly support the Government at the upcoming PC polls well. There is no doubt about that.

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