President is urged to examine Geneva process afresh to avert catastrophe
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Federation of National Organizations (FNO) wants the government to commission an ‘official assessment’ on OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka) in the wake of both President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe ruling out foreign judges in the proposed judicial mechanism in line with Geneva Resolution 30/1.
Attorney-at-law Dharshan Weerasekera on behalf of the FNO has produced a comprehensive report titled ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces’ in the absence of such an official initiative.
Weerasekera presented the report to Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka thera at the Sambuddathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya on Monday (March 13). The Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) has sponsored the project.
Members of Maha Sangha, former Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva, former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris and wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were among the gathering. The Chinese and Pakistan diplomatic missions were represented.
Dr Gunadasa Amarasekera, who along with Ven. Nalaka and retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera commissioned Dharshan Weerasekera in January to carry out the task this year, handed over a copy to former Defence Secretary Rajapaksa.
The gathering was told that the report along with several other written reports commissioned by the previous administration would be also submitted to President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
In addition to calling for government appraisal of OISL, the FNO underscored the importance of the UN examining the same report. The FNO has recommended that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government obtain an opportunity to brief the UNGA in respect of the need to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine the entire process.
Weerasekera has called for the suspension of the ongoing process until Special Rapporteur could finalise the inquiry.
Attorneys-at-law Kalyananda Thiranagama and Raja Gunaratne and writer Shenali Waduge, who were in the editorial panel, were coordinated by Dr K.M. Wasantha Bandara.
The FNO report dealt with three allegations (indiscriminate shelling, denial of human rights assistance and unlawful killings) pertaining to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and four (violations related to deprivations of liberty, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual and gender based violence) under the International Human Rights Law (IHRL) contained in the OISL report.
Ven. Nalaka, Sarath Weerasekera, Dharshan Weerasekera, Raja Gunaratne, Prof. Peiris, Sarath Nanda Silva and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa flayed the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government for co-sponsoring Geneva Resolution 30/1 in Oct, 2015 despite it being severely inimical to Sri Lanka.
Ven. Nalaka alleged that the government was hell bent on destroying the image of the war winning military at the behest of Western powers as well as those who couldn’t stomach the eradication of ‘the deadliest terrorist outfit’, the LTTE.
Former UPFA MP Weerasekera explained the sacrifices made by the military during nearly three decades long conflict. The naval veteran explained the circumstances under which the navy had captured Sea Tiger leader Soosai’s wife, Satyadevi, son Suresh and daughter Madhi off Mullaitivu in the early hours of May 16, 2009.
Although, the navy had experienced devastating losses in the hands of Sea Tigers, Soosai’s family weren’t harmed, Weerasekera said.
On behalf of the FNO, Weerasekera will hand over the report to Geneva on March 22. Copies will be made available to 47 members of the UNHRC.
Dharshana Weerasekera explained key objectives with the focus on the responsibility on the part of the government to re-examine the OISL report. Faulting the UN led process that ended up in Geneva Resolution 30/1.
Prof. Peiris compared Sri Lanka’s response to Geneva challenge during the previous administration and that of the current administration. Prof. Peiris pointed out that foolish yahapalana leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to the controversial Geneva Resolution 30/1 by moving another resolution during the ongoing sessions. Referring to President Maithripala Sirisena’s recent declaration that he had the backbone to reject foreign judges in judicial inquiry into alleged accountability issues, Prof. Peiris said that they would be watching the Geneva situation closely.
Raja Gunaratne analysed OISL report and discussed a range of other connected issues such as US double standards, US position vis a vis Israel and Western influence there at the expense of a large section of the global community.
Sarath Nanda Silva recalled measures taken by successive governments during the conflict, including the fourth phase (Aug 2006 – May 2009) as well as post-war period to alleviate the suffering of Tamil speaking people. Silva referred to some disagreements between the previous administration and the judiciary during his tenure as the Chief Justice in respect of counter terrorism measures. Pointing to the audience, the former CJ said that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa reacted angrily as he called for a fresh look at security procedures in the wake of Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu moving court against the government forcibly shifting people from Colombo to Vavuniya at the height of the war.
The former CJ censured Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera for pursuing policies against the country.
Silva also urged the judiciary to examine former Senior DIG Anura Senanayake’s prolonged imprisonment for allegedly suppressing information pertaining to a high profile case. Silva recalled the role played by the police officer in counter terrorism operations in Colombo during the fourth phase of the war.