Fresh UN move against Lanka: Its all Fonseka’s folly
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Mar 13, 2010
Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, yesterday (March 12) blamed defeated Opposition presidential candidate Gen. (retd) Sarath Fonseka for giving an opportunity to some foreign governments, and a section of the media, to refresh alleged war crimes allegations against the country.

Addressing the media at the Information Department, the Minister said that Fonseka and his political associates had caused irreparable damage by playing politics with national security.

He said that those who had made an unsuccessful bid to censure Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva immediately after the end of the war revived their campaign on the basis of Fonseka’s damning statement. He said that the HRC had called a special session, a week ahead of the regular sessions, to decide on an international war crimes probe on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations levelled by the LTTE, Tamil Diaspora and an influential section of the international press. According to him, 16 countries had been involved in the bid at the HRC, though some of them quit the campaign.

An irate Minister said that Sri Lanka, with the support of friendly governments, had thwarted that despicable attempt in Geneva. Since then, that front had been relatively calm until Fonseka accused Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the run-up to the recently concluded presidential election, of ordering the Army to shoot surrendering LTTE cadres and their families. Minister Samarasinghe said that Fonseka, by making contradictory statements regarding the final phase of the offensive on the Vanni front, had brought international pressure on the Rajapaksa administration.

The Minister said that a few months before his accusation against the Defence Secretary, the then Army Commander declared at a felicitation ceremony held at Ambalangoda Dharmasoka Vidyalaya that troops had fired at terrorists, who approached them in the guise of civilians carrying white flags.

Minister Samarasinghe said that he and Attorney General Mohan Peries had an opportunity, less than a month ago, to brief UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay regarding Fonseka’s politically motivated statement. "We told her that there is no point in pursuing this issue," he said.

Responding to a query by The Island whether Pillay had refused to accept Sri Lanka’s explanation as she reiterated her call for an international war crime probe at human rights sessions in Geneva about a week ago, Minister Samarasinghe alleged that a section of the press misquoted her. He emphasised that their meeting with Pillay was held in a cordial environment.

He said that the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) had called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon not to appoint an expert panel to deal with Sri Lanka on accountability issues. He said that the NAM went to the extent of criticising the UN over what the Minister called selective targeting of countries. He said that the government had received information regarding the UN probe when President Rajapaksa received a letter dated March 2 from the Secretary General, which revealed his intention to inquire into accountability issues.

The Island asked Foreign Secretary, Romesh Jayasinghe, whether Sri Lanka had sought India’s backing in this regard, and the veteran diplomat said they had always briefed New Delhi on issues. Praising New Delhi for constantly standing by Colombo, Jayasinghe said that India had always expressed nothing but the best for Sri Lanka.

Audio Clip from SLBC:

Courtesy: Island