Thirteen Things That Will be Said and Left Unsaid by Mangala Samaraweera at the UN Human Rights Council

By S. V. Kirubaharan, FranceBy S. V. Kirubaharan

The Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera, is scheduled to speak on the opening day of the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council – UN HRC, in Geneva, on 02 March 2015.

With my experience of Sri Lanka and the UN Human Rights forums, I predict that the following will be said. Many facts and realities will not be disclosed to this august forum.

1 –       Mangala Samaraweera will inform the UN HRC that a new President has been elected by all communities – Singhalese, Tamil and Muslims. He will also say that the Tamils’ leading political party, the Tamil National Alliance – TNA, fully supported the new President.

But he will not mention that the new President won the election mainly because of votes from the North and Eastern Provinces which are predominantly inhabited by Tamils.

2 –       He will not disclose to the UN HRC that this is an interim government. Also he will not say that the present government is waiting for a parliamentary election to be held.

It looks likely that the Parliamentary election which was expected to be held in April will be postponed indefinitely.

3 –       He will hint that this interim government, like the previous government, wants only a domestic investigation and will oppose an international investigation into war crimes.

Minister of External Affairs Mangala Samaraweera and President's External Affairs advisor Jayantha Dhanapala

4 –       He will not say how many world leaders they have lobbied to pressurise the UN Human Rights Commissioner and members of the Human Rights Council, to postpone the investigation report which was due to be released on 25th March during the 28th session.

5 –       He will certainly make much of the ‘Witness protection bill’.

But he will not disclose to the HRC that even though this bill has been passed, witnesses will only come forward to give evidence to an international inquiry, not a domestic inquiry.

6 –       As he has no information on land forcibly taken by the Sri Lankan security forces in the North and East, he cannot give any statistics on expected return of land to the owners.

7 –       He will not tell the HRC that there are still Internally Displaced People in camps in the North and East, many of whom have been IDPs for decades.

8 –       He will say that freedom of expression for the media is back on track and that the investigation into the killing of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematungw has begun.

But he will say nothing about what they are doing about the killing of Tamil Journalists, Parliamentarians and Human Rights Defenders. Nor about the many arson attacks on the Tamil newspaper Uthayan.

9 –       He will not say how many Ministers in the present 50 to 55-days-old cabinet are unhappy and waiting to resign.

In other words the coalition of the present interim government is on the verge of collapse.

10 –     He will not tell the UN HRC that the new President used his executive powers so far only to re-instate the Chief-Justice and pardon and re-instate an Army Commander as a General. The earlier government had taken revenge on these two.

However the new President is not ready to use his executive powers to do anything to remedy the situation of the people of the North and East – neither regarding their political and civil rights nor their socio-economic cultural rights nor human rights.

In the past, the North and East were merged as the North East Province by President JR Jayewardene, under the 13th Amendment, using Presidential executive powers.

Without further ado, the current president could do the same – merge the North and east – thus taking the step needed towards fulfilling Tamils’ political rights.

11 –     He may say that the government is taking action on corruption which was ignored by the earlier government. But he will not indicate that this action concerns only the South.

Whereas corrupt actions of their former allies – Douglas Devananda, Karuna alias Muralitharan and Pillyan in the North and East are ignored by this interim government.

12 –     He will not inform the UN HRC that their 100-days-programme – abolition of the executive presidency, calling for a parliamentary election and many other issues, is not going to take place as scheduled.

It looks as if this 100-days-programme may not take place even within 1000 days.

13 –     Finally he will never ever disclose to the UN HRC that he and many other ministers in the present interim government were with the earlier government.

They were ardent supporters of all affairs of the earlier government.

It is to be noted that the people who talk about democracy in the present interim government, including former Chief-justice Sarath N Silva were the very people who made the pathway for Rajapaksa’s dictatorial regime