GoSL alleges US action strengthens hardliners, undermine national reconciliation
Posted on February 1st, 2014

Courtesy Island

Biswal referres to ‘growing frustration’ in the international community due to Sri Lanka’s failure

Ms. Nisha Desai Biswal, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, met Prof.G.L.Peiris, Minister of External Affairs on Friday (31) at the ministry. Michele J. Sison, US Ambassador in Sri Lanka and Ms. Shenuka Seneviratne, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs also participated in the discussion.

Desai&GL

External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday told visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal that a section of the international community (not the US) who had welcomed the formation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was now calling it into question, thereby shifting the goal posts. Minister Peiris said that kind of attitude would lead to frustration setting in that whatever the government did was inadequate.

Prof. Peiris said: “The Northern Province, which had taken a toll from the conflict, now has a flourishing economy and a vibrant society with its schools being among the best performing as evident from the results of recent public examinations.

The government has allocated substantial resources for development in the North, despite a debate that the resources allocated to that region is not in proportion to the population.

Over 12,000 ex-LTTE combatants were rehabilitated and reintegrated including all the child soldiers: legal action is processed with regard to the remaining detainees. The relentless pursuit of Sri Lanka by the US through the Human Rights Council will lead to the polarisation of the communities in the country which would negatively impact on the very delicate process of reconciliation.

This US action against Sri Lanka has further strengthened the hardliners. There is a very strong perception of a lack of objectivity and impartiality on the part of the US, and a woefully inadequate acknowledgement of the developments that have taken place.

During the recent visit of US Ambassador at Large for global criminal justice, Stephen Rapp declared he was “convinced that 40,000 civilians were killed”. His only basis for making such a strong statement was a ‘census’ reportedly conducted by the Bishop of Mannar in 2008, while the conflict was still ongoing, when there was no conducive environment to conduct a comprehensive census at the time. The tweet posted by the US Embassy during his visit to St Anthany’s ground in the North, is another example of the manner in which unsubstantiated assertions can have a snowball effect and is seized upon due to the general perception among Sri Lankan society that the US is unfairly targeting Sri Lanka. There is an imbalance in the focus on Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council, therefore Sri Lanka has become a soft target”

The minister emphasised that the US stance and continuing persecution of Sri Lanka was not helpful and furthermore it polarised everyone including the international community and the HRC.

Responding to Prof. Peiris, the US Assistant Secretary reaffirmed that the USA was consistent in its position that it wanted to see the Sri Lankan process continue. She referred to ‘growing frustration’ in the international community due to the fear that Sri Lanka will lose the golden opportunity provided by the end of the conflict to move forward.

She stressed that the US wanted to have a positive relationship with Sri Lanka and build upon the existing cooperation in many fields. But, there is ‘growing concern’ that the country was not moving past the wounds of war which might fester and give rise to renewed conflict and that no one in the international community wants that to happen.

The Minister pointed out that the Sri Lankan people, more than any other, would not want a resurgence of conflict, as they would suffer the most in such a situation. “That concern is uppermost in Sri Lanka’s minds. What Sri Lanka did to end the conflict needed political courage. The US attitude is intrusive and didactic while the standards prescribed to Sri Lanka are not applied across the board. Thereby there is an absence of equal treatment of countries.”

Minister Peiris highlighted the measures taken to resolve the land issue in the former conflict areas. Pointing out that land received considerable focus in the LLRC recommendations, the Minister explained the complexity of the problem and the measures put in place to resolve it. He explained the ‘kachcheri’ system successfully used in the past to resolve land disputes, particularly in instances where there was no proof of ownership. That system was not meant to undermine the jurisdiction of the Courts, he said.

Assistant Secretary Biswal emphasised that the US has no agenda against Sri Lanka, but it was compelled to take up certain issues due to the values upon which the US had been founded upon. She added that the US has called for a Sri Lankan process to address the issues highlighted. However, there was concern that the space provided as not being adequately used by Sri Lanka.

Minister Peiris told the visiting US official: “It is clear that the attention on Sri Lanka by the international community is not due to altruistic or moral ethic, but motivated by power, money and votes. He added that he was not necessarily referring to the US.

Minister Peirs agreed with Ms. Biswal that Sri Lanka and the US has a multifaceted relationship, and there was a lot the two countries could do together. He referred to the bilateral cooperation, on economic, defence and security issues as well as education which were ‘redeeming features’ of the relationship. Unfortunately, there was a general feeling of injustice amongst Sri Lankans giving rise to the relationship being perceived as driven by a one point agenda.

The minister expressed hope that foreign dignitaries would not visit Sri Lanka with a preconceived agenda seeking to establish it.

The minister stressed the need for the US to be balanced in its approach in order to be fully functional.

2 Responses to “GoSL alleges US action strengthens hardliners, undermine national reconciliation”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    “This US action against Sri Lanka has further strengthened the hardliners”. The US/India actions against Sri Lanka has strengthened both the pro LITE hardliners and boosted the nationalist sentiment. Their intrusion based on Human rights but addressing a much larger issue of containing China has widened the chasm between the Buddhist nationalist movement and the pro LITE movement in Sri Lanka, in Tamil Nadu, among the Tamil Diaspora, in New Delhi and in Colombo.

    Just like the ill fated Norwegian peace keeping force this new Western intrusion egged on by New Delhi is to make matters worse than really bring peace and reconciliation. I even doubt if peace and reconciliation is part of their agenda but to attack China’s strategic partners in a vein attempt to contain a rapidly growing power.

  2. Nanda Says:

    The topic says “Biswal referres to ‘growing frustration’ in the international community due to Sri Lanka’s failure”.

    What are the failures ?

    1.Over 12,000 ex-LTTE combatants were rehabilitated ( should have prosecuted, according to Rapp)

    2.The government has allocated substantial resources for development in the North (saved that money to fight UNHRC)

    3.The Northern Province, which had taken a toll from the conflict, now has a flourishing economy and a vibrant society with relationship its schools being among the best performing as evident from the results of recent public examinations.

    (Rehabilitation of ALL students should have been done, closing schools for 2 years)

    4.Sri Lanka and the US has a multifaceted relationship. ( Where is our other face ? Counter accuse US on ALL their faults)

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