Amnesty int’l can’t dictate terms to us: GL slams NGOs
Posted on May 29th, 2010

Sri Lanka News

Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, who is visiting Washington for meetings with senior Obama Administration officials and US lawmakers, has slammed the International Crisis Group, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other such groups–that have accused Sri Lanka of war crimes during its conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and called for an international tribunal to investigate these alleged rights violations–saying these groups donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t constitute the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-international community,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and hence donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t have the moral authority ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-to tell us what to do.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

According to news reports, Peiris said, “Everybody talks of the international community – what is this international community?

There are 196 countries in the United Nations. Now these matters have been taken up in appropriate fora in the United Nations. The Human Rights Council debated this matter for three long days.

There were representatives from all six continents and 29 people thought there was no need to take any action, 11 countries thought otherwise, with six abstentions. A couple of NGOs do not constitute the international community,” he argued.

Peiris asserted that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council (of the United Nations), yes. Now we are prepared to take these matters there but other avenues, no.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Peiris, taking on Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, said it had said in its most recent report released at Chatham House in Londonthat ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-tens of thousands of civilians were killed or harmed. What is tens of thousands–10,000, 20,000, 90,000–they are all tens of thousands. So, the language is vague, itƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s nebulous, it is lacking in a kind of precision and specificity that we would expect in a report of that kind, which is said to have been written by somebody who was a distinguished Canadian judge.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Peiris, an erstwhile law professor and a Rhodes Scholar, who was before he entered politics over two decades ago dean of the faculty of law at the University of Sri Lanka in Colombo, argued, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-What is more, although there are vivid descriptions of atrocities that are said to have occurred–shelling of hospitals and other things–what is striking about these allegations is that there is no source to which any of this is attributed. There are graphic descriptions, we do not know where these descriptions are coming from. There is absolutely no possibility of verification. How do you verify materials, which is coming from somebody unnamed, working in the shadows, wearing a mask, impenetrable. How does any government deal with that situation.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Thus, Peiris said, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The west has also recognized the necessity to deal with unusual situations having recourse to measures, which may be considered draconian. But these are necessary at particular times for particular purposes.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-In Sri Lanka, donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t forget how many thousands of people were killed by the LTTE. How many were slaughtered by them. So, governments are there, principally to safeguard life and limb and we make no apologies whatsoever for laws that were enacted in Sri Lanka at that time to protect the lives of our people–and by lives I mean Tamil lives as well. I am not talking just of Sinhala lives.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Peiris asked, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Is (former Foreign Minister, Lakshman) Kadirgamar a Sinhala? What happened to (another prominent Tamil leader, Dr Neelan) Thiruchelvam? Do not forget that the LTTE killed as many Tamils as they killed Sinhalese. Anybody who resisted them summary execution, torture, and the Government of Sri Lanka makes no apology to anybody, anywhere in the world for putting in place the laws that enable us to get rid of that menace. Once we got rid of that menace, we donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t need those laws and we did away with those laws.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When the sustained questions continued and an Amnesty International representative called for an independent, international body, alleging that the credibility of various government appointed human rights and investigative commissions were suspect, Peiris shot back, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-DonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t forget that only one year has elapsed since the end of the war.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Look at the experience of other countries in similar situations. How long have they taken? I wonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t mention countries (but) some of them have taken 30 years. So, why are you applying double standards? Why isnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t Amnesty International in a mood to apply these same standards universally? Why single out Sri Lanka. Is it because Sri Lanka is a poor country, Sri Lankacan be pushed around–kicked around like a football? Certainly not! We wonƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t allow that by Amnesty International or anybody else.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Peiris said, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-If you believe in a set of values, at the very least, apply those values across the board. Do not be selective. Do not be discriminatory,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and continuing to pillory Amnesty International and the other human rights groups, asked, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Are those values applied with any iota of consistency. What about the performance of other countries in comparable situations? I think we have done a great deal within a very short period.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Peiris reiterated, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-We donƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t want Amnesty International telling us what to do. We will take it from the Security Council, (but) we will certainly not take it from Amnesty International. What is the moral authority of Amnesty International? We will read the International Crisis Group and Amnesty InternationalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s reports, we will listen to them. But we do not think that they have any coercive moral authority to tell us what to do.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, Professor G.L. Peiris, continued his U.S. tour to inform Congress and U.S. government officials about Sri Lanka’s economic development and reconciliation process. This is the second day in the Minister’s four-day trip to the Washington, D.C. His tour, starting in New York on Monday May 24, 2010, will culminate in an official meeting at the United States Department of State to be hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Minister Peiris began Tuesday delivering remarks to academics at The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think-tank in Washington, D.C. The Minister’s remarks noted the “sea change” evident in Sri Lanka since the victory over terrorism a year ago. “Sri Lanka is a land of great potential” he said. The Minister also discussed Sri Lanka’s stunning economic achievements and a new outlook for tourism to the country in the coming months. The Minister said; “It is time for the U.S. to take a fresh look at Sri Lanka.”

The Minister called for deeper ties between Sri Lanka and the United States. We are in “unreserved agreement” with last year’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee report calling for a “multi-faceted relationship” that embraces trade, security and economic ties, not just human rights. On human rights, the Minister emphasized the importance of Sri Lanka’s efforts at reconciliation. “We understand that military victory was not the end but the beginning.”

The event was moderated by Walter Lohman, head of the Heritage Asian Study program and key attendees included Ambassador Terry Miller, Director of Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics along with Fatema Sumar, foreign policy aide to Senator John Kerry and Nilmini Rubin, foreign policy aide to Senator Richard Lugar.

Following the Heritage Foundation event, Minister Peiris met with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. Flournoy acts as the premier advisor to the Secretary of Defense Robert gates and the Deputy Secretary of Defense and handles a wide range of national security and defense policies.

Minister Peiris continued his day with meeting Congressman Gary Ackerman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, Committee on Foreign Affairs. Later the Minister met with National Security Adviser General James L. Jones who serves as the chief adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama on national security issues.

Al Jazeera’s Riz Khan interviewed Minister Peiris in the afternoon. During the in-depth interview, Minister Peiris spoke about the defeat of LTTE and the great impact it has had on Sri Lanka. He said the end of the LTTE meant “freedom from unmitigated oppression” for all Sri Lankans. When pressed about the current state of the Tamil Community after the defeat of the LTTE, Minister Peiris remarked “The vast majority of Tamil’s didn’t want to live under the yoke of the LTTE.” He continued, “They are happy about the freedom that has now come to them.”

Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya held a dinner in honor of Minister Peiris at his residence.

The Minister will continue his meetings with U.S. officials and U.S. media.

7 Responses to “Amnesty int’l can’t dictate terms to us: GL slams NGOs”

  1. Geeth Says:

    Thanks a lot Hon. Minister. Good job!

  2. M.S.MUdali Says:

    Well done Mr. GLP. Yes! You are right. Those Organizations have no right to dictate terms to Sri Lanka!

  3. cassandra Says:

    Well done, Minister. It is good for SL to have someone like GLP who can articulate the country’s interests so eloquently and logically.

  4. S de Silva Says:

    At last a responsible SL person has said what should be said. The words should be repeated every time and rammed into the mouths of bogus HR Tamil Mouthpieces whenever they open their LTTE funded mouths – well said GLP!! – Sde Silva, London

  5. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    Good on you Hon Minister for taking on these NGOs practicing double standards and carrying hidden agendas, reminding them who they are. When you were appointed to the current position, I was happy but I was told by a supporter of the SL opposition that you have no back bone and would simply melt under pressure. I hoped he was wrong and now you have proven him wrong. Not only did you have a backbone to face these highly paid trouble makers who repeatedly ignore war crimes committed by powerful nations, but didnt mince your words and talked sense using fact and truth as your weapons.

  6. Sam Says:

    Well said Sir! I take my hat off for you.

  7. Leelawardena Says:

    As far as I can see, Professor Peiris is doing a far better job than our earlier man Bogla. As long as he stick to Mahinda chintanaya – ediridekma, we nationalists should back him when and where necessary.

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