Hours before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted on the resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva last Thursday, Government MPs, wearing black armbands and carrying placards, staged a protest in front of Parliament building, to express their opposition at the moves to interfere in the “internal affairs of the country”.
“Hands off Sri Lanka”, “Defeat the international plot against President Mahinda Rajapaksa”, read some of the placards the MPs carried. Inside the Chamber later that afternoon, while Opposition MPs blamed the Government for putting itself in the present predicament, Government members present played the usual ‘patriots versus traitors’ game, once again pointing fingers at Opposition MPs and NGOs for the Geneva debacle.
A turn of the searchlight inwards would have shown Government members that a little humility and less arrogance on its part would have helped it to hold on to its friends within the international community, and not alienate them, as has happened since the military defeat of the LTTE in May, 2009. It’s no secret that the United States, which sponsored the resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and India, both overtly and covertly, along with most of the leading nations of the world, supported the government in its fight to defeat the LTTE.
Economic Affairs Minister, Basil Rajapaksa, who spoke on behalf of the Government MPs, during the protest near Parliament, said the country is prepared to face any outcome in Geneva, and that, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has faced bigger challenges during his presidency.
Conspicuous by their absence at the protest, were two of the Government’s main advocates in its anti-American-anti-UNHRC campaign, Ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawaka.UPFA parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala, who spoke soon after news that the resolution against Sri Lanka had been adopted at the UNHRC, accused the LTTE-friendly diaspora of pressuring various countries to take an anti-Sri Lanka stance.
Several other Government back-benchers who spoke, saw a silver living in the whole affair, that being the backing the country got, despite being in a “David and Goliath” equation, being pitted against the USA.
The fate of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka too came during the discussions in Parliament, in the wake of the UNHRC resolution. UNP Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella said that the best person to defend the country against charges of violations of international law is behind bars today.
|MPs protesting against the resolution in Parliament
“He knows what really happened during the war. He has said he will safeguard the country and the military. The Government did not give him an opportunity to make representations to the LLRC. Instead, the Government is trying to take all the credit for winning the war,” he said.
MP Kiriella also said that, whatever court decisions maybe given, Fonseka is considered a political prisoner by the international community.
He said that, the people had expected the President to take a conciliatory path after the war ended, but instead, he has abolished the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, and democracy has been weakened.
Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena defended the Government’s decisions, saying that, it had a two-thirds majority in Parliament, and would bring about whatever changes it wanted Constitutionally.
UNP Kurunegela District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera highlighted the continuing abductions and disappearances that take place in the country to date, despite the defeat of the LTTE. “We have to fight for democracy within the country now,” he said.