Sri Lanka has intensified its diplomatic efforts in Geneva to defeat a United States-sponsored resolution -- with a large delegation comprising ministers, deputy ministers, diplomats, ruling party politicians and legal experts working round the clock.
As part of these diplomatic efforts, the President’s Human Rights Special Envoy and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is spearheading Sri Lanka’s fight, has met a group of ambassadors from Like-Minded Group (LMG) countries on Thursday and Friday and discussed a common strategy to defeat the US-backed motion.
Mr. Samarasinghe met ambassadors of 15 LMG countries including China, Algeria, Cuba, Pakistan, Senegal, Russia, Brazil and Ecuador and said he was optimistic about the outcome. Sarath Kongahage, Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Berlin, also met several envoys.
Mr. Samarasinghe said Pakistan, Cuba and Sri Lanka were working out a statement which would be circulated among the envoys of member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council for their signature.
The Sunday Times learns both the US and the European Union have also stepped up diplomatic efforts to ensure that the resolution against Sri Lanka is passed.
Diplomats of the US and the EU are visiting the capitals of the UNHRC member-states, many of which have pledged support to Sri Lanka, to urge them to vote for the resolution., which calls on the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and investigate war crimes alleged to have taken place during the last stages of the war.
The Non-Aligned Countries, the Organisation of the Islamic Countries and several African countries have pledged their support to Sri Lanka, but diplomatic sources said some African countries were now wavering.
The Sunday Times also learns that the United States has communicated to the Sri Lankan government that it was going ahead with the resolution. The US has also told the Indian government that it had no intention to withdraw the resolution, the Sunday Times learns.
While Sri Lanka continues its diplomatic efforts aimed at winning the required number to defeat the resolution, it is also beset with the task of countering a series of NGO-led side events at the UN premises on the sidelines of the ongoing UNHRC sessions.
Tomorrow (March 19), the Society for Threatened People’s International and the Minority Rights Group will hold a side event on ‘human rights in Sri Lanka”.
It is believed that at least sections of the controversial Channel 4 video documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: A War Unpunished,” will be screened at this event.
One of the panelists billed to address this side event is a family member of the disappeared activist.
Sri Lankan delegation members believe that the wife of the abducted journalist Pradeep Ekneligoda will address the event.
Sri Lanka will hold a counter side-event on Tuesday to explain its part of the story with a new video documentary – a sequel to Lies Agreed Upon – to counter the charges leveled at Sri Lankan armed forces in the Channel 4 documentary.
In a side event organized by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), its President Nimalka Fernando claimed women of minority people in the highly militarized Sri Lanka north were facing sexual harassment. She also claimed her life was in danger because she had come to Geneva to explain human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
The Council for Liberal Democracy in Sri Lanka, which recently released a draft on National Action Plan for Reconciliation, a document which has recommended sweeping reforms, held two side events where Presidential Reconciliation Advisor Rajiva Wijesinha, Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies Chairman Jeevan Thiyagarajah and former ambassador and former Human Rights Commission member Javed Yusuf, explained their views on reconciliation and urged the international community to give Sri Lanka time and space to implement the LLRC recommendations and measures aimed at reconciliation.