Izsak-Ndiaye’s concerns and Mangala’s views

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2017-03-18

By Manekshaw

The UN Special Rapporteur on Minority issues Ms Rita Izsak Ndiaye in her address at the ongoing UNHRC session in Geneva on Wednesday (15) has emphasized the need of Sri Lanka safeguarding the minorities and on fulfilling its commitments in implementing the UNHRC resolution.

Rita Izsak Ndiaye, recalling her visit to Sri Lanka in October last year, mentioned on the necessity of healing the scars of war in the Island. The UN Special Rapporteur while emphasizing that Sri Lanka should grab the opportunity for resolving the post-war humanitarian issues had even warned that the Island nation would even lose the credibility of the international community if the Island nation failed in its commitments to fulfil the post-war humanitarian needs.

Ndiaye had made her statement in Geneva based on the personal experience she gained during her Sri Lankan assignment last year on looking into the unresolved post-war humanitarian issues and on the safety of all minority communities in the Island.
The three decades of civil war had been ruthless. However, the final phase of the civil war in 2009 had been catastrophic with enormous human tragedy.

It is unfortunate that the Rajapaksa regime which was in power when the war came to an end had paid more attention to celebrating its military victory over the LTTE not prioritizing the resolving of humanitarian issues strengthening the peace and reconciliation process.

Entire country experienced chaotic situation

With the Northern and Eastern Provinces suffering extensively, the entire country had experienced the chaotic situation created by the civil war with anarchy taking centre stage.

The pledges made by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to reach a political solution to the ethnic question by resolving the post-war humanitarian issues in his address to the nation at the end of the war had created enormous anxiety among minorities towards peace and reconciliation.

However, the violence against Muslims in the down South in the Island during the Rajapaksa period in 2014 had made the minorities lose confidence in the previous regime and created a fear psychosis among the minorities who were looking forward to a healthy reconciled situation in the country following the end of civil war.

It was when UN Special Rapporteur Rita Izsak Ndiaye made her observation on Sri Lanka last Wednesday, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera made a statement responding to former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa's recent criticisms with regard to constitutional and legal reforms.

Apart from making a hard hitting response to the former President, the Foreign Minister's statement clearly outlined the struggle faced by the present government to come out of the messy situation created by the previous regime on dealing with several post-war humanitarian issues.

Everyone paid a heavy price

Samaraweera's statement could also be considered as a response even to the UN Special Rapporteur on her expectations with regard to Sri Lankan Government fulfilling its commitments vis a vis the UNHRC resolution of 2015.

Samaraweera in his statement said: "Everyone paid a heavy price during the conflict, including our soldiers, with patriotic devotion. It is fitting that all of us Sri Lankans enjoy the benefits of reconciliation including the families of more than 5,000 missing military personnel, and the families of missing policemen whose whereabouts will be sought by the Office of Missing Persons."

Commenting on the former President's mishandling of the post-war issues Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweers also said that driven by his arrogance and neglect of duties and responsibilities towards our citizens, the former President even dragged the country into the first ever external investigation of the situation, through the OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL).

"President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, guided by wisdom, managed to regain trust and regain control as an independent, sovereign and responsible nation, in the pursuit of reconciliation and accountability by national processes, shifting all action to the domestic front," Mangala Samaraweera said.

On the other hand as the demonstrations are being staged by the victims of the civil war in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, to seek the attention of the ongoing 34th UNHRC session in Geneva, the main Opposition party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which had played a significant role in bringing the National Unity Government to power in 2015 has also come under criticism on the TNA's flexibility towards agreeing on giving more time to the Sri Lankan Government to fulfil its commitments vis a vis the UNHRC resolution of October 2015.

So, it is the arrogance of the hardliners in the South disagreeing on the implementation of the UNHRC resolution of 2015, which was cosponsored by Sri Lanka and on the other hand the criticism surfaced against the TNA in the North and the East on its flexibility towards agreeing on Sri Lanka gaining more time to implement the resolution, have clearly indicated that the peace and reconciliation still remain a distant dream in the war-torn Island.

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