Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullas Alahapepruma yesterday said that an explosive UN report on heavy-handed US military action causing deaths of hundreds of children in Afghanistan couldn’t have come at a better time as the world’s solitary superpower intensified pressure on Sri Lanka on the human rights front.
The Minister pointed out that the US recently declared its intention to move a second resolution against Sri Lanka at the forthcoming sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in Feb/March this year.
The SLFP Treasurer said that the latest UN report had exposed those propagating peace and democracy in other regions.
Responding to a query , Alahapperuma said that those wanting to haul Sri Lanka, up before an international war crimes tribunal, on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations spread by the LTTE rump and its agents, couldn’t remain silent on the UN report. The minister said that the Geneva-based committee on the Rights of the Child had accused US forces of failing to adopt precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of power in Afghanistan.
The UN report deals with US action in Afghanistan over the past four years.
The minister said that since the conclusion of the conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009, the US had been pushing Sri Lanka on the human rights front over accountability issues, whereas its forces caused deaths and destruction in Afghanistan. The minister urged the global community to recognize Sri Lanka’s efforts to save children from the LTTE, which used those in their early teens as cannon fodder.
Commenting ongoing efforts to deprive Sri Lanka of an opportunity to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later this year, Alahapperuma said that the issue of human rights was used as a tool to undermine post-war stability in the country. He went on to say that those who couldn’t stomach Sri Lanka’s battlefield victory over the LTTE were now working overtime to humiliate the country at international forums.
The minister noted recent statements attributed to Canadian politicians as regards unsuitability of Sri Lanka as a venue to host CHOGM 2013.
Asked whether the government felt a section of the international community was biased towards the LTTE rump, Alahapperuma said that Western powers couldn’t have interfered here without certain politically motivated elements collaborating with them. Referring to recent allegations made by Wickremabahu Karunaratne at a media conference at the Azath Sally foundation, where the Sri Lankan military was accused of massacring 135,000 men, women and children during Eelam War IV, the Minister pointed out that one-time LTTE mouthpiece, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was represented at the media briefing. The minister said that the issue here was not who had made the allegation but the timing.
The Minister said that those who depend on the US and the British to promote human rights in Sri Lanka had conveniently forgotten what was going on in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The UK- based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which regularly called for international intervention here, should appreciate the sacrifices made by Sri Lankan forces to save Tamil civilians held hostage by the LTTE. During Eelam War IV alone, the armed forces lost 6,000 officers and men while thousands were wounded, the Minister said.