The appointment and subsequent rejection of a panel of experts to Sri Lanka, selected by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has been a hot topic in Sri Lanka and almost everyone has had their say on the issue. The Sunday Leader today chronicles the good, the bad and the ugly…
“It is an unwarranted and unnecessary interference with a sovereign nation…We will not issue them with visas. We will not allow them into this country” — Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris
“We want to know if the government is on its knees when its representatives go overseas, despite shouting here. They painted a picture that Sri Lanka and Ban Ki-Moon were close allies. If that is the case, why has this panel been appointed?” – UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake.
“This (investigation) would then cover — without any distinction — acts that were committed in the course of that conflict” — Chairman of the UN Panel Marzuki Darusman, on the issue that the UN panel will also consider the actions of the LTTE.
“The government should have acted to uphold human rights after the war. The government has failed to resettle all the displaced civilians. There is no record on the number of persons who disappeared. Legal action against those held in detention are yet to be completed” — JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva, blaming the government for making way for a UN intervention.
“If the government would sort matters out internally and have a proper system of democracy, freedom of press and law and order operating, there would be no need for the UN to interfere” — UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake.
“This is not a fact finding mission, this is not an investigation, it is not an inquiry or it’s not a probe…Well it’s going to be up to the panel to decide whether they intend to go to Sri Lanka or not, It is not required to make visits to Sri Lanka. It is not required. Panel of experts; the three experts are going to advise the secretary-general…The UN is also of the view that it is not required to visit Sri Lanka” — Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Martin Nesirky.
“Everybody loses out. If we cannot go to Sri Lanka, it will make it harder for the truth to be unearthed” — Marzuki Darusman
“During the insurgency of the JVP in the late 1980s, the President went to the Geneva Conference of Human Rights to complain about the alleged human rights abuses committed by the forces. If that was not a violation of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, probing the alleged abuses in the North too can’t be a violation of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty” — TNA MP Suresh Premachandran.
“The panel I am establishing, will advise me on the standards, benchmarks and parameters based on international experience that must guide any accountability process such as the one mentioned in the joint statement. I am convinced that it is well within my power as the Secretary-General of the United Nations to ask such a body to furnish me with advice of this nature… This does not in any way infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.” — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
“This appointment should not be perceived upon as a simple act because the next step of the UN would be to appoint an investigative committee to look into the possible violations of human rights and war crimes. This would eventually lead to the leaders and war heroes of Sri Lanka to be produced to the ICJ,” — Leader of the National Freedom Front, Wimal Weerawansa, while urging the public to surround the UN office and trap the staff within till the UN decides to dissolve the panel.
“There is no reason why (the) Sri Lankan government (is) reacting negatively to my proposal…Sri Lanka should take all the measures to make it accountable for all these perpetrators who have committed and violated international human rights and humanitarian law” — Ban Ki Moon.
“We should not try to get involved in a conflict with the UN. As a citizen of Sri Lanka, if I get an opportunity to support such an inquiry, I think we shouldn’t hesitate to do that.” — Former Military Commander, General Sarath Fonseka.
“Upset though as he might be by the UN’s decision to appoint an experts panel to advise its Secretary General, the fact that Mr. Weerawansa should even contemplate taking diplomatic personnel, let alone rabble rousing and inciting the peace loving citizenry in our country, says a great deal of what governance is made of under the present regime.” — UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya.
“He is the most reliable person to defeat the UN agenda. The government must take this opportunity as a blessing and use General Fonseka to confront the three member panel and let General Fonseka do the job.” – DNA Parliamentarian, Anura Kumara Dissanayake.