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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Interim Self Governing Authority & Aftermath > Word & Deed - An Annotated Guide to Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga's Address  to UN, 21 September 2004

Norwegian Peace Initiative

Word & Deed - the Record Speaks
An Annotated Guide to Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga's Address
to the 59th Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York

21 September 2004

"Whatever may be said, whosoever may say it - 
to determine the truth of it, is wisdom" - Thirukural


Tamil National Alliance on SL President's UN Speech, 24 September 2004

"The Parliamentary Group of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) met on September 23 2004 to consider the statements made by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge relating to "Peace Negotiations" in Sri Lanka during the course of her address to the 59th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The President has stated that "the Government of Norway has been playing the role of facilitator for the negotiation process, for nearly six years. We have taken the process forward with the active participation of Norway, even though at present the LTTE is refusing to return to the negotiating table from which it withdrew nearly eighteen months ago."

Most regrettably, the above statement does not reflect the true factual position for the following reasons:

1. After several rounds of peace talks between the LTTE and the then UNF government, the LTTE in April 2003, for certain reasons, without withdrawing from the negotiation process, suspended its participation in peace talks. The LTTE however continued to be in contact with the facilitator, the Government of Norway and through the facilitator with the then UNF government.
2. In consequence thereof, the LTTE put forward proposals in writing for the setting up of an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA), on 31st October 2003. Simultaneously the LTTE requested that dates be fixed for the commencement of talks on this said proposals.
2. On 4 Novemer 2003, within four days of the LTTE's ISGA proposals, the President in the exercise of powers vested in her under the 1978 constitution took over from the UNF government which enjoyed a majority in Parliament, the Ministries of defense, Interior and Media, which were directly linked to the peace process, and assigned the said portfolios either to herself or to nominees from within her party.
3. This action of President resulted in the facilitator, the Norwegian Government suspending its role in November 2003, in view of the lack of clarity in regard to who was responsible for the peace process.
4. The ensuing stalemate resulted in the dismissal of the then UNF government, the dissolution of Parliament and the installation of a new Government after the General Elections held in April 2004.

5. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge heads the new United Peoples Freedom Alliance Government which is an alliance between the Peoples Alliance (PA) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

6. That the JVP campaigned and continues to campaign country wide against the peace process is well known. It has in fact, threatened to leave the Government and bring about the downfall of the Government, if the President commences talks on the ISGA proposals.

7. However, at the meeting the President had with the Parliamentary Group of the TNA on 10 June 2004, the President while expressing her reservations in regard to some of the ISGA proposals, unambiguously stated that she was prepared to commence talks on the ISGA proposals, without linking such talks to any other issue.

8. The Government has hitherto not taken any action to implement this commitment.

It must not be forgotten that the initial reaction of the PA to the ISGA proposals was totally negative. The PA thereafter knowing very well the attitude of the JVP entered into an alliance with the JVP. This alliance resulted in the hardening of the position against the ISGA proposals and against the peace process. The President's inability to take the peace process forward is clearly attributable to this situation.

The President's alliance partner within the Government, the JVP, has heightened its opposition to the ISGA proposals and the peace process. It is significant that the main opposition party, the United National Party (UNP) has urged the government to commence talks on the ISGA proposals and has publicly stated that it will support any agreement that is arrived at between the government and the LTTE after such discussions.

The LTTE has repeatedly stated that it is eagerly awaiting the recommencement of the talks on the basis of the ISGA proposals, and that when the talks commence, any proposals that the Government may bring to the negotiating table in regard to the ISGA could also be discussed. This consistent position was once again conveyed to the special envoy of the Norwegian Government at a recent meeting.

In this background, the statement made by the President in the course of her address to the United Nations that "the LTTE is refusing to return to the negotiating table" is singularly unfortunate, as it does not reflect the true factual position. The lack of clarity, the contradictions within her own government, and her inability apart from making pronouncements to take definite action to commence talks are the main stumbling blocks to the recommencement of the peace process.

It is pertinent to point out that in the context of the LTTE's request for dates to be fixed to commence talks when it submitted its ISGA proposals on 31 October 2003, the LTTE would have been at " the negotiating table" in November 2003 itself, but for the actions taken by the President on 4 November 2003.

The TNA also questions the President's statement that "comprehensive development strategy has been launched in the North and East of the country which are affected by the conflict".

While the TNA acknowledges that the international community has been providing some measure of humanitarian and development assistance to alleviate the deprivation and suffering of the Tamil civilian population in the North-East, hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamil people in the North-East yet continue to languish away from their homes, awaiting the implementation of a comprehensive programme of action that would resettle and rehabilitate them.

This task, together with the task of reconstructing the devastated North-East can be accomplished only by a duly constituted Interim Self Governing Authority for the North-East.

We urge the President to refrain from rhetorical statements and focus on resolute action that would enable the recommencement of talks, and meaningful consensus-building that would ensure the success of the negotiations.

The Tamil people in the North-East more than anyone else yearn for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Tamil people strongly urge the President not to miss the opportunity that presently exists, to take the peace process forward by commencing talks with the LTTE on the ISGA proposals, in accordance with the assurance given to the parliamentary Group of the TNA on 10 June2004.

The TNA desires to point out that the President has used the forum of the United Nations General Assembly, attended by Heads of Governments to present a distorted picture of the current peace process.

An enunciation of the steps that the President contemplates to take the peace process forward could have greatly contributed to building confidence. The TNA emphatically states that the present peace stalemate should not continue."

TNA press release, 24 September 2004, signed by Mr.R.Sampanthan, parliamentary group leader of the TNA, Mr.Selvam Adaikalanathan, President of the TELO, Mr. Mavai Senathirajah, General Secretary of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchchi, Mr.Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, General Secretary of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and Mr.Suresh Premachchandran, Secretary General of the EPRLF (Suresh wing)

And Without Comment -

Dayan Jayatilleka, Sinhala Political Analyst says Well Done, Chandrika!  "President Kumaratunga has just proved in New York why the country is luckier to have her than Ranil Wickremesinghe as its leader, and why she is the best leader that Sri Lanka could have given the available choices at this moment in history. Her address to the UN General Assembly was the best by a Sri Lankan head of state or government, barring – and bettered only by - her father’s brilliant peroration in 1956 on the twin crises, Suez and Hungary.. Her resounding reaffirmation of the UN was a subtle critique of unilateralist militarism, her pitch for the democratization of the Security Council and the discreetly camouflaged but discernible plug for India, was a combination of laudable reformist ideal and Realpolitik.
monk1a.JPG (36335 bytes)
She did her bit for Buddhism by criticizing its vulgar commercialization in the West.

Above all she exposed the LTTE before the biggest possible audience of world leaders for pulling out of talks 18 months ago and
obstreperously ducking a return to the negotiating table.

With an admirable sense of diplomatic tact and prudence,
she commended the facilitation by Norway.

In short, by adopting a centrist course, she also took the moral high ground... "

 

"Mr. President,

I congratulate you on your assumption of the high office of President of the Fifty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and assure you of Sri Lanka's fullest support and cooperation as you undertake the onerous responsibility of presiding over the deliberations of this august assembly. I also thank the outgoing President, Honourable Julian Hunte, for his able and efficient conduct of the Fifty Eighth Session.

Mr. President, Distinguished delegates,

The International Day of Peace we celebrate today is indeed a significant event in the UN calendar. It is a Day dedicated to the creation and pursuit of a culture of peace. As I speak today in this Hall of Peace, men, women and children in my country are celebrating the Day of Peace through a wide variety of civil society events. Prayers and meditations, the resonating chimes of bells and the gentle glow of candlelight are powerful symbols of our deep collective yearning for peace.

We recognize that the pursuit of peace requires more than symbols. It requires consistent commitment, patience, perseverance and, above all, resolute action and consensus building.

Mr. President, peace and resolution of conflict through dialogue takes centre stage in our lives and hence need to be accorded the highest priority on the UN Agenda. All of us here are only too aware that peace is not the simple absence of war, it entails an active engagement to understand the root-causes that endanger peace and generate conflict.

In Sri Lanka, my government has implemented a series of programmes to engage the armed group, the LTTE, in comprehensive peace negotiations for ten years."

Comment:

"I have studied and acquired considerable knowledge on guerrilla warfare when I was a student in Paris, and we knew how they would behave. We conducted talks on the basis that the LTTE would not agree to any peaceful settlement and lay down arms." President Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 20 August 1995

"..On the most critical issues of opening a passage to Jaffna by removing the Pooneryn army camp and the mobility of our armed cadres in Eastern Province, your decisions are unacceptable to us ...The manner in which these critical issues have been side-tracked demonstrates the fact that your Government is not acting in good faith to create genuine conditions of peace and normalcy but rather seeks to promote the interests of the military. Furthermore, we are convinced beyond doubt, that your Government is making every effort to strengthen and consolidate the military capability of the armed forces under the guise of the current cessation of hostilities, violating the very terms of the agreement that insists on the maintenance of the status quo."  LTTE leader Velupillai Pirabaharan to President Kumaratunga, 18 April 1995

"Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on Tuesday blamed a lack of political will for the collapse of a bid by Norway to end his country's 18-year ethnic war. Norwegian diplomats have spent the past two years shuttling between the government and Tamil Tiger guerrillas fighting for a separate state in the country's north and east. That brought the country to the threshold of negotiations earlier this year, but the effort was hamstrung by haggling over conditions for talks and then smothered by political turmoil that led to the collapse of the government. "It's quite simply a lack of political will," Kadirgamar told state television in an interview. "Blame will lie where it falls, but we, collectively, seem unable to lift this matter out of the arena of day to day politics," he said Reuters, 6 November 2001

"This process has had its successes and setbacks. Armed hostilities have been halted for the past two-and-a-half years under a Ceasefire Agreement. "

Comment:

"Chandrika Kumaratunga sent her formal response on the ceasefire agreement signed between the government and northern rebels by slamming Norway's elevated status in the peace process and a call for the country's sovereignty to be protected at all costs. In a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Kumaratunga reiterated her complaint that she was not properly consulted before Wickremesinghe committed the Colombo government to a truce accord signed by Tamil Tigers (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. .. She hit out at Norway's efforts to upgrade itself from the role for which they were first invited by her government as that of a facilitator "to a mediator and arbitrator" referring to the fact that Oslo has been given the "final authority" on the interpretation of the ceasefire agreement. Kumaratunga also criticised the powers given to Norway through a monitoring mission Oslo would appoint in demarcating "lines of control" within Sri Lanka that would separate government-held areas and rebel-held areas..." Chandrika Resents Truce - Gulf News 1 March 2002

"...Despite the initial optimism generated by the possibility of co-operation to achieve peace, the increasing acrimony between the UNF and the opposition People’s Alliance (PA) has the potential of destabilising the whole process.." Sri Lanka: Return to Uncertainty, British Refugee Council Report

"A comprehensive development strategy has been launched in the North and East of the country which are affected by the conflict. The Government of Norway has been playing the role of facilitator for the negotiation process for nearly six years. We have taken the process forward with the active participation of Norway, even though at present the LTTE is refusing to return to the negotiating table from which it withdrew nearly eighteen months ago."

Comment:

"..In our view, resolution of the Sinhalese political party struggle is the top priority. This (intra Sinhala) conflict—whatever the merits of the arguments—is selfish in the short-term and self defeating in the long-term. The country is ready for peace. The LTTE is ready to continue negotiations. The world cannot understand why Sri Lanka does not move ahead to peace. All parties need to seize this moment, honor their constituents’ faith in them, and settle their dispute immediately. The critical next steps we explore in this report will go unaddressed if this issue is not resolved immediately."...Securing Peace: An Action Strategy for Sri Lanka - A Report Prepared by Princeton University for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), June 2004

"...The international community was perhaps shocked at the decision of the President the Hon. Chandrika Kumaratunga to dismiss key ministers and dissolve the Parliament just at the very time when the peace process with the Tamil LTTE was achieving results. These moves and the subsequent elections virtually destroyed the peace process while at the same time the LTTE or Tamil Tigers were showing a considerable openness to seek a resolution to the conflict..." Intervention by Charles Graves, Interfaith International (Non Governmental Organisation with Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC under Agenda Item 2:Question of the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

".... The lack of a genuine bi-partisan commitment and approach by the (Sinhala) political establishment represented mainly by the two major parties, the UNP and the SLFP has been the single-most important obstacle in achieving a negotiated political settlement. This is accounted for by the longstanding struggle for power by both parties...." European Community Conflict Assessment Mission, 1 August 2002  

"..The delay in the peace process will cause delay in international assistance and directly affect economic recovery and the rehabilitation and resettlement of some 500,000 IDPs. At the root of the problem lies the power struggle between the two major (Sinhala) political parties, without the cooperation of which, the peace process is doomed. Observers say that the international community has not concentrated on this issue and has so far failed to bring sufficient pressure on these parties to enter into a sustainable bipartisan agreement." British Refugee Sri Lanka Project Briefing 1 April 2004

"Sri Lanka's main (Sinhala) opposition has accused the government of taking a cavalier and casual attitude towards the peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels. United National Party spokesman GL Peiris said the government had again changed its stand on resuming talks..."Sri Lanka's U turn attacked reports BBC, 10 August 2004

"...(Ruling Sri Lanka Government Coalition Partner) the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).. propaganda secretary Wimal Weerawansa gave the lecture at Colombo’s Youth Council Centre (on 17 August). He began by demagogically denouncing all those promoting the peace talks as stooges for the LTTE. He branded the previous United National Front (UNF) government, which signed the ceasefire agreement with the LTTE in 2002, as “Green Tigers”—green being the UNF’s official colour. The Norwegian facilitators, he declared, were “White Tigers”. He accused various non-government organisations, which were calling for negotiations, of “crowing for dollars”. Ruling Sri Lanka Government Coalition Partner, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) intensifies its campaign against Sri Lankan peace talks 31 August 2004

"We deeply appreciate the strong support we have received and continue to receive from the international community."

Comment:

" Inter-state relations are not governed by the logic of  morality. They were and they remain an amoral phenomenon..." Jyotindra Nath Dixit, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka 1985 to 1989, Foreign Secretary in 1991 to 1994 and currently, in 2004,  National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of India,  Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka (published by International Alert) February 1998-  India & the Tamil Struggle

"The recent revival of interest in Trincomalee in the Pentagon can only be associated with the growing overall US interest in acquiring bases for intervention and rapid deployment for the sake of developing a quick strike capability in the general area...." Ramtanu Maitra on  Covetous Eyes on Sri Lanka's Strategic Jewel  30 January 2004

"...Tamils seek a just peace and not a peace with surrender. LTTE leadership will not relent until political and social dignity is restored to the lives of Tamil people...We are not 'Vadi Kattina Mutalkal'. We are not stupid. The world has not come to Sri Lanka to save the Tamils. They have come to save Sri Lanka. There are 50 countries who have come to help Sri Lanka. We have only one country to help us - and that is Sri Lanka (loud laughter) ..." Senior member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, V. Balakumaran in Oslo 

"While Norway is playing an essential facilitatory role, others such as India, Japan, the EU, the US, UN Agencies and some international non-governmental organizations are deeply involved with the development and rehabilitation process of the war affected areas. They are also engaged in poverty alleviation programmes in the rest of the country."

Comment:

"...Your government, in international forums, continues to place poverty as the common phenomenon affecting the entire country. .. Though poverty and poverty alleviation constitute the centrality of the new economic vision of your government as exemplified in 'Regaining Sri Lanka' the document fails to examine the causality of the phenomenon of poverty, the effects of ethnic war and the unique conditions of devastation prevailing in the northeast...The war-affected people need immediate help to regain their dignity. They need restoration of essential services to re-establish their lives. Reconstruction of infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, schools and houses are essential for them to return to normal life...The government's 'Regaining Sri Lanka' document completely lacks any form of identified goals for the northeast. Statistics presented for substantiating the policy totally ignore the northeast and solely concentrate on southern Sri Lanka. However, this has been promoted as the national strategy to the international community to seek aid. ..In seeking international assistance your government disingenuously speaks of reconstruction being needed in all areas, thereby masking the total destruction of the infrastructure of the northeast which has resulted from the militarist policies of the past three decades. .." LTTE suspends negotiations with Sri Lanka pending implementation of agreements reached, 21 April 2003

"My government has obtained a clear mandate at numerous elections to end the war and to bring about a negotiated settlement of the conflict that would satisfy all the people of Sri Lanka founded on democracy, respect for human rights, a pluralist polity and good governance."

Comment:

" ...a 'multi ethnic plural society' is a mantra which the Sri Lanka government has found useful to chant from time to time. The mantra has a nice meditative ring to it. It conjures up the soothing vision of a society where all ethnic groups are equal and a plurality of view points is encouraged and secured. But mantras intended to resolve an armed political conflict, must fit the political reality on the ground. The political reality is that there is nothing 'multi ethnic or plural' about the society over which the Sri Lanka government seeks to impose unitary rule. If nothing else, forty years of gross and consistent violations of the human rights of the Tamil people is proof of that. That these violations were no accidental happenings is evidenced by the statements of Sinhala political leaders and opinion makers during the past several decades... It was the Sinhala attempt to subjugate and assimilate which led, eventually, to the rise of the armed resistance of the Tamil people, led today by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam... "  Self Determination & the 'Multi Ethnic Plural Society'  September 1993

"We are fully aware that peace is not achieved easily. It is a constant struggle for mutual understanding and reconciliation, and the establishment of the rule of law, justice and equality."

 Comment:

"...The plan is to destabilize the Tigers, bait the group into confrontation and ultimately launch an offensive aimed at destroying the fractured Tamil movement once and for all," the analysts at Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) said quoting unnamed sources inside the Sri Lankan government....Colombo probably hopes a renewed guerrilla war will be tempered by internal struggles and that, once weakened, the Tigers can be destroyed, the US analysts said....According to the US analysts, in the event of a renewed war “the Tigers will likely end up weaker - perhaps no longer in a position to make the demands for autonomy that helped cause the internal strife in the first place.” “On the other hand, baiting a wounded tiger could be a dangerous game," they cautioned. Colombo promoting Karuna to destroy LTTE with tacit approval of US  says US based think tank Stratfor, 14 July 2004

"The Buddha, popularly known as the Prince of Peace, has preached at length about peace and all that is required to achieve it both within each individual and between nations. I quote from the Dhammapada:" Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat.". "

monk1a.JPG (36335 bytes)Comment:

" The war that Gamini Abhaya waged with Elala was so a religious character and he made it known by a solemn proclamation that "this enterprise of mine is not for the purpose of acquiring the pomp and advantages of royalty. This undertaking has always had for its object the re-establishment of the religion of the supreme Buddha. By the truth of this declaration may the arms and equipment of my army in the hour of battle flash, as if emitting the rays of the sun"..It was always a custom with the Sinhalese kings when engaged in wars to take with them the "sons of Buddha" evidently to show that the wars were conducted in a spirit of religion. To these rulers nothing appeared more supreme than this religion, which was called the "religion of the conqueror", and was thus completely identified with the racial individuality of the people.." The Gospel according to Anagarika Dharmapala

"..History records that even Kings Dutugemunu, Gajabahu, Vijayabahu and Parakramabahu have suffered defeat at the hands of the enemy at some stage. But each time they faced such setbacks, they had faced the enemy with renewed strength and achieved victory. Dear war heroes, we too have to follow in the footsteps of our past heroes... As Head of State. I assure you that the Government will lend you all support and assistance to accomplish that task. Your blood is boiling to liberate your motherland and I am confident that no one can undermine your enthusiasm and commitment... Heroic soldiers ultimate victory will be yours." Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka State Controlled Daily News, 12 May 2000

"Mr. President, Global developments that provide the context of this Session, present a mixed picture. While economic and human development efforts in some countries have made progress, political processes undertaken to bring peaceful resolution to conflicts have been plagued by continuing violence, in others.

Mr. President, We are deeply saddened at the violence, instability, loss of life and human suffering in Iraq. We in Sri Lanka know, and have experienced first hand, the impact of violence on society and the difficulty in finding solutions to problems of governance that satisfy all parties.` Security measures alone, as pointed out recently by the Secretary-General's special representative to Iraq, will not suffice to end violence and create stability and peace. Political consensus building, reconciliation, rehabilitation and the promotion of the rule of law are essential for democracy to take root."

Comment:

"In Sri Lanka, torture is systemic and routine. This is partially due to the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1979 (PTA), a piece of legislation which was introduced as a temporary provision to curb terrorism, but which is still in force today. The PTA has directly contributed to the routine use of torture by the authorities by giving them the freedom to arrest suspects almost at will, allowing for prolonged custody of political prisoners without trial or release and providing for the admissibility of confessions to police officers as evidence in court.." Written statement  submitted by the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC), a non-governmental organization in special consultative status under agenda item 11(a) on Civil and Political Rights - Torture and Detention in Sri Lanka GE.04-11648 E/CN.4/2004/NGO/129, 31 January 2004

"Equally important, in today's interdependent, increasingly globalized world is the commitment of the international community to remain engaged and ensure that Iraq does not become further plagued by violence and fragmented on ethnic or religious lines."

Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga

Comment:

"... In a function room in the Presidential Secretariat, (broadcast live on Sri Lanka television), Sri Lanka's leader (President Chandrika Kumaratunga) stood gravely before a line of tough-looking military officers. Deputy Defence Minister Anurudha Ratwatte, fresh from hoisting the flag in Jaffna town, presented her with a scroll rolled up inside a red velvet container. The scroll was dated "full moon day of the month of Uduwap in the year 2939 in the Buddhist Era." It read, "Your Excellency's rule and authority has been firmly re-established" in the historic city. The territory was not referred to as Jaffna, its official name, but "Yapa Patuna" the term used by conquerors in medieval times. To outsiders, the ritual might have seemed arcane and meaningless, but to Sinhalese, who make up three-quarters of Sri Lanka's 18 million population, it was freighted with implications.. Kumaratunga's use of Sinhalese-Buddhist iconography carried a message: she had conquered Tamil lands and defeated her enemies, in much the same manner as Sinhalese kings of centuries gone by... "  Anita Pratap reporting in Time Magazine  18 December 1995

"Mr. President, All of us as leaders, and above all as mothers and fathers, can never forget the sheer brutality of the terrorist attack earlier this month on a school in the Russian Federation which led to the loss of so many lives of children and adults."

Comment:

"..Thirteen babies were among the 65 dead found under the rubble of a Catholic church bombed by the Sri Lankan air force, (on 9 July 1995),  an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official said on Tuesday. ICRC field coordinator Dominique Henry said at least one bomb hit St Peter's Church at Navali, north of Jaffna town, on Sunday, the day the armed forces launched their ``Operation Leap Forward'' against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The military, which said it was not aware of any church being bombed, had dropped leaflets warning civilians in the rebel-held peninsula to seek refuge in temples and churches to minimise the chance of death or injury in air strikes… `This is really a violation of humanitarian law if a civilian area has been deliberately targeted,'' Henry said, adding that he had no information on whether the attack was deliberate or an accident. Reuters Report  11 July 1995

"The Sri Lanka government, initially denied the bombing of the St.Peters Church. Then it criticised the ICRC representative for reporting the incident to the world media without consulting the Government. Later the government promised to hold an inquiry into the incident…The aerial bombardment of civilian population centres and places of worship follow a pattern set by the Sri Lanka armed forces over the past several years and President Kumaratunga's belated promise to investigate the recent violations, must ring hollow in the ears of the Tamil people whose kith and kin have lost their lives or their limbs in the bomb outrage." (Joint written statement submitted at the 47th Sessions of the UN Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities on 9 August 1995, by International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations and World Federation of Democratic Youth, non governmental organisations in consultative status (category I), African Association of Education for Development, American Association of Jurists, Indigenous World Association, International Association against Torture, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Federation of Human Rights, International Indian Treaty Council, International Islamic Federation of Student Organisations, International League for Human Rights, Pax Romana and World Society of Victimology, non governmental organisations in consultative status (category II) and Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, International Association of Educators for World Peace, International Educational Development, International Federation of Free Journalists, International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Liberation and Movement against Racism, For Friendship Among Peoples and Regional Council on Human Rights in Asia, non governmental organisations on the roster.)

"Terrorism in all its manifestations must be condemned and fought relentlessly and globally."

Comment:

"...The peoples of the world are engaged in a fundamental series of struggles for a just and peaceful world based on fundamental rights now acknowledged as sacred in a series of widely endorsed international legal conventions. These struggles are opposed in a variety of cruel and brutal ways by the political, economic and ideological forces associated with the main structures of domination present in the world that spread terrorism in a manner unknown in prior international experience... The terrorism of modern state power and its high technology weaponry exceeds qualitatively by many orders of magnitude the political violence relied upon by groups aspiring to undo oppression and achieve liberation. .. It is a cruel extension of the terrorist scourge to taunt the struggles against terrorism with the label "terrorism". We support these struggles and call for the liberation of political language along with the liberation of peoples. Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples..." The Geneva Declaration on the Question of Terrorism, 1987

" While no cause justifies terror unleashed upon the innocent, such outrages must make us redouble our efforts to address their root causes and seek political and socio economic explanations and solutions to them. We are currently engaged in this task in Sri Lanka."

Comment:

".. The record shows that  the Sri Lanka security forces (acting on the implicit or explicit authorisation of its commander in chief, President Chandrika Kumaratunga) have with impunity committed gross violations of the international humanitarian law relating to armed conflict and that the genocidal intent of the Sri Lanka government was proved by the 'broad front steamrollering' attack launched on the Jaffna peninsula; the deliberation with which the Sri Lanka security forces have killed Tamil non combatants, shelled densely populated Tamil villages, destroyed Tamil homes and cultivable land, bombed Tamil schools and places of worship, and blocked the supply of essential food and medicine to the Tamil homeland; the persistent and frequent breaches by Sri Lanka authorities of the laws and regulations relating to arrest and detention and the unprecedented number of "disappearances"; the systematic use of torture and rape as instruments of state terrorism;  the mass graves; the use of Tamil civilians as human mine detectors and as forced labour; the murder of Tamil prisoners whilst in the custody of Sri Lanka authorities; the imposition of a press censorship which went beyond any needs of 'national security'; by calculated resort to disinformation and war mongering; the public pronouncements of President Kumaratunga and her ministers, together with the 'victory' ceremony on establishing 'Sinhala rule' of Jaffna; and the failure of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her government to condemn the gross and systematic violations of humanitarian law by the forces under their command and the impunity afforded to the offenders." Sri Lanka's Genocidal War, 1995 to 2001

"My Government is firmly committed to the global endeavour to fight terrorism. We have signed and ratified the UN Conventions aimed at combating this menace and we continue to contribute to the process, by Chairing the Ad Hoc Committee on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. We hope that at this session of the General Assembly, substantial progress could be made on the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and the draft Convention on Nuclear Terrorism.

Mr. President, Sri Lanka believes in the UN and its potential to be the principal forum where the voice of the poor, the defenceless and the weak is also heard as much as the voice of the rich and powerful. We look to the United Nations - its Specialized Agencies and programmes - together with international civil society, as the institutions that are capable of empowering people and promoting their rights, advancing free and fair trade, and forging a new level of international cooperation, with a shared responsibility for global governance and collective action for peace and security.

We recognize therefore, the need for reform to render the United Nations more responsive to the needs and aspirations of all of its member States. We look forward to the recommendations to be presented to this Session of the General Assembly by the 'High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change', appointed by the Secretary-General.

There is general agreement that the Security Council, as presently constituted, does not reflect the current geo-political realities. Reform has to be comprehensive and should not be confined to the question of enlargement of the Security Council alone.

However, we share the concern over the lack of progress on the question of equitable regional representation and the increase in the membership of the Security Council, in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.

For many years, most of the member States, particularly the developing countries, have consistently urged that the composition of the Security Council be broadened to accommodate the basic principles of democratic representation. This includes adequate representation of developing countries. In this context, we observe that Asia, the most populous continent that is home to expanding economic powerhouses is grossly under-represented in the present Council.

Mr. President, we take note that four countries - Brazil, Germany, India and Japan - will announce their participation in a compact in terms of which they will collectively support their respective candidatures for permanent status in an expanded Security Council. Sri Lanka supports their candidatures, as each of them complies with one or more of the objective criteria applicable to the expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council.

It is hoped that the Open Ended Working Group would continue to exert efforts to resolve all outstanding issues expeditiously. Sri Lanka would also wish to see a consensus emerging on the permanent representation of Africa in the Security Council. Africa must be included when a final determination is reached on the future composition of the Security Council. We also believe that the General Assembly, which is representative of all member States of the UN should have a larger and more active role to play as a deliberative and decision-making body.

Mr. President,.At the dawn of the new millennium, four years ago, we forged a consensus to pursue a vision of an inclusive globalization process that provides benefits for the widest possible segments of society. Leaving aside the common place clich,s about globalization, we agreed on a number of goals to be implemented within specific time frames. My government's economic and social development programmes were planned and put into action ten years ago.

We have now made the necessary changes to align our plans more closely with the UN's Millennium Development Goals. The Sri Lankan Government's strategy for development seeks a constructive partnership between a strong and accountable private sector, including foreign investment, and a robust and responsive public sector. The major thrust of our vision is to eliminate poverty, reduce inequalities, enhance the standard of living among the different sectors of our population, thus providing equal opportunities for all.

Through decades of free education and health services, Sri Lanka has already made significant strides in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals in certain areas of human development in the spheres of education, health and nutrition. In the field of education, my government's new education reforms plan which commenced implementation in 1998, as well as achievements since independence have ensured gender equality in both primary and secondary education, a literacy rate of 92% and school attendance of 98% up to end of primary school. We also have a wide network of vocational training centres and programmes for non-formal education."

Comment:

"Lawlessnes in Sri Lanka - A general militarisation of society has taken place over the years helped on by the war. In the course of the civil war in the Northeast, 55,000 soldiers are reported to have deserted the ranks taking their weapons with them. Repeated proclamations of amnesties have not been headed, thus allowing for a wide circulation of weapons and the easy formation of armed bands ready to offer their services to politicians or business men. Thus, violence has become the preferred means of competition in politics and business to gain the upper hand against unwelcome competitors. The situation in Sri Lanka can be characterised as increasingly institutionalised lawlessness... There has been a widespread privatisation of violence..." Statement by International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples (Non Governmental Organisation with Special Consultative Status at the United Nations)under Agenda Item 2: Question of  the violation of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms  28 July 2004

"The UN Special Session on Children held in 2002, which I had the privilege to attend, arrived at important decisions with regard to the advancement and protection of child rights. It was decided that all member States should prepare and implement an action plan for children from 2004 - 2008. We have recently launched Sri Lanka's Action Plan for Children which we believe would contribute to creating a world fit for children as decided at the Special Session in 2002.

Mr. President, on the subject of social progress, I must commend the United Nations for its continued commitment and perseverance in promoting and protecting children's rights. Apart from guaranteeing the rights of every child to education and good health services, Sri Lanka believes that children must be protected from abuse of all types, sexual, alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Children in some of our countries suffer from the ignominious practice of being used as child soldiers. We are addressing this problem by seeking to engage the LTTE in the process of negotiation and by supporting the activities spear headed by UNICEF and civil society organizations working on this issue.. Our economic strategy is market driven but geared to achieve human development and prosperity at the grass roots level.

We have crafted a policy and launched programmes to channel development efforts and resources to domestic capacity builders at the village level who are the pillars of our national economy.

Over 60 percent of our population belongs to the rural sector and depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Promotion of small and medium scale enterprises is therefore vital to sustain development. Sri Lanka draws strength from the recognition the United Nations has granted for the small and medium industrialists in the developing world through the declaration of 2005 as the Year for Micro-Credit."

Comment:

".. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented a bleak outlook for the Sri Lankan economy on Thursday, saying the high cost of fighting the Tamil separatist war had bloated the deficit and slowed growth. ``Even if peace dawns and no shot is fired thereafter, we will be paying for our military purchases until 2008,'' Wickremesinghe said in an address on state-run Rupavahini television. He said the government had 13.6 billion rupees (dlrs 141 million) in outstanding loans for military purchases ``I may become unpopular because I speak the truth, but that's not a problem to me,'' Wickremesinghe said about critics who accuse his administration of doing little to bring down the rising cost of living..." Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghr, blames Sri Lanka's economic woes on borrowing to fight Tamil separatist war, July 2002

"Mr. President, the Millennium Declaration Goals have given to the United Nations and member States a massive and challenging task. While the United Nations has been criticized by some, many have praised the Organisation..All agree that the United Nations remains an indispensable instrument for preserving international peace and security and promoting socio-economic development, social justice and human rights.

In a rapidly changing world economy and strategic environment, the UN however must meet the emerging challenges. It has a pivotal contribution to make in providing the political, legal and moral force underpinning the collective efforts of the member States towards creating a world where human rights, freedom and equitable development are promoted and protected.

It is perhaps in such an environment that those who suffer from deprivation and marginalisation will reject the advocacy of violence offered by extremists and terrorist groups as the only instrument of change. To this end, the UN can make a collective contribution. We expect the UN to epitomize the force of law not the rule of force. However, we cannot expect the UN to deliver what the member States fail to support. The UN can do what its member States want it to do; no more, no less.

We witness with concern the emergence of a contrived association of certain religious beliefs with some groups of fanatics. Extremism, violence and terrorism are the complete anti-thesis of the ethical and spiritual foundation of all religious philosophies and practices. We should work resolutely to prevent these aberrations from becoming irreversible trends.

On the other hand, Mr. President, we are disturbed to witness religious symbols being defamed or abused for commercial purposes. Whether the symbols belong to the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish or any other faith, such abuse should be condemned and prohibited.

monk2a.JPG (43683 bytes)The recent phenomenon of Buddhist symbols being used for commercial purposes, thus causing concern and pain of mind to Buddhists all over the world is a case in point. Fortunately, most of these organizations have agreed to refrain from such abuse in the future.

Sri Lanka together with other like-minded States has brought this situation to the attention of UNESCO and other relevant inter-governmental bodies. We propose that the United Nations should call upon those responsible to pay due respect to religious symbols and practices. This would be a fitting contribution by the UN to its own initiative on a `dialogue among civilizations.'

This year Sri Lanka will begin events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our membership of the United Nations that falls in 2005. On that occasion, we will renew our commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

We expect the Organisation to provide leadership in the task of creating a world where understanding and harmony prevails with economic, scientific and technological advancement.

My commitment, and that of my government and the people of Sri Lanka, to the United Nations remains undiminished. Our hope, Mr. President, is that all member States will cooperate fully with the United Nations to realize the goals of the Millennium Declaration."

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