Dec 16, Colombo: Issuing dated ultimatums to Sri Lanka by the states that once subjugated the island nation is laughable and utterly counterproductive, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) said.
Nirj Deva, MEP for UK expressed this sentiment during the debate on the passage of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the European Parliament session in Strasbourg on Thursday (December 12).
"It is laughable. That laughter becomes risible when States that once subjugated her and now as this house has done, now issue dated ultimatums for her to do this or that by this date or that date at the pain of serious sanctions," the Sri Lankan-born British MEP said at the debate.
The MEP pointed out that Sri Lanka became a universally franchised democratic state far earlier in 1928 than 19 out of the 28 EU member states "who now take it wholly appropriate to lecture her on democracy."
"Are we still backing imperial age here? This is utterly counterproductive and makes the current government even more popular. Instead we must build lasting peace with our people...." Deva continued.
The European Parliament passed a resolution asking the Sri Lankan government to promptly implement the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations in full.
The MEP expressed dismay that the EP has forgotten the defeat of 30-years of terrorism bringing peace to the island and now judging the country on the way the war ended.
"It is pathetic that a vicious thirty year terrorist insurrection, claiming 60 thousand lives has all but been forgotten by this house and replaced with international judgments about how the war ended. For thirty years state actors defended the rule of law against non-state actors who terrorized an innocent population; using them at times as human shields," the MEP said.
"For thirty years the South fed the North. They fed the population that was trying to blow them up. We sent them food there. This is an act of terrorism by a small group of people. It has nothing to do with the Tamil population," Deva argued.
Debating the resolution the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voiced their concern that the Sri Lankan government is taking too long to bring justice to the people victimized by the war and most of them said a serious international inquiry is needed if the government fails to act.
Carl Schlyter, MEP for Sweden said Sri Lanka's post-conflict progress is overshadowed by the erosion of human rights and abuses and the Sri Lankan government needs to take responsibility to do justice for serious war crimes and for the victims who have suffered serious human rights infringements.
Phil Bennion MEP, UK emphasized that an independent inquiry into the violations of international law carried out by both sides in the conflict is needed urgently and called on the Sri Lankan government to commission an independent inquiry as soon as possible.
He called on the Sri Lankan President to set up an inquiry on the similar basis to the one that has already been set up to look into the disappeared and expressed hope the process of reconciliation can be concluded.
If the Sri Lankan government does not initiate a credible inquiry by March 2014, the UN has the legitimate right of an independent inquiry of its own, Bennion said.
Joe Leinen MEPof Germany questioned the ultimatum whether it is realistic to expect an investigation within three months.
"Why to put such an ultimatum and not as you said in your own words to have it in due time but I would just like to say March 2014 is absolutely unrealistic," Leinen said.
In response, the MEP from UK said they expect the Sri Lankan government only to initiate the process by March 2014.
"All we are asking is this process to be initiated by March 2014. The initiation process is simply for the President (Rajapaksa) to send out the notification and call on justices to actually form the inquiry. So I think that's perfectly reasonable."
The EP in its resolution said the Sri Lankan government must intensify its efforts to fully implement the LLRC recommendations concerning credible investigations, demilitarization, and the establishment of land dispute resolution mechanisms, amongst others.
The resolution also noted with concern that, according to Europol's recent 'EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report', the LTTE, which has carried out indiscriminate terrorist attacks in the past, is still active internationally.
Responding to the EP resolution, the Sri Lankan government said it has already set in place mechanisms to address the issues and implement the LLRC recommendations and the country does not need any outside pressure to do what is best for the country and the people.
Read full transcript of the debate on Sri Lanka