Mar 24, Geneva: A massive demonstration was held this afternoon at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) headquarters in Geneva with the participation of over 5,000 expatriate Sri Lankan community in Europe.
The demonstration with unprecedented high participation was organized by the United Sri Lanka organization based in Europe to protest against the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka.
The demonstrators handed over a letter addressed to Mr. Michael MØller, Actg. Director General of the UN, Geneva and Ms. Navanetham Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urging to giver Sri Lanka adequate time and understanding to resolve the problems on its own without undue interference from countries that are influenced by the Tamil Diaspora. They asked the World Body not to undermine the domestic efforts of reconciliation.
Sri Lankans living in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands took part regardless of political affiliation. Sri Lankans living in Australia and Canada also joined the demonstration.
The petition submitted by the demonstrators pointed out that Sri Lanka has consistently interacted with the United Nations system and the wider international community in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
"We expect reciprocity in the cooperation between the UN system and Sri Lanka in order to fulfill its international obligations and commitments to bring about sustainable peace and reconciliation to all Sri Lankans," the Sri Lankan community stated.
"We reiterate that Sri Lanka should be given adequate time and understanding to resolve her problems by herself without undue interference from countries that are influenced by the Tamil Diaspora."
Expatriate Sri Lankans in Europe, headed by Unity for the United Sri Lanka organized many protest marches throughout Europe in the run up to the Geneva sessions. The first protest by this group was held in London in front of the official residence of British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
When the protest in France was held on March 19th, the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora crowd tried to disrupt protest waving the banned organizations flag. French police intervened and dispersed them.
The protest in front of the Italian parliament building lasted for more than two hours. Italian government provided police security for the protest march. The protesters handed over a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Giorgio Napolitano through a PM's parliamentary staff member.
Following is the petition handed over during the demonstration today:
Mr. Michael Mǿller
Actg. Director General
Office of the United Nations
Ms Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Sri Lanka is a member of the United Nations for the past six decades and it has proudly demonstrated its unstinted belief in the cherished principles of the UN. Hence, we expect fair treatment from all the UN bodies as well as its Chief Executive Officers such as you on issues pertaining to its Member States like Sri Lanka.
We the peace-loving Sri Lankan expatriates, in large numbers demonstrating our commitment to "peaceful co-existence without undue influence or interference from external forces," which is a cross section of thousands of such expatriates living in different parts of the world wish to bring to your notice the following:
The most brutal and ruthless terrorism that plagued Sri Lanka for 30 years has been totally defeated; For the last two years there were no disastrous suicide bombings; People of all ethnicities can move freely and peacefully in any part of the country; economy is growing at 7% contributed by significant regional growth rates of 23.6% from Northern Province and 26.6% from Eastern Province. Tourism alone is growing at 25% and tourists are free to enjoy our rich cultural heritage and our beautiful beaches without any fear. People enjoy their democratic rights to elect their representatives in free and fair elections. The elections which were successfully conducted last year in the North itself is a testimony to the return of political freedom to the region after decades.
Since the defeat of terrorism in May 2009, a lasting peace is the only hope for the future of Sri Lanka and its people. While being aware of the fact that post-conflict processes do take time, what matters the most is going on the right direction and keeping our eye on the ultimate goal of reconciliation although it is a lengthy process.
The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, an internal mechanism has been established to investigate into allegations of violations of international law. The Government is in the process of implementing the recommendations of this Commission which will enable the country to move forward, addressing accountability issues and concerns on human rights, It is evident that there has been significant progress in the reconciliation process over the past 19 months since the National Plan of Action (NPoA) came into force.
At a time when the process of reconciliation is making steady progress, we do not wish to see the peace in Sri Lanka disturbed due to any reason. Some lobby groups are trying within the Human Rights Council to pass another resolution that will include a commitment to an Independent International investigation in Sri Lanka in the form of a Commission of Inquiry. These types of actions will not help to put the country on the path to justice and reconciliation but become detrimental to fostering goodwill and spirit of cooperation within the UN system. We believe that these actions will further reduce the confidence most Sri Lankans have on the UN system as being neutral within the international system.
Sri Lanka has consistently interacted with the United Nations system and the wider international community in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation. We expect reciprocity in the cooperation between the UN system and Sri Lanka in order to fulfill its international obligations and commitments to bring about sustainable peace and reconciliation to all Sri Lankans. We reiterate that Sri Lanka should be given adequate time and understanding to resolve her problems by herself without undue interference from countries that are influenced by the Tamil Diaspora.
While commending the important measures that you have taken in recent years to elevate human rights concerns within the UN system, and encouraging the participation of the civil society in its activities, we urge you to consider the above concerns and emphasize that any efforts by the UN to promote human rights in its member countries should not essentially undermine the domestic efforts of reconciliation.
Very Truly Your's
Eric K Makawitage,
Sri Lanka Europe Friendship Association Mullheimerstr.
1216 Cointrin, Geneva, Switzerland. 1404057 basel