World should honour those who ushered in peace - Weerawansa
National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader and Construction, Engineering
Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa said as
patriotic citizens who love the Motherland, “we should vehemently oppose
the move taken by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint an expert
panel with the intention of bringing our President, Defence Secretary
and war heroes to the International War Crimes Tribunal. Many of our war
heroes made the supreme sacrifice to defeat three-decades of terrorism
and bring lasting peace to the country”.
Minister Weerawansa, in an exclusive interview with the Sunday
Observer before he commenced his fast-unto-death on Thursday, said he
would continue his fast until the UN Secretary General withdraws his
expert panel. He said what the world should do is to honour and present
awards to our leaders who brought this historic victory to the nation,
setting a perfect example to the entire world on how to defeat
Q: How do you view the appointment by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
of an expert panel to advise him on the alleged war crimes during the
last stages of the war against LTTE terrorism?
A: The United Nations has been formed with the help of its member
The UN Secretary General is also appointed from these member
countries. If the UN Secretary General has any problem with a member
country, he can present a motion to the UN Security Council or submit a
petition to the UN Human Rights Council.
Except that he has no ability whatsoever to act on a member country
according to his will. The UN Secretary General has no legal powers to
appoint an expert panel to look into internal problems in a member
But Ban Ki-moon has made that grave mistake by appointing this expert
panel. If he thinks he has such power to appoint an expert panel, we
should not accept it.
The UN Secretary General did not appoint this expert panel
haphazardly. The advice he has given to this panel is that these alleged
war crime charges are serious and to find out whether there is evidence
to conduct an investigation.
After that their plan is to appoint an investigative board. When that
investigative board completes their investigations, they would say the
situation is very serious and there is evidence to prove it. Then they
would bring this issue to the International War Crimes Tribunal.
This is the proposed plan of the UN Secretary General. The
appointment of this expert panel is only the beginning of this process.
This expert panel was appointed to bring the President, Defence
Secretary, Commanders of the three Armed Forces, all Brigade Commanders
and war heroes to the International War Crimes Tribunal by branding them
as those who had committed war crimes.
As patriotic people who love this country, we should vehemently
oppose this move by Ki-moon. We should protect all who risked their
lives , to bring lasting peace to this country.
Q: The NFF conducted a protest march to the UN headquarters and
commenced a ‘Satyagraha’ opposite the UN office at Bauddhaloka Mawatha
to protest the UN Secretary General’s move. What led the NFF to conduct
this protest campaign?
A: The NFF is a political party which has policies for the future
benefit of the country. In our agenda, we have given priority to our
Motherland. When various comments were made that the war cannot be won,
we, as a political party, categorically said that the war can be won. We
were the political party which maintained the firm view that LTTE
terrorism should be defeated through military means. After the war
against LTTE terrorism successfully ended, certain elements who claimed
that it cannot be ended are now attempting to bring the country’s leader
and other war heroes to the International War Crimes Tribunal. As
patriotic citizens of this country, can we remain silent?
What the world should do is to honour and present awards to our
leaders who brought this historic victory to the nation by setting a
perfect example to the entire world on how to defeat terrorism.
But the UN Secretary General attempts to bring our leaders and war
heroes before the International War Crimes Tribunal. As a political
party and citizens who love this country, we have commenced this
fast-unto-death campaign to force the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
to immediately withdraw this expert panel. We will give a strong message
to Ki-moon that we will not provide any room to this expert panel to
come to Sri Lanka.
Q: What is the main objective of conducting this fast unto death?
A: My key demand is to immediately withdraw this expert panel
appointed by the UN Secretary General. I would continue my fast unto
death until the UN Secretary General responds to my demand.
Q: The UNP in Parliament on Wednesday complained that the
demonstrators had attacked and damaged the UN Headquarters. Is there any
truth in these allegations?
A: I categorically deny it. They have not done any damage to the UN
office. All members of the UN staff who were inside the office could
leave the premises. They could return to work without any hindrance.
When a demonstration is held, some minor difficulties may occur. That is
common to any demonstration conducted anywhere in the world. We have a
democratic right to conduct a demonstration or fast-unto-death campaign.
We should conduct our protest campaign or fast-unto-death in front of
the office of that particular international organisation which has
levelled allegations against us. It is a democratic right of the
citizens of this country. For example, students converge in front of the
University Grants Commission, Education Ministry and Temple Trees to
conduct various demonstrations. Like that we also have a right to go
before the UN Headquarters in Colombo and conduct a demonstration. I
would continue my fast-unto-death until the UN Secretary General
withdraws his expert panel. But we have not done any damage to any
property of the UN office as the UNP claims.
Q: The Opposition points out that the UN is an international
organisation and we should not have problems with it due to an
individual decision taken by its Secretary General. Your comments?
A: We also criticise the move of the UN Secretary General, not the
entire United Nations organisation. But they can’t prevent us from
talking about the UN owing to the decision taken by its Secretary
General. We criticise Ban Ki-moon, not the UN.
Q: However, certain elements complain that as a result of the NFF
move, if the UN withdraws their mission in Sri Lanka that would pave the
way for the EU to further exert pressure on the Government without
extending the GSP Plus facility to Sri Lanka? How do you view this?
A: Certain foreign elements are of the view that President Mahinda
Rajapaksa’s Government should be toppled. They may try their level best
and commit to any sordid act to achieve their goal.
This is the Government which eradicated LTTE terrorism nurtured by
these foreign elements.
All their plans to divide this country into several pieces were
completely shattered due to the defeat of terrorism.
Therefore, they attempt to take revenge from this Government. If we
do not conduct these demonstrations, these vicious elements would resort
to traitorous acts against this country. We won’t be able to prevent it.
To successfully face these acts, there is an urgent need for unity among
all patriotic forces in this country.
Q: How should the Government respond to this move taken by the UN
A: The Government has already expressed the view that they would not
accept this expert panel and that visas won’t be issued for this expert
panel to come to Sri Lanka.
This is the stance maintained by the Government. We highly appreciate
this stand maintained by the Government. As a political party, we have
gone beyond this stand and we demand the UN Secretary General to
immediately withdraw his expert panel.
Q: You are a Cabinet Minister in the Government. The UNP criticised
the move taken by you to organise such a protest march and conduct a
They say this kind of act would cause a serious impact on the
collective responsibility of the Cabinet. Your comments?
A: Being a Cabinet Minister, don’t we have a right to act when some
particular international organisation attempts to cause damage or pose a
threat to our country? Cabinet Minister or not, I will fulfil my duty on
behalf of my country. It’s a duty that we would definitely fulfil
whether we are a part of this Government or not.
We have launched this struggle not for any personal benefits. We have
entered the struggle with the sole purpose of protecting the war heroes
who risked their lives to safeguard our motherland from the clutches of
LTTE terrorism. Merely because I hold a Cabinet Ministerial portfolio,
how can I get rid of that responsibility? I would say whether I have a
ministerial portfolio or not, I would fulfil my responsibility on behalf
of the country at any time.
If somebody thinks these things cannot be done while holding a
ministerial portfolio, I have no problem with resigning and fulfilling
my responsibilities on behalf of my country.