Govt will defeat UNHRC resolution against SL - Minister Maithripala
SLFP General Secretary and Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena
called upon everybody to rally round regardless of political
affiliations to thwart attempts being made by certain countries to bring
a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions to be held in
Geneva. The Minister in an interview with the Sunday Observer said the
Government is confident that it would be able to defeat this resolution
to be moved against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions. At present the
Government has confidence and is determined to overcome the challenge.
The Minister said massive public demonstrations will be conducted
throughout the country on February 27 to show the people’s solidarity to
thwart the attempt made by certain countries to move a resolution
against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC Sessions. It is very evident that
pro-LTTE elements and its friendly international forces are behind this
move. During the past few months, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made a
series of state visits and held bilateral talks with World Leaders to
educate them about on this attempt. The Government through the External
Affairs Ministry, diplomatic missions, embassies and other special
representatives has already educated our friendly countries and the
international community about the situation.
Referring to the increasing trend of demonstrations and other public
agitation campaigns, the Minister said there is an ulterior motive
behind these demonstrations and they are not motivated to seek economic
redress. This is an attempt made by certain elements in collaboration
with international organisations to topple the Government. Instead of
engaging in trade union activities, some Trade Union Leaders have also
resorted to act according to a political agenda to topple the
Q: The UN Human Rights Session will be held in Geneva next
week. A strong anti Sri Lankan lobby is in the offing. Don’t these human
rights crusaders have a hidden agenda behind any attempts to protect
A: There is no hidden agenda because it has been exposed to
the entire world that pro-LTTE elements are behind this UNHRC attempt
against Sri Lanka. Though LTTE Leader Prabhakaran and his armed gang was
destroyed militarily, hardcore pro-LTTE elements who still operate in
Western countries like the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Norway
have rallied round and raised funds through various rackets conducted.
These pro-LTTE elements are behind some of the world powers. That is
why when the armed forces launched military operations against the LTTE,
the US categorically requested us not to attack the LTTE. But we
continued military operations against the LTTE as that was the biggest
problem faced by the country.
To take revenge from us, the US says they would vote in favour of the
resolution to be moved against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC Sessions as we
refused what they asked us to do.
Amidst pressure exerted by some Western countries, President Mahinda
Rajapaksa took the bold decision to defeat terrorism.
If that decision was not taken at that time, today the country would
have been divided into several parts. We were able to safeguard the
unitary status of the country due to bold moves taken by the President.
However, some Western countries have a hatred due to the decision taken
by the Government to defeat terrorism. Pro-LTTE elements are behind some
of these Western countries.
We have to realise this problem. Everybody should be united to defeat
this conspiracy. We should join hands to safeguard the country first,
not the Government. To safeguard the Government first the country should
be safeguarded. If the only the country is safeguarded, the Opposition
can also engage in politics. Everybody should rally round to defeat
these forces in Geneva regardless of their political affiliations.
There should be genuine unity among the people to defeat these
conspiracies. Massive public demonstrations will be conducted throughout
the country on February 27 to show the people’s solidarity to thwart the
attempts by certain countries to bring a resolution against Sri Lanka at
the UNHRC Sessions. Instead of safeguarding the Government, now we have
engaged in the task of protecting the motherland.
Q:The Government has to think of the international dimension
as well with the UNHRC sessions coming up next week. Are you confident
that the Government will be able to thwart attempts by certain countries
to bring a resolution against Sri Lanka?
A: Definitely. At present we are organising ourselves to
thwart this attempt. During the past few months the President made a
series of state visits to foreign countries and held bilateral talks
with their Leaders to educate them on the attempt to be made against Sri
Lanka during the forthcoming UNHRC sessions.
The Government through the External Affairs Ministry, diplomatic
missions, embassies and other special representatives has already
educated our friendly countries and the international community on this
situation. We are confident that we would be able to defeat this
resolution to be moved against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions. We are
confident and determined to succeed this challenge.
Q: When invisible hands are at work to discredit Sri Lanka at
the UNHRC sessions, shouldn’t the Opposition extend its fullest support
to the Government rather than create an unpleasant situation in the
A: That the approach adopted by the Opposition regarding this
issuers evident. Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe in a special
statement in Parliament on Wednesday requested to table all documents in
Parliament which are to be taken by the Government for the UNHRC
sessions to be held in Geneva.
This is like keeping the chicken in the custody of the jackal. The
Opposition Leader wants to table these documents because they contain
the answers to be given to the charges levelled against us at the UNHRC
If we table these answers in Parliament before the UNHRC sessions,
then Ranil Wickremesinghe will be able to send these answers to the
pro-LTTE elements in Geneva to prepare their counter replies to these
answers. To defeat the Government’s resolution at the UNHRC sessions,
the Opposition Leader wants the Government’s answers to be send it to
pro-LTTE elements and some international forces to create an anti Sri
Lankan lobby. We call upon the Opposition Leader and other reactionary
forces not to resort to such a treacherous and opportunistic approach to
gain narrow political objectives.
When Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister signed the Ceasefire
Agreement (CFA) with LTTE Leader Prabhakaran, even his party or the
Cabinet were not aware.
That CFA was not submitted to Parliament. Wickremesinghe who secretly
signed this agreement with Prabhakaran now requests the Government to
table documents to be presented at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva.
This shows how opportunistic and narrow minded, the Opposition Leader
is. That is why the UNP has not been able to come to power, as the
majority of the people are aware of this childish approach adopted by
Q: The Oil price hike has hit the masses badly. The Government
says it is beyond its control. The Opposition rebuts that the increases
are not proportionate to actual price hikes in the international market.
Would you like to explain this situation?
A: The Opposition always attempts to take political mileage
and attack the Government. But when attention is focused on oil prices
in the international market, you find war clouds gathering all over the
world and there is a virtual collapse in world economies. The economies
in certain Western countries like the US and the UK have collapsed.
The US should be held responsible for creating this fuel crisis as
they have paved the way for war clouds in the world. Today Iraq or Libya
are not producing the quantity of oil they produced during the regime of
Sadam Hussein or Gadaffi.
The oil production in Nigeria has also drastically reduced. Now the
US is targeting Iran. As a result there is a severe crisis between Iran
and the European countries. We are victims of the international fuel
market. I reject the claim made by the Opposition that there is no
increase in fuel prices in the international market. This is a false
The price of a barrel of crude oil had gone up to $ 127 on February
23. This is the actual situation. Earlier the Government had given a
large amount of subsidies for fuel. Subsidies were also granted for
electricity. We have to realise the Government is not in a position to
continue these subsidies any more.
Three years ago, Sri Lanka was recognised as a poor and third world
country by the UN, IMF, World Bank and the ADB. But all these
international monetary organisations and other international
institutions have now accepted Sri Lanka as a country which has recorded
significant economic growth. Sri Lanka has been able to achieve 8
percent economic growth last year.
In this situation, subsidies given on fuel were removed. Even today
an electricity subsidy has been given to those who use below 150 units.
No subsidy has been granted for those who exceed these limits. We
should be alert about the crisis situation in Iran.
If we took the decision to increase fuel prices six months later, we
would have faced severe economic hardship.
As politicians who have come to this position with the help of the
ordinary people and always live with them, we have understood the
economic hardship faced by them. That is why steps were taken by the
Government to grant subsidies to several sectors.
The Government has already decided to give fuel subsidies to Samurdhi
beneficiaries, fishermen, school vans and three wheelers. We should face
the political reality and the true picture of the economy without
considering opportunistic politics of the Opposition.
If the Opposition was in power, what would have been the decision
taken by them? At present the Opposition and anti-Government elements
criticise the fuel hike. But they do not submit any solution to overcome
It was the UNP Government which destroyed the assets of the Ceylon
Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
The CPC had engaged in the production of a series of by products and
agro chemicals which are required for farmers.
After 1977, all these CPC-owned business ventures and a large number
of its properties were vested to the private sector by the UNP
Government. It is necessary to understand this situation.
We have realised the difficulties faced by the people and every
possible measure will be taken to grant relief. However, it is essential
to maintain an economic balance. Otherwise the economy will collapse. We
cannot be isolated.
We live in a universal society which is connected with international
economy, politics and other social factors.
Therefore we have to face these problems and succeed. We will defeat
false propaganda campaigns carried out by the Opposition. We would not
allow the Opposition to destabilise the country through their various
The Government through subsidies and other welfare measures will
minimise the burden faced by the people.
Q:About the recent killing of a fisherman in Chilaw, you had
said that the Police should have been more circumspect in handling
public protests. Can you elaborate on this?
A: There are two sides to this issue. In a democratic country,
there is a legal right to engage in demonstrations and protest marches.
Before we came to this position, we have also resorted to similar
activities. But today the Opposition and some NGOs specially operate in
Sri Lanka as sole representatives of international forces which act
against Sri Lanka and have invested money here to topple the Government.
Their intention is to form a Western-oriented Government which dances
according to their whims and fancies. It was not the genuine fishermen
who were behind the demonstration held in Chilaw. An NGO was behind this
scene and it was handled by a priest who is also connected to the
Katunayaka Free Trade Zone incident.
The NGO groups controlled by Western forces have resorted to these
demonstrations and other public agitation campaigns.
They want to provoke those who participate in these demonstrations.
That is why they attempt to create unnecessary panic. The Police was
unable to control that demonstration.
Under these circumstances, we have to think of both sides. On the one
hand, the people’s right to protest should be ensured.
But if the demonstrators resort to violence and exceed the limit of
an ordinary demonstration, then the Police or the Security Forces have
to be deployed to control them. This is the situation of any country.
The organisations that act against the Government want to create a
serious incident by even sacrificing the life of a person.
We should not get caught to these traps. It is necessary that Police
officers act intelligently and tactfully to deal with such situations.
Q:Foreign interference in our internal affairs appears to have
become a new development when it was reported that a recent foreign
delegation wanted the Government to remove the military camps in the
North and the East. How do you look at this situation?
A: At present most of the people have forgotten war against
the terrorism which prevailed in the country. LTTE now that has ended,
pro-LTTE elements and the diaspora who live in foreign countries hatch
political conspiracies to topple the Government.
Their intention is to create violence in the country to disrupt peace
and national security.
The Security Forces have to curb these LTTE spy services and other
activists. We could not arrest all the LTTE activists. Some of them were
killed at the battlefront and some have been rehabilitated. But there is
another group of LTTE activists who are outside the country.
The hardcore LTTEers who live in various foreign countries are still
conducting various organizational activities. We cannot give room for
these activities within the country. That is why the Security Forces are
still maintaining military camps in the North and the East.
We have just completed only two years after the terrible war against
terrorism. We have to seriously consider this. Still some LTTE remnants
may remain in the country. It takes certain time frame for complete
Q: There are allegations that the Government is cracking down
on the people’s right to protest. At the same time some Government
Ministers have said that unseen political hands and NGOs are behind the
protests, which they say are a start of a conspiracy to topple the
Government. What are your comments on this?
A: The UNP or the JVP has no right whatsoever to oppose to the
moves taken by the Government to control demonstrations which go beyond
accepted limits of democratic norms. We know the moves taken by
J.R.Jayewardene and R.Premadasa Governments during their 17 years rule
to suppress the Opposition.
How many people were assaulted and killed by former UNP Governments
who participated in Opposition demonstrations? As a political party the
JVP has a notorious political history of unleashing violence, killing
thousands of innocent people and destruction of public property.
Therefore the JVP is the political party which is held responsible to
introduce this cult of violence. During their regime, the UNP introduced
stern rules and regulations and deployed the Armed Forces to suppress
the working class and their political opponents.
Ranil Wickremesinghe was also a Minister and was a Prime Minister.
But most of the new UNP Parliamentarians don’t have any understanding
how the country was ruled by former UNP Governments.
These newly elected UNP MPs have not held any ministerial portfolios
or they don’t have any experience of ruling the country under the UNP.
But they pretend to be clever critics in Parliament, political stage and
even before the media. The people could see the true nature of the UNP
when it was in power.
It is ironic that the UNPers posed themselves as mere “upasakas” when
they are in the Opposition. In our history, there is no any other
political party like UNP which has unleashed violence and suppress the
democratic rights of the people.
Q: Are these protests, demonstrations, rallies and other
public agitation campaigns really motivated to seek economic redress or
do they have an ulterior motive injurious to the country?
A: Definitely, there is an ulterior motive behind this. This
is an attempt made by certain elements in collaboration with
international organisations to topple the Government. Instead of doing
trade union activities, some Trade Union Leaders have also resorted to
political activities to topple the Government. It is clear that a large
number of NGOs and other international organisations are behind them.
Q: What is the delay in the parliamentary Select Committee
(PSC) to begin its sessions? What is the TNA’s difficulty in
participating in the PSC?
A: Actually there is no delay on the part of the Government.
So far the TNA has not made its representation to the PSC. We have
appointed the PSC and proposed the TNA to participate. Instead of
participation the TNA and the UNP have engaged in various treacherous
activities against the country with the intention of weakening the
Q: It is said that the Government has already taken steps to
implement the LLRC recommendations. What is the progress?
A: Some of the recommendations made by the LLRC have already
been implemented. Recommendations and activities of the LLRC will be
implement through the PSC. That is why the Government requests the
Opposition to participate in this PSC.
However, the UNP and the TNA are not prepared to participate in the
PSC. This is the true situation. Therefore the UNP and the TNA should be
sincere to sit together and discuss to find a solution to this problem.
Q:There was media speculation about a Cabinet reshuffle. Is
there any truth in this?
A:I deny those media reports.
Q: Today the health sector is free of strikes, work-to-rule
campaigns and similar protests. What is the secret? Have you waved a
A: When we take the health sector trade unions, their
situation has completely changed. They are not in the same position they
were two years ago. I allocate time to hold discussions with trade
unions. I am always ready to listen to the voice of trade unions and
consider them as friends.
I am there for genuine grievances and try to give possible relief and
privileges. I have been able to create a close rapport with trade
unions. But there are some trade unions which are directly connected to
some political parties.
For example there are some trade unions which are affiliated to the
JVP and its breakaway group called “Jana Aragala Movement”. Under cover
of the trade union banner, these politically motivated trade unions in
association with some NGOs have engaged to topple the Government. They
have misled some trade union members as well. We are a Government which
is committed to safeguard the rights of trade unions. As the Health
Minister and the SLFP General Secretary, I have a huge responsibility on
all these sectors. Therefore we are dealing with trade unions in a