Don’t play ball with Tigers at our expense – GL tells the West

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Reiterating President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s commitment to publish observations and recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday urged those countries concerned over accountability issues not to be part of the eelam lobby, but to throw their weight behind the ongoing Sri Lankan initiative.

Although Sri Lanka was open for discussion on any issue, including the LLRC, external pressure on the government would be detrimental to reconciliation efforts.

Prof. Peiris asserted that Sri Lanka couldn’t achieve total victory over the LTTE in spite of defeating the enemy on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon in May 2009 due to the group having continued support among a section of the international community. He expressed the opinion that had Western powers took tangible action, the LTTE wouldn’t have been able to operate with impunity in spite of being a proscribed organization.

The External Affairs Minister was speaking on ‘reconciliation and the international community,’ at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS).

In his brief but hard hitting speech, Prof. Peiris explained the difficulties experienced by Sri Lanka due to strong relationship between the LTTE and those foreign powers still facilitating LTTE operations.

Instead of supporting ongoing indigenous efforts aimed at national reconciliation efforts, some countries were undermining the process, the External Affairs Minister alleged. He alleged that a High Commissioner had been targeted for participating at a function presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at which a group of rehabilitated LTTE cadres were released. Prof. Peiris expressed shock and disappointment over the attitude of some of those pushing Sri Lanka over the accountability issue.

Commenting on the ongoing battle with the Tamil Diaspora, the MP emphasized that the government didn’t want to either demonize or isolate Tamil expatriates. Acknowledging the Diaspora could help re-building the war devastated economy, Prof. Peiris alleged there was a segment, which still couldn’t accept the irreversibility of the LTTE defeat.

The External Affairs Minister cited the recent example of a defeated European parliamentarian receiving a well paid job from an LTTE front organization to underscore the nexus between the LTTE and some of its vociferous supporters abroad. The politician in question, according to Prof. Peiris had raised the Sri Lankan issue in the legislature he/she represented on many occasions. And immediately after losing the parliamentary polls, the politician had found a job courtesy the LTTE rump, the minister alleged.

The minister questioned the motivation factor and the inducement on the part of the LTTE to secure the support of politicians. He asserted that this wasn’t an isolated case.

While playing ball with the LTTE and those representing its interests, some Colombo-based diplomatic missions had not been supportive towards the Sri Lankan cause, the minister alleged. The minister alleged that a Colombo-based diplomatic mission had conveniently failed to forward a range of material provided by the government to foreign missions in response to UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Darusman report’ to the relevant officials. This had come to light when Minister Peiris met a visiting representative of that particular country recently. Prof. Peiris said that the official had been clueless regarding Sri Lanka’s position on the accountability issues, though he seemed to be fully briefed on the ‘Darusman report.’

On the contentious issue of ongoing political negotiations with Tamil political parties, Prof. Peiris said that the government had allocated four days to discuss ethnic issue during Dec. 1-15 period. According to him, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, in consultation with leaders of political parties would appoint members to the long awaited Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on settling the ethnic issue.

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