Lanka on solid growth path

False propaganda countered:

Lanka on solid growth path

Minister Nimal Sripala de Silva

Minister of Irrigation and Water Management and Chief Government whip
Nimal Sripala de Silva who was a member of the Government delegation
that visited the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last month
said in an interview with the Sunday Observer that their delegation
effectively countered the charges levelled against Sri Lanka on the
basis of the Darusman Report and the Channel 4 video footage, impressing
the international community and the Council’s member States that the
documents, based on falsehoods, were unauthentic.

Consequently, he anticipated them to adopt a changed attitude towards
Sri Lanka in the next sessions of the Council scheduled for September
this year, he said. With rapid economic growth recorded, the targeted
US$ 4,500 per capita income will be achieved in 2016, he said. He also
spoke on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s far-reaching programs to ensure
food security in the country and the creation of a talented younger
generation to compete in the present world.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: The next sessions of the UNHRC are due in September this
year. Are you anticipating a change of attitude of the international
community and the member states of the UNHRC towards Sri Lanka over the
purported war crimes after the delegation and our Ambassadors
effectively countered accusations of the Channel 4 video clipping and
the report of Darasuman Committee ?

A: First of all I must congratulate Minister Mahinda
Samarasinghe, who led our delegation to Geneva last month, for his
impressive presentation at the UNHRC and facts tabled with regard to the
realities of Human Rights conditions in Sri Lanka.

Other members of the delegation including Attorney General Mohan
Pieris, lawyers of his department, the Government Analyst and Secretary
to the Presidential Task Force for Resettlement and Rehabilitation in
the Northern Province, S.B.Divaratne also played a vital role in
countering unfounded accusations.

We, together with our Permanent Representative to Geneva Mrs.Kshenuka
Senaviratne, held meetings with ambassadors of member countries of the
UNHRC and briefed them about the arduous task of eradicating terrorism
and the peace dividends enjoyed by people.

Sri Lanka is now emerging as one nation and we insisted on the need
for this process to continue undisturbed.

We also met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Navaneetham
Pillai to apprise her of several facts regarding misreports submitted to
the UNHRC.

We explained to her the Governament’s humanitarian operations to
liberate people of the Northern and Eastern provinces from the clutches
of the LTTE.

We displayed video presentations demonstrating how humanely our
forces acted in the final days of the operations.

Mr.Divaratne’s presentations before the international community on
supplies of food, medicines and other necessities amidst very difficult
circumstances were also very convincing.

We told them that it will be unfair if Sri Lanka is penalised on
unfounded accusations while emerging as a united nation after
eliminating terrorism.

We apprised the international community of the reconciliation process
initiated by the Government and the development in the Northern and
Eastern provinces, emphasising the fact that more funds are being
allocated to the two provinces than to the rest.

In the sidelines of the UN session we also met representatives of the
Amnesty International and both the Attorney General and the Government
Analyst expalined to them the reasons why the episodes and images in the
Channel 4 video footage lacked genuineness and cannot be accepted as an
authentic document.

The Attorney General (AG) also met the Special Rapporteur to the
UNHRC who had said in his first draft report that the video footage was
authentic.

After the AG explained matters to him in detail and put forward a
strong argument, he corrected his draft to say that ‘ there was a
prima-facie evidence of authenticity.’

I think that was a significant victory to the delegation.

In addition to all these arduous activities of the delegation during
its visit to Geneva, our Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN
office in New York Maj.Gen.Shavindra Silva and other Ambassadors had
meetings and confrontations with representatives of UN member countries.

I am confident that the international community and the UNHRC member
countries should be convinced of the true situation.

Q: Will the Government conduct its own investigations in order
to ascertain as to who were behind these fabricated video footage and
the damaging UN panel report in order to keep the UN Special Rapporteur
informed of the findings?

A: The Government has no jurisdiction to conduct
investigations over the Channel 4 video footage, on what they do in
London or anywhere else in the world. But we have expert opinion to say
that the story is fabricated.

The story that they are trying to tell is not compatible with the
video clipping. In fact our High Commissioner in London asked for the
original tape from Channel 4 for our examination but they refused to
give it.

It is clear that they are trying to conceal something. Taking
advantage of the present advanced technology, fabrications of this kind
are easy. Unscrupulous individuals do it for money.

There is lot of money in the name of the the LTTE and some sections
of the Tamil diaspora are handling it. It is also possible that they are
spending huge amounts to individuals in some institutions to tarnish the
image of Sri Lanka.

Q: Some local NGOs working in collaboration with international
organisations and INGOs seem to be unhappy over the defeat of the LTTE
and the restoration of peace and democracy in the country. Your comments
please?

A: We have found that the LTTE has spent huge money not only
on NGOs but also on politicians in the Western world for their election
campaigns and other political activities.

While using their money to buy arms and ammunition and they also
spent considerabale amounts to stage propaganda against the Sri Lankan
Government.

They spent on media personnel and the media to put across their false
propaganda.

Q: You are one of the members of the Government Committee that
is now negotiating with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on evolving a
political solution to the Tamil issue. Can you please tell us of the
developments in the talks?

A: The two sides to the negotiation have a mutual undertaking
that they will not disclose details of the talks to the public.

What I want to say is that the Government’s commitment is to reach an
agreement with the TNA and also to reach a consensus among the other
political parties represented in the parliament on resolving the Tamil
issue. An atmosphere conducive to settling the issue through dialogue is
now prevailing with the elimination of the LTTE.

Q: Sri Lanka has recorded an eight percent economic growth
rate in the first quarter of this year despite many hurdles and thereby
creating an atmosphere conducive to foreign investments in business and
industrial ventures. What are the Government’s plans to attract foreign
investors while sustaining the economic growth rate?

A: As long as we have been waging a battle against terrorism
we could not attract foreign investors and tourists to the country. But
now the situation is different.

The number of tourist arrivals has increased by 48 percent during the
last few months. So investments also should flow.

If we take our tea, rubber and other agricultural products and even
gem and jewellery, there must be more value addition in Sri Lanka.

I am sure there will be a lot of people who will invest in these
areas.

In the meantime, food security is something the Government is
focusing. That is one of the visions of ‘Mahinda Chintana’.

The people in this country should be able to produce sufficient food.

The global food crisis is an emerging problem due to global warming
and changes in weather patterns. It is absolutely necessary under the
present circumstances that we produce our own food.

It is for this reason that the Government is giving special subsidies
for agriculture and is spending mammoth amounts on irrigation and
agricultural projects.

The policy of the Government is also to make our younger generation
competent in the present world. They would need the right educational
background and professionalism, especially in the IT sector.

At present there are more than one thousand graduates passing out
from universities and other institutions in the IT sector. India is a
hub of IT sector in the world.

We also should strive to become an IT hub. In this respect the
Government is in the right path and right direction.

Our country is producing the best doctors and engineers who have a
big demand in the private sector and in foreign countries.

They get lucrative salaries. My Ministry is unable to get the number
of engineers it needs for its Departments.

That is an indication of the quality and professionalism of our young
people.

With this upward trend, I am confident we could reach US 4,500 per
capita income by 2016.

Q: The Government also had invited the well-to-do members of
the Sri Lankan diaspora to invest in their motherland to help us in our
drive towards economic prosperity. After your encounters with some
sections of the Tamil diaspora in Geneva, do you think they will also
invest here?

A: I am sure they will be part of the investors. They were
earlier misled by all false propaganda and unfounded rumours.

Their relatives and friends in Sri Lanka would have told them the
peaceful situation prevailing in all parts of the country, including in
Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu and how people are living without any
fear.

The large amount of money which the Northern people have deposited in
banks is a clear indication that the situation is improving there. I
believe the Tamil diaspora is getting the correct message.

Q: Shortcomings over the rehabilitation and resettlement of
the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been expressed by the TNA
and some other political parties. Your comments please?

A: Considering the plight of the displaced people in some
other parts of the world , Sri Lanka has had the best recovery and
rehabilitation programs.

Even in the US, displaced people are continuing to live in dire
conditions. But in Sri Lanka we have been able to resettle almost 85
percent of the IDPs in a short period. The resettlement of the rest is
being delayed due to the demining process.

On the whole, our resettlement programs have been successful.

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