By Shamindra Ferdinando
Cabinet spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne yesterday stressed that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government hadn’t co-sponsored Geneva Resolution 30/1, which calls for a hybrid war crimes tribunal.
Dr. Senaratne blamed President Mahinda Rajapaksa for accepting UN call for investigation soon after the conclusion of the war in May 2009.
Dr. Senaratne said so when The Island sought a clarification as to the identity of the party/parties who had falsely accused the previous government of using cluster ammunition against the LTTE as well as other unsubstantiated allegations leading to Sri Lanka co-sponsoring the Resolution after the change of government in 2015 January.
Senaratne was in Rajapaksa’s Cabinet at the time the conflict was brought to a successful conclusion. He switched his allegiance to the UNP in Dec 2014 when the then SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena declared himself the Opposition presidential candidate.
The Island pointed out that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration had endorsed Geneva Resolution 30/1 on Oct 1, 2015 but the cabinet spokesman stressed it was not so. Minister Senaratne alleged that the media had conveniently forgotten Rajapaksa’s culpability in paving the way for international intervention. Senaratne recalled how Rajapaksa had promised 13 plus.
The Island raised the issue after yesterday’s post-cabinet media briefing was told of the yahapalana government decision to accede to Convention on Cluster Ammunition aka the Oslo Treaty as contrary to claims by certain parties, the Sri Lankan military had never deployed such ammunition during the conflict.
Dr. Senaratne was flanked by Lands and Parliamentary Reforms Minister Gayantha Karunatilleke and military spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu.
Pointing out that the second item in the Cabinet decisions read out by Karunatilleke specifically referred to unsubstantiated allegations in respect of use of cluster ammunition, The Island asked Dr. Senaratne whether he could name those who had propagated misinformation he said that it was a section of the international community.
Both Karunatilleke and Atapattu refrained from commenting on the issue.
The Island pointed out that Geneva sessions were now on.
At the onset of the briefing, Karunatilleke, having declared that Sri Lanka had never used cluster ammunition, assured that there was no evidence that it had been used here.
Karunatilleke said that President Maithripala Sirisena had, in his capacity as the Defence Minister, proposed that Sri Lanka acceded to the Oslo Treaty. Recently, Sri Lanka ratified Ottawa anti-personnel mine treaty.
Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday told The Island that the yahapalana leaders had co-sponsored the Geneva Resolution just over a week after Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative there Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha had opposed the resolution at an informal session. Prof. Peiris pointed out that having co-sponsored accountability resolution, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had secured additional two years to fulfil obligations including the enactment of a new Constitution.