Top UN official Feltman (fourth from left) with TNA and GTF delegates (Rev Fr Emmanuel-third from left, MP Sumanthiran-fifth from left) and Surendiran-extreme right)
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) claimed that they had received assurances from the US and Norway to guarantee the full implementation of Geneva resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in Oct 2015 and the subsequent Resolution 34/1.
Geneva Resolution among other mechanisms to address accountability and transitional justice specifically calls for the establishment of war crimes court with foreign judges, including those from the Commonwealth.
GTF spokesman Suren Surendiran, who had been a member of the joint TNA-GTF delegation told The Island that the mission discussed ways and means to ensure a time-bound implementation plan for two Resolutions and the requirement for UNHRC monitoring and oversight over Sri Lanka beyond March 2019. Resolution 34/1 covers the period up to March 2019.
Delegation comprised Jaffna District MP and TNA spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran, GTF President Rev. Father S. J. Emmanuel now resident in Sri Lanka, United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC), Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), Norwegian Tamil Forum (NTF), Australian and the United Kingdom organizations.
The TNA with 16 member parliamentary group is the official Opposition in the Lankan parliament.
The joint delegation held talks with UN, US and Norwegian officials in the US parallel to 37 sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The sessions concluded yesterday (March 23).
In response to The Island query, why did they want UN oversight and monitoring of Sri Lanka even beyond 2019, Surendiran said that in case the current government couldn’t fully implement the 2015 pledges, continuous international oversight was needed on this government or any future administration. Surendiran insisted on constant watch until the full implementation of the 2015 Resolution.
The GTF said they were able to secure key appointments with what it called the relevant highest levels of authority at the UN, US Administration and Norway. Interestingly among those who had met the joint delegation was Norwegian Permanent Representative to the UN Tore Hattrem, wartime Norwegian Ambassador in Colombo.
The delegation has received Hattrem’s assurance to share their concerns with Oslo as well as Norwegian Mission in Geneva as regards time-bound implementation plan with benchmarks. Prabhakaran quit Norway mediated talks between the LTTE and Sri Lanka in April 2003. Eelam War IV erupted in Aug 2006. The previous government brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.
The GTF said that the visit was all part of GTF-TNA continued engagement with Sri Lanka as well as the international community to ensure the current dispensation fully implemented the 2015 Resolution. They undertook the visit to the US against the backdrop of Washington yet to appoint an Ambassador to its Geneva mission.
In addition to Geneva process, discussions had covered law and order situation against the backdrop of recent violence directed at the Muslim community in Ampara and Kandy districts and the new constitution making process.
The delegation had met United Nations Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Director for Asia and Pacific Division Ms Mari Yamashita at the main UN building in New York.
Deputy US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Kelley E Currie, who is also the Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, met the delegates at the US Mission at the UN Plaza, 1st Avenue. Ambassador Currie has reiterated US commitment for the full implementation of Resolution 30/1 and promised to discuss points of concern with the missions in Geneva and in Colombo.
The GTF said that Ambassador Alice J Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia had promised to take up their concerns with US missions in Geneva and Colombo.
The delegation also had the privilege to meet with the Senior Republican Congressman Bill Johnson and senior staff of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Capitol Hill.