I’m not a traitor : Mangala
Following allegations levelled against him as being a traitor, former Minister Mangala Samaraweera referring to his role in the 2015 September UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, said it is best to decide on the difference between a true patriot and one who assumes patriotism for their own benefit.
Speaking as the Foreign Minister during the previous Government, Samaraweera said the U.S. and the UK had co-sponsored the resolution at the time. “To say that Sri Lanka sponsored a resolution alone is an utter misleading lie,” he said. “Although there had been 29 countries supporting Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in 2009 right after the war, the support dwindled down to 12 countries by 2014 when the UNHRC initiated a probe against the country for human rights violations.”
He noted that only 11 countries supported Sri Lanka when the new resolution was taken up at the UNHRC. “Majority of countries which supported Sri Lanka were those who also had atrocities to hide,” he alleged.
Samaraweera said that in 2015 he had appealed for the UNHRC to give the previous Government a little more time till September that same year to present the country’s own resolution for a national independent judicial mechanism. Then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, with a group of top level experts, drafted the resolution and invited the U.S. Ambassador and UK High Commissioner to co-sponsor the resolution. “Each and every word of that resolution was approved by then President Maithripala Sirisena who now denies that he even saw it,” he alleged.
President Sirisena, on 4 February 2016, reiterated that the resolution was to protect the pride and dignity of the country, the security forces. “No country opposed the Resolution when it was presented in Geneva that year,” he said noting that he believed it to be the golden moment in foreign affairs in the history of foreign policy of Sri Lanka.
“After that we were able to secure the GSP Plus concession again for the country, also the green card for the fishing community in Sri Lanka to sell their tuna fish in the European Union which was banned under the Rajapaksa regime, and enabled Sri Lanka’s armed force to be involved in peace keeping matters, enabling them to get high salaries working in the Peace Keeping Forces. In 2009, then Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa should not have built this ideology about a Sinhala Majority Government, or try to create a scene from the Mahawamsa by portraying himself as a king, an attempt should have been made to reconcile all communities instead,” he noted.
Samaraweera said that in the present context of the 2021 resolution, the incumbent Government should raise trust through diplomacy. “It can take the country towards all kinds of solutions to the issue. But if you are going to oppose those who criticise you and treat them as your enemies from the start, the country would not go anywhere. Sri Lanka has voluntarily or inadvertently become a signatory to all human rights resolutions passed in the UNHRC and other places since 1948,” he said noting that the country could not act like North Korea or Venezuela. Sri Lanka is a country that has always dealt with the world on equal terms.
Samaraweera fielding questions as to whether he intended to join forces with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, said she was a good friend while he had no intention of re-entering politics.