The US has dismissed Sri Lanka’s accusation that the West has singled out Colombo for human rights abuses in moving a resolution against the country.
“To those who have accused the US over the past few months of targeting Sri Lanka, I want to point out that this was only one of numerous multilateral responses at the UN Human Rights Council to human rights situation in a particular country,” US Ambassador Michele J Sison said yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G L Peiris had said it was “unbelievable” US pressure which resulted in the resolution being adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva last month.
The Council had on March 27 voted to open an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by the Lankan government and the LTTE in the final stages of a decades-long conflict that ended in 2009.
Responding to the accusations, Sison said, “I have heard the claim that the resolution sparked divisions in the country. Sadly, those divisions existed long before any UN resolutions. But, I do want to point out that the resolution passed last week reaffirms a commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.”
She urged the Lankan government to “take heed”, to fulfil its obligations to its people and to take meaningful, concrete steps on reconciliation and accountability. Sison said the US wished to encourage the government to cooperate fully with the UN mechanisms.
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has rejected the resolution. Indications are that Colombo may opt to take a stand of non cooperation on it.
Sison said the US had taken serious note on reprisals against those who meet with diplomats and UN officials.
“It is disturbing to see this targeting of human rights defenders who have devoted their careers and lives to promoting and defending the rights of their fellow Sri Lankan citizens,” she said.
“Reconciliation is a lengthy process it must be started in earnest as soon as possible,” she added.