The National Peace Council (NPC)

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Media Release - 08-03-2014

National Peace Council
of Sri Lanka
12/14 Purana Vihara Road
Colombo 6
Tel: 2818344,2854127, 2819064
Tel/Fax:2819064
E Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Internet: www.peace-srilanka.org

08.03.14

Media Release

DRAFT RESOLUTION TAKES A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH

The draft resolution on Sri Lanka to be taken for vote at the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is now in circulation. It proposes an international monitoring of Sri Lanka’s domestic accountability process and calls on the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s Office to do investigations on its own. In addition, the draft resolution calls for the establishment of a truth seeking mechanism and national policy to hold individuals accountable for violations of international law. It also calls on the government to devolve powers meaningfully in terms of the 13th Amendment and to empower the Northern Provincial Council with the necessary resources and authority.

The scope of the draft resolution has been widened in scope in comparison to the previous two resolutions. The present draft includes issues of human rights violations and accountability in the entire country, rather than in the North and East alone and does not limit those issues to the last phase of the war. It refers to attacks against religious minorities, journalists, human rights defenders and civic activists, and to crimes that target women wherever they live. The National Peace Council notes that the issues that the international human rights community is considering have been considerably widened in the draft resolution. This will relieve all those in Sri Lanka and internationally who have been highlighting the larger issues of good governance and human rights in the country.

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Media Release - Joint Inquiry 27/02/14

National Peace Council of Sri Lanka
12/14 Purana Vihara Road
Colombo 6
Tel: 2818344,2854127, 2819064
Tel/Fax:2819064
E Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Internet: www.peace-srilanka.org


27.02.14

Media Release

CONSIDER JOINT INQUIRY INSTEAD OF INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY

The Sri Lankan government has rejected the report submitted by the UN Human Rights Commissioner that recommends an international inquiry into alleged war crimes and human rights violations in the last phase of the country’s war. The government continues to deny the allegations and asserts that it only carried out a humanitarian rescue operation during the last stages of the war due to the forcible holding of the civilian population by the LTTE and also asserts that the alleged number of persons who had died or disappeared as a gross exaggeration. It set up an inquiry but entrusted it to the military against whom the allegations are made, which does not make it an independent investigation. It is an accepted principle in law that no person can be a judge in their own cause.

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31.01.14 Media Release

WORK TOWARDS MUTUALLY ACCEPTABLE RESOLUTION TO AVOID FURTHER POLARISATION

The Sri Lankan government and the Tamil polity in Sri Lanka, together with sections of the international community, appear to be getting into inflexible positions vis a vis the allegations of war crimes and violations of International Humanitarian Law. The Northern Provincial Council has adopted a resolution calling for the UN to establish an International war crimes investigation. On the other hand, the government has asserted that the international community has no role in the matter of accountability. Even if this is the standpoint of the government, the issue of accountability cannot be avoided if these allegations are true. Cultural relativism cannot be used to dismiss the universal validity of human rights and humanitarian values as cultural products of the West.

The government has sent a high level delegation headed by the President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga to canvass its case with the international community in Geneva. He has warned of a descent into chaos if there is an international investigation that probes war crimes and targets the Sri Lankan military. This would be a dangerous adventure for anyone to launch on. It is unlikely to take place spontaneously. The polarisation within the country is increasing once again. Given the issues at stake a victory by either side is not likely to further the post-war reconciliation process within Sri Lanka. It will only induce bitterness and whet the appetite for revenge in the name of justice. Reconciliation will be the casualty.

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17.12.13 Media Release

VIOLENT PREVENTION OF PUBLIC PROTEST VITIATES GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO BASIC RIGHTS

On International Human Rights Day, December 10, a public protest by families of missing persons in Trincomalee was attacked by goons while the large contingent of police present at the scene remained inactive. They carried photographs and posters about their missing loved ones and demanded that the government should take steps to provide information about their whereabouts. Civil Society and democratically elected representatives of the people also participated in the protest. The goons attacked those participating in the protest and tore their posters, assaulted them, injured them and warned them that they should not carry out protests against the government. This is a continuation of obstacles placed in the path of those who seek to bring the issue of missing persons to the attention of the world.


The action points once again to government acquiescence in the absence of any reported follow up action against the miscreants. We also believe that the impunity with which such attacks take place sends a threatening message to the larger society that even peaceful protest on issues of human rights is not tolerated and will be violently suppressed. This incident sends a mixed and contradictory message about the government’s own commitment to upholding basic rights and the Rule of Law. It can only serve to further undermine the credibility of the government in respect of its repeated pledges to implement the recommendations of the LLRC according to resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council.

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Media Release - 2013-12-07

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION WITHOUT WHITEWASH:
THE MESSAGE OF NELSON MANDELA TO SRI LANKANS
With the passing away of Nelson Mandela the world has lost one of the greatest and most extraordinary human beings of modern times who showed that change that improved the lives of all around was possible. As the first post-apartheid era President of South Africa, he led the transformation of his country from one that was ostracized by the world to one that is admired as a beacon of hope. The National Peace believes that his greatest contribution to South Africa and to the world was to ensure that anger over crimes of the past, including his 27 years as a political prisoner, would not motivate future laws and actions.


Key to the transformation in South Africa was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1995. It gave priority to reconciliation but not at the cost of truth. It also highlighted the need for bipartisanship at the highest level of political leadership with the government and opposition in agreement. Even though the South African TRC cannot be replicated in full in Sri Lanka, a deeper study of the TRC process will highlight that it forged a political path that upheld both truth and reconciliation as the highest values and turned South Africa into a democracy.

There is speculation that the Sri Lankan government is contemplating establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the lines of the South African TRC. Sri Lankan government sources have disclosed that the possibility of South African assistance to Sri Lanka was discussed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and South African President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last month in Colombo. This bilateral meeting was preceded by several visits to South Africa by members of the Sri Lankan government and opposition.

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DESIST FROM POLARISING ACTS AND REAFFIRM COMMONWEALTH VALUES

15.11.13 Media Release

As an organization that believes in constructive engagement, the National Peace Council chose to take part in the Commonwealth People’s Forum in the belief that we could strengthen our partnerships with the Commonwealth Foundation and Sri Lankan and international civil society. We call for the implementation of its outcome statement which refers to the need to “Develop, foster, support and improve effective relationships between Commonwealth Member States and civil society, mutual respect for each other’s roles and responsibilities for good governance, and the right of civil society to represent and advocate.” They also called on Commonwealth Heads of State and Government to recognise the centrality of civil society in development and invest in supporting the conditions that create an enabling environment for civil society to participate in development processes more fully and to ensure commitment to a framework of mutual accountability at the global, regional and national levels, in which all development policies and processes are firmly grounded in a human rights based approach.

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10.10.2013 Media Release

CONSOLIDATE PRESENT GAINS BY GOING BEYOND SYMBOLIC ACTS OF GOODWILL

The issue of devolution of power has been at the forefront of the search for a political solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict for the past nearly six decades. From the perspective of the National Peace Council, the establishment of the Northern Provincial Council after elections is one of the most positive political developments in post-war Sri Lanka. It reintegrates the northern polity in to the democratic system and gives recognition to the regional voice of this constituency. The election constitutes the first step in a process for reintegration and reconciliation. However it must be noted that for the process to be sustained, it must be mutually acceptable.

NPC notes that there are barriers to the exercise of the powers that are available to the Provincial Councils as they are functioning. Over the course of the past 26 years of their existence the Provincial Councils in the rest of the country have complained about interference from the Central Government authorities in the working of their Councils. The NPC suggests that all the Provincial Councils first discuss among themselves the problems encountered in the current functioning of the Provincial Council system of government. The TNA which has formed the administration of the first Northern Provincial Council could perhaps find common cause with them in discussing these problems among themselves at first and later take them up with the Government or the Parliamentary Select Committee.

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20.09.13 Media Release

CITIZENS PEACE AWARD FOR 2012 TO J C WELIAMUNA
The Citizens Peace Award was established in 2010 by the National Peace Council to honor those Sri Lankan individuals in civil society who are resident in Sri Lanka and have stood up for the protection of and enforcement of human rights and fundamental rights when such rights are under threat and such action requires unusual courage and self sacrifice to do so. Another criterion considers outstanding efforts to promote understanding between and among communities through initiatives taken for the; peaceful settlement of disputes among and between them. An important consideration in the choice of the person for the Award is the requirement for such work to be carried out in hostile conditions requiring self sacrifice.

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19.09.13 - Media Release

POST-ELECTION COOPERATION WILL BE CRUCIAL TO SRI LANKA’S UNITY AND PEOPLE’S DEVELOPMENT
The forthcoming election to the Northern Provincial Council on Saturday is the most significant political development relating to the ethnic conflict since the end of the war. By and large the run up to the elections have been free and fair which speaks well for the government and makes reconciliation more feasible. The establishment of a provincial council for the Northern Province is an advance over the existing situation of centralized rule in which the military continues to play an inordinate role. In principle the establishment of the Northern Provincial Council will give to the people of the North, the same devolved power that the people in the other eight provinces enjoy, a right to which they are entitled.

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Media Release 2013-09-02

TAKE STEPS TO MOVE IN DEMOCRATIC DIRECTION IN AFTERMATH OF UN VISIT

The recently concluded visit to Sri Lanka by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay was in pursuance of two resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council in relation to serious human rights problems in the country.  The visit enabled the Commissioner to see the country situation at first hand without having to rely on the interpretations of other interlocutors.  She met with a wide range of stakeholders, including leaders of the government, opposition, civil society and war victims.  In her concluding statement to the media, the visiting Commissioner appreciated the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to give her access to all parts of the country and to all persons she wished to meet, and facilitating her visit in general, which she described as “excellent cooperation”.   It was most unfortunate therefore that unwarranted and unsavoury criticisms were directed against this internationally respected UN official.

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