Expressing Sri Lanka’s discomfort with the United States-sponsored resolution to come up in Geneva in a month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday said: “We are uncomfortable with the whole resolution…there should not be a resolution at all.”
He was addressing members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association, a couple of days after Sri Lanka responded to U.N. Human Rights chief Navi Pillay’s report — calling for an international probe — emphatically rejecting it.
Covering a range of issues pertaining to Sri Lanka’s preparation for the Human Rights Council session, which begins March 3, he seemed to indicate that the Government of Sri Lanka would not feel bogged down, even as an apparently strong resolution makes its way to Geneva. “There is no evidence [of rights abuse or war crimes] at the moment… if there is any, we will look into it,” he said, addressing as many as 17 journalists in his office at Temple Trees, Colombo.
On how he thinks India would vote in Geneva — on March 28 — President Rajapaksa said: “You must remember they [India] are facing elections and have to listen to the electorate, think about the future. Last time they voted against us, this time we don’t know yet. But we understand them.”
President Rajapaksa is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Myanmar next week on the sidelines of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
Responding to a question on the prevalent perception that Sri Lanka was playing the “China card”, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, who was also present, said: “There is no exclusivity to these relationships. They are all our friends.”
Asked about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s election manifesto that speaks of a referendum among northern Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora on a separate state, the President said: “They [diaspora] have left Sri Lanka, they won’t come back. They are British and Canadian citizens.”
While Ms. Jayalalithaa repeatedly spoke about northern Tamils, she must realise that it was her fishermen who were taking away their [northern fishermen’s] resources, he said, while responding to a question on the fisheries conflict between India and Sri Lanka.