By Shamindra Ferdinando
Democratic Party leader Gen. Sarath Fonseka
Democratic Party leader Gen. Sarath Fonseka yesterday alleged that visiting United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay was pursuing an agenda of her own.
An irate former war winning army commander told The Island that the UN mission in Colombo and the visiting Commissioner had deprived him of an opportunity to make representations, in spite of her being here on a week-long visit. “The UN could have easily accommodated me,” the former MP said, alleging Pillay seemed only interested in hearing what her favourites had to say.
The DP leader said: “I sought a meeting from the UN mission over two weeks ago, on the basis of being the opposition presidential candidate at the January 2010 presidential polls. If she was genuine about inquiring into accountability issues during Eelam War IV she would have definitely accommodated me in her programme, as I commanded the army against the LTTE. I intended to brief her on the dictatorial actions of the present administration.”
Responding to a query, the DP leader alleged that the UN was working overtime to appease one-time LTTE mouthpiece, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The Former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) stressed that the UN should have taken into account that the UNP, JVP as well as the TNA threw their weight behind his candidature at the first presidential poll after the conclusion of the war in May 2009.
“Let me remind the UN as well as those in power today that more than four million people exercised their franchise for me, though the incumbent government deprived me of a level playing field.”
The tough talking Sinha Regiment veteran reiterated that the army, as an institution, hadn’t been responsible for atrocities during the campaign. The UN should realise had there been battlefield violations they were acts of individuals acting outside specific instructions, the DP leader said.
Pillay arrived in Sri Lanka last Sunday morning. Having had met the Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, PC, Attorney General Palitha Fernando, PC, Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem and National Languages Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara on Monday, Pillay left by air from Ratmalana to Palaly on Monday evening.
Pillay returned to Colombo yesterday evening following a series of meetings in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Democratic Party leader pointed out that the UN’s refusal to give him an opportunity to discuss the situation, not only in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, but the South as well was questionable.
“The country is in turmoil today. The UN should examine what is going on in the South. The government is bent on suppressing democratic opposition, the media as well as the civil society. Unfortunately, the UN seems only concerned about the situation in former war zones,” Gen. Fonseka said.
The DP leader faulted the UN for conveniently ignoring the US calling him a political victim. The UN should closely scrutinise the conduct of those in charge of its operations here, Gen. Fonseka said, urging the international community to take meaningful measures to restore democracy.