Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sri Lanka: Terrorism can be combated without collective punishment

Full transcript of the speech given by H.E. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva,at the 7th Session of the Human Rights Council, held at the United Nations in Geneva, on Tuesday, 6th March 2008, under item 7, on "Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories".

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am glad to support the position of the Non Aligned Movement as enunciated by Ambassador Juan Antonio, and the position expressed by India, speaking just before me.

Mr. President, Sri Lanka's position on the issue of occupied Palestine has no double standards in it. Sri Lanka recognises the right of the state of Israel to exist, and calls upon all other to do so. Sri Lanka recognises the right of the state of Israel to legitimate self defence and to combat terrorism. But, Mr. President, it is perfectly possible to combat terrorism without inflicting collective punishment upon peoples. How do we know this? Because that is the way Sri Lanka combats a terrorist foe who is far deadlier than an organisation that fires a few home-made rockets!

Mr. President, James Grant of UNICEF once commended Sri Lanka publicly for being one of the few states to feed the enemy which fights against it. Therefore, we know from our experience that it is perfectly possible to combat even the deadliest terrorism without blockading a whole people, without blockading a whole area, and depriving it of essential supplies.

Mr. President, we know how this situation came about. We have been told about how ghastly the organisation Hamas is. But we must not forget that it is the state of Israel that caused the moderate or so called moderate wing of the Palestinian movement represented by President Arafat and Al Fatah to be politically weakened. We remember Israeli tanks pointing their gun barrels at the compound of President Arafat in Ramallah, where he spent his last days. Then, the so called international community insisting on democratic elections, refused to accept the results of those elections, which was the election of Hamas in the Gaza. Following that, a policy of financial blockade was instituted, supported by some of the same governments that dare to stand up in this hall and condemn Sri Lanka for trying to defend its territorial integrity, a very different situation from continuing a policy of occupation and annexation against decades of UN resolutions!

Mr. President, we know that it s possible to combat terrorism while co-operating with UN special procedures, while permitting unfettered access to UN special rapporteurs. We do it; we do it, we maintain a policy of an open door. We have not done that which Israel has done to obstruct the visit of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. So it is possible, to follow a different policy in combating terrorism.

We know that Israeli Defence Forces have a proven capability of targeted attacks on armed militants. Frankly, Mr. President, Sri Lanka has no objection to such a policy, if the state of Israel justly feels threatened by those armed militants. But we strenuously object to and we strenuously condemn this policy of the declared punishment of Gaza and the people of Gaza, whether it is electricity or health infrastructure, bombarded by the most sophisticated airplanes supplied by those whose legislatures do not pass strictures or add riders to the supply of such aircrafts though they do, when it comes to the matter of supplying Sri Lanka with weaponry in the defence of its own territorial integrity!

Finally, Mr. President, we heard from his Excellency the Ambassador of Egypt, the double standards prevailing in certain human rights structures. These are the structures that we are continuously exhorted to permit to open fully fledged offices in our country. But we have seen today, the double standards and hypocrisy of such self appointed angels of human rights. Sri Lanka will not go down the road which permits such biased, lop sided, hypocritical institutions, to violate the sovereignty

Courtesy: The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UNO-Geneva (c)