General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva expresses his ideas on the government’s lack of preparation for the United Nations Human Rights Council Sessions and the United States-led resolution against
Sri Lanka. He says the government is fuelling imperialist efforts towards interfering in local matters. Mr. Silva says the JVP is carrying out a successful campaign in the rural areas to make the people aware of the failures of the government. He further says the government should take the responsibility for the conflict arising from the
Bodu Bala Senawa and its activities.
Q: In your opinion, what were the shortfalls in the government’s preparation for this year’s United Nations Human Rights Council Sessions?
When the sessions started the government was aware they could not defeat the resolution against Sri Lanka by the United States. Therefore they planned on silencing this issue; They kept quiet about the sessions and the upcoming resolution within the country and planned on sending a low level delegation, without a minister. The government was unaware that the rules of the sessions require a minister to speak, therefore at the last minute they intend sending Mahinda Samarasinghe.
The government has no preparation for the Geneva sessions and adopted a what-will-be-will-be attitude.
Q: You pointed out that the government failed in terms of presentation at the sessions; however according to Minister Samarasinghe’s speech the country has made considerable progress from last year to this year. Do you agree with the report of progress that he presented?
No, I don’t think so. The government has not even understood the procedural elements of the Geneva Sessions. Secondly, it has no intention of defeating the resolution against Sri Lanka. In 2009, after the conclusion of the war a resolution was brought against Sri Lanka; however with the help of friendly countries we were able to defeat that resolution. In 2012, when a resolution was brought against Sri Lanka we had lost many friends. This year, our friends have reduced even further.
The imperialist countries at the Geneva sessions, attempt to intervene in the internal matters of Sri Lanka instead of creating an atmosphere in Sri Lanka where there is a respect for democracy, human rights and media freedom, this government is giving ammunition to the imperialist powers attempting to interfere in Sri Lanka
Media organisations are attacked, media personnel go missing, human rights are violated, stifling of the judiciary, attacking the homes of lawyers, the passing of the despotic 18th Amendment, ignoring the basic needs of those in the north and the annihilation of any opponents to the government. The government is suppressing the people of this country and acting merely to obtain and further solidify their power.
The government is not concerned about challenges from outside the country, because it believes that so long as it has power within the country it is invincible. The method for dealing with outside forces is to get-by, asking for more time—it attempts to get through the day, with a quick-fix.
Q: Despite your statement that the issues of the people in the north have not been resolved; Sri Lanka’s statement in Geneva claimed there was 27 per-cent economic growth in the North. Was the government lying to the international community?
We believe this government lies to the people of this country and also to the international community. If there is growth in the country why is there a need for an increase in oil prices, twice within the space of three months, while world oil prices remained stable?
People may no longer live in IDP camps, but that does not mean they don’t live in huts. Last year at the Geneva sessions, the government promised they would implement the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Report (the JVP does not agree with all parts of the report), and this time they have to ask for more time and space to implement these recommendations. If after making all these lofty claims of development Mahinda Samarasinghe is still asking the international community for time, then it becomes clear that this only means the government has yet to take any meaningful steps towards reconciliation and reconstruction nearly 4 years after the war.
Q: Minister of External Affairs G.L Peries and Mahinda Samarasinghe have repeatedly said that Sri Lanka has made considerable progress on post-conflict issues. However they say, the situation is being distorted and Sri Lanka is being victimised by the international community due to a vendetta that Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay has against Sri Lanka. Do you think there is any truth in that?
Naturally we know that any imperialist power attempting to interfere in the internal matters of Sri Lanka have an agenda of their own. The agenda of many of these imperialist countries is to interfere in the internal matters of Sri Lanka and thereby shape the economic, social and cultural landscape of the country to suit their own needs and desires. These are the same countries that were interested in dividing the country, in the past--they have not given up on this agenda.
Many countries headed by the United States are interested in meddling in Sri Lanka’s affairs; they use human rights and democracy as excuses to do this. The US is not a country that respects human rights, they have violated human rights in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we all know that.
Q: Many feel that a contributing factor towards Sri Lanka’s failing foreign policy, is the lack of a consistent hierarchy and individuals to handle foreign policy issues. How do you see this situation?
It is very true, because all the important matters in this country are handled by those who are close to the Rajapaksa family.
The whole government and the whole country is being “Rajapaksa-fied”. This means it is not the person who is most suitable or capable that is given a task, it is the person most obedient and close to the Rajapaksa family.
This has led to a huge mess in the foreign policy and the Foreign Service of this country. All those who were at the Geneva sessions last year or in 2009 have been removed or changed.
This is due to the “kitchen-table Cabinet” leadership that Mahinda Rajapaksa adopts. Not just in the Foreign Service but throughout the country, we find that suitable and capable people are not being given a chance and instead those who are closest to the Rajapaksa family are being promoted. Q: Is the claim by Minister Maithripala Sirirsena , that he feared for his life, a consequential development to what you are saying?
Yes definitely. He said he knew who was behind the scheme to make sure he was the headline of every major newspaper in the country and he did not name anyone, possibly because he was afraid of the consequences, and the only reason for him to be afraid would be because he suspected it to be the government. It is clear that he feels no threat from the side of the opposition, because if he did then he would go to the police and sort the matter out, but he is afraid of the government, which is why he is making these statements to the media.
They have removed any opposition to them and taken over the alliance and now finally they want to make sure they take over the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and are removing anyone who could stand up against them within the party.
During a time when Sri Lanka is under international scrutiny for human rights, when a minister of the government says he feels his life is under threat; how will this affect the outcome of that meeting and the resolution?
These individuals need to know that, even though they are being persecuted now—they were the very people who brought this government and the Rajapaksa family into power.
Q: The debate you have outlined is an issue for those in Colombo; the attacks on democracy and human rights are understood by the educated elite. However the common man, in the rural areas is not very concerned by this, if at all they are concerned by the cost of living, but that too the government is able to pacify by saying it is the cost of development. The failure then for information flowing to the outstation areas is in the opposition. Do you think your party has been successful in disseminating this information?
I accept what you are saying. People in the North feel they are suffering because they are Tamil, people in Agriculture feel the government does not care about agriculture and the students feel they are suffering because of S.B and Bandula.The reason is the capitalist system and the despotic leadership of this government that is helping to corrupt this system.
The government uses media channels to brainwash the people This is the reason it is very difficult for us to stand up to their influence. This propaganda machine was capable of humiliating Maithripala Sirisena overnight.
The JVP feels our programme has become a little more complex. We need to explain to the people that this government and the system of capitalism followed by this country for so long is wrong. We are doing this even though the going is slow.
Q. Wimal Weerawansa, recently blamed the economic woes of this country on P.B Jayasundere calling him an economic hit-man, what is your view on this?
Sometimes people make statements because they want to get attention, maybe he said this because Mr. Jayasundere refused to give his ministry some funds. The moment Wimal Weerawansa says P.B Jayasundere is responsible for the economic issues of this country, the Rajapaksa family is vindicated from causing the rising cost of living. But this is all just foolery of the people, since we know that P.B Jayasundere’s orders come from the President and Mr. Basil Rajapaksa.
Q: Finally what is your opinion on the Bodu Bala Senawa and the potential for this movement to progress and what do you see as the risks involved??
The government needs to take complete responsibility for it.
We are still suffering from the separatist war that went on for 30 years; its remnants are still being fought off in Geneva today. The government has allowed this religious and racial extremism to work freely within the country and allowed them to take over the work of the police .