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Sirisena rejects 'foreign influence' at UNGA

 

Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena said he was "quite satisfied" with Sri Lanka's progress regarding reforms during his presidency, despite widespread international criticism that progress has been slow.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, the president urged the international community to allow Sri Lankans to resolve their own problems, rejecting foreign influence, while praising the Sri Lankan military. In contrast, he expressed Sri Lanka's support for the Palestinian freedom struggle, urging the UN to pay more attention to "inhumane acts" committed against Palestinians and said that "nations must stand strong" to prevent such acts.

Sirisena did not mention the UN Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 or the serious allegations of mass atrocities of his troops, instead claiming that Sri Lanka "has acted in accordance with treaties and conventions of the UN at all times".

Highlighting his abolishment of the executive presidency while reminding the assembly of the excesses of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sirisena said media freedom and human rights are now protected.

Watched by his entourage, which included Buddhist monks and leader of the extremist party JHU, Champika Ranawaka, Sirisena concluded with a quote by the Buddha, which reaffirmed his message that only Sri Lankans themselves should deal with the pains of the war.

Selected quotes:

 

"Sri Lanka has been a member nation of the United Nations and has acted in accordance with treaties and conventions of the UN at all times. Today we are quite satisfied with the progress we have made during  the past 3.5 years."

"I was elected the president of Sri Lanka in 2015. At that time the president held excessive powers, in fact these powers exceeded the powers of a monarch, and reached almost the powers of an emperor. However, these excessive powers of the executive presidency, have been handed over to Sri Lanka parliament by me. It is with happiness I inform you of the manner in which I have let go of the powers of the executive presidency.Media freedom has been strengthend and independence of the judiciary."

"I state with dignity Sri lanka you see today is entirely different from Sri Lanka 3.5 years ago.

"We have taken action to consolidate democracy, strengthen fundamental rights and human rights as well as media rights, and I would like to bring to your attention Mr President, that for 30 years Sri Lanka suffered long-drawn conflict. It’s been 10 years since the end of the conflict and during these past ten years a massive transformation has taken place in Sri Lanka. Especially during the past 3.5 years the government has taken action in Sri Lanka pertaining to post-war situation."

"We have strengthened national reconciliation, we have taken steps to ensure non-recurrence of war. An extensive programme is currently being implemented to achieve this reality. When it comes to human rights the government continues to fulfil its duties in protecting the rights of the people and the government continues to seek the support of the UN to strengthen this programme, the course of action that we want to follow."

"The Sri Lankan forces were able to defeat one of the most brutal terrorist organisations of the world. That is why Sri Lanka today prevails strongly as a country with permanent peace. Our security forces were able to defeat a very serious terrorist organisation. I recall with great respect the efforts made by the tri-forces of Sri Lanka to bring peace to the country and to strengthen the unity of the country."

"By now, like I mentioned, ten years have lapsed since the end of the conflict. Therefore I  encourage the world community to not think of Sri Lanka the way it was done ten years ago. I invite the international community to view Sri Lanka from a fresh perspective. Sri Lanka suffered a difficult war. Today permanent peace prevails in Sri Lanka. The government is taking action to consolidate reconciliation. Many actions have been undertaken in this regard. Human rights are protected in Sri Lanka today. Economic prosperity is being achieved for a better future for Sri Lankans."

"Therefore the future of a peaceful nations deserves to be looked at from a fresh perspective. I encourage the international community to allow Sri Lankans to resolve their problems on their own. Independence of a nation is of utmost importance. The humanitarian endeavours made by us, the efforts made by us to strengthen democracy, require your cooperation. For Sri Lanka to continue in its commitment to forge ahead, consolidating demo and protecting human rights requires your attention.  As an independent country we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us. We want to appeal to the international community to give us the room to resolve the problems that we are facing, so that the right of the Sri Lankan people to find solutions to their problems is respected. As Sri Lankans we are willing to find solutions to the problems that we face. At the same time, I would like to request your cooperation to make this a reality. We are working to eliminate fear, suspicion among the different ethnic groups in the country and I believe with your cooperation this can be achieved."

"In conclusion, I would like to quote Lord Buddha [...]. There is a verse that says, that if a man were pierced by a dart. He will undergo a painful physical feeling. At the same time, he will start worrying and grieving about what happened. Thus, the man undergoes two kinds of pain. So all these kinds of pain are undergone by the person that was affected by this. Similarly, when it comes to Sri Lanka, it is the people of Sri Lanka who undergo the pain of undergoing the war and the feelings related to it. Therefore I take this opportunity to call upon your support from the international community for your cooperation."