UK Labour takes up cudgels for minority rights in Lanka in the wake of Gotabaya triumph

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa shaking hands with Deputy High Commissioner Tom Burns on Monday. HC Hulton (Centre) and First Secretary Amy O’Brien look on.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) leader Dinesh Gunawardena, MP, on Monday, Nov 25, assumed duties as the Foreign Minister. Gunawardena succeeded Tilak Marapana, PC (Aug 2017-Nov 2019). Addressing the media, with Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinghe by his side, Gunawardena assured that foreign agreements, including the Geneva resolution, would be revisited. The reference was to the resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka on Oct 01, 2015.

Ven. Elle Gunawansa, who addressed the gathering, emphasized the pivotal importance of restoring Sri Lanka’s pride. The Ven Thera explained as to why they were interested in the foreign ministry now.

The then Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative, in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinghe signed it on behalf of the UNP-SLFP coalition, though he strongly opposed it. UNP heavyweight Mangala Samaraweera held the foreign portfolio at that time (January 2015-May 2017). UNPer Ravi Karunanayake, embroiled in treasury bond scams succeeded Samaraweera before being removed from the cabinet (May 2017-Aug 2017). Former Attorney General Marapana replaced Karunanayake. Marapana, too, conveniently refrained from taking tangible measures to counter the Geneva project for obvious reasons (Aug 2017 to Oct 2018). The yahapalana government wanted the project to continue at the expense of Sri Lanka. Following the Oct 2018 constitutional coup, President Sirisena handed over the ministry to Dr. Sarath Amunugama (Oct 2018-Dec 2018). The Geneva issue wasn’t addressed during the 52-day government. Marapana returned as the Foreign Minister in Dec 2018. Under heavy media pressure, at the March 2019 Geneva sessions, Marapana made reference to Lord Naseby’s Oct 2017 disclosure in the House of Lords in defence of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, no follow up action was taken.

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