Don’t imprison soldiers for GSP – Rathana Thera

Published : 10:01 am  January 17, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Lahiru Pothmulla  
Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, who reiterated his decision to function independently in Parliament, said yesterday that security forces’ personnel should not be imprisoned in connection with war crimes for the sake of regaining the GSP+ facility.

After remaining politically silent for some time he told a media briefing that the government had mentioned a hybrid court as one of the conditions to regain this trade concession.   

“Do we have to imprison military personnel who defeated terrorism to regain the GSP. Don’t we have any self-confidence? However, today we have re-gained this facility sans a hybrid court,” the Thera said.   

He criticized the government for co-sponsoring the UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka to probe allegations of human rights violations during the final phase of the armed conflict.   

“The UN resolution states that war crimes had taken place and that we need to probe the allegations in a transparent manner. What we said about these allegations is not what we should have said. We said a war took place and it was bad and therefore, we should follow the guidelines set by foreign countries. Is that what we should do?” the Thera asked. 

He said he too knew envoys from the US and India and that there was no unusual pressure from them.   
The monk said all wars were ruthless and that terrorism had to be defeated.
“Sri Lanka should inform the international community that we are prepared for National Reconciliation today. We are not curtailing the rights of any citizen and as a democratic and civilised country we will always ensure the human rights of all people,” he said.   

Meanwhile, the Thera said the government had failed to deliver on its key promises including that of reducing the powers of the executive presidency, introducing a new electoral system and establishing a national procurement commission and an audit commission.   

He said President Maithripala Sirisena had no mandate to introduce Constitutional reforms which require a referendum.   

“We are opposed to the current Constitutional reform proposals which are detrimental to the country. We will form a broad-based national council, which is an expansion of the ‘Pivithuru Hetak Udesa Jathika Sabhawa’ to guide the government on the correct path and to compel it to make good its promises. I invite all intellectuals and politicians of whatever political shade to join us in this endeavour,” the Thera said.   

He said the national council would not contest the local government elections but would take a decision about the next presidential election if necessary.   

Ven. Rathana Thera also assured that he had no intention of joining the opposition. Commenting on the leasing of the Hambantota Port to China, he said the move was absurd and a grave crime.   

He said during the past few months he had been spending time in Polonnaruwa, Uda Walawa and other rural areas promoting his campaign to cultivate organic crops.