Statement by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane of 11 November 2009, during her visit to Sri Lanka that condemns the violence of the Government of Sri Lanka regarding the displacement it brought upon its Citizens and its disrespect for Human Rights
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO: 197
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 2 OF 19 FEBRUARY 2010
MS P DE LILLE (ID) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION:
Whether she will retract her statements of 11 November 2009, during her visit to Sri Lanka and condemn the violence of its government, the displacement it brought upon its citizens and its disrespect for human rights;
- If not, why not;
- If so, when?
- Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s speech to which is referred was delivered on 11 November 2009, at an official dinner, hosted by the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr Rohitha Bogollogama in Colombo. The objective of the visit was to gain a better understanding of the political developments in Sri Lanka following the end of the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009. Prior to the speech made by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, a trip was arranged for the Minister, to visit the camps where the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Tamils and Muslims, were then being housed. It should be noted that the one selective quotation of the abovementioned address by Ms de Lille distorted the emphasis of the Minister’s words. Thus the full paragraph should read:
“As South Africa and as part of the African Continent, we also seek to be categorised as a functioning and vibrant democracy. We too wish to be compared with renowned democracies such as Sri Lanka and India. In this regard, as a country that has enjoyed democracy and universal suffrage since 1931, we wish to learn from the Sri Lankans but also to share our experiences of peaceful transition as we seek to support the Government of Sri Lanka in the peaceful resettlement of the IDPs.”
In the same speech the Minister said:
“It is within such South-South formations where we are able to forge greater partnerships especially in the area of peace, security and development of the South.”
The above reflects the framework within which South Africa’s policy regarding Sri Lanka is formulated. South Africa promotes the need for a peaceful and sustainable political solution, which will be best achieved through broad consultation and dialogue amongst all the peoples of Sri Lanka. South Africa recognises the territorial sovereignty and integrity of Sri Lanka.
In May 2009, the South African Government condemned the Sri Lankan Government’s actions during its conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
”The South African Government expresses grave regret at the manner in which the military offensive was conducted and urges the United Nations Human Rights Commission to urgently investigate possible violations of international human rights law and contraventions of the Geneva Convention.”
“The South African Government calls on the Sri Lankan government to urgently allow humanitarian aid into the affected areas as well as access to international media.”
Therefore the Minister need not retract her statement of 11 November 2009, and South Africa will continue to engage the Government of Sri Lanka and other interested parties to advance the ideal of a peaceful and harmonious Sri Lanka for its entire people