Sri Lanka Slammed by US on Impunity & Corruption, DC Lobbying Failed?

(By Matthew Russell Lee) Sri Lanka’s lobbying lunch in Washington on January 28, reported on by Inner City Press, has so far been unsuccessful.

  On February 1 in Colombo, Nisha Biswal the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, criticized the lack of accountability, religious intolerance and even corruption of the Rajapaksas’ Sri Lanka. But how strong will the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March be?

  Back on January 28 lobbyists for Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa government made a pitch on Capitol Hill. Registered foreign agents Thompson Advisory Group invited members of Congress and staffers to hear President Mahinda Rajapaska’s chief of staff or Permanent Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal (pitcher of bank mergers such as between NDB and the DFCC) at an hour and a half lunch in the Members’ Dining Room.

Former Congressman from Oklahoma Ernest Istook, the invitation said, would be helping them make the (impunity) pitch, along with another government video, "Sri Lanka: Rebuilding and Reconciling," narrated by a former CNN anchor, Gene Randall. Inner City Press obtained (or intercepted) the pitch and put it online here.

At the US State Department’s briefing on January 27, spokesperson Jen Psaki asked about the visit, and said she’d venture to send something around after the briefing:

MS. PSAKI: You had one on Sri Lanka?

QUESTION: I do, yeah. Apparently, there’s a delegation in town today, and they’re – one of the things I believe they’re talking about is a potential U.S. plan to sponsor a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council this March. I believe it has something to do with concerns about calls for an international inquiry into allegations of war crimes during their civil war. And so I’m wondering if the U.S. is planning some kind of resolution, and if the U.S. does support an inquiry for war crimes.

MS. PSAKI: I believe – I know I’ve seen that report. Let me see if I have anything on that in particular. And if not, I’m happy to get you all something on where we stand after the briefing….Unfortunately, I don’t have anything new on that here, but let us venture to send something all around to all of you.

Inner City Press asked; a polite interim response was received. But as of February 1, no real answer, now to other questions submitted as well, including concerned the withdrawal of the nomination as US Ambassador to the UN on Management and Reform of Leslie Berger Kiernan.

At the UN, now-gone US Ambassador for reform and management Joe Torsella worked behind the scenes on the outrage of Sri Lankan military figure Shavendra Silva being accept by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous as an advisory on peacekeeping operations. Torsella is gone, now his nominated replacement has been withdrawn.

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