Sri Lanka Express

Gunawardane Slams US Double Standards
Parliamentarian & former minister visits SoCAl

By Hassina Leelarathna
 
Opposition parliamentarian Mr. Bandula Gunawardane speaking to expatriates in Los Angeles accused the US government of double standards  saying that despite egregious violations of democratic and human rights the US has nothing but praise for the current Sri Lankan regime.
 
“The State Department would issue press releases on even the slightest misstep by President Rajapaksa but today not a word is being said about the imprisonment and harassment of political opponents and the use of armed police to crush peaceful street protests.    In fact, the United States is praising the Sri Lankan government despite ample evidence of corruption and violation of basic rights,” he said at a meeting at the Lankarama Buddhist Temple in La Puente, January 15.
 
The Financial Crimes Investigation Division created by the current government and the bribery commission are being used solely in a witch hunt against the Rajapaksas and anyone even remotely associated with them.  “To date, they have not been able to substantiate the outrageous corruption charges made against the Rajapaksas. So they’re arresting  lower rank associates and offering them government posts and immunity in return for “evidence” that will help prosecute the former leaders.” 

Gunawardane Slams US Double Standards

He warned of foreign interference in Sri Lanka that posed serious threats to the nation’s sovereignty.  “There are officials from the US and other countries coming and going all the time.  The people are left in the dark about what is being discussed and what deals are being made.  Even President Sirisena does not seem to be fully aware of what’s going on.  We are back to the same situation as 200 years ago when we were under colonial rule and the Sinhalese people had no representation.”
 
He went on to say that these developments were particularly alarming alongside proposed amendments to the constitution being  introduced outside parliament, the body that represented the will of the people.  The steering committee that will lead the process has enormous powers outside of parliament.  "What the anti-Sri Lanka forces could not achieve by war they're now getting under the cloak of constitutional changes.  Originally the constitution was to be amended  only to scrap the executive presidency but now several changes unpopular among Sinhala Buddhists are being included," he said.
Responding to an audience question as to why civil lawsuits were not being filed challenging such violations, Mr. Gunawardane said there was no confidence in the judicial system, adding.  “We know the courts will rule in favor of the government, so there’s no point in seeking justice through the court system.” 
 
One of the monks in the audience observed that among the proposed changes were rules for the Buddhist sangha.  "Why are they trying to impose rules only for Buddhist clergy and not for clergy of other religions?" he asked.
 
Mr. Gunawardane urged the  diaspora to follow  developments in Sri Lanka closely and to make facts known via social media.  "Set aside party politics and unite for the betterment of your motherland.  We are at a very crucial stage in our history."
Mr. Gunawardane has held several ministerial positions under successive governments since 2001, most recently as the minister of education (2010 – 2015) in the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration.