No More Diplomatic Appointments - Tamara Kunanayakam
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka Mission in Geneva had categorically stated that she is no more interested in holding any diplomatic position.
She said that she is not going to accept the position of Ambassador either to Cuba or Brazil and also not interested in continuing as the Head of the Permanent Mission in Geneva.
When Asian Tribuneasked of the compelling reasons behind her decision for not accepting any political appointments in Sri Lanka’s diplomatic arena, Tamara Kunanayakamn said because I find that there is a marked change in the international stance of Sri Lanka.
She added that Mahinda Chinthana based its international policies on the concept of non-alignment. Now I find that there is a marked diversion away from the non-alignment stance of the government.
She clarified that the original nonaligned concept came into existence during the cold war days and it was not aligned either with USA or with the USSR (Soviet Union). Non Alignment was originally developed in the context of the decolonization struggle by the newly independent states of Africa and Asia which was promoted by late SWRD Bandaranaike at the Colombo Conference. At present I noticed that we have taken another route from our earlier stance of nonalignment.
Kunanayakam was born in Nuwara Eliya and grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her father was from Chundikuli in Jaffna who was a member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and a leader of the Government Clerical Services Union. Her mother was a Tamil from Badulla.
Kunanayakam's maternal grandfather Gnanapandithan was a businessman in Badulla who was a leader of the Ceylon National Congress and the Ceylon independence movement.
Asian Tribune brought to Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam’s notice one paragraph from her letter addressed to Minister Prof. G.L.Pieris, “Removing one of the very few Tamils heading diplomatic missions abroad will allow questioning of the bona fides of the Government’s commitment to reconciliation, will reinforce extremist elements on all sides, and validate the argument that mine was only a token appointment.”
Asian Tribune pointed out that “It was unfortunate that you have dragged your ethnicity to drive your point.”
She responded, “K.T., I had nine points in that letter addressed to the External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, and I was cautioning that we should not be sending out the wrong message. In that letter I said many things. I also said that the nonaligned countries might interpret it as a reflection of a shift in policy.
The reference I made to my ethnic origin was taken out of context by the media. I began that point by saying that I maintain that I am Sri Lankan and proud to be one! Nowhere have I said that I was removed because I am Tamil. I have always said that I consider myself Sri Lankan but that others might interpret that I have been edged out because of my ethnicity, that it could be interpreted as such by those extremist elements who will try to exploit it for political or opportunistic purposes. ”
Ambassador Kunanayakam also assured that she was not responsible for leaking the letter to anyone. That letter was not meant to be a public letter. I wrote that letter to the External Affairs Minister. Someone in Colombo has publicized it and I was not responsible for that. I would never have made that letter public because I refer to a conversation with H.E. Leaking that letter was not in my interest.
She said that she was interviewed only by two journalists, namely Namini Wijedasa from Lakbima and from Ayesha Zuhair of Daily Mirror only about the UN Human Right Council and not at any time about the letter.
She also said “I learnt that HE was of the opinion that I was the person who was responsible for leaking that letter and I learnt that he has said that, “he never thought she was a Tamil and did not offer her a diplomatic position because she is a Tamil. “
Also I think you would have known K.T., that I have never said that I was a Tamil on any occasion during the Council session.
I have greatest regard and respect for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. I always followed his instruction to the very letter. On the day before the vote, I talked to him at 2 AM Sri Lanka time to confirm instructions whether we should go for a vote. It was President who gave me an opportunity to for work for my people and my country.
In conclusion I wish to say that I am not interested in continuing with any political appointment and accept any diplomatic postings.
But I must also say that I am of the opinion that Americans are not happy with me. I think they might be behind me being pushed out of Geneva. It is only my guess and I also knew that some anti-patriotic groups in Sri Lanka were also after my blood.
Ambassador Kunanayakam said that United States Ambassador for Human Rights, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, when contacted by her before the September 2011 Human Rights Council session to discuss the US move to present a resolution that would place Sri Lanka on the Council’s agenda for an interactive dialogue, had told her that she was not interested in meeting with Ambassador Kunanayakam since the US preferred to meet bilaterally through our Mission in Washington.
However, the day before Canada received instructions to sponsor the resolution, Ambassador Donahoe had called her over the telephone to give Sri Lanka a last chance to accept an interactive dialogue. Donahoe warned, “Whether or not the LLRC report is good, we will get you next time.”
You may remember our argument then was that our LLRC report would be out by November 2011.
That time, although the US was in the forefront against Sri Lanka the resolution was sponsored by the Canadians. Ambassador Donahoe told me over the phone that if we didn’t agree to being placed on the Council’s agenda, then another country would table the resolution and there was nothing the US could do about that.
But only hours after presenting the resolution Canada withdrew it as there not enough support. K.T., we must understand that the US will not normally present a resolution if it feels that there is not be enough support for it and there is a likelihood that it will lose.
Now, that experience should have convinced us of the importance of obtaining support from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and our like-minded friends. But, instead of learning from that lesson, we now say forget about Africa, forget about Latin America, now we must focus on stopping Washington. I am not against making compromises, but how can we compromise Sri Lanka’s independence and sovereignty? I maintan that the real objective of America’s diabolic campaign is ‘regime change.’
Tamara Kunanayakam, Sri Lankan diplomat currently the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Sri Lankan Ambassador to Holy See said, “I also have my credibility to defend vis-a-vis the people of Sri Lanka who supported me and the diplomats in Geneva from Asia, Africa and Latin America who believed in me and stood by me. "
- Asian Tribune –