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Karu Jayasuriya Appeals on behalf of UNP to European Union to Reconsider position on GSP ,Tariff Concession

Sri Lankas chief opposition United National Party has appealed to the European Union requesting the EU to reconsider its position on GSP and tariff concessions for Sri Lanka. The full text of the appeal issued by UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya is reproduced below:

We are greatly disturbed by reports indicating that Sri Lanka’s deteriorating human rights record may lead to the country losing its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus concessions granted by the European Union, following the release of the preliminary investigations report on the country.

As opposition members of parliament, although we share the concerns regarding the rapid erosion of democracy and the blatant violation of the fundamental rights of citizens, we also firmly believe that collective punishment would not be in the interests of those of us and our friends in the world who wish to see a better day for our beloved country and all its people.

The GSP Plus tariff concession scheme granted by the European Union has been a lifeline to the Apparel and Garment Industry in Sri Lanka, which directly employs over 270,000 persons and nearly a million persons indirectly. It is the largest export commodity from Sri Lanka and the GSP + has ensured that Europe is now the number one export market for Sri Lankan apparel. Exports to Europe now represents 52% of the apparel market contributing 3.4 Billion dollars and 9% of GDP. These concessions have enabled Sri Lankan enterprises to compete with other nations which have the advantage of cheaper infrastructure and labour costs. Withdrawal of this concession would most definitely be a death blow to the Apparel industry with devastating repercussions for the whole economy that would no doubt affect many, especially in the rural sector. Several other products such as Fisheries, Gems and Jewellery, and rubber products will also suffer.

Although we realize the EU investigations have its due procedures and reporting methods, we appeal to all member states to understand that the withdrawal of the concession scheme would only hurt the people of Sri Lanka and that the regime would be largely unaffected. Hundreds of thousands of workers and their dependents would most likely lose their livelihood if Sri Lanka is to lose this trade concession.

The silencing of the free media in Sri Lanka which was carried out by a systematic campaign of intimidation that included the brutal killing of journalists has ensured that the Government holds sway over most of the conduits of information to the people. In the event of the GSP Plus scheme being discontinued, there is little doubt that the authorities would swing the focus of our predicament and sell it to the innocent citizens as a grand conspiracy.

The United National Party shares the concerns of the civilized world over the deteriorating state of freedom and democracy in Sri Lanka. As the country’s main opposition, we have continuously called on the government to take necessary measures to release the quarter million Tamil civilians currently being held behind the barb-wired fences of internment camps as soon as possible. The UNP has implored the powers to stop the intimidation of the free media which has seen editors brutally killed in broad daylight, others assaulted, and publishing houses shut down.

The battle to restore democracy and freedom in Sri Lanka is a cause we are duty bound to espouse and fight for. We implore the European Union to consider the repercussions of withdrawing the GSP + concession to Sri Lanka since it would be the poorest of our people who would suffer the most by such an action. Collective punishment of a whole community would not serve the cause of freeing Sri Lanka from the threat to democracy. We respectfully request therefore that the EU reconsiders its position and refrains from withdrawing this important trade concession granted to Sri Lanka.

Karu Jayasuriya
Deputy Leader United Naitonal Party

13 Comments

Dear Sir,
We are still lucky to have opposition members like you, who are more concerned about our country and its people rather than petty political goals.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2009 08:47 PM

The real culprits are the President and his cronies who should be punished rather than ordinary folk. Hence EU should take measures such as denying visa to members of the 'Royal family' and main ring leaders, freezing their secret accounts etc rather than denying GSP+ to the rest of the country.

Posted by: Citizen | September 11, 2009 10:31 PM

Punishing President who bravely withstand all foreign pressure and successfully liberated country from terrorism? Sound bit stupidity to me.

EU has its own agenda. Yes we as a developing country still depend on foreign help. But Isn't that the blood money we received for keepying this country under jackboot of terrorism for three decades?

I'm not telling president is all correct to keep IDPs for long in camps and tolerate arrogant and currupt behaviors of ministers etc. But if we didn't have this man in power , Sri Lanka today could have been divided into two with due recognition of the foreign powers.

President should be given time..

Posted by: Ranjan | September 11, 2009 11:04 PM

I have been following the events as they've been unfolding in Srilanka in the recent past. Especially the demise of LTTE and the subsequent complete subjugation of whole or part of a community. It is with a lot of hurt and to an extent anger I write my thoughts on this appeal by the Deputy Leader of the opposition party of Srilanka to the international community, in particular to the European Community.

We all know that 300,000 people are languishing in Internment camps under the harshest conditions the nature can offer. The conditions are even more brutalized by the animalistic instincts of the Human Kind. When this is the ground reality of the misery for the wretched people of Vanni it is even more gut wrenching to see the ruling clan and their cronies of learned professors and Phds going around the world defending the status quo of these people and ridiculing the international community with total disregard for basic human values they were taught in their respective homes and schools or I presume so.

The opposition has to do more than just making statements and appeals that is meant for the mass consumption of the people. You must walk the talk. Have the courage to take up on the ruling clan and start agitating against this monster you all have created. Organize a peoples march to Vanni to show solidarity to these people in the death camps. Carry the orphaned children, gently touch and feel their ribs that are sticking out, uplift them from this man made malnutrition. Hold the children, men and women who have lost limbs and are wounded. Counsel people who are psychologically traumatized. Demonstrate your Social Conscience to the most vulnerable of the country. It is time you provide leadership to the country now in its darkest hour and let the future judge you. Break the unjust rules and free the people from the clutches of this tyranny. I appeal to every right thinking human in that country to start a peoples movement to bring this tyrant to his knees. Today it is the people of Vanni then it will be people of North, East, South and West. Nobody will be immune from this. Remember Lasantha's last words he penned. "And then They Came for Me". We are already seeing this phenomenon. How prophetic he was.

If the opposition can show credibility in getting out in the country and taking on the ruling party it would earn the respect of the International Community. Then and then only these kind of appeals would carry some weight and be credible or else it may be a mere rhetoric.

These economic measures are necessary for people like you who are sitting on the fence to act. Sometimes the "Bulls have to be taken by the horn". If it is OK for one part of the country to suffer it is also Ok for the rest of the country. "What is good for the Goose is also good for Gander".

Posted by: David. N | September 12, 2009 01:04 AM

Its very evident that the letter written by the deputy to EU was to ask for the concessions, whilst discrediting the government. This is a classic example of desperate opposition, trying to score political points under the expense of very same GSP system created by the same party. The two anonymous citizens adding fuel to the report has UNP fingerprints all over it. I was a born UNP, my grand father was a very prominant UNP supporter in south during DS senanayake time up until he died in 1977. What a sad state of the grand old part only to be destroyed by just one man. If UNP wants to gain credibility and restore public confidence, work for the country and stop working against the interest of the party. Dont discredit a government which has done lot for the future generations of the country. Work with them against the outside interference and work against them within parliamentary system. What UNP has now is a bunch of uneducated sarong wearing banda's whose only motive is to come to power using cheap tactics. I live in Australia. The parties here are run by very responsible dignified people with great love for the country. Ranil is the problem, nothing else. What a let down

Posted by: Rohan | September 12, 2009 02:00 AM

I have no doubt that Karu should lead the UNP .SL need a strong oposition leader who represents the national interests above party petty politics .

When UNP led govt comes to power (we need democratic change from time to time) we should make sure while accomodating natural opetarional changes ,the national policies as well as international policies remain consistant to national goals .

For that the present oposition leadership (Not just Ranil) who represents a section of lankan society/cast that is a threat to soverignity and national intergrity of SL should be replaced by "Karu"s

Posted by: Gayan | September 12, 2009 06:20 AM

WELL DONE TAMIL DIASPORA...!

You have finally won one against the Sri Lankan State... Finally all your Crying and WINING about HUMAN RIGHTS and FICTITIOUS GENOCIDE has managed to hurt Sri Lanka economically... Now let us return the favor to you and show you just what sort of results that will have. I encourage the GoSL to Subsidize the Garment Industry with money slated for the IDPs of the North. Why should the Ordinary Sri Lankans suffer for the Actions of the TERROR SUPPORTING BITTER LOSER TAMIL DIASPORA... Let their MAKKAL PADDAI feel the Pinch first. Divert those funds for Rehabilitation and Resettlement from them to the 270,000 workers of the Garment Industry who will now suffer as a Result of all the TAMIL DIASPORA attempts to UNDERMINE SRI LANKA's Economy.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | September 12, 2009 11:05 AM

Mr Karu Jayasuriya, having been in business for a long time, including as President of an old Trade Chamber, should know for some time now the better and powerfully organized in the world move, in many areas, as a group to eliminate crime, terrorism, bribery-corruption, human rights violations - being some. It is moves such as this that inspired a blue-collar worker in the Gdansk shipping yard in Poland to defy that fascist Government there – part of the Communist bloc that called itself the Warsaw Powers. This process spread from Poland and was to eventually end up in - not merely the demolition of the Berlin Wall - but of the Communist monolith in East Europe as well that held millions of people under bondage for nearly 40 years - dominated by the Soviet Union. It is in this culture that buyers of textiles in the USA and West insist exporting countries bear in mind nothing that is shipped to them from the developed world is produced through child labour. This Rule has had a beneficial effect in many parts of the developing world giving expression to the UN credo of Rights of the Child. Very soon moves for minimum and reasonable wages in the poorer countries will follow – many of them now exploited in India, China, Africa, Latin America and many other countries. I believe the situation in Sri Lanka is much better. It is these very same sources, EU being satisfied Sri Lanka and its infra-structure suffered badly during the Tsunami, on their own, granted concessions under the GSP + that does not seem to have been appreciated
appropriately. To many sources in the altruistic Western world (I am aware to some I might sound Uncle Tom like) if we are to see the gradual elimination of different forms of injustice in the world these homilies, including R2P, cannot remain rhetoric only. UN and similar bodies will lose their relevance, if they remain merely talk shops. The world has to take appropriate action to realize these noble objectives. One was to link aid and other forms of concessions with the need to comply with Human Right requirements. The requirement for countries to qualify for global recognition and aid they must be lead by civilian administrations elected by popular will has reduced the potential of military juntas in many countries. This was not aimed at one country, which must be born in mind. GoSL knew that – but continued to play the fool (to use a daily used phrase locally) Some believe Mr Jayasuriya – that can include himself as well – is a god-send to save the UNP. Some of his friends believe he is an incarnation of Mahathma Gandhi, which he is not. In fact if GSP + is to be lost to this country to the detriment of nearly a million people (as KJ now pleads) and result in the closure of many successful factories, he also should be held responsible in as much as MR’s GoSL. After all, Mr. Jayasuriya did a totally unexpected “jump” and became part of MRs Govt and Cabinet for some years. He could have used his knowledge and experience to prevent what is now feared may be on us soon. Of course, until the jump, he did not fail to tell the Press and the country regularly “he is in politics to make the whole thing principled….he will not do anything against Ranil…and the UNP etc” But jump he did, with the rest of the others, for perks and positions. That he used an Indian Ambassador car and not a luxury Mercedes or Pajero is a poor plea in mitigation. From day one in the Govt camp he was unhappy and disappointed. He neither got the PM’s post nor that of Power and Energy that he is reported to have asked as reward for crossing over and letting down Ranil-the UNP. All he got was Public Administration with the curt “Take it or leave it” reminder. This is not the first time he miscalculated. Even those pantheon of Hindu gods he pays homage to regularly seem to have doubts on his capacity to deliver. The Bros – being politically crafty men they are – knew once KJ took oaths there is little he can do but grin and stay put. Then one fine day he jumped back. And so began yet another incantation of “save the country, the UNP and my precious friend and leader Ranil”

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | September 12, 2009 01:27 PM

excellent job done by internationational community who
continue to do for srilankan government.
srilankan who are to be protecting the innocents but
who are abducting and raping young childrens, in thousands more than 80000 dead. more than 300000 still
living in worst crowded shelter beging for food, and water, while those who are in governement forces/army/police
who conttinue to commit worst horrified crime against
a culture, are not prosecuted for the crime but given high posts/salary. god be with innnocents childrents womans, and those people who are facing these criminals.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2009 01:38 PM

What collective punishment are you talking about. Aren't the tamils punished by this wretched thug president Rajapakse. Why not one million Sinhalese take to the road and protest everyday if you all care for the tamils in the IDPs. Every Sinhala person who had the power let it slip and later cry over spilt milk. Only Ranil leader of UNP mentioned about the discrimination of every kind of the tamil to the IC community when LTTE was in power in vanni. It is unfortunate that all Sinhalese must also feel the suffering of the tamils since 1948. Besides Karu took 16 members across to MR party and crossed back. What sort of careless politics it is to the whole country.

Posted by: Taraki | September 12, 2009 01:52 PM

.
I do not think this is due to Tamil Dispora's pressure.
EU was talking about this for a long time and India was against it.
But now with Srilanka openly bedding with China and Menon and Narayan out of picture, India is working against Srilanka silently.
:-)

Posted by: aratai | September 13, 2009 07:58 AM

There is a cheaper way of keeping GSP+ and that is to release those interned in the internment camps. Losing GSP+ is going to hurt all Sri Lankans. There is no doubt about that. But will the monarch stop hurting the Tamils in the camps in order not to hurt the Sinhalese in the south? No. To him the livelihoods of the Sinhalese in the south is not as important as whatever pleasure he is deriving from incarcerating the "Makkal Padai". How the "Hostages" have now suddenly transformed into "Makkal Padai" and "Maavir families" in the government's lexicon is whats most telling.

Posted by: dingiri | September 13, 2009 11:50 AM

To Devinda Fernando and fellow travellers, Lankan Tamils within and outside will feel very bad if Sri Lanka is to lose the benefits of GSP plus. Remember there are several Tamil-owned garment export industries and thousands of Tamils who will lose their capital and livelihood if this comes to pass. If at all this comes to a sorry pass this will be because of self-imposed injuries by loose talking men within the Government. It is shocking even the usually mild Palitha Kohona has shot his mouth saying if we lose E/U we can always go back to the markets in the East. It is this kind of reckless talk that brought much of our recent problems. Does he not know that China, Korea, Japan and India depend on their own garment exports to the West as a share of their export income. While Kohona speaks rubbish President Rajapapakse is asking 4 of this senior Ministers to go and personally plead with the E/U not to withdraw the facility. How administrations and countries can suffer when men within the system work in tandem and know little of coordinated team work.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | September 13, 2009 02:42 PM

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