| by Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
( December 1, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) said it was absurd that High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in London, Dr. Chris Nonis, has accused British Prime Minister, David Cameron, of speaking to the Tamil gallery in the UK, during a recent interview with BBC.
GTF spokesperson, Suren Surendiran, told Ceylon Today, "When the British PM was in Sri Lanka attending CHOGM and back in the UK, he raised the issues of freedom of the press. Lasantha Wickrematunge was gunned down in broad daylight for which no one has been arrested or prosecuted. Prageeth Ekneligoda disappeared just as tens of thousands of Sinhala, Muslim and Tamil people have vanished, violence against women, weakening of democratic institutions. There is also the impeachment of the Chief Justice, lack of freedom to demonstrate peacefully, Weliweriya incident. When the UK PM speaks against religious intolerance, he is speaking on behalf of Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths. So, it is just absurd when Dr. Nonis accuses the British PM of speaking to the Tamil gallery," he said.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner told BBC that UK PM David Cameron may have highlighted alleged human rights issues in Sri Lanka due to his domestic political considerations with an anticipated election in 2015. He told the BBC journalist that people are entitled to say whatever they wish, but pointed out the purpose of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a gathering of 53 countries, was to discuss the theme of the Commonwealth. It was not there to raise bilateral issues, he added.
The GTF spokesperson also charged the Sri Lankan Government always comes up with commissions of various kinds every time the noose falls around its neck, as an escape mechanism and no one can fool the international community every time by suggesting steps that are basically a delaying tactic.
He went on to say that the Commonwealth as an institution has a set of principles and values agreed up on by all 53 countries. As a leading Commonwealth country, Britain like every other country, has the right to call upon all member countries to follow Commonwealth values and principles. "That's all Cameron was highlighting and it is well within his right to do so," he said.
"He's quite right to call for an international probe and now it is a challenge to the British PM to see it through," Surendiran said.
The FULL text of the original response is given by the GTF is below:
"The British Prime Minister is absolutely right to raise the issues that affected the Tamils and affects all of the communities in Sri Lanka to this day.
When the British PM raises the issues of freedom of press (Lasantha Wickramatunga is a Sinhala journalist who was gunned down in broad daylight for which no one has been arrested or prosecuted), disappearances (Prageeth Eknelligoda was a Sinhala journalist who disappeared just as tens of thousands of Sinhala Muslim and Tamil people have vanished under Rajapaksa Regime) , violence against women, strengthening of democratic institutions (remember, the Chief Justice who was impeached illegally is a Sinhalese), freedom to demonstrate peacefully (Weliweriya is predominantly a Sinhala village and the people who were brutally murdered by Gota's military were all Sinhalese) and when the British PM speaks against religious intolerance he is speaking on behalf of Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths.
So it is just absurd when Dr Nonis accuses the British PM of being speaking to the Tamil gallery."
Regarding the counting of the dead and disappeared:
"Mahinda Rajapaksa always comes up with ideas of commissions of various kinds every time when the noose falls on his neck as an escape mechanism. He thinks that he can fool the international community every time by suggesting of steps that are basically a delaying tactic as he himself and his siblings are accused to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has blatantly lied to the international community on several occasions. For example he is the same man who claimed at the end of the war that there were zero civilian casualties when it is claimed that over 100,000 could have perished at the hands of the military of which he is the Commandeering Chief. Less than two weeks before the end of the war, he claimed that there were only 5,000 or maximum 10,000 civilians left in the so called no fire zone, when we ended up with nearly 300,000 coming out of the zone. He has a track record of lying which gives zero confidence to anyone particularly to the victims that this idea of counting the dead and disappeared has any credibility whatsoever!"
Commonwealth as an institution has a set of principles and values agreed by all 53 countries. As a leading Commonwealth country, Britain like every other country has the right to call upon all member countries to follow the commonwealth values and principles. That's all Cameron was highlighting and it is well within his remit to do so.
Regarding the March deadline, Rajapaksa regime has been given enough time since the end of the war over 4 years ago. There was no need for the UNHRC resolutions or for the British PM to remind the Rajapaksas of their duty and responsibilities if they have conducted an independent verifiable and transparent investigation in the first place.
Unfortunately as Rajapaksa and his siblings themselves are implicated in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, he or his government haven't and won't conduct an investigation that will satisfy the victims and the international community.
Hence the PM's warning of an international independent investigation.
The British Prime Minister is quite right to call for one and now it is a challenge to the British PM to see it through.
We are very grateful to the British PM for doing so.
One mustn't also forget to thank the Indian, Canadian and Mauritian PMs for standing for principles and values of the Commonwealth and general humanity.