BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI
Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF) was formed in 2016 by Sri Lankan citizens living abroad, with the intention of representing the country in the international arena. Ajantha Premaratna, Project Coordinator for GSLF in an interview with Ceylon Today said that with the eradication of terrorism in 2009, many movements in support of the LTTE emerged in the international arena and they have been engaging in tarnishing the image of the country by producing false facts on Sri Lanka to the international community.
“Many pro-LTTE movements such as the Global Tamil Forum, British Tamil Forum, the Canadian Tamil Forum and the Overseas Tamil Government emerged but there was not a single nationalist movement to counter their false agendas and present the true facts in the international arena” added, Premaratna.
He added that such movements nurtured the Eelam concept outside of Sri Lanka.
“Although, many anti-patriotic movements emerged outside of Sri Lanka, we lacked a true Sri Lankan movement to combat the chauvinist Tamil Diaspora in a bid to restore the lost reputation of the country. That is the main objective of forming the GSLF,” he said.
He also said the aforementioned movements were restricted to a particular ethnicity which projected the idea of racism, but the GSLF is an exception. “We are true Sri Lankans beyond any racial or religious constraints. The chief objective of the GSLF is to restore the fallen reputation of the country in the international arena which was caused by the Tamil Diaspora.
The GSLF which is headquartered in Italy held their maiden conference in September 2016, and representatives from eight countries participated in it. These eight countries are the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Co-Chairpersons and Co-Vice Chairmen are appointed from each country and the Co- Chairman is responsible for coordinating the activities pertaining to the GSLF in that country.
“If the Tamil Diaspora can make a strong presence in the international arena to drag the country into unpleasant situations, why can’t we patriots get together to preserve the sovereignty of the country?” Premaratna asked.
? Could you enlighten us on the significant accomplishments of the GSLF since its inception in September 2016 in restoring the fallen image of Sri Lanka?
A: Well, I can mention many significant accomplishments of our forum. The United Nation’s Human Rights Council levelled false accusations at Sri Lanka and presented false reports. Neither the government nor any statutory body has provided a proper response to these false allegations. There are three reports that have been prepared to accuse Sri Lanka of false war crimes. We thoroughly studied those three reports and retaliated to the allegations. We handed over our reports to the UNHRC last March. We are happy to say that they accepted our dossiers. Our reports are currently under study.
So, I would mention this as a great achievement as we could present the true facts with regard to the war crimes that are said to have been committed by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
Our forum was also able to hold a conference in the UN Secretariat along with members of the Tamil Diaspora and other international representatives in June this year and this marked the first-ever conference held by a Sri Lankan organization in the UN. During the conference, we conveyed the message that no war crimes took place in Sri Lanka by the Armed Forces and vehemently emphasized the impartiality of Sri Lanka’s judiciary system and the necessity of implementing a local Court system to inquire into war crimes that are said to have been committed by the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.
We also refuted the allegations by UN representative Monica Pinto in her report on Sri Lanka’s war crimes. She has stated in that report that Sri Lanka’s judiciary system and the judges are not impartial and will not deliver an equitable judgment. The motive of the report prepared and presented by the UN representative was to propose the necessity of a Hybrid Court.
We examined each and every point which was mentioned in the report and furnished the true facts. We managed to portray a true picture of Sri Lanka’s judiciary system’s impartiality.
? What role does Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera play in the GSLF?
A: The ulterior motive of those forces and movements in the international arena including the Tamil Diaspora is to charge Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces of alleged war crimes and thus to tarnish the country’s image. Hence, we required a person who can represent Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces in an effective manner in the international stage to expose the ground realities of the war.
Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera accepted the challenge and represented the country by undauntedly refuting baseless war crimes allegations levelled by the Tamil Diaspora and some international movements.
So, we requested Rear Admiral Weerasekera to represent Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions that took place in March this year.
During the UNHRC sessions, Rear Admiral pointed out that the Armed Forces did not commit war crimes and was engaged in a humanitarian mission of rescuing innocent civilians of about three hundred thousand from the clutches of LTTE terrorists who kept them as a human shield.
? What are the long-term objectives of the GSLF
A: Our objective is a Unitary State. We are prepared to do the needful to preserve it. We also hope to work against the forces that attempt to induce harm to that. We are planning to retaliate against the damaging acts of the Global Tamil Forum and also some NGOs operating in Sri Lanka who act in accordance with the whims and fancies of the harmful global forces that are on a mission to destabilize the country.
We have also investigated the new Constitution that is being drafted. We perceive that the new Constitution would damage the sovereignty of the country and this small country will be broken into pieces. If the new Constitution is implemented, several federal governments will emerge as a result.
Sri Lanka has a small population and for a country of this nature, federal States are not at all appropriate. If the new Constitution is introduced, that will lead to federalism and separatism. That will pave the way for people to be divided than living in one country and in harmony. That will intensify racial disharmony.
? How does the GSLF differ from the Tamil Diaspora because this too consists of members of a Diaspora?
A: The GSLF is steadfast to the country and works towards preserving the sovereignty of the country. Whereas the Tamil Diaspora works to achieve an Eelam State, which will be detrimental to the sovereignty of the country and the co-existence of the ethnic groups.
During the recent UNHRC sessions, a number of members of the Tamil Diaspora presented their cases. They presented fabricated facts before the UNHRC. Their reports say that the Sri Lanka Army is still sexually assaulting Tamil women in the war-affected areas.
One report said that 75 per cent of the student population at the Jaffna University is Sinhalese. These are deceitful. By presenting these types of false information to the international authorities, they attempt to portray that discriminations against Tamils are still going on in Sri Lanka. They are on a mission to obtain sympathy for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and they do not consider how damaging it is to the country when they tread on a wrong path to achieve that goal.
Those who represented the GSLF at the UNHRC sessions were able to refute those false accusations to a certain extent. Although, the strength of the Tamil Diaspora is comparatively larger than the GSLF, we managed to convey the truth to the international arena. The Tamil Diaspora maintains a strong presence in the UNHRC as a result of being there for a longer period.
I am proud to state the GSLF is the only Sri Lankan organization who made its presence at the UNHRC.
We countered and refuted the false allegations levelled by the Tamil Diaspora that are done to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka.
Based on the true facts that we furnished it is highly likely that the false allegations levelled by the Tamil Diaspora will be discarded by the UNHRC.
? What is the GSLF‘s notion on implementing a Hybrid Court system in Sri Lanka to probe the war crimes that are said to have been committed by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces?
A: First of all we flatly reject the allegations that Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces committed war crimes.
If any of the soldiers is found guilty of war crimes, the Sri Lankan judiciary system is equipped with the provisions to punish him.
Sri Lanka’s judiciary system works well and the citizens have no doubt over it. It is impartial and capable of delivering the accurate verdicts. Sri Lanka is not in need of a foreign or a Hybrid Court system to examine the matters pertaining to internal conflicts. I perceive that if a Hybrid Court system would be implemented to probe the so-called war crimes committed in the country, it would deliver verdicts in favour of the Tamil Diaspora.
The Sri Lankan Government is already engaged in executing punishments to those who have been found guilty of war crimes. Investigations are being carried out and the accused are being punished. So, Sri Lanka’s Court works impartially and it has been proven.
? The LTTE attempted to obtain Tamil Eelam by means of terrorism. When the armed struggle to win federalism failed the Tamil Diaspora and the extremist Tamil politicians joined hands to diplomatically achieve a federal State by way of constitutional changes. Any comment?
A: I agree. The politically motivated Tamil extremists have a policy that “little now and more later”. They have been fighting for Eelam, which means a federal State. They are shrewd and know how to play the game. When the change of governments takes place, they play the games accordingly to achieve federalism. We shouldn’t forget the fact that their ultimate goal is Eelam.
The TNA clearly mentioned this once. The Party said that the target of achieving Eelam is still in operation. They have only changed the game plan. They know that winning federalism or setting up of Eelam cannot be achieved by terrorism and the only way to get there is through the constitutional change. So, they are on a mission to portray a bad image of Sri Lanka and to obtain the international support to win federalism.
? During the sessions of UNHRC, one member of the Tamil Diaspora vehemently alleged that Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is a war criminal and he should be apprehended immediately. Rear Admiral Weerasekera is the representative of the GSLF in the UNHRC and is there any risk of him being arrested?
A: That particular person to whom you are referring not only called for the arrest of Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, he also lodged a complaint at the Geneva Police against Admiral Weerasekera. Although, the Tamil Diaspora is attempting to apprehend him, it is not as easy as they think. There is no evidence against Admiral Weerasekera to prove that he has committed war crimes.
? Sri Lanka‘s Armed Forces are accused of having committed war crimes and the present government is made responsible for that by the UNHRC. If that is the case, who should be made responsible for the crimes committed by the LTTE?
A: The TNA should be held responsible for the war crimes committed by the LTTE. The TNA was the representative of LTTE in Parliament. So, they should be prosecuted for war crimes that were committed by the LTTE. They also declared on several occasions that they are the representative of the LTTE.
Pic by Laksiri Rukman