Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) delegates with Lord Naseby. From left: Prasanga Jayamanna, Lord Nesbey, Dr. Ivan Amarasinghe and Jayaraj Palihawadana.
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) has been assured by Lord Naseby of his continued support for its efforts to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations against the armed forces as well as the previous political leadership.
The assurance was given when a GSLF delegation met Lord Naseby at the British Parliament on Thursday evening (Nov 30) to appreciate his support rendered for Sri Lanka’s efforts over the years.
The delegation comprised Prasanga Jayamanna, Co-president, GSLF UK, Jayaraj Palihawadana, Secretary, GSLF UK and Dr. Ivan Amarasinghe, Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Vietnam.UAE based GSLF spokesperson told The Island that the grouping wanted to thank Lord Naseby on behalf of the people and armed forces of Sri Lanka in the wake of his strong defence of Sri Lanka’s human rights record.
On the basis of wartime dispatches from British High Commission in Colombo to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Lord Naseby has told House of Lords that the maximum Vanni death toll was 7,000-8,000 and that the then government did not purposely target the civilian community trapped in the Vanni front.
There had never been a previous instance of a UK politician countering UNSG Panel of Experts (PoE) report that placed civilian deaths at 40,000 in March, 2011.
A GSLF UK spokesperson told The Island that having had handed over a letter thanking the British politician for his resolute defence of Sri Lanka at a time the country was being humiliated at various forums. In addition to the letter, the GSLF delegation has handed over a comprehensive report titled ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces’ that dealt with the issue at hand.
Attorney-at-law Dharshan Weerasekera on a request by the Federation of National Organizations (FNO) has produced the report that was subsequently handed over to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera and GSLF Co-president Sunil Chandrakumara in March this year.
“Lord Naseby read the entire letter before us,” the UK based spokesperson said, adding that the British Lord declared his readiness to share information with GSLF.
The UAE based GSLF official said that Lord Naseby’s statement could be compared with FNO report, the only comprehensive study that was submitted to the UNHRC on behalf of Sri Lanka. The GSLF sponsored the project.
The Rebuttal to the OISL report was prepared by a panel comprising attorney-at-law Darshan Weerasekara, Dr. Wasantha Bandara, Dr. Raja Gunarathana, attorney-at-law Kalyananda Thiranagama and Shenali Waduge.
The GSLF said they decided to work together to counter lies propagated by a section of the international community and other interested parties.
The GSLF said as the government hadn’t taken up this issue with the UNHRC it was clear the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration wasn’t interested. The GSLF alleged that the government delegation to the recently concluded Sri Lanka’s UPR (Universal Periodic Review) conveniently refrained from taking it up.
Although the matter had been taken up in parliament twice, the parliament hadn’t been able to reach consensus on a course of action, the GSLF said, adding that the Army/Defence Ministry, too, seemed not keen on pushing the issue.
Dr Gunadasa Amarasekera, Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka and Rear Adm. Sarath Weerasekera commissioned Dharshan Weerasekera in January, 2017 to produce the report.
The FNO report dealt with three allegations (indiscriminate shelling, denial of human rights assistance and unlawful killings) pertaining to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and four allegations (violations related to deprivations of liberty, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual and gender based violence) under the International Human Rights Law (IHRL) contained in the OISL report.