Sri Lankan/Canadian lawyer tries to broker ceasefire in Sri Lanka



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I called Fernando and conveyed Kohona’s message to him. The following morning, may be at about 7.00 or even earlier, Viresh Fernando came to my residence at Oxbow road in Toronto and handed over a typed piece of paper, which I still have with me. He refused to come inside the house, handed over the note and left. It was clear that he was a messenger. The note had five points: 1. Immediate safe passage, through the Maldives, for 50 families to any country that will accept them. 2. [Their safety had to be] guaranteed by Norway, India and Switzerland (as well as any other country with the total not exceeding five countries). 3. [The deal had to be] supervised by ICRC. 4. No further prosecutions or enforcement of existing verdicts. 5. [There had to be] Cessation of hostilities


Something very interesting thing happened when Palitha Kohona, as the Foreign Secretary, visited Toronto along with Suganthi Kadirgamar, widow of late great foreign minister Lakshman Kadiragamar, to attend the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan United National Association of Canada (SLUNA). TULF leader, Veerasingham Anandasangaree, too, was in Toronto at the time. It was August 2008.


Viresh Fernando, A Sri Lankan/Canadian lawyer or Barrister/Solicitor as they say in Canada gave me several calls wanting to meet me and more importantly, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona, to convey an important message to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa urgently. I asked him if he could send me an email since I was busy organising the visit of the Foreign Secretary and that I would like to have his request in writing. Fernando, followed it up with an email to me on the same day, Thursday August 28 at 12.12 pm


"Bandula, I am wondering whether we can meet sometime on Friday to discuss an urgent issue which you will likely wish to bring to the attention of the GOSL. I am sorry I used your name incorrectly in the email to John Argue. Viresh. "He was a Barrister/Solicitor from Thorncliffe Park Drive in Toronto.


I responded to Fernando at 12.23 via email on the same day, requesting him to come over to my residence.


At 12.53 pm on the same day, Fernando decided to explain the details on via an email It read: "Dear Bandula, I need to meet you about something that I have been asked to convey to Dr Kohona as result of a meeting I had on Monday with an LTTE spokesperson. I think it’s advisable that I meet you very briefly today or tomorrow alone and you can convey it to Dr Kohona or meet both of you together. If then Dr Kohona wishes to follow-up, I will make myself available later. As a result of what I have to reveal, Dr Kohona and you may also wish to have me make arrangements for him to meet others. I am off to see a client in detention in Milton but you can reach me on my cell after 30 minutes. My number is 4167323680. Just to let you know that I have lived here for the last 30 years have always had very close contacts with the Tamil community ( I am the lawyer for the Tamil Doctors and Dentists Charity Group and former lawyer for the Tamil Chamber of Commerce) and good contacts with the LTTE leadership here as well. In fact the most established Tamil people still call me "Malli" not Viresh. - Viresh"


No sooner had Ireceived Viresh Fernando’s last email than I contacted Kohona and asked him what we should do about his request. Foreign Secretary Kohona informed me that he wasn't keen to meet that lawyer and for me ask him directly since I had met Fernando in Toronto, what I should convey to the Foreign Secretary.


I called Fernando and conveyed Kohona’s message to him. The following morning, may be at about 7.00 or even earlier, Viresh Fernando came to my residence at Oxbow road in Toronto and handed over a typed piece of paper, which I still have with me. He refused to come inside the house, handed over the note and left. It was clear that he was a messenger. The note had five points: 1. Immediate safe passage, through the Maldives, for 50 families to any country that will accept them. 2. [Their safety had to be] guaranteed by Norway, India and Switzerland (as well as any other country with the total not exceeding five countries). 3. [The deal had to be] supervised by ICRC. 4. No further prosecutions or enforcement of existing verdicts. 5. [There had to be] Cessation of hostilities


When Kohona arrived in Toronto, I showed him the piece of paper handed over to me by lawyer Fernando. He brushed it off by saying that Sri Lanka would not give in to any such demands and wanted to know more of Fernando. Later, Fernando contacted me and I told him that we would not do anything about it and questioned him and why he wanted to convey that message. Fernando refused to answer and that is the last time I heard from him.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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