JO faults govt. for not using Naseby’s statement in defence of security forces


By Saman Indrajith

The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday faulted the government for its inability to use Lord Naseby’s recent statement in the British House of Lords to prove that no war crimes had been committed here.

JO Parliamentary Group leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena, moving an adjournment motion last evening on a recent debate on Sri Lanka’s conflict in the House of Lords in Britain, demanded to know what prevented the government from using available evidence to counter war crimes charges against the security forces.

The motion moved by MP Gunawardena said: "Since Lord Naseby, addressing Britain’s House of Lords, drew attention to the fact that the casualty figures for the last period of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka, which ended in May 2009, cited in the United Nations’ Darusman Report, were brought into question by the figures quoted by former UN spokesman Gordon Weiss, by former US Ambassador Blake, in the report by the UK’s Major General Holmes, and finally, by the heavily-redacted communications from the UK’s Lieutenant Colonel Anton Gash released to him by the British Government; and since he further stated that "the UK must recognise that this was a war against terrorism, so the rules of engagement are based on international humanitarian law, not the European Convention on Human Rights" and that "the West, and in particular the US and UK, must remove the threat of war crimes and foreign judges that overhangs and overshadows all Sri Lankans, especially their leaders," the Government of Sri Lanka should take action to pursue this matter with Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with the UN Human Rights Commission to change their unjust positions in regard to Sri Lanka and thereby remove the threat to this country, to its defence forces, and to its leaders, and that the Government should also report back to Parliament on this matter."

JO MP Sisria Jayakody seconding the motion said that the government leaders do not have a backbone to stand up against the charges leveled against Sri Lanka. Mother in law of Navy intelligence officer Sumith Ranasinghe committed suicide stating in a letter that her son-in-law who fought valiantly has been incarcerated for more than seven months. She committed suicide because she could not bear up the injustice. That suicide indicates the injustices meted on the war heroes who liberated the country from the terrorists.

MP Ali Zaheer Moulana said that Sri Lankans should thank Lord Naseby for his efforts.

MP Gunawardena said that Minister Harsha de Silva had recently said that Lord Naseby’s statement wasn’t directly relevant to Sri Lanka. MP Gunawardena asked what would be the government’s response to Minister Silva’s position on the matter.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs Wasantha Senanayake said: I do not think whether Minister Harsha de Silva made such a statement. Without knowing what he meant I cannot comment on his position. I wish to assure the members of the House that I as the state minister with the concurrence and approval of the president approved Lord Naseby’s good work. I appreciated his work valuable to Sri Lanka.  I thanked Lord Naseby for his "invaluable work" on behalf of Sri Lanka. I said that the information made public by Lord Naseby "makes it clear that the Sri Lanka armed forces fought a much cleaner war than is often alleged in the international arena."

We got an opportunity which should not be missed. We should write a letter thanking Lord Naseby for taking the initiative to help Sri Lankan security forces clear their names.

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