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Lord Naseby questions UK govt.’s integrity, recalls how war against Lanka was conducted from London

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Lord Michael Naseby on Wednesday (19) questioned why wartime dispatches from Colombo-based UK Defence Attaché Lt. Col. Anthony Gash had been heavily censored, if both the Defence Ministry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) believed reports were useless.

In a hard-hitting speech delivered in the House of Lords during the Queen’s Speech debate, which coincided with Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE, Lord Naseby said: “But just recently, Her Majesty’s Government stated in a letter sent to me from the MoD on 25 March, and in another from the FCO, that “dispatches written by Lieutenant Colonel Gash … reported on isolated information … from a number of different sources … without offering any independent verification of this information. As such, they cannot be considered an evidenced-based assessment.”

“One wonders why in heaven the dispatches I have—48 pages of what has been produced—are so heavily redacted if they are so useless. In my judgment, that redaction should be removed forthwith.”

Lord Naseby also pointed out how the UK had allowed British citizen of Sri Lankan origin, Anton Balasingham, to engage in terrorism and wage war from their International Secretariat in London.

The following is the full text of the statement released by Lord Naseby’s Office: “My Lords, I welcome the gracious speech. My comments will be on global Britain, specifically the Indo-Pacific tilt. My own background is that I have lived and worked in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and I know the rest of ASEAN quite well. I will specifically address Sri Lanka, and I declare an interest as joint chair of the All-Party Group (on Sri Lanka).

Today in Sri Lanka, there is huge tension over the UNHCR’s report on alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan armed forces, and the UK in its role as chair of the Core Group—the USA having pulled out, as it sees no point in it. The war of 2009 was not some minor insurrection, so judgment must be made on the basis of the law of armed conflict, known as the international humanitarian law. It was a war between a democratically elected Government and probably the world’s most evil terrorists, who killed two presidents, Ministers, civilians in their thousands and the most moderate Tamil leaders. It was a war partially conducted from Camden in London, at the Tamil Tigers’ international HQ, led by Anton Balasingham—a UK citizen. Millions were raised illegally here on the ground in this country. His wife, Adele, was fighting in Sri Lanka and was closely involved in recruiting over 5,000 child soldiers, as stated by UNICEF. This is a war crime by any yardstick.

Charges by the UN start with the Darusman report, from three human rights lawyers who never visited Sri Lanka. Worse still, they claimed that at least 40,000 civilians were killed. But all the sources of evidence are to be hidden for 20 years. Is this robust evidence? Why the secrecy?

The second UN report, from OISL, is largely based on the first, Darusman. I spent three years looking at all the sources, which I have listed in my book, Sri Lanka: Paradise Lost; Paradise Regained. I have given a copy to my noble friend; I do not know whether he has received it, because he has not yet told me. The claim is of Tamil genocide, but my firm conclusion is that there were a maximum of 6,000 to 7,000 deaths. My evidence is verified—there was no genocide. My evidence comes from sources such as US Ambassador Blake, the UN in-country team, the census done after the war by the Tamils, University Teachers for Human Rights, the UK’s own expert military attaché in the field and many others, all of whom confirm the figure of 6,000 to 7,000. But just recently, Her Majesty’s Government stated in a letter sent to me from the MoD on 25 March, and in another from the FCO, that

“dispatches written by Lieutenant Colonel Gash … reported on isolated information … from a number of different sources … without offering any independent verification of this information. As such, they cannot be considered an evidenced-based assessment”.

One wonders why in heaven the dispatches I have—48 pages of what has been produced—are so heavily redacted if they are so useless. In my judgment, that redaction should be removed forthwith.

It is wonderful—not only is our military attaché cast aside and my evidence seemingly cast aside but it goes on. I say to my noble friend: read the Paranagama commission report, which had some of the UK’s finest human rights lawyers as advisers—namely Sir Desmond de Silva, Sir Geoffrey Nice and others. Their eminent view on Darusman was that it was of no value to a court seeking to establish the truth because the reports are based on anonymous sources. There are others on top of this; there is the US military attaché. All report that the Sri Lankan army behaved appropriately under the leadership of General Shavendra Silva. OISL’s view on the camp of 200,000 was that it was a quasi-concentration camp. How so, when the Red Cross was there from day one? Additionally, the Tamil MPs who visited it said a huge thank you to the Sri Lankan Government for the way the Tamils were looked after.

I turn briefly to the way forward. Truth and reconciliation are a huge challenge, but the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury visited in 2019 and said that Sri Lanka was making real progress. Our colleague, the noble Baroness, Lady Stroud, says from the Legatum Institute that Sri Lanka has done extremely well over the last decade. I urge the Minister to work with Sri Lanka on implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and the Paranagama report to establish a truth and reconciliation committee. If the UK chooses to dictate, then let me be clear: there is a clear risk to our Indo-Pacific strategy on Sri Lanka. It will be forced back to rely on China, thereby threatening the sea lanes and the dissident Tamils setting up an independent state. Is this really a way to say thank you to a country whose people helped us in two world wars and whose Government accepted and helped our Government over the Falklands vote in the United Nations?”

In his response to Lord Naseby, Lord Tariq Ahmad confirmed that his proposed visit to Sri Lanka had been cancelled. Lord Ahmad said: “”My noble friend Lord Naseby talked about the importance of reconciliation with Sri Lanka, which I was due to visit in the coming few days—unfortunately, the national lockdown there has prevented me from making that visit next week. Nevertheless, I am engaging directly with the new Government—but we stand by the strength of our resolution, passed at the Human Rights Council.”



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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