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UK sidesteps query on LTTE cadres, Adele living there



…assures probe on those foreign experts who backed JRJ govt

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The British government has sidestepped a query on the UK accommodating a group of LTTE cadres responsible for international crimes.

Global Justice Forum (GJF) representing civil society groups based in UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand-all member States of the Commonwealth, in addition to Israel, UAE and Switzerland has raised the continuing presence of those responsible for terrorism receiving privilege status at a time the UK was pushing for new resolution in respect of Sri Lanka at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

A spokesperson for GJF told The Island that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, in its response to their appeal dated January 8, 2021, refrained from commenting on the continuing presence of LTTE cadres therein.

The GJF has submitted a list of 27 LTTE cadres living there to Dominic Raab, MP, and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth.

Pointing out that UK based Tamil groups wanted an International Independent Investigation Mechanism (IIIM) to probe Sri Lanka and the UK was being asked to back the move, the GJF urged the UK to take tangible measures to investigate LTTE cadres living in the UK, probe Adele Balasingham, wife of late Anton Balasingham, the LTTE theoretician and prosecute former members of the Keenie Meenie Service (KMS).

Former employee of the British High Commission, Colombo, Anton Balasingham, a UK passport holder of Sri Lankan origin passed away in Dec, 2006 in the UK.

Responding to another The Island query, GJF spokesperson said that instead of opposing the proposed IIIM, the outfit felt the need to request the British to probe those who received shelter in the UK. The GJF also called for inclusion of KMS in the Geneva led investigation.

GJF made available a copy of the UK response to The Island released by South Asia Department.

The spokesperson pointed out that while the UK had assured the Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit initiated an inquiry into the conduct of KMS personnel who had been in Sri Lanka’s employment in the 80s, no specific reference was made to LTTE cadres and Adele Balasingham living there.

The UK also reiterated its firm commitment to the Geneva Resolution 30/1 adopted in early Oct, 2015. The UK emphasised that there was absolutely no change in its position as regards accountability issues regardless of Sri Lanka’s decision to quit the Resolution it co-sponsored in 2015.

The GJF consists of Global Sri Lanka Forum, UK, Sri Lanka Canada Action Coalition, Justice for Sri Lanka Global Movement, Friends of Sri Lanka, Canada, Global Sri Lanka Forum, Israel, Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights, Australia, Montreal Friends of Sri Lanka and Calgary Friends of Sri Lanka.

Interestingly, GJF didn’t make reference to Lord Naseby’s Oct 2017 disclosure that contradicted the very basis of the Geneva accusations.

Civil society activist involved in the GJF initiative Ajantha Premaratne told The Island that Sri Lanka was being persecuted for eradicating terrorism whereas a significant number of those who had been engaged in terrorism received British passports. Many EU countries, the US and Scandinavian countries provided citizenship to LTTE cadres without questions asked, Premaratne said, pointing out how war winning Generals were being hounded.

“Chagie Gallage’s is a case in point,” Premaratne said.

Premaratne referred to a study undertaken by Darusman Committee member Yasmin Sooka, which had revealed the presence of LTTE cadres in many countries, including UK and Germany.

Premaratne pointed out how Balasingham enjoyed privileged status as a British national in spite of his organization carrying out a murderous campaign. When Balasingham’s men assassinated Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005, the British allowed the then ‘peacemakers’ Norwegians to secretly meet the LTTE theoretician in the UK, Premaratne said.

Meanwhile, authoritative military sources questioned the rationale in GJF complaining against the KMS as the outfit was invited by the then JRJ government in the absence of anticipated Western support. KMS provided invaluable expertise and was instrumental in strengthening fighting capabilities of the military et al, sources said, urging those interested in defending Sri Lanka also to be mindful of facts.

KMS included former members of the elite British Special Air Services (SAS).

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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls



By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7



By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast



By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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