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War crimes allegations: SLAF Chief’s diplomatic appointment rejected again



Govt. yet to take up the issue at hand, Parliament silent 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government is now planning to appoint retired SLAF Commander Air Marhal Sumangala Dias as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Malaysia.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Malaysia AM Kapila Jayampathy, who, too, served as the Commander of the SLAF previously, is likely to complete his term next December.

Having served the SLAF since 1984, Air Marshal Dias retired on Nov 02, 2020, as the SLAF’s 17th Commander. The Island learns that the government has been compelled to look for a new station in the wake of European Union member Italy’s refusal to accept Air Marshal Dias as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador there.

Authoritative sources said that retired senior members of the Sri Lankan military had been rejected on the basis of unsubstantiated war crimes accusations. Some countries have declined to issue visas even for private visits, sources said. They cited Australia’s refusal to issue visa to General Chagie Gallage, before his retirement, and the US slapping a travel ban on General Shavendra Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Earlier, the government sought to appoint the retired Air Marshal as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canada, a member of Sri Lanka Core Group, in Geneva, spearheading accountability issues. Canada campaigned for the resolution adopted on March 23 at the UNHRC with 22 countries voting for, 11 against and 14 abstentions.

Authoritative sources said that there hadn’t been a single specific accusation against Dias.

The Canadian High Commission declined to comment on the matter. Asked for clarification regarding Sri Lanka’s request and Canadian denial, the HC said that ‘as it is subject to state-to-state confidentiality, we do not comment on the process.”

The Island

sought Canadian HC’s response in the wake of the Air Marshal, receiving parliamentary approval.

The Communications Department of the Parliament on April 23, 2021, quoted the Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake, as having said that the Parliamentary High Posts Committee, chaired by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, had approved Air Marshal Dias and P.M. Amza as Sri Lanka’s envoys in Canada and Saudi Arabia, respectively. The Secretary General made no reference to those countries declining to accept previous nominations. Amza held the rank of Acting Additional Secretary, Foreign Ministry.

Due to Canada and Saudi Arabia refusing to accept retired Air Marshal Sumangala Dias and Ahmed A. Jawad, respectively, as heads of Sri Lankan missions, Parliament made the April 23 announcement.

The government announced the appointment of AM Dias, as well as Ahmed A. Jawad, in late Oct 2020. The HPC approved their appointments the following month. Sources said that Saudi Arabia rejected Jawad’s appointment as he served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Riyadh at the time teenage Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek was beheaded in early January 2013. The then Rajapaksa administration protested the Saudi execution by recalling Ahmed. Saudi Arabia, too, recalled its envoy. Sources said that HPC should have considered Nafeek’s incident before making the announcement.

The Island

 raised the issues at hand with the Public Diplomacy Division of the Foreign Ministry.

The Island:

What is the status of the move to appoint retired AM Dias as Ambassador in Rome?


Air Marshal Sumangala Dias has not been appointed as the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Italy.

The Island:

On what grounds Ottawa declined to accept AM Dias as HC?


The Government of Canada has not declined the nomination of AM Dias as the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka.

The Island:

When will civil society activist Harsha Kumara Navaratne, who recently resigned from the Human Rights Commission, leave for Ottawa?


The new High Commissioner-Designate of Sri Lanka to Canada, Harsha Kumara Navaratne, is expected to take up duties at the Mission shortly.

The Island:

How many foreign missions do we have?


The Government has established a total number of 66 diplomatic missions, excluding the Embassy of Sri Lanka, in Kabul, Afghanistan, temporarily closed due to the current developments in that country. The network of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic missions comprises 36 Embassies, 13 High Commissions, 02 Permanent Missions to the United Nations, 01 Deputy High Commissioner’s Office, 13 Consulates-General, and 01 Representative Office abroad.

The FM said that the Heads of Missions/Posts of Sri Lanka consists of a total number of 29 career officers appointed from the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, two career officers from the Department of Commerce, and 21 non-career personnel (excluding the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Afghanistan whose tenure was concluded recently), serving as Heads of Mission/Post abroad.

Responding to another query, the FM said that 14 Sri Lanka Heads of Missions/Posts remained vacant excluding the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Afghanistan. Accordingly, the Government of Sri Lanka was in the process of formalising appointments of new Heads of Missions/Posts to those vacant, posts as appropriate in collaboration with the receiving states, the FM said.

Ministerial sources said that Parliamentary High Posts Committee (HPC) chaired by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena should seriously consider the issue at hand. The rejection of diplomatic appointments and visas in respect of private visits on the basis of unproved war crimes accusations should be properly dealt with. War winning Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, a current member of the HPC, too, remained blacklisted by the US.

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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