By Shamindra FerdinandoVisiting British parliamentarian Lord Naseby PC yesterday said that those still pursuing the eelam project had taken advantage of the UK electoral system to their advantage. In spite of the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the eelam lobby had been able to follow the LTTE strategy through exploitation of political parties.
Naseby was responding to The Island at a media briefing at the Colombo Hilton. Asked whether the Global Tamil Front (GTF), the British Tamil Front (BTF) and other interested parties had exploited the failure on the part of the British High Commission in Colombo to propagate lies, Naseby said that lawmakers had to liaise with the Foreign Office to know what was going on. It was not the fault of the British High Commission, Naseby insisted, adding that lawmakers had to access reports from Colombo through the Foreign Office in London.
According to him, Tamils of Sri Lankan origin had the power to elect representatives for at least eight seats at parliamentary polls, thereby giving them an opportunity to influence lawmakers. Naseby recalled how the GTF had hired a defeated parliamentarian as a full time staffer, as part of its overall strategy to strengthen its campaign.
Asked whether he agreed with the GoSL’s position that the UK media outfit, Channel 4 campaigned against Sri Lanka at the behest of the LTTE rump, Naseby said that the station’s conduct was questionable. Pointing out that Channel 4 was partly owned by the UK government, Naseby said that the very titles given to two documentaries, "Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ and ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished’ were deceptive. It was an attempt to evoke memories of Cambodia, Naseby said.
Commenting on a statement attributed to former British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband in ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished’ that the GoSL had purposely denied adequate stocks of food and medicine to civilians trapped on the Vanni east front, Naseby said that he had an opportunity to raise the issue with head of the ICRC delegation in Colombo. Naseby quoted the ICRC Chief as having told him that supplies to the war zone continued till the first week of May, 2009. He asserted that UN agencies and those INGOs deployed in the region could help GoSL to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations.
Naseby has asked for a detailed report from the ICRC. The lawmaker intends to take up with MP Miliband and other interested parties the issue of food supplies during the final phase of the conflict.
Referring to video footage of those in Sri Lankan army uniforms executing captured LTTE cadres, Naseby pointed out that a disciplined army like the SLA wouldn’t have its personnel wearing slippers. He revealed a move to call for a debate in the House of Lords in a month or two, to discuss the entire gamut of issues, including biased UK media coverage.
Responding to another query by The Island, Naseby said that an attempt was being made to target the Sri Lankan leadership. It was the Diaspora’s strategy, he said, adding that the Diaspora expected to create political instability, by targeting the top Sri Lankan leadership.
Naseby acknowledged that the British Army, too, had faced accountability issues in Iraq and the government investigated the allegations. When pointed out that the Chilcot Inquiry on UK’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq got underway only in 2009, whereas the British warned Sri Lanka to be prepared to face the consequences unless human rights issues were addressed promptly, the lawmaker acknowledged the need to treat all countries alike. However, the GoSL should take tangible measures on the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) without further delay. It would be of pivotal importance to devolve powers to the provinces in line with the recommendations made by the LLRC as quickly as possible, he said, supporting calls for full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Both police and land powers should be given to the provinces, not only the Northern Province, he said, emphasizing the need to push for genuine devolution, regardless of opposition from some quarters