UK, US behind UNSG’s War Crimes Report

*How British political establishment props up those undermining SL
*Only Basil R opposed endorsing joint communiqué with UN


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Contrary to the UPFA government accusing UNSG Ban Ki-moon over the hotly disputed ‘war crimes’ report, exclusively revealed by The Island, the UK and US are widely believed to be behind the sordid operation, now gathering momentum, with the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), pushing for an independent war crimes probe.

Sources told The Island that the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which had been pushing for an international war crimes probe targeting Sri Lanka, had the backing of both British and US political establishments, to pursue its campaign. Sources said that the UNSG had acted against Sri Lanka at the behest of the two UN Security Council members, who facilitated the operations undertaken by the GTF on behalf of the Tamil Diaspora.

One-time Norwegian peace facilitator, Minister Erik Solheim, too, backed the UK and US move. Sources said that Solheim had publicly called for a war crimes probe.

Highly influential US Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) on March 28, 2011 arranged a meeting between GTF and US Assistant Secretary Robert O’ Blake at the State Department. The GTF also received an opportunity to meet the UNSG. Ambassador Blake is scheduled to visit Colombo, in the first week of May.

Sources said that the UNSG wouldn’t have met the GTF without US intervention. They pointed out that the powers that be had also facilitated an unprecedented meeting between Sonia Gandhi and the GTF in London, before the GTF met Ambassador Blake and the UNSG.

The LTTE assassinated Sonia’s husband, Rajiv in the first and the only suicide attack carried out by the LTTE overseas.

The USTPAC and the GTF came into operation in 2009 and February 24, 2010, respectively.  

Responding to a query, sources said that the GTF had the blessings of the British political establishment to pursue a campaign overtly hostile towards Sri Lanka. They said that the then British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, Conservatives shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague and Liberal Democrats shadow Foreign Secretary, Ed Davey had been among the speakers at the GTF launch at the Gladstone Room of the House of Commons. Some of the visiting delegates from 14 countries had an opportunity to meet former Prime Minister Gordon Brown privately, sources said.

Among other MPs present at the occasion were Virendra Sharma, Keith Vaz and Siobhain McDonagh.

Sources said that in spite of the then Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama summoning the then acting British High Commissioner Mark Gooding to lodge Sri Lanka’s protest against Miliband’s participation at the GTF meet, the government appears to have taken no further action. They said that the GTF came into being ahead of the formation of what is now called the Provisional Trans-national Government of Tamil Eelam (PTGT).  

The UK-based Diaspora set up the British Tamil Forum in 2006. The BTF played a significant role during eelam war IV. The BTF and the GTF disrupted President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to London last December and went to the extent of moving Court against Maj. Gen. Chagi Gallage, a senior officer accompanying the President, over unsubstantiated war crimes charges. Interestingly, the Court was moved by defeated Labour MP, Ms Joan Ryan on behalf of the GTF.

Sources said that since the collapse of the LTTE on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on May 19, 2009, the LTTE rump had been engaged in a campaign to bring war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan government. In spite of some of the key Diaspora leaders being sharply divided over their strategy, they had been convinced that an independent investigation was required. Sources acknowledged that the government hadn’t acted swiftly and decisively to meet the threat posed by the joint action undertaken by the Diaspora and a section of the international community.

Sources said that those taking part in a mega protest campaign organized by the UPFA on May Day against war crimes allegations wouldn’t even shout an anti-US or British slogan. Instead, they would vent their anger at the UNSG and the Marzuki Darsusman panel.

Sources said that an emergency meeting called by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last Friday (April 22), to discuss the war crimes report had revealed shortcomings in the government strategy. Sources said that UPFA leaders had also discussed the failure on the part of the government to identify the danger in agreeing to a joint communiqué issued at the end of UNSG’s visit to Sri Lanka, shortly after the conclusion of the war in May 2009. Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa had strongly advised President Rajapaksa not to endorse the communiqué in spite of the External Affairs Ministry supporting the move, sources said. Political sources pointed out that the UN had asserted that UNSG appointed a three-member panel on the basis of the joint communiqué, though the Government of Sri Lanka publicly repudiated the position taken by the world body.

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