4 Jun 2014 – Lord Naseby Misleads Lords Over Sri Lanka: He Must Withdraw … Most troublingly he has become an apologist for the Sri Lankan government. … so alleged, who were in fact fully paid-up members of the Tamil Tigers”.
8 Jan 2013 – Lord Naseby: “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East” Sri Lanka, … paid to theGovernment’s false claims: The new IDPs in Sri Lanka, …
24 Nov 2012 – 0. 0. Better check who paid for his ticket and luxury holiday in Sri Lanka. …. What has happened to Liam Fox and Lord Naseby. Any MP in UK if …
By Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
I wrote a couple of weeks back about the splendid work of Lord Naseby on behalf of Sri Lanka, in getting into the open, the reports of the last British Defence Attaché in Sri Lanka. The Foreign Office initially suppressed these, and the appeal procedure there did not work, so Lord Naseby went to the Information Commissioner. Following that intervention he got 26 pages, with many deletions. He also noted that there was nothing from the last two months, so he appealed again, and got 12 more pages.
Despite there again being several omissions, which seem designed to hide the fact that the British were dealing with what seem to have been Tiger dependents in the North, Lord Naseby has pretty well established that at least the British Defence Attaché believed we fought a decent war.
All this has been made crystal clear in the speech Lord Naseby made last week in the House of Lords, where he noted too that Lt. Colonel Gash told him ‘In January 2009 that he was surprised at the controlled discipline and success of the Sri Lankan army and in particular the care that it was taking to encourage civilians to escape and how well they were looked after, and that certainly there was no policy to kill civilians’. Given all this, it is clear that the efforts of the British to pin war crimes on our soldiery is part of the Great Game they continue to play, in almost Pavlovian fashion in that they do not consider that a different approach might have saved the world from increasing terrorist activity.
But the duplicity of the British is something the world has had to live with for centuries, and there is nothing we can do about it. But what we can do is use information that emerges to protect our own. Sadly, even though Lord Naseby sent copies of what he had obtained to both President Sirisena and President Rajapaksa, neither has done anything about it.
The former told me he had not seen the material, and though I urged him to pay attention to it, I have heard nothing since. I should note that, with all his faults, Ravi Karunanayake might have responded actively, but with the lazy Tilak Marapana now at the helm there is no chance of the Foreign Ministry doing anything constructive.
This however, was the case under the last government as well, and I realized that Mahinda Rajapaksa had learnt nothing when he told me that he had handed the papers over to G. L. Pieris. Years ago, when he rebuked me for criticizing the Foreign Ministry in a newspaper article, I asked him what I was to do if they were dragging the country into disaster. He told me I should tell the Foreign Minister, and I told him I had brought several matters to that worthy’s attention and there was no response. At this stage the President started laughing, which suggests he knew what was wrong with GL. But he did nothing about it, which is why the country got into increasing danger.
As terrorists know, the state they threaten has to be constantly vigilant, whereas they have to be lucky only once. So the continuing lethargy of successive Foreign Ministers, beginning with Rohitha Bogollagama (resurrected now as Governor of the East) allowed defences to collapse. And then, when those inimical to Sri Lanka got an active Foreign Minister, but one active on their side rather than that of the country he was supposed to represent, we collapsed completely.
Ironically – and this is why I continue to love the British in spite of the appalling hypocrisy of those there who make decisions with regard to other countries – our best shield against the threats Mangala activated are two Britishers. Lord Naseby himself has shown the way, and in his speech he referred to the sterling work of Sir Desmond de Silva, with regard to the Paranagama Report. But as we know, Mangala suppressed that report and did not allow it to be used in our defence in September 2015 when he lined up behind the dastardly resolution the West introduced.
Remove war crimes tag from Sri Lanka: Lord Naseby
In a House of Lords debate last Thursday on Sri Lanka initiated by Lord Naseby extracts from confidential reports by the British Defence Attache in Colombo put to bed exaggerated figures on the number of civilians killed in the last months of the war against the LTTE and the accusation that Sri Lanka deliberately killed Tamil civilians.
Lord Naseby had to struggle against officialdom to get the information on the reports sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office even after invoking the Freedom of Information law. What he eventually managed to get from the FCO were heavily redacted reports sent by Lt. Col Anton Gash who was the British Defence Attache during the last months of the war.
Even though many pages had been deleted from the several reports sent by Lt. Col Gash they tell a different story from the ones made public by human rights activists and critics of Sri Lanka. Lord Naseby who had worked in Sri Lanka several decades ago and often defended Sri Lanka in many previous debates, read out brief quotations from the Gash reports that go counter to information circulated by the Tamil diaspora and Tamil activists among others.
In one report the Defence Attache states: “It is not possible to distinguish civilians from LTTE cadres as few are in uniform”. Then, from February 16 he reported that IDPs were being cared for in Trincomalee. Welfare appears to be overriding security considerations”. Then again on 20 January the report says: “no cluster munitions were used”, and on 26 April, “civilians killed Feb 1-April 26—6432”.
Speaking at the debate Lord Naseby said: “I hope and pray that, as a result of this debate, the UK will recognise the truth that no one in the Sri Lankan Government ever wanted to kill Tamil civilians. Furthermore, the UK must now get the UN and the UNHCR in Geneva to accept a civilian casualty level of 7,000 to 8,000, not 40,000. On top of that, the UK must recognise that this was a war against terrorism, so the rules of engagement are based on international humanitarian law, not the European Convention on Human Rights. The West, and in particular the US and UK, must remove the threat of war crimes and foreign judges that overhangs and overshadows all Sri Lankans, especially their leaders. We in the UK should reflect on the sacrifices of thousands of young Sri Lankan soldiers who died to create peace in that country. Finally, I reflect that Sri Lanka came to our need in two world wars and had casualties, and it was one of just a handful of countries who supported the UK over the Falklands. Now is the time to offer the hand of friendship and act to lead the international community to recognise what the truth really was.” Replying to the debate the Minister of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said that as stated by several members Sri Lanka has made progress in meeting some of the commitments agreed to in the UN Human Rights Council resolutions.
“The contributions across the Chamber reflected the fact that challenges remain, but the tone and content of all the contributions, without exception, also threw a very positive light—rightly so—on the positive steps have been taken recently in Sri Lanka.”
“However, as my noble friend Lord Sheikh underlined in his thoughtful contribution, despite the progress we should not forget that there is more still to do. As I have already illustrated, we welcome the progress made by the Sri Lankan Government to address the legacy of conflict and to promote reconciliation across all Sri Lanka’s communities. I also underline that the UK Government are fully supportive of those efforts, but it is clear that the Sri Lankan Government need to do much more—a view echoed in the UN High Commissioner’s report.”