Sri Lanka’s president revokes suspension of military official at London embassy

A Sri Lankan military official who was suspended by the state’s Ministry of External Affairs, has been ordered by President Sirisena to resume his duties at the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

Brigadier Priyanka Fernando was suspended by the MEA yesterday after being filmed making a throat slitting gesture to Tamils protesting on Sunday.

Sri Lanka’s army spokesperson announced this morning however that President Sirisena had intervened to revoke the suspension, instructing Brigadier Priyanka Fernando to resume duties, report sources from Reuters.

The news comes amid mounting calls for the military official’s expulsion from the UK.

The officer, named as Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, was posted to London as the Sri Lankan High Commission’s defence attaché last year said a briefing released by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) & the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP).

As part of the military offensive in 2009, Brigadier Fernando fought in Weli Oya and Janakapura for the 11 Gemunu Watch Battalion as part of the 59 Division of the Sri Lankan Army.

The United Nations OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka detailed multiple incidents, implicating the 59 Division in the shelling of hospitals south of Mullaitivu.

“Brigadier Fernando was clearly active in the final offensive in the north of Sri Lanka from at least April 2008 – and on those grounds alone should have been subjected to a scrupulous vetting process by both the Government of Sri Lanka and the UK which should have precluded his diplomatic appointment to London,” said the briefing note.

“The UK government has clearly not done the due diligence to ensure that potential human rights violators are prevented from entering the UK and being allowed to hold office in the UK.”

See the full text of the briefing note here.

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