Tamil Diaspora welcomes Hemasiri’s offer but won’t co-operate until Geneva obligations are met

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Global Tamil Forum (GTF), yesterday, welcomed Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s recent controversial request for the Tamil Diaspora groups to furnish information, if any, of the atrocities committed by armed forces personnel.

UK-based GTF spokesperson uren Surendiran told The Island that the grouping was really encouraged by Defence Secretary Fernando’s declaration. Responding to a query, Surendiran pointed out that in spite of Fernando’s encouraging statement, some members of the administration were pulling in different directions.

Defence Secretary Fernando incurred the wrath of some political parties and organisations for seeking Diaspora organisations’ support to initiate investigations. Surendiran said: “This is encouraging that a senior civil servant has publicly said this. However, the mixed messages that come from very senior members of the government, including the President diminish the significance of this statement.”

Asked whether the GTF accepted Defence Secretary’s offer, Surendiran said that would depend on Sri Lanka fulfilling its obligations in terms of the 2015 and 2017 Geneva Resolutions. Pointing out that Sri Lanka would come up at Geneva sessions in March 2019, Surendiran said: “There are two UNHRC Resolutions that GoSL co-sponsored. These have devised mechanisms to address serious allegations, including accountability. When GoSL makes it public how it is going to address justice and accountability mechanism once laws of the land are revised to include war crimes and crimes against humanity as criminal acts in the local laws through legislation, GTF will consider sharing evidence.”

Headquartered in the UK, the GTF is the largest Tamil Diaspora grouping. The GTF works closely with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

The GTF made its position clear with regard to accountability issues in the wake of the UK and the TNA agreeing in Colombo to take tangible measures to ensure the full implementation of Geneva Resolutions.

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