Northern Governor meets UK Lord

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Lord Naseby who provided Sri Lanka with unimpeachable evidence to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations propagated by the UN, recently discussed the situation in Northern Sri Lanka with NP Governor Dr. Suren Raghavan.

 In response to The Island query regarding him meeting Dr. Raghavan, Lord Naseby’s Office has sent The Island the following statement: Lord Naseby discussed the latest progress in the Jaffna peninsula with the Governor of the Northern Province, Dr. Suren Raghavan who was on a brief visit to UK. The British peer was encouraged to hear that people in the Northern Province are experiencing a peace dividend with sustained economic development, including the opening of Jaffna International Airport, a large rainwater harvesting project that will provide drinking and cooking water and the establishment of the Northern Cooperative Development Bank. Raghavan had recently visited Ottawa and Toronto and mentioned that Canadian Tamils are showing signs of having greater confidence in Sri Lanka and may now be making significant investments in their homeland. Naseby agreed with Raghavan that this is a significant time since the ending of the Eelam conflict and hoped that the Tamil diaspora all over the world, especially in UK, will also start to show greater trust in the path that Sri Lanka has been taking since 2009, by also making substantial inward investments.”

 Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009, even though Jaffna peninsula was liberated way back in 1996.

 Although Dr. Raghavan’s Office issued statements regarding his visit to the UK, the Northern Governor politely declined to comment on his meeting with Lord Naseby. Responding to several questions posed by The Island, Dr. Raghavan said that he wouldn’t want to discuss the UK meeting with the media. The Island sought Dr. Raghavan’s views as he represented Sri Lanka at March 2019 sessions of the Geneva Human Rights Council (UNHRC), where the UN body insisted Sri Lanka remained committed to Oct 2015 resolution that reiterated hybrid war crimes mechanism et al.

 Lord Naseby’s Office acknowledged that the accountability issue wasn’t discussed though it remained high on the British politician’s agenda.

 Dr. Raghavan received appointment as the Northern Governor in January this year.

 Close on the heels of meeting with Dr. Raghavan, Lord Naseby sought full disclosure of UK High Commission dispatches from Colombo during January-May 2009 final phase of the war here. Lord Naseby’s Office told The Island that the UK government response was sought as to when the dispatches would be made public.

 The Island asked the British High Commission in Colombo whether during recent visit by UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Lord Ahmad, Lord Naseby’s disclosure pertaining to accountability issues were discussed or raised by Sri Lanka, BHC spokesperson said;” There was no discussion of Lord Naseby.

 Among those Lord Ahmad met here were outgoing President Maithripala Sirisena, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan.

 Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry said that the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in the UK Manisha Gunasekera met Lord Ahmad on Nov 07. The meeting entailed discussion on issues of mutual interest in Sri Lanka – UK bilateral relations and follow up on Minister Ahmad’s visit to Sri Lanka in October 2019.

 The Island learns that the government was yet to request the UK or the UNHRC to reconsider 2015 Geneva resolution against the backdrop of Lord Naseby’s disclosure on Oct 12, 2017.

 Lord Naseby, in an interview with The Island in Sept in Colombo, said that he was disappointed over Sri Lanka’s failure to use information furnished by him to set the record straight thereby making a case for reviewing the Oct 2015 resolution.

 Dr. Wasantha Bandara of the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) told The Island that Sri Lanka would have to fully review the Geneva resolution in the run-up to next Geneva session in March 2020. Dr. Bandara said that in addition to studies undertaken by international experts on behalf of Sri Lanka during the Rajapaksa administration, the government should take into consideration Lord Naseby’s disclosure. Responding to a query, Dr. Bandara pointed out that Sri Lanka was yet to use information provided by Lord Naseby way back in Oct 2017. The government and the Joint Opposition in parliament owed an explanation as to why a review was not sought on the basis of UK dispatches from Colombo.

 Dr. Bandara said that he was quite surprised major political parties represented in parliament conveniently left out Geneva issue out of their presidential poll campaigns.

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