Govt yet to capitalise on Lord Naseby’s call to UK parliament
Request to lower death toll from 40,000 to 8,000
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Cabinet spokesman and Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera yesterday said that the government could act on Lord Naseby’s recent call to Theresa May’s government in the UK to review the much-touted UN allegation that 40,000 Tamil civilians perished on the Vanni front in 2009 in the final phase of the war.
Minister Jayasekera said so when The Island asked whether the cabinet of ministers had discussed Naseby’s Oct 12, 2017 declaration in British parliament that as there couldn’t have been more than 8,000 deaths, the UK government should intervene on behalf of Sri Lanka to set the record straight.
The SLFPer addressed the post-cabinet media briefing at the Information Department yesterday with military spokesman Maj. Gen. Roshan Seneviratne.
When The Island pointed out that the parliament nor government hadn’t so far reacted to a most favourable statement made on Sri Lanka’s behalf, Minister Jayasekera said that they appreciated Lord Naseby’s effort.
Lord Naseby, in his Oct 12 statement strongly denied accusations that the Sri Lankan military had deliberately targeted civilians.
Reiterating their resolve to defend the armed forces, Minister Jayasekera said that Lord Naseby had spoken for Sri Lanka whereas many foreign politicians succumbed to Tamil Diaspora pressure for domestic political reasons.
Asked whether the government didn’t realize the urgent requirement to challenge unsubstantiated war crimes allegations against the backdrop of Lord Naseby’s statement as such accusations were the basis for forcing Sri Lanka to introduce a new constitution, Minister Jayasekera said that there was longstanding demand from the Tamil community for constitutional reforms.
Minister Jayasekera insisted that the Geneva hadn’t intervened in the process to introduce a new Constitution. The SLFPer said so when The Island pointed out that Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had specifically suggested in June 2016 that a new Constitution be introduced in 2017 subject to a referendum.
Minister Jayasekera inquired from The Island whether it accepted that the Tamil community experienced difficulties? In response to that query, The Island pointed out that they didn’t face any exceptional difficulties not experienced by other communities in Sri Lanka.
Minister Jayasekera said the government leaders had repeatedly assured that armed forces personnel wouldn’t be allowed to be harmed, when The Island pointed out that both the previous government in which he was a minister and the current administration had failed to make representations at the relevant forums.
The Island sought an explanation from Minister Jayasekera as to why Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan had urged the northerners to vote for Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the 2010 January presidential polls after having accused his army of massacring Tamils on the Vanni front, the SLFPer said that the TNA wanted to defeat war winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The minister refrained from commenting on The Island observation even if Sampanthan requested, the electorate would have ignored the TNA chief’s call if they really believed allegations the Army deliberately killed thousands.
The TNA took a similar stand at 2015 January presidential poll, the minister said, referring to large scale post-war rehabilitation and reconstruction projects undertaken by the then government for the benefit of people living in liberated areas.
Maj. Gen. Seneviratne explained the gradual releasing of land held by the military since the successful conclusion of the war in May 2009.
In the Jaffna peninsula, the army commenced releasing land in Oct 2010 on the instructions of the previous government.
Maj. Gen. Seneviratne dismissed claims that the military held land hadn’t been released so may years after the war.
Minister Jayasekera warned of dire consequences unless grievances of those who had been affected by the conflict weren’t addressed.
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