I am very sorry for what Britain is going through at the moment, and even sadder, to be parochial, that this should be happening when its leadership is more decent and straightforward than at any time in the last two decades. But poor Theresa is suffering now for the sins of her predecessors, who took Britain into wars that privileged extremists.

Britain may be shocked now about the revelations about the Libyan connection to the terrorism in Manchester. But its people should – as Corbyn as tried to point out – make the connection between that and the vicious manner in which Gaddafi was removed, making use of extremists who are obviously motivated by hate and see violence as a ready answer to whatever they think alien.

With India also now blindly following a Western line – as some of its rulers did a few hundred years back because of their fear of neighbours, only to find the British more ruthless taskmasters when they had established their hegemony – it is left only to a few brave Latin American countries to point out the wickedness as well as the absurdity of what the West is up to (as when Trump responded violently, as jihadists to, to yet another allegation of chemical warfare – which more objective observers attribute to the chosen instruments of the West, whether spurred on by them or not remaining uncertain).

I regret then the days when Dayan was in Geneva, and made common cause with the brilliant Indian diplomats there, as well as others representing a neutral perspective. Now, forbidden to intervene except to kowtow to the West, we will no longer enjoy the influence we had in those days, when for instance we were invited to take on a lead role in the Group of Fifteen (which Mangala proceeded to entrust to Gihan Indragupta, who had been attacking our forces even when he was being recruited to the Foreign Ministry).

It is a pity that we have been silenced, for recently, courtesy of one of the few Britishers to stand up for principle, we have been provided with evidence of the duplicity of the British in their efforts to convict our decent soldiery of war crimes. We have now received, although with some important areas blacked out, the reports of the then British Defence Attache, Lt Col Anton Gash, during the last period of the war. Amongst his observations was stress on the ‘compassion, respect and concern’ shown by the soldiers for those being evacuated – and mention of the fact that these had ‘release’ passes issued by the LTTE.

Gash notes that the UN thought there were 200,000 people in the conflict area in March, with the ICRC estimating 150,000. Given that more than this figure escaped to safety, despite the LTTE firing on them (’The UN reports civilians reaching ICRC medical facilities manned with gunshot wounds to the lower limbs – to prevent them leaving’), it is sheer wickedness that, hiding behind a report ‘unduly dependent on LTTE evidence’ as the British tribunal which judged on the confidentiality of Gash’s reports noted, the British government continues to bellow about massive numbers of civilian casualties.

But will we be able to make use of these revelations? President Sirisena is constrained by the fact that he is totally dependent on the UNP with regard to international relations, and he does not have advisers who are intelligent and forceful enough to argue our case. President Rajapaksa has no clear mechanism or forum to argue the case, and I suspect his advisers who shut him off in his days of power from brilliant diplomats such as Dayan Jayatilleka and Tamara Kunanayagam will not encourage the recourse to such as these which he needs.

In passing I should note the efforts I made to get our Ministry of External Affairs to collate evidence from UN and other reports, but of course a Ministry run by Kshenuka and Sajin, with GL totally under their control and in any case worried more about his own ambitions than the country, ignored all suggestions and instead played straight into Western hands. The woefully amateur way in which Foreign Policy was conducted after 2010 – as opposed to the great professionalism of the war period – is a principal reason that I still do not regret the stand I took at the Presidential election of 2015. Though the aftermath has proved disastrous, I think business as before, with decisions being made by Sajin and his ilk (including beating up our High Commissioner in London), would have been even more disastrous.

This is a time I feel when all those opposed to the mess Mangala has made should come together to deal conclusively with the problem. The British report refers to the Paranagama Commission which Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed far too late, and to the expert opinions it obtained, including from General John Holmes, which Mangala then suppressed. I hope Ravi, who needs to establish his credentials with the nation at large now, rather than with Ranil alone, will also recognize the need to move forward rather than fester where Mangala thrust us. Mahinda Samarasinghe obviously would have done the job better – and could have brought together key players – but we should give Ravi a chance to make up for his predecessor’s lapses before urging the President to ensure a truly Sri Lankan foreign policy.

Part of this should be to confront the British direct with evidence of duplicity, not least because they must learn, if they are to stop terrorism on their soil too, that you cannot dance with wolves. The game they are engaged in now, flirting with those who supported terror in the past, is a dangerous one. Many of them are playing the game for electoral advantage, but we cannot also dismiss out of hand the idea that elements in the establishment are trying to use terrorists as was done in Libya and Syria. If common sense does not make them reverse gear now, we should thrust the lesson in their faces.

Gash notes ‘The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has attracted much domestic attention. There are persistent media rumours of an LTTE connection’. The next sentence is blacked out. Later he talks of a possibility of further attacks in the south in terms of ‘Mumbai “copycat” operations’, indicating that he at least understands the manner in which terrorist groups feed on and with each other.

I knew Gash a little and liked him a lot, since he seemed a cut above the careerists, Chilcott and Hayes, under whom he had to work. Whereas they clearly thought their chief responsibility was to ensure the continued existence of the LTTE, Gash seemed to admire our armed forces and worked well with them. He also organized training for them in working in civilian contexts, even while the Foreign Office was trying to drive them out of work with the displaced, to be replaced by their beloved Non-Governmental Organizations (who at one stage thought they were entitled to hold the balance between the elected government and the terrorists).

What he has to say confirms the view that many of the allegations against us are specious. One document that has been all but entirely blacked out notes that ‘TamilNet allegations continue along the familiar themes of attacks on orphanages, hospitals, cluster munitions, chemical weapons. These are no longer credible, albeit there clearly have been heavy civilian casualties from small arms and mortar fire’. This was on April 22nd, and then the next sentence too is blacked out. And in reporting on civilian casualties some time earlier, having cited the low figures the UN used until Darusman and his hit squad came along, he notes that one of the reasons for these was ‘the LTTE’s determination not to lose its grip on the civilian population’.

Despite this the documents released suggest that Gash also had informants whose primary allegiance was to the LTTE. At one stage, in talking about casualty figures, he notes about the blacked out source that ‘it is impossible to judge whether they are telling the truth, acting under LTTE coercion, or willing LTTE helpers’. And I find particularly worrying the fact that, in January, having noted that 6 LTTE airstrips had been captured, he predicts one more attack, for which ‘The politically appropriate target would be the SLAF tower block HQ’ – which was precisely the target of the February 20th attack when the other John Holmes, the UN head of Humanitarian Aid, was in Colombo.

The material released, as well as the judgment of the Tribunal that decided to keep some things secret, makes it quite clear that the secrecy is in Britain’s interests, not ours. Though it was argued that Sri Lankan government sources might feel let down, the Tribunal seems to grant that this is not a factor, and instead refers to the trust of other countries.

Gash himself is more honest, and notes in particular that ‘I am particularly concerned about the impact of individuals with the UN, who gave me information that they were not authorized to release’. Given that we know there were elements in the UN who were actively opposed to the strategy of the Sri Lankan government (and engaged in criticism of the senior UN officials who tried to work in terms of the UN charter, and not the policemen of the West), it is imperative that Sri Lanka raises the issue at the UN and finds out why UN personnel are permitted to serve other countries when stationed in a sovereign member of the UN.

I had told the last government that they should inquire into the role of particularly shady figures, ranging from Guy Rhodes who was part of the security operation run without reference to UNDP head Neil Buhne to Peter Mackay who turned out to have been in the Wanni during the last stages of the war with no official sanction. Nothing was done then but at least now I hope those who are keen to defend our forces will study this material and take the offensive against the wicked attempt to destroy a country and a government that dealt more successfully with terrorists than any other in recent years.

Ceylon Today 11 July 2017 – http://www.ceylontoday.lk/print20170401CT20170630.php?id=25206

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