CaptureI wrote a couple of weeks back about the splendid work of Lord Naseby on behalf of Sri Lanka, in getting into the open reports of the last British Defence Attache in Sri Lanka. The Foreign Office initially suppressed these, and the appeal procedure there did not work, so Lord Naseby went to the Information Commissioner. Following that intervention he got 26 pages, with many deletions. He also noted that there was nothing from the last two months, so he appealed again, and got 12 more pages. Despite there again being several omissions, which seem designed to hide the fact that the British were dealing with what seem to have been Tiger dependents in the North, Lord Naseby has pretty well established that at least the British Defence Attache believed we fought a decent war.

All this has been made crystal clear in the speech Lord Naseby made last week in the House of Lords, where he noted too that Lt. Colonel Gash told him ‘in January 2009 that he was surprised at the controlled discipline and success of the Sri Lankan army and in particular the care that it was taking to encourage civilians to escape and how well they were looked after, and that certainly there was no policy to kill civilians’. Given all this, it is clear that the efforts of the British to pin war crimes on our soldiery is part of the Great Game they continue to play, in almost Pavlovian fashion in that they do not consider that a different approach might have saved the world from increasing terrorist activity.

But the duplicity of the British is something the world has had to live with for centuries, and there is nothing we can do about it. But what we can do is use information that emerges to protect our own. Sadly, even though Lord Naseby sent copies of what he had obtained to both President Sirisena and President Rajapaksa, neither has done anything about it.

The former told me he had not seen the material, and though I urged him to pay attention to it, I have heard nothing since. I should note that, with all his faults, Ravi Karunanayake might have responded actively, but with the lazy Tilak Marapana now at the helm there is no chance of the Foreign Ministry doing anything constructive.

This however was the case under the last government as well, and I realized that Mahinda Rajapaksa had learnt nothing when he told me that he had handed the papers over to G L Pieris. Years ago, when he rebuked me for criticizing the Foreign Ministry in a newspaper article, I asked him what I was to do if they were dragging the country into disaster. He told me I should tell the Foreign Minister, and I told him I had brought several matters to that worthy’s attention and there was no response. At this stage the President started laughing, which suggests he knew what was wrong with G L. But he did nothing about it, which is why the country got into increasing danger.

As terrorists know, the state they threaten has to be constantly vigilant, whereas they have to be lucky only once. So the continuing lethargy of successive Foreign Ministers, beginning with Rohitha Bogollagama (resurrected now as Governor of the East) allowed defences to collapse. And then, when those inimical to Sri Lanka got an active Foreign Minister, but one active on their side rather than that of the country he was supposed to represent, we collapsed completely.

Ironically – and this is why I continue to love the British in spite of the appalling hypocrisy of those there who make decisions with regard to other countries – our best shield against the threats Mangala activated are two Britishers. Lord Naseby himself has shown the way, and in his speech he referred to the sterling work of Sir Desmond de Silva, with regard to the Paranagama Report. But as we know, Mangala suppressed that report and did not allow it to be used in our defence in September 2015 when he lined up behind the dastardly resolution the West introduced.

Ceylon Today 17 Oct 2017

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