Feb 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Minister of Plantations, Navin Dissanayake defending the senior Sri Lanka Army officer accused of making an intimidating gesture towards diaspora Tamils in UK slammed the two British MPs, who called for the expulsion of the officer, for supporting a terrorist organization.
In a hard-hitting letter to the British MPs Siobhan McDonagh and Joan Ryan, who had written to the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urging the expulsion of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, Minister Dissanayake criticized the two MPs for carrying out a "deeply hateful, vindictive and offensive campaign against Sri Lanka."
Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, who serves as the Minister Counsellor (Defense) attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, was filmed standing outside the High Commission, opposite the pro-Eelam diaspora Tamils, repeatedly running a finger across his throat. The gesture has been interpreted as slitting the neck.
The pro-Eelam group called 'Tamil solidarity' was protesting outside the High Commission on Sri Lanka's Independence Day, February 4th.
Minister Navin Dissanayake, whose father former Minister and deputy leader of the UNP and presidential candidate late Gamini Dissanayake was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber, accusing the two British MPs of surreptitiously supporting the terrorist organization's political wing pointed out that the LTTE is banned in the UK.
"l am the son of the late Hon Gemini Dissanayake. presidential candidate and deputy leader of the United National Party who was assassinated by the terrorist organization LTTE, the political wing which both of you surreptitiously support. The said organization has been banned in your country and has been designated as a terrorist organization by many countries including yours and the United States," Minister Dissanayake wrote.
The Minister said "On the day in question 4th of February which marks the national day of independence for our country a day of joy and celebration to all Sri Lankans the front organizations of the LTTE which the both of you support gathered a few hundred supporters to protest outside our embassy in the UK. What is most disturbing and offensive to us Sri-Lankans was the carrying of the LTTE flag and the abusive and vituperative comments made by the protesters."
He said Brigadier Fernando was within the premises of the Sri Lankan mission and his acts cannot be questioned as diplomatically and legally as he was "within Sri Lanka" and enjoys full diplomatic immunity for acts done within the embassy compound. "This tradition is accepted practice in diplomatic regulations and the tradition is followed in all countries," the Minister pointed out.
"As the protesters behavior was offensive to Sri Lanka Brig Fernando a valiant officer of the Sri Lanka army pointed to the lion emblem in his uniform to countenance the disgust he felt when he saw the tiger flags that he saw displayed in front of him," Minister Dissanayake further said.
"Both of you have been carrying a deeply hateful, vindictive and offensive campaign against Sri Lanka. At a time when brutal terrorism has been eradicated and all communities are building bridges to live as one nation your continued support to front organizations of the LTTE is self-serving and pathetic. Tell your contacts in these front organizations to contribute to their own brethren in the north and east without continuing to fuel the flames of hatred and ethnic division. Sri Lanka needs a real sense of reconciliation without individual likes you trying your utmost to break the real achievements that are being done on the ground. In any event we stand with Brig Fernando steadfast and he will continue as our defense attaché in the UK," he wrote.