Sri Lanka protects war criminals

We are building a movement to fight for:

  • The arrest and trial of Brigadier Priyankara Fernando with the right of war victims to give evidence in safety
  • A genuine war crimes investigation with the involvement of affected communities
  • The end to deportations of Tamil political activists to Sri Lanka by the Home Office
  • The building of a movement to fight injustice and inequality

The Sri Lankan government is covering up for war criminals and chauvinists. On 4 February Brigadier Priyankara Fernando made a cut your throat gesture at peaceful protesters in London. Although they have re-called him from the High Commission in London to Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan government maintains that he did nothing wrong.

Priyankara Fernando must be arrested and tried publicly for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He should be held accountable for his actions in London. The context of his gesture is crucial. The protesters he threatened are victims of war. Many lost loved ones in the war. Some of those loved ones were photographed with their throats slit by the perpetrators of this violence – the Sri Lankan military.

Such a brutal reference to this ordeal has caused psychological damage.  Some of the protesters who experienced this have requested that the Metropolitan Police investigate. But, instead of punishing this racist brigadier, and talking about compensating the affected protesters, the Sri Lankan government is making all efforts to protect him.

In the past the minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene defended the actions of brigadier. He disgustingly claimed it gave the ‘right signal’ to the diaspora! Another minister Navin Dissanayake claimed immunity for the brigadier as the gesture was made inside embassy soil. What does this suggest other than this would be an accepted act in Sri Lankan soil. From the fake Marxist Wimal Weerawansa to the outright racist Udaya Gammanpila, all sections of the elite in the south have glorified the actions of the brigadier.

In terms of how they view the Tamil opposition and protesters there are no differences between the current government and the ex-dictatorial Rajapaksa gangs. The clear message they are sending us is either you live in silence or you face the death penalty.

The current government is not only protecting war criminals, it also promoting them. Recently its attempt to allocate another war criminal as part of the UN’s peace envoy was rejected by the UN after a vigorous complaint was made against it by activists. The Sri Lankan government’s actions show that there will not be any justice and no war crimes will be investigated under the current government. This is why Tamil Solidarity is demanding a genuinely independent, public inquiry into war crimes allegations and the disappeared, with the full participation of representatives from the communities affected and free from interference by state forces and the establishment political parties implicated.

The British authorities should have taken action against this war criminal. There are cases filed against this criminal in Britain by British citizens. He should not be allowed to escape. The right-wing Tory government is closely collaborating with their counterpart the UNP in Sri Lanka and has no interest in justice or human rights being delivered. Their ‘diplomatic’ escape from responsibility is not acceptable. Not only do they fail to take action they are in the process of returning a number of activists back to Sri Lanka. Deportation to Sri Lanka of all Tamil activists must stop immediately.

We call on our long-time ally Jeremy Corbyn and the trade unions to support us in this demand by backing the Refugee Rights Campaign.

Tamil Solidarity has no trust in any establishment political parties and institution to come forward to defend our rights. We continue to mobilise all the oppressed masses to build our our own powerful organisations to challenge these governments and end the injustice and inequality that mean misery for so many.