War-monger Sri Lankan government looks to crush protests

War-monger Sri Lankan government looks to crush protests
Build a mass fightback to defend democratic rights

-Tamil Solidarity Statement.

Tamil Solidarity has learned that the Sri Lankan government is allocating additional resources to vilify, persecute and divide the diaspora community. Tamil Solidarity strongly condemns these attempts and requests united action against the undemocratic Sri Lankan government.

While no attempt whatsoever is made to bring to justice, any of the war criminals who committed genocidal slaughter in 2009, the government had stepped up its propaganda work against Tamils in Sri Lanka and among diaspora. They aim to silence the ongoing protest against the Sri Lankan government while refusing to deliver on any of the demands for justice. The Sri Lankan prime minister recently asked the Tamil people to “forget and forgive”[1].

Meanwhile the president declared that the “Sri Lankan military did not commit war crimes”[2]. War criminals are held up as heroes, while President Maithripala Sirisena frames anyone who says that war crimes were committed as “extremists”. He says that “those who speak about war crimes are those who live across our shores and who have extremist views, and are linked to the LTTE”[3].

This is a direct attack on all diaspora Tamil activists and organisations. The Sri Lankan government has a long history of framing all oppositional activists as “terrorists”, “extremists”, and as the LTTE, in order to persecute them.

Previously the president had admitted that as an acting defence minister during 2009 he had known everything that happened in the last days of the war[4]. Can it be doubted that he colluded in the war crimes? What interest does he have in delivering justice? Instead the Sri Lankan government is constantly promoting war criminals. In the past the Sri Lankan government even attempted to ridicule the mild UN criticism by sending a war criminal to advise the UN secretary general. Following vehement protest from the diaspora, Major General Shavendra Silva was eventually barred by the UN[5]. He is now promoted as second in command in the Sri Lankan army[6]. It makes a mockery of human rights. It shows that the Sri Lankan government has no intention whatsoever to bring to justice these war criminals despite at times dressing themselves in diplomatic rhetoric.

The Brigadier Priyanga Fernando affair also revealed the kind of operation that the Sri Lankan government had launched at the diaspora. His job description as defence attaché at the Sri Lankan embassy in UK states the following:

Bring to notice to the high commissioner, in advance, if any anti-government protests which are to be organised, then plan and execute appropriate strategies to counter it[7].

This indicates that the Sri Lankan government is concerned with the suppression of democracy including on foreign soil. Priyanga Fernando, ‘countered’ the protest organised by Tamil Solidarity on independence day in 2018 in their usual manner, by giving death threat to all protesters. Tamil Solidarity defends the right to protest and opposes the approach of the Sri Lankan high commission to counter basic democratic rights in the UK. Tamil Solidarity also condemns the Conservative-led UK government and its intelligent services for allowing these operations to be carried out here. The Sri Lankan government sent their ‘spy’ or ‘operators’ to protests to take photos and video the protesters. Tamil Solidarity demands the high commission publishes all the details that they have collected about activists in the UK. It is unacceptable that the UK government allows this unlawful activity, putting the lives of many at risk.

Tamil Solidarity has now learnt that the Sri Lankan government is allocating additional resources to monitor and counter diaspora activists. This is with the aim of silencing the voice of the diaspora. A concerted effort is now made to build a ‘counter-activist’ base on communal lines. Tamil Solidarity has learned that the Sri Lankan ministers are directly involved in talks and plans to organise communal forces in the diaspora, with the aim of clashing with anti-government protesters. The notorious former defence minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also a likely presidential candidate for the (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna), is said to be allocating funds to build a communalist organisation, Elia, among the diaspora. A number of diaspora Tamils who vehemently opposed the LTTE in the past were contacted to take part in this project with the aim of alienating other activists, framing them as ‘pro LTTE’, and ‘terrorist elements’.

This vilification of protesters, promotion of pro-government forces and the strengthening of communalist forces in the diaspora must be countered by all activists and organisations that work among the diaspora community.  Tamil Solidarity calls on all activist to come together to oppose these actions of the Sri Lankan government. We have no trust in the Sri Lankan government to deliver justice. We demand all democratic rights along with the national rights of Tamils.  We demand the establishment of a constituent assembly to deliver on these democratic demands while creating better conditions for all Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims living in Sri Lanka. We request all the trade unions in Sri Lanka come forward and take up these demands in order to build the fightback to win them.





[1] PTI, Time to Forget, Forgive in Lanka Reconciliation, Says PM Ranil Wickremesinghe in Kilinochchi, News18, <https://www.news18.com/news/world/time-to-forget-forgive-in-lanka-reconciliation-says-pm-ranil-wickremesinghe-in-kilinochchi-2038289.html>[accessed 05/03/2019]

[2] News, SL Military did not commit war crimes: President, SundayTimes online, <http://www.sundaytimes.lk/180520/news/sl-military-did-not-commit-war-crimes-president-294767.html>[accessed 05/03/2019]

[3] Ibid.

[4] News 28/09/2018, Colombotelegrap online <https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sirisenas-foolish-bravado-implicates-him-in-war-crimes-controversy/>[accessed 05/03/2019]

[5] News 23/02/2012, BBC nwes online, UN body bars Sri Lanka diplomat Maj Gen Shavendra Silva, <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17137224>[accessed 05/03/2019]

[6][6] News 10/01/2019, Aljazeera Online, Alleged war criminal named second-in-command of Sri Lanka army, <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/alleged-war-criminal-n>amed-command-sri-lanka-army-190110161436349.html>[accessed 05/03/2019]

[7] Heard by defence advocates at the hearing of Brigadier Priyanga Fernando case at UK court in 01/03/2019