1 December, 2020

Blog

Boycott UK Defense Advisor

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

According to a recent media report, UK government (GoUK) has recently appointed a Resident Defense Advisor in Sri Lanka after an absence of ten years. The story was accompanied by a photograph of the newly appointed Colonel David Ashman with Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne taken during a courtesy call paid by the British RDA on the CDS.

His purported mission is to help the Sri Lankan military to fulfill the obligations as required by the UNHRC 30/1 Resolution originated by the US and UK and so pusillanimously co-sponsored by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe-Samaraweera triumvirate. 

It might be recalled, the last British Defense Attaché before the closure of the office and transfer to Delhi was Lt. Col. Anton Gash. He filed dozens of confidential reports between January and May 2009 giving his assessment of what he had seen during the closing stages of the Sri Lankan civil war. In the backdrop of GoUK classifying the reports as Secret, a British member of the House of Lords, Lord Naseby, after a three years battle with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), managed to obtain 39 pages of the confidential reports, albeit in a highly redacted state. He had to appeal under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to the Commissioner of Information (UK’s equivalent to Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Act). Naseby, from the uncensored sections, was able to gather information which could seriously call to question issues such as 40,000 civilian deaths during the closing stages of the conflict, war crimes, firing by government forces on civilian ‘no fire zones’, genocide, crimes against humanity etc. contained in the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) Report and also relevant to the Geneva Resolution.

The FCO, in its objections filed with the Information Commission, stated; “Lt. Col. Gash was the FCO’s defense attaché at the British Commission in Colombo during the closing stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Many of his dispatches contain information provided directly to him by his contacts in the Sri Lankan government, the Sri Lankan Army or other military sources. His reports indicate, he had access to reports on troop movements, Sri Lankan military strategic thinking, the movements of the LTTE and assessments of casualty figures. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon the free, frank and confidential exchange of information such as this. If the UK does not respect these confidences, then its ability to protect and promote UK interests through international relations will be hampered which will not be in the public interest. 

Consequently, the FCO explained that it was of the view that releasing the information redacted on the basis of section 27( l) (a) would be likely to prejudice the UK’s relationship with Sri Lanka and would negatively impact on the information that they would be willing to exchange with the UK in the future. It further stated, the disclosure of the withheld information, in this case, was not in the public interest as it would be likely to damage the bilateral relationship between the UK and Sri Lanka. This would have the effect of reducing the UK government’s ability to protect and promote UK interests through its relations with Sri Lanka.” 

Naseby in his counter-arguments stated the aim of his request “was to find clarity over the events that took place at the end of the war, not to support any side or follow any agenda. If the UK government were committed to that, then to assist rather than hinder that process, the dispatches should be published in the interests of the British people, the UN, and Sri Lanka. Lt Col Gash was one of the few independent observers of what happened in the closing stages of the war, and thus his dispatches were a particularly valuable source.” He argued that it was verging on the criminal to withhold such relevant information from the investigation, particularly given that the potential allegations individuals faced included war crimes. He further argued that it may be the case that the dispatches would confirm that the Sri Lankan government took the greatest care to minimize civilian causalities.  

The last SITREP report in the initial set of redacted documents given to Naseby by the FCO was dated April 01, 2009. Under pressure from Naseby, FCO released two further reports and another three upon receiving a directive from the Information Commissioner. Nevertheless, the last SITREP report was dated Sunday, April 26, 2009, at 12.32 hrs whereas GoSL declared the defeat of LTTE on May 16, LTTE conceded defeat on May 17, Prabhakaran and most of LTTE leadership eliminated on May 18, and May 19 declared by GoSL as Victory Day. 

The Information Commissioner, on June 26, 2016, dismissed Naseby’s appeal for full disclosure of the Gash dispatches in an uncensored state.

GoUK, FCO, and even the Information Commissioner would have us believe, Defense Attaché Lt. Col. Anton Gash would have taken long leave between April 27 and May 19, 2009. There are no reports even informing the cessation of hostilities and the elimination of Prabhakaran. 

Naseby claims, he briefed President Sirisena during his meeting in February 2015 of action he was taking which the Sri Lankan Head of State had supported with no reservation. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister too has stated, he intended using Naseby’s revelations as an “ace” at a future date, whatever that means! However, GoSL has so far done nothing to make use of Naseby’s revelations. Such are the type of leaders we Sri Lankans are blessed nay cursed with. 

GoUK stance in this instance, to say the least, is despicable. To make use of frivolous excuses such as the need to safeguard the identity of sources who provided information on troop movements, military strategic thinking, the movements of LTTE and assessments of casualty figures which took place in 2009 and have become purely academic by 2016 is unworthy of a responsible nation. 

The British High Commission in Colombo, responding to a query from The Island has stated among other things; “changing to a resident position enables us to work more closely with Sri Lanka on defense issues as a Commonwealth partner and friend; to support the Sri Lankan armed forces as they work towards modernization and reform; and help them to play a positive role in fulfilling Sri Lanka’s commitments to the UN Human Rights Council.” 

Sri Lanka is aware of its partners and friends, both within and without the Commonwealth. The armed forces are also aware of who stood by them in their hour of need. Suffice to state, not since the days of Prime Minister Margret Thatcher has the UK been a partner and friend to Sri Lanka.

GoUK has effectively shut down both its own investigations i.e., Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) set up to investigate allegations of abuse and torture by British soldiers in Iraq to prevent ICC intervention and Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) set up after the European Court of Human Rights decreed that previous investigations had breached procedural rules laid down by the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK has prevented three generations of exiled Chagossians (people of Chagos Island) from returning to their land of birth.  With such a track record, Britain has no moral right to speak of Sri Lanka’s commitments to the UNHRC.

But there is a lesson to be learned from Britain’s stance on Naseby’s revelations. Sri Lankan officials and men in uniform shared certain types of information related to the conflict with the then British Defense Attaché as a gesture of goodwill (this writer does not believe any Sri Lankan officials or soldiers were in Gash’s payroll even though such things are known to happen elsewhere). 

Never again should a British official be taken into confidence. Boycott the new Defense Advisor. Let all government officials, our men in uniform and every citizen adopt an attitude of non-cooperation. Do not greet him. Do not meet him. Do not invite him and do not accept his invitations. If unavoidable, give him monosyllable answers and remind him of Anton Gash’s dispatches.

GoUK considers the disclosure of material and identities of Sri Lankan government and military officials will negatively impact on information they would be willing to exchange with the UK in the future and hence disclosure would not be in the public interest. That is but a lame excuse to implement its agenda for Sri Lanka and please the Tamil diaspora vote block, so important to British politicians. 

Any friend of Sri Lanka would provide available material which would be helpful to counter some of the pernicious aspects of the Geneva Resolution. There are senior military officials, many who have now retired unable to obtain a visa to visit western countries due to no other reason than having commanded fighting formations during the conflict.

Sri Lanka must make every effort to prove to GoUK, their warped theory of disclosure affecting bi-lateral relations is misplaced, and in fact, non-disclosure is what will impact not only bi-lateral but even people to people relations.  

Every self-respecting Sri Lankan must utilize every available avenue to communicate to GoUK, its act of non-disclosure of the unredacted version of Gash’s wartime dispatches is considered a reprehensible and unfriendly act and with resulting consequences to UK/SL bi-lateral relations.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 9
    12

    Excellent article; this is the 21st century and Britain can not dictate terms and/or conditions to any commonwealth country. If Britain has a genuine interest to help those countries plundered by them, respect the democratic majority rule of those countries today. The whole world including China is watching!

    • 7
      0

      Rajeewa dear,
      The real question is why the defence advisor let himself be photographed with a criminal who is under investigation for kidnapping. I recently watched a video of this fat hoodlum at a passing out parade in India. No prizes for guessing who was the most scruffy looking officer at the gathering.

      • 2
        0

        Old codger

        Does Rajeewa Jayaweera who relies heavily on his colonial masters to sweep truth under the carpet know that “Files on Tamil Tigers and MI5 in Sri Lanka erased at Foreign Office” ?
        “Britain’s Foreign Office destroyed almost 200 files on Sri Lanka dating from the start of a Tamil Tiger uprising during which MI5 and the SAS secretly advised the country’s security forces, it has emerged.”
        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/23/
        Phil Miller, Wed 23 May 2018

        • 0
          0

          It is better to ignore Rajeewa than to boycott UK defence adviser.

    • 2
      1

      SL public

      “If Britain has a genuine interest to help those countries plundered by them, respect the democratic majority rule of those countries today.”

      Could you explain what you meant by “democratic majority rule”
      Does it mean that government of the majority stupid people, by the majority stupid people, for the majority stupid people?

      “The whole world including China is watching!”

      Watching what?

      • 0
        0

        “democratic majority rule”

        On the 26th of Oct ……. did anyone see Rajeewa fighting for “democratic majority rule?” :))

        Principles, ethics, morals ……. are for others …….. it’s always a raincheck for me ……..

        Ah! humans! …….. where would the world be without them!

    • 0
      0

      SL Public…..

      It is all in our hands. We can leave the British-created ‘Commonwealth’, or we can lead the Commonwealth to reject Britain and vote them out of the ‘Commonwealth’.

      We are all watching to see what Sri Lanka will do.

  • 0
    2

    USA quit UNHCR saying they won’t achieve their goals. So, this military attached fulfill functions related US needs un UNHCR Sri lanka got a MCC loan for $ 1.5 billion. Mangala Went to UK to beg for that saying we would fulfill the future UNHCR needs. So we will have lot of storms, cyclones, tornadoes etc., etc.,

  • 0
    1

    We can not say NO to thedm. See what is happening in Venezuela. Id sy nit some will lose everything

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Jayaweera: Perhaps you would have heard of our village saying that which explains all what you said in a lengthy presentation. Here it is: “Hema Ballekkma Hujja Karanawa Hema Gahakatama, Gaha Monawath Kiyannewath Karannewath Nethi Nisa” – Every Dog Piss Off To Every Tree and Plant That Does Not Stand Against The Dog – Same with Sri Lanka. It is a “Tree” and or a “Plant” that does not show objection or stage a protest each and every “DOG” who wants to PISS at us. So every “DOG” enjoys that “FREEDOM” to “PISS” at us. A simple explanation to all what you said above.

    • 2
      0

      Douglas

      Put it another way every stranger is likely to grope our women folks because they are not being treated well by their partners.

      The dogs mark their territories by pissing on the trees.

  • 2
    3

    Are will still a British Colony ?

    I guess there will be no chance of finding out about atrocities committed between 1815 and 1819…ha ha..

    Iff we have a defeated MINDSET we will ALWAYS be dominated by BULLIES…At ALL levels in our lives

    • 0
      0

      I wish it’s a British colony. We have crooks running the country. Saw what happened at the parliament in SL? that could never happen in UK.

  • 5
    1

    My darling Rajeewa

    One can boycott a session not a person

    Thanks

    • 0
      1

      Actually, Manel, one CAN boycott a person. Check it out.
      Manel

    • 0
      0

      Manel – I see you have a supporter lower down here.

      Later today I will send a comment about the derivation of “boycott”. It emerged from the social shunning of an English agent for an absentee landlord, for his harsh treatment of the Irish tenants. So it was originally applied to a person.

    • 1
      0

      Dear Manel Anoda

      I have sent a note about the origin of the word “boycott”. I cant remember if I posted it under your comment or Baby Singho’s.

      Manel F

  • 1
    3

    Ypu can explain. But, the west knows what they are doing. So your explanation will not work. there are many thing going on Sri lanka. UNHCR and all these UN crap are important for completing the Neoliberal Project for Sri lanka. Then it will bec ome, Even though USA vanished from the Earth. USA will be stil there in Shanty countries feeding. In other words. Rome vabished but the Roman Catholic Church us still there feeding the Vatican. I heard the Imperial Kingdom start vabishng in 1850 or so. They left some Brown Sahibs or Kalusuddhas around. To summarize a long story, Now they have ganged up with the USA.

  • 3
    1

    Mr Jayaweera offers childish solutions to a grown up dilemma. Defence Advisor bad, Naseby good, etc etc etc. Our biggest problem is a fractured government with plenty of know-alls eager to offer something in return after the first gin and tonic from our suddha friend. Let ‘Defence Advisors’ do all their ‘advising’ but if we are not ashamed of anything we have done, then what’s the problem. BUT, this is the real world and there is disturbing evidence out there that does need explaining, and all we have been doing is making pathetic denials, and obfuscation, and , for nine years, and an annual offering of tripe in Geneva to those who accuse our government of a cover up. Every now and then Lord Naseby offers crumbs for nay-sayers to cling to . How sweet of the noble Lord to have our interests at heart. Because WE have made pathetic excuses, and some for not acting on conclusions reached by our own commissions of inquiry. Don’t expect any speedy resolution, because if there is anything our governments are good at, it is procrastination.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2
    0

    Also Rajeewa J is a strictly Mahinda R boy, be careful of white vans

  • 2
    0

    Dear mother Lanka,
    No country is in isolation, we are a global society whether you like it or not, what happens in kandy can have repercussions across the globe. Win their hearts through love and integrity. No one’s trying to colonise you, get out of the past. The economies that have succeeded are the ones that open them selves up globally and there is a flow of information and trade. Otherwise you’re doomed to be stuck selling your exotic tourism and of course selling Buddhism. Move on otherwise opportunist politicians and the Chinese will take over.

    • 0
      0

      I agree with RAM. Inn the Present GlobalSociety Sri lanka can not stay non-aligned Sri lanka has to be with a camp which is conteractive to what is going on.

    • 1
      0

      Ram

      You sound like a neoliberal (whatever that maybe) a sycophant, a traitor to mother Lanka (whatever that maybe), …..

  • 0
    0

    Buddy, colonialism is long over, but people still are living on it (mostly Lankans). That is to say if price of rice parcel goes up blame the colonialism. Dude have you thought the other way around. For all derogatory comments Lankan politicians have made against others(especially the ones who had helped in the past) , lied, breaking up agreements, willfully connived,cheated, assaulted (Rajiv.G), threatened,bullied (cameron),picketed in front of embassies —–etc——-etc , most international countries should not entertain Lanka at all. But they do because their thinking is rational than us. So Shut The F — Up. Classified infor was collected by previous attache and not provided by our bull shit Lankan governments. If they did , it is doctored or faked infor (like Rupavahini news, which the western govt are well aware of).Why do you think Lee Kuan called MR ” A LIAR.”

  • 0
    0

    Manel Anoda

    You are spot on. Where did you learn English – Colombo Nihal Sir?

    It should read as Ignore UK Defence Adviser

    • 0
      0

      Baby Singh (? – I cant read yr name on my mobile) — I’m afraid that, like Manel Anoda, you are wrong about the use of “boycott”. I grew up speaking English in the 40s in London, also have an honours degree in it — tho all that doesnt necessarily mean I dont make mistakes. However, if you’re not convinced, look it up on the Net.

      Not that it really matters.

    • 0
      0

      Baby Singho

      The word “boycott” comes from the name of the person, Captain Charles Boycott, who was subjected to social ostracism in 1880. He was the (English?) agent of an absentee landlord in Ireland. After a poor harvest, Boycott offered the tenants a 10% reduction in their rents, refusing their demand for 25%. He then attempted to evict some of the protestors & tenants reacted violently. The Irish National Land League organised a campaign to shun Boycott, who then hired Orangemen from Ulster — protected by 1,000 police & soldiers — to harvest the crops. Gradually the ostracism grew — leading to Boycott’s fleeing to England — & spread to other people/ bodies who earned the Land League’s wrath.

      Gradually, Boycott’s name spread & in Nov 1880 appeared in the English Times “as a term for organized isolation”. Since that time, the word has been widely used to describe the shunning of people, etc., who do not respect human rights.

      It quickly spread to other European countries; one example is the French verb: “boycotter”.

      In fact, there is even a word “girlcott” which, I think, means the opposite of boycott.

    • 0
      0

      Baby Singho

      I have sent a note on the origin of ‘boycott” . I cant recall whether I posted it under your comment or Manel Anoda’s.

      Manel Fonseka.

  • 1
    0

    How can any country have any respect to FCO when they are openly advocating illegal regime change in Venezuela. I am no fan of Maduro but encouraging anarchy, buy the mob that was encouraged my some external powers run shivers on countries that have wealth, that is kept for their own countries, for their own people. US deliberately put sanctions in 1915 to starve the people and allowed them to come to their countries with no visa restrictions. Now the nations are on the defensive, the nations that have precious natural wealth.

  • 2
    0

    “Boycott UK Defense Advisor”

    What is the point in boycotting the ruddy “Defence Advisor” when he is merely representing the UK?

    Why not boycott the UK?

    That’ll be the day! When Lankans/Rajeewa give up suits, English language/manners/airs/attitudes ……… and fully embrace nativism ………. I’m holding my breath …….. 1,2,3, ……….

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 1
    0

    Machan Vartan, you do have the ability to get kicked out from these sites. What happened to your original name. Did CT edit that too. You will be the first person who,s father/mother name was edited out by CT. Not bad buddy some thing to boast about.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.