20 February, 2018

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The London Affair: The Tiger Mob Vs. Brigadier Priyanka Fernando

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Our nation–Tamil Eelam! “Our leader–Prabhakaran!” shrieked the demonstrators brandishing Tiger flags outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London on the 70th Independence Day of our country. Defense Attaché, Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, can be seen on video, watching the demonstration.

What does the Brigadier see? The Tiger flag, with the crossed rifle-butts and the stylized bullets. The flag of the terrorist enemy that he fought, and was trained to fight. He reacts, not by hurling abuse or throwing something, but by making a gesture. It was gesture with two moves. He taps his shoulder patch, showing that he belonged to the Sri Lankan military. Then he makes a lethal fighting gesture, but only a gesture.

His reaction was utterly unacceptable as a diplomatic officer. He should have been reprimanded by his High Commissioner. Perhaps even recalled for consultations. But he should not have been immediately suspended and the announcement of the suspension posted on the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry’s website. 

The Foreign Ministry has just rewarded those who demonstrated with Tiger flags, i.e. the pro-Tiger, if not LTTE mob, outside our High Commission, by suspending the military officer. The Foreign Ministry statement has not a single word of remonstration about the Tiger demonstrators, nor a word of understanding about the extenuating circumstances triggering the emotional response of the officer.    

Would a mob of demonstrators chanting al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL slogans and brandishing al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL banners chanting slogans glorifying Osama bin Laden as their leader, be allowed outside a US Embassy if on the 4th of July? ? In the very unlikely event that such a grotesque exhibition of fanaticism is allowed by the Metropolitan Police, and a member of the Embassy staff had reacted in disgust with a forceful gesture, would he have been immediately suspended and the announcement posted on the US State Department website?

What if, nine years after the US Civil War, a Union (Northern) officer stepped out of a US embassy in Paris or London and was confronted on the Fourth of July by demonstrators waving Confederate flags?

What if nine years after WW2, an Allied officer—US, UK, Soviet or French—were confronted by demonstrators with Nazi flags outside their embassies, waving the Swastika and thrusting their arms out in the familiar Seig Heil fascist salute to Hitler in their faces with complete impunity? There would doubtless have been an incident far more violent than a gesture of lethality.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry is not meant to stand with the Sinhalese against the Tamils or vice versa. But it is certainly meant to stand with the Sri Lankan state against the Tigers. Without Tiger banners, a Tamil demonstrator against the government or even the Sri Lankan state, is a legitimate demonstrator who happens to be a Tamil. But a Tamil demonstrator who chooses to brandish a Tiger flag and chant Prabhakaran’s name is a fascist, a separatist and a supporter of terrorism.

This incident was not about Sinhalese and Tamils. Brigadier Fernando was not making a racist i.e. an anti-Tamil gesture. He was making an anti-Tiger gesture: a violent gesture towards a monstrously violent movement.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry cannot be a neutral umpire between a Sri Lankan military officer and such fascists—and still less can it punish the military officer while not lodging a protest with the British government about the character of the demonstration.   

If the Sri Lankan Foreign ministry, a key component of the Sri Lankan State,  reacts with such unseemly lack of restraint and haste against an officer of this country’s military against a mob of fanatical fascist-separatists, especially when that officer has not engaged in an act of harmful violence, then who and what does? Who and what does the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry stand for, and with?

The biggest indictment of what the UNP of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has done to our independence and sovereignty in this 70th year as an independent nation was best expressed by our first Prime Minister DS Senanayaka’s grandson Vasantha Senanayaka, speaking on the occasion of the commemoration of FR Senanayaka some weeks ago. He said that speaking as the State Minister of Foreign Affairs, he has reason to believe that this country’s foreign policy is decided upon externally, by foreign powers.

State Minister Vasantha Senanayaka has just been proven right. Not only did we make the unprecedented gesture of having as the chief guest on our 70th Independence day celebrations, members of the British Royalty, which oppressed us and from which we emancipated ourselves 70 years ago, we have just followed it up, days later, by persecuting an officer of our armed forces who fought to liberate us all from terrorism and to reunify our state and whose emotional gesture against a fascist enemy in defense of his country’s self-respect warrants reprimand but not arbitrary punishment.

Who in the Foreign Ministry or outside it decided to promptly suspend Brigadier Priyankara Fernando? Whose interests does it represent?

The Foreign Ministry has just taken sides—the side of the Tiger demonstrators, and against the Sri Lankan military officer. We too must takes sides, but the right one. Do we agree with the Ministry that the military officer’s gesture was worse than that of the hostile Tiger mob? Or do we think, as I do, that the Brigadier’s response to the Tiger provocation should be viewed, though not with approval, but with some understanding and sensitivity on our part?  On which side do we stand?

President Sirisena has indicated a reshuffle in the aftermath of February 10th. He must either take the Foreign Ministry away from the UNP and vest it in the SLFP (perhaps in himself) or give it to a patriotic UNP gentleman such as State Minister Vasantha Senanayaka. For our part, I would say that Brigadier Fernando’s understandable if misplaced gesture is far better put into effect with a ballot paper on February 10th than with a finger. If we do our duty, then members of the armed forces would not feel the need to make such intemperate gestures. 

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Ah nice! Someone has whispered in Sira’s ear that the foreign ministry should rightly go to Dayan J……. Sri Lanka’s true patriot!

  • 6
    7

    Dayan sagaciously poses the question ~ “Would a mob of demonstrators chanting al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL slogans and brandishing al Qaeda or ISIS/ISIL banners chanting slogans glorifying Osama bin Laden as their leader, be allowed outside a US Embassy if on the 4 of July? ? ………..”
    Dayan: al Qaeda, ISIS are threats to the West. Eelam Tamils are not.
    Dayan’s grasp of reality is shallower than we thought!

  • 9
    7

    the boy who made this gesture suppose to be a brigadier of sorts may have been a thug if he had been in SriLanka at least thats what will suite him

    • 2
      4

      Disagree.. he just explain scenario.. however if he made a mistake HC of SL give him a reprimand rather than suspending his services..

    • 7
      4

      Dayan is merely justifying the hooligans who stripped him naked at Kanatte in the good old days.

      His writings here increasingly confirms why this deranged racist regularly evoke such desperate reactions to his views!

      As MR pointed out in Aljazeera, Dayan prostitutes his learning as that seems the only avenue he is capable of pursuing – then and now!

  • 7
    4

    No civilized person will condone such behaviour. This goes on to give credibility to the claims by the Tamil diaspora that human rights were violated during the war. Claim by MR that soldiers fought with the Human rights charter in hand to tested here. Its a shame that our colonial masters had to teach us the behaviour expected of a diplomat. Dayan, no amount of comparisons can sweep this ugly incident under the carpet and by condoning such acts we are compelled to look back and check how you behaved as a diplomat and whether your stance in this case will disqualify you for future appointments.

  • 8
    5

    LTTE terrirists should not be allowed to demonstrate anywhere in the world as the diabolical leader of LTTE has been wiped out with its kallathonis by the Srilankan forces a few years ago.British Government consider other territorist groups in the world as terroists and will not allow those terrirists to act like this illegally carrying terrorist flags in front of a diplomatic mission of a Democratic Socilist Republic country with sovereignty like Sri Lanka.But what’s the secret behind this to allow these Psychopathes to behave like this in London? MP Siobhan should be educated on this matter , better than this.

  • 5
    7

    This brigadier would have worked in a butchers shop,before joining the army.Kothapaya recruited lot of uneducated village boys.Any,one can say that the inborn character of these idiots will never change.

    • 0
      0

      Was fatboy Prabakaran a surgeon by any chance? :)

  • 2
    3

    Well,well,we’ll. After all the tiger generated hoo ha the gallant Brigadier’s status quo has been restored by a fakely furious Sirisena. The suspension of the Brigadier should have happened at least a week earlier so that its deleterious impact on the political fortunes of the Yahapalana clowns would have shown dramatically at the week end polls. It’s never too late and the brave Brigadier will continue untouched. The Tamil Tigers will have to roll up their tribal flag and eff off to theirhovels.
    Mangala who initiated the suspension of the brave Brigadier will have a rude shock awaiting him.

  • 3
    2

    Guy would have been trying to scare off the LTTE’s as the embassy staff would have felt threatened. Yet he does seem to be enjoying the fascist look, strutting about in his uniform. However, even in the face of such inglorious behavior, we must NEVER forget the atrocities of the LTTE.

    • 0
      2

      ramona grandma therese fernando

      Once again you make stories as you go along.
      According to my friend the old codger similar protests were being carried out Tamils as well as Sinhalese (1987 -1989), and Tamils and Sinhalese, on occasions there were hundreds of thousands protesters on the opposite of the High Commission, when members of the staff never felt threatened.

      Why do feel the need to suddenly create another myth?
      By any chance you are related Mahanama or thrishu?

      By the way he was scratching his b***s which apparently have stuck in his deep throat. Are they his own or someone else’s? Please find out and let us know.

  • 3
    1

    His reaction was utterly unacceptable as a diplomatic officer this what all says
    don’t get aggravated be diplomatic that is what office teams ways

  • 1
    0

    Dayan,

    Please advise the Brigadier bloke to give the Hawaiian good luck sign next time round.

    Or go for the Salmon Arm salute?

  • 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/

  • 1
    0

    Dayan is right for once.How can the Foreign Ministry act professionally when a ageing fat lesbo bitchy official is telling the Secretary what to do?The fact that she is engaged in hours of “discussion ” with her boss both in office and at home on weekends is well known.

  • 0
    0

    Amazing the gesture is understanbale to gain Sinhala vots, the gesture is also debatable to gain Tamil votes. It looks SLPP, pohottuwa are unpopular words. Some how one UNP MP’s name is mentioned probably he is good at playing musical chairs. I heard Ranil has plans to gang up with TNA and Mahinda Rajapakse Faction of Poroppaya after the election. That depends on what Maithripala sirisena decides. I think Mahinda Rajapakss’s most buring issue of getting Maithripala Sirisena is not yet given up. On the otherhand, there are seveal Yahapalana ministers who say that they are the nost suitable candidates for being the next prime minister. All the parties may get reorganized again.

  • 0
    0

    Jim softy
    You are way off the mark when you said that Ranil has plans to join up with Mahinda. That is not only ridiculous but does not take into account MRs political nous which will surely warn him of electoral annihilation if that were to happen

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