The television station Derana has used footage related to a demonstration against Sri Lanka over the treatment of Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy to gloss over the recent incident at the same place where Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, attached to the mission made a throat-cutting gesture.
The television station showed footage of Fernando engaging with protestors over the issue of Tamil Nadu fishermen, but Derana made out that it was in fact footage related to the controversial gesture.
‘It is “nice” if the Foreign Ministry bases its decisions on videos and comments on Facebook. Since you have not seen the first part of that exchange, we will show it to you,” the presenter said.
Thereafter the station proceeded to show footage of an exchange between the same officer, but a different set of protestors. The station clearly failed to see or deliberately ignored the difference in Fernando’s attire and the obvious difference in weather conditions evidenced in the footage.
The incident which sparked outrage and precipitated an investigation by the London Metropolitan Police following complaints had the Brigadier using a ‘slitting-the-throat’ gesture. He was responding to protestors demonstrating over alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan security forces.
Outraged protestors complained to the Police over what they considered a threatening gesture. It also prompted the British High Commissioner in Colombo James Dauris to lodge a strong official protest with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The incident also saw Paul Scully, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, writing to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs urging him to take immediate action and withdraw Brigadier Fernando’s diplomatic papers and expel him from the United Kingdom.
Fernando was suspended but according to unconfirmed reports President Maithripala Sirisena is said to have revoked this decision following representations made by the Army Commander, Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake. The television presenter, offering lengthy commentary, insisted that Fernando was acting in a very cordial manner. He failed to inform audiences that the footage had nothing to do with the incident that caused the furor in London a few days ago. Instead he implied that the exchange had preceded the throat-slitting gesture.