A group of Tamil diaspora activists who have pushed for legal action against the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), continue to claim that there is “credible evidence” of Sri Lankan Army General turned diplomat, Major General Prasanna de Silva’s involvement in alleged war crimes. Major General de Silva presently serves as defence adviser to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, but is expected to return to the country shortly. Following the refusal of British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to declare Major General Silva persona non gratae and deny him diplomatic immunity, the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has now pushed for a judicial review of the FCO’s actions. “Of course we believe evidence against Maj. Gen. Silva is credible,” the GTF’s spokesperson, Suren Surendiran, said in an email interview last week. “However, let a court decide whether he is guilty or not guilty. By avoiding facing justice, one cannot prove his or her innocence. By running away from the UK, that’s exactly what Mr. Silva is avoiding. If he or the government has nothing to hide, they must get these charges proven wrong, rather than hiding behind immunity and complaining.”
The Sri Lankan government, however, has denied that Major General de Silva is “running away” from the UK.
The Guardian newspaper in Britain last Thursday (April 5) quoted a spokesperson from the Sri Lankan government as saying that Silva was only returning because his term as adviser was drawing to an end, and that, “The claim of a lawsuit by the GTF has nothing to do with this routine transfer matter and it appears to be yet another invidious attempt to embarrass both Sri Lankan and British governments and a continuation of GTF’s history of attempting to gain misplaced publicity mileage for events it has nothing to do with.”
Suren Surendiran from the GTF meanwhile said that, “By pursuing this case, we want to send a message to the people of Sri Lanka that we are not against them, we are only seeking justice for the alleged crimes committed by a few.
We want to send a clear message to the government of Sri Lanka, that if they want to stop embarrassing the normal Sri Lankans then they must avoid sending soldiers as ‘diplomats’. Our message to the people who perished and to those loved ones still living, be in no doubt, we will pursue every avenue be it legal, political or any other democratic methods that is at our disposal, until justice is served.”