Un-substantiated Video is ‘elongated’ version
Disapora attempts to use video as evidence of ‘crimes’
President’s arrest is “wishful thinking’
By Faraz Shauketaly in London.
Sensational new claims broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 TV network on Tuesday night, has threatened to rock President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s semi-official visit to the United Kingdom. Presenter Jon Snow acknowledged that the new video – a lengthier version of one broadcast last year – was “unsubstantiated” but nevertheless, the revelations made on one of Britain’s more popular national news networks was a victory being celebrated by the Diaspora’s media personnel.
The strategically timed release of the news item highlighted the inadequate measures taken by agencies hired by the Sri Lanka government to repair its reputation and to showcase its own version of events of the war victory. Amidst deepening gloom that the Tamil Diaspora are clearly winning the battle on the media and public relations fronts President Rajapaksa is considering his government’s options.
The Sri Lanka High Commission immediately refuted the allegations saying that this new video was merely an “elongated version” of the one released last year which was condemned as being without substance by Sri Lanka at the time.
The video claims to show the killing of nine persons and clearly shows the picture of 2 persons in what appears to be Army unform. The footage did not have audio when it was broadcast making it difficult to say for certain if those doing the shooting were Sinhalese speaking. Channel 4’s Foreign Affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller said they were sending the tape to the special UN panel advising Ban Ki Moon on whether Sri Lanka has a case to answer or not. Sources said that there was a growing clamour for President Rajapaksa to grant a candid interview in order that he puts forward his administration’s viewpoint directly to the international press. There was no immediate comment from the Presidential entourage on this suggestion.
Some of the Tamil Diaspora organisations have sought legal counsel on ways by which they may obtain an arrest warrant for President Rajapaksa, using “International Jurisdiction” which is currently recognised by Britain. The British Tamil Forum is said to have consulted with the highest legal opinion available from the private Bar in London. It is equally likely that President Rajapaksa’s Foreign Ministry has also sought and obtained legal advise on these matters at least for the sake of prudence and pragmatism against possible vexatious claims. It is thought however that with no hard evidence to back the allegations of crimes against humanity or even war crimes, the most the Diaspora are hoping to achieve is to make matters as difficult as possible for the Sri Lanka government in an attempt to rattle and even perhaps rile them.
A leading legal authority speaking on conditions of anonymity said that “if the diaspora had any real evidence, they would have by now presented that to the International Criminal Court; the fact that they have done little but make a whole lot of noise and create negative publicity for the Rajapaksa administration and Sri Lanka as a whole, points to a significant absence of evidence that can be used in Court. In spite of their claims in the United States, it is a well known fact that senior members of the Rajapaksa family have travelled to the United States without any legal ramifications arising.”
The Dorchester, one of London’s better luxury hotels, on Park Lane, overlooking Hyde Park and within yards of Speakers Corner, was besieged by the paparazzi who were eager to snap the Sri Lankan President and his entourage. Apart from the President’s Chief of Staff and a well known businessman who was visiting the hotel, the media were not so lucky. They had hoped to catch the President but there really was very little they could do. In freezing temperatures and a slight drizzle of snow, President Rajapaksa was said to be in his suite preparing for his meeting with the students at the Oxford Union Society.
He is said to be looking forward to going to Oxford especially as Sri Lanka has quite a bit of history: no less than six members of the Oxford Union leadership have been from Sri Lanka, 3 Presidents and 3 Secretaries. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Lalith Athulathmudali and Hilali Noordeen were Presidents, SWRD Bandaranaike, Tyronne Fernando and Chanaka Ameratunga were Secretaries. It may be a sign of the violent turmoil that Sri Lanka has been through since 1956: of the six, three were assassinated, 1 died in a car accident and the other due to health conditions. Only one survives – the only one who was not involved in politics, Mr Noordeen being in the medical profession.