Infernal Triangle – AI, Westminster and LTTE
Posted on September 2nd, 2009

Bandula Kothalawala London N7

There has been widespread condemnation of the sentencing of Mr J S Tissainayagam by the High Court in Colombo. According to Amnesty International, he was found guilty of “writing and publishing articles that criticized the government’s treatment of Sri Lankan Tamil civilians affected by the war”.  

 I have not followed his case. In any event, I am not in a position to judge the judgment of a High Court Judge. However, freedom of expression is a fundamental tenet of a functioning democracy which should not be suppressed or tampered with for political expediency. It is a sacrosanct concept inviolable in all but exceptional circumstances. Of course, journalists are not above the law. I do hope that Mr J S Tissainayagam will be able to avail himself of the appeal procedures to seek justice if he is innocent of the charges he is reported to have been convicted of.  

 However, it is rather curious that Amnesty International should have chosen the House of Commons as the venue of its protest on 2 September 2009. In the past, AI has organised protests against governments in front of or near their diplomatic representations “”…” Embassies and High Commissions. The recent protest against the Government of Iran, for instance, was held in front of the Iranian Embassy. Perhaps, AI, like those megalomaniacs in the British Government who still hanker after the halcyon days of the Empire continues to believe that Sri Lanka is a British dependent territory and that the Westminster is still presiding over the destinies of some 20m Sri Lankans! One may recall the almost unending series of, albeit, distasteful Brownian antics in the run up to the defeat of the blood-thirsty terror outfit in May this year, not to mention Mr Miliband’s hastily arranged day-trips to Colombo in his desperate attempt to throw a lifeline to the LTTE leadership. In passing, it is, perhaps, worth pointing out that the British Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary who trotted out condemnatory statements on Sri Lanka almost on a daily basis have yet to utter a half-a-syllable on the decision of the Scottish Justice Secretary to free a convicted murderer of 270 innocent people. The two gentlemen seem to be holding their noses tight in the miasma of countless allegations of sordid commercial deals running into billions of pounds.

 It is also possible that the rump of the LTTE with the unstinting support of Mr Miliband and his band in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office managed to move the protest to their venue of predilection. After all, the British Government which waxes lyrical about the rule of law allowed the LTTE to hold their protests on the Parliament Square for 73 days demonstrating its utter contempt for its own laws when it suits its interests.

 Whatever the reason, it is high time that the zealots at AI who have perfected the art of selective defence of human rights woke up to reality.

 Bandula Kothalawala
London N7

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