LIFE ABROAD – Part 116 EXPATRIATE CONTRIBUTION IN LONDON – 2007
Posted on February 12th, 2015

Dr.Tilak Fernando

UK’s Labour Party Councillors organised a meeting in a town called London Colney, Hertfordshire in 2007. They had appropriately focused on the topic of ‘Terrorism prevalent in Sri Lanka’ at the time. Douglas Wickremaratne, President of the Sinhala Association in London, was afforded the opportunity of being the guest speaker at this Labour Party Councillors meeting. The reason behind such an invitation was thought to be that Douglas Wickremaratne had earned a reputation of being a vibrant spokesman, who is capable of intelligently and fluently putting factual ideas forward in any given situation.

Vanguard

From the very inception of the terrorist war, The Sinhala Association in London had been the vanguard of combatting all fabricated and deceitful denunciations and adverse propaganda by the LTTE ideologists in the UK. Douglas Wickremaratne had his first TV confrontation with the LTTE supporters in 1983, at a time ‘the High Commissioner in London, A. T. Moorthy, refused even to accept telephone calls from the UK press’.

Douglas Wickremaratne

Douglas Wickremaratne has been the only solitary Sinhala debater in London to confront diehard LTTE supporting arguers face to face during deliberations at Oxford University, Cambridge University and London School of Economics assemblies. Being an orator, who is eloquent and articulate in English he always demonstrated his mettle not only with public speaking dexterity, but also with unassailable statistics at fingertips.

When The World Federation of Sri Lankan Associations, set up in Canada, held the second convention in the presence of the late Lalith Athulathmudali, Anura Bandaranaike, the then High Commissioner in London, Chandra Monerawela, Dr. Wickrama Weerasooriya, Betty Boothroyd (UK) and dozens of representatives from USA, Canada etc., Wickremaratne was elected its President in 1985.

He is also on record in challenging the LTTE cohorts in Sweden, Brussels and Geneva. On 18th and 19th of May 2009 Douglas had to represent Sri Lanka at the United Nations debates in Geneva due to the simple reason that there was not a single capable spokesman available at the Sri Lanka High Commission to represent the country!

Whenever there was a panel discussion on television covering Sri Lankan affairs, the BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera networks made it a point to invite Douglas Wickremaratne to participate in such group discussions. Additionally, he participated in radio chat shows bravely arguing the case with factual statistics face to face with the reactionary Tamil Eelam supporters. This fact cannot be just discarded as a statement of exaggeration or patronising Douglas Wickremaratne, but recorded tape conversations, out of the BBC TV, ITV, Channel 4 and Radio program archives will bear witness to his contributions and confirm its authenticity. “Facts are sacred, comment is free”!

Whether one likes it or not, one has to appreciate and admit the fact that the President of the Sinhala Association has always managed to confront a barrage of hostile arguments put forward against his motherland by any one due to his debating skills acquired out of Ananda College debating team experience in Sri Lanka where he held the second record during the same year; Dr. Buddhadasa Bodhinayake is on record for holding the initial record. His background knowledge on the history behind the terrorist war helped him to further face the TV cameras effortlessly and challenge, dispute and counter any fictitious opinions fluently in English.


Former LTTE child soldier

Quite admittedly it was a period when the Sri Lankan government’s propaganda machinery was allowed to steam roll backwards by fifteen years, against a powerful and well organised LTTE crusade, and collapse like a beaten pack of cards due to the lackadaisical efforts, lack of any positive motivation by the Sri Lankan government diplomats based in London or purely having a lot of square pegs in round holes in London representing as diplomats.

Focal point

Douglas Wickremaratne in his speech at the Labour party meeting, focused on the degree of danger, intimidation and the threat faced by the Sri Lankan populace with far-reaching damage caused to the reputation of a democratically elected government as a direct significance of belligerent publicity perpetrated by Tamil Tiger terrorists and their Tamil diaspora in foreign countries which had worked as an active enzyme over a period of time.

He stressed further to what extent the Tamil Tiger sympathisers over the years had managed to successfully hoodwink and convince the international community, and predominantly some of the very British Labour Party members of Parliament in a well organised network of activities operating from the UK by establishing a LTTE head office openly in the Central London while the UK government had proscribed the ‘Tigers’ as a ruthless global terrorist organisation.

Delving further into the subject, he explained how some of the Tamil Tiger supporters in the UK managed to pilfer and raise millions of Sterling Pound out of the British motorists in 2007, by cloning their credit cards at filling stations particularly, to help the LTTE purchase arms and lethal weapons to kill, maim and destroy human lives indiscriminately.

Exposing the mentality of the terrorists, Douglas Wickremaratne managed to convince the audience that the LTTE’s prime stance was to kill or mutilate everyone who went against their stand, be it Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, the old or the sick. With graphic elucidations he asked the audience how could any human being (in the name of terrorism) take an infant by the legs and bash against a tree and enjoy his murderous deed afterwards!

Honorary Liaison Officer

Sri Lanka government once appointed Douglas Wickremaratne as the Honorary Liaison Officer attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London to deal with the British media especially to counter all adversative reports spread by the LTTE at a time when the officials appointed to London by the then Foreign Minister were evidently seen, regarded and proven to be unproductive!

In 2005, when the Foreign Minister late Mr. Kadirgamar was assassinated by the LTTE, there wasn’t a single officer from the Sri Lanka High Commission to represent Sri Lanka, except Douglas Wickremaratne who voluntarily appeared live on BBC Television News, BBC 24 hours, SKY News and ITN coverage to pronounce bravely to the whole world about Sri Lanka’s greatest loss while making no bones about pointing a finger boldly at the LTTE terrorists simultaneously.

At the London Colney meeting, Douglas Wickremaratne armed with a map of Sri Lanka, pointed out to the areas claimed by Tamil separatists, and questioned the audience whether any sane person could justify such a demand!

Douglas Wickremaratna’s speech at the meeting went down well as an informative and highly edifying discourse on the situation in Sri Lanka at the time. His speech was followed by a didactic interactive question and answer session where a Council Member admitted his ignorance of the realistic situation in Sri Lanka and commented that ‘it was the first time’ he had heard such an elaborate speech of that quality as opposed to all discriminatory Tamil claims up to then.

Douglas Wickremaratne intimated to the British Labour Party Councillors present at the London Colney meeting how a significant number of Tamil Tiger supporters attempted to disrupt a meeting held at the London University (SOAS) on the 5th of December 2004, when Ms. Jo Becker, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch presented an exceedingly critical report on the LTTE, highlighting their child abductions and civilian murders; and how at that very moment a Tamil victim of the LTTE attempted to make a speech in Tamil (with an English translator) was denied the opportunity by opposing and steamrolling his attempts to get the facts out to the open.

The SOAS meeting apparently had ended up in an uproar and Ms. Jo Becker had expressed her horror and how she felt threatened at one moment. She had exclaimed such violent behaviour was the last thing she expected from an audience in London! A week later, a similar meeting held in Toronto by HRW had been disrupted by a large number of LTTE supporters and abandoned despite a police presence there.

President of the Sinhala Association reminded and warned the Labour Councillors present at the meeting that the LTTE, NGOs and INGO mafia working in Sri Lanka would find any thing and go to any length to create situations to discredit Sri Lankan government prior to the Human Rights Council meeting which was due to be to held in Geneva in September 2007.

At the end of the meeting, a lady councilor, in lighter vain, asked whether a Sri Lanka High Commission was functioning in London?She was obviously quite unaware of its existence she said, as she had not seen or heard of any effective counter propaganda coming out publicly on British TV or Radio from High Commission officials when so many atrocities had taken place in the country!

Her late husband had lived in Sri Lanka she said, and she always thought Sri Lanka was the ‘most wonderful place on earth’! Finally, as a mark of appreciation she thanked the speaker and gifted him with a bottle of wine.

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One Response to “LIFE ABROAD – Part 116 EXPATRIATE CONTRIBUTION IN LONDON – 2007”

  1. Nimal Says:

    In his own way he had served the country well. Hope he consumed that bottle of wine.

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