Event organized by Amnesty International on Sri Lanka in Berlin – Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland is getting involved – Zuerich, 12.05.2010
Posted on May 16th, 2010

magnus engelƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  from switzerland,

A group of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland went to Berlin on 11th May 2010 to visit an event on the topic ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…‚¾The Human Rights on Sri Lanka one Year after the End of the War ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Situation and PerspectivesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- organized by the University Group of Amnesty International at the Technical University Berlin. The reason for the trip of the group of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland was the rather strange composition of the speakers of the event. Journalist Sunanda Deshapriya speaking on press freedom in Sri Lanka was allegedly responsible for the killing of several civilians during his time as district leader of the JVP-terrorists in Sri Lanka (Cover Name: Asoka). Last year, he had to give up his job as Director of the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…‚¾Free Media MovementƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- in Sri Lanka, being accused of misappropriation of project funds, and since then has been speaking at events in Europe as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-politically threatened journalistƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. Lawyer Dr. Frank Florian Seifert has defined the basic argumentation of LTTE-terrorism in his book ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…‚¾Das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Sri Lanka-Tamilen zwischen Sezession und IntegrationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- and made many friends among LTTE-supporters with his study on assumed war crimes of the Sri Lankan army.

Sunanda Deshapriya sitting with Vizuki Thangarajah

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ However, under the statements of the invited speakers, the lecture by Father S.J. Emmanuel, himself President of the LTTE-successor organization ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…‚¾Global Tamil ForumƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-, referring on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka attracted special attention. Father Emmanuel did not hesitate to compare the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…‚¾Welfare CampsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- in Vavuniya district with the death camps of the German National Socialists. He added that murders and rapes in the camps only did not come out because there was not possibility to keep into contact with the Tamils inside. The camps were part of a strategy of the government to settle the Singhalese families of the Sri Lankan army in the North of Sri Lanka and thus commit genocide of the Tamil people in the long run. Father Emmanuel especially blasted the arrest of Tamil activists accused of supporting the LTTE by the German police and accused German politicians to be under Sri Lankan influence.

Sunanda Deshapriya addressing the Event organized by Amnesty International on Sri Lanka in Berlin

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In a counter-speech after the end of the lectures, a Tamil representative of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland addressed the participants of the event to explain his impressions on the situation in Sri Lanka. He had been in Sri Lanka some weeks ago and had also visited the camps in the Vavuniya district. The camps were openly accessible, and Tamils living in the camps were always free to leave them. The situation in the camps could not be criticized, as he could prove with pictures, and many living in the camps had mobile phones not, and thus a contact inside the camps were always possible. He challenged the participants of the event to check this claim by calling persons inside the camps from his mobile phone.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ As a sad fact, this offer was rejected by a well-organized fraction of young Tamils, and the representative of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland was accused of spreading lies on order of the Sri Lankan government, as other persons present were accused of representing the embassy. Journalist Sunanda Deshapriya joined this critique and said that he had known the representative of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland as representative of the government of Sri Lanka in Colombo already, which is in no case true, like the assumption of one of the participants of the following heated discussion that the Tamil representative of the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland might have Singhalese parents ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” all attempts of the young cadres present to kill all doubts about the dubious information disseminated by Father Emmanuel in the beginning.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ After the event, representatives of Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland were able to inform the organizers of Amnesty International in a personal discussion about the problematic personal backgrounds of the invited speakers. They asked the organizers to do a more intensive background check on the invited speakers of such events in future. The organizers said that it was not their task to take sides in global conflicts, but promised to take the information provided by the Sri Lankan Diaspora Switzerland into consideration during their post-event discussions.

For further Information please feel free and contact Mr. Nandana Nakandalage (Secretary Sri Lanka Diaspora Switzerland) on info@sriLankadiaspora.ch

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