Denial of US visa to Fonseka as bad as depriving other military officers of same – Dullas
Posted on March 26th, 2019

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island


UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma on Monday (March 25) said that the denial of a visa to Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to attend the United Nations was as wrong as denying Lt. Colonel Ratnapriya Bandu an opportunity to visit Geneva, Switzerland.

The Switzerland embassy, in Colombo, denied a visa to Ratnapriya Bandu invited by an Australia based civil society group to participate in a side-event in Geneva. Ratnapriya Bandu captured media attention last year due to once LTTE stronghold Vishvamadu publicly recognising services rendered by him over a period of time after the end of the war.

Matara District MP Alahapperuma said so in response to a query by The Island at a media briefing called by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) at its Nelum Mawatha office.

The Island sought the Joint Opposition heavyweight’s comment on the US denying visa to Field Marshal Fonseka on more than one occasion over unsubstantiated war crimes allegations. This was raised after the SLFPer and SLPP Chairman and former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris explained the difficulties experienced by senior military officers for spearheading the war against terrorism.

The Island asked them whether they weren’t concerned about the war winning Army Commander’s predicament.Alahapperuma pointed out the absurdity in the stand taken by some countries in respect of some of those who had given leadership to the war effort as the then UPFA Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who functioned as the Acting Minister of Defence for two days in the week the LTTE was finished off faced no issue.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Maithripala Sirisena functioned as the Acting Defence Minister when the Army on the Vanni east front thwarted the last LTTE attempt to save the life of its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The Army recovered Prabhakaran’s body on the morning of May 19, 2009.

The Island sought an explanation from Prof. Peiris and MP Alahapperuma as to what the war winning Rajapaksa did to counter war crimes allegations directed at the military for six years after the end of the conflict.

The MP said that senior officers such as Majors General Jagath Jayasuriya, Jagath Dias and Shavendra Silva were given top diplomatic positions. The Island explained the difficulties experienced by them and many other officers for want of a cohesive strategy to disprove lies propagated by interested parties.

The UNP-SLFP government in Oct 2015 co-sponsored Geneva Resolution 30/1 meant to inquire into accountability issues.

The Island also asked them what the previous government had done in respect of the four party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for backing the LTTE throughout the war and recognizing the separatist campaign by declaring Prabhakaran as the sole representative of their community, after the end of the conflict. We raised the issue against the backdrop of TNA spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran threatening to haul Sri Lanka before the International Criminal Court (ICC) unless the UNP setup a hybrid war crimes court as promised in Oct 2015.

Both lawmakers Alahapperuma and Rohitha Abeygunawardena who addressed the media on behalf of the SLPP admitted that they weren’t in the Chamber at the time Sumanthiran addressed the House.

Alahapperuma said that there had been a small group of lawmakers in parliament at that time. Interestingly, at the onset of his presentation to the media, MP Alahapperuma lamented poor attendance during ongoing budget debate.

The SLPP is yet to respond to the TNA threat in or outside parliament. The government, too, remained mum.

However, Alahapperuma told Monday’s briefing at the Nelum Mawatha office that the TNA would certainly vote on April 05 with the UNP at the final reading of budget 2019. The MP indicated whatever the differences over various issues, the TNA would stand by the UNP and help it secure approval for the budget.

The TNA voted for the budget at its second reading on March 12.

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