6th February 2018   •   article
Sri Lankan diplomat in London suspended after 'threatening' behaviour caught on video

by Barfi Culture Team | @barfi_culture.
Image: Tamil Solidarity
The Sri Lankan government has suspended their UK's Defence Attache after he was caught on video making 'threatening' gestures towards Tamil protesters in London.

The government was forced to take action after the MP Siobhan McDonagh wrote a letter to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson calling the behaviour of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando "inappropriate, unacceptable and threatening".

Another MP, Joan Ryan, wrote on Twitter: "PM should withdraw this attache’s diplomatic papers and expel him."

The incident took place on Sunday 4th February 2018, when a UK group called Tamil Solidarity held a peaceful protest outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London to mark the country's 70th independence anniversary.

Some of the protesters had been there to highlight human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government.

"The protesters chanted slogans demanding information on the disappeared, an end to the land grab and the right to self-determination of the Tamil people," wrote Tamil Solidarity on their website.

They added that the protesters were "mocked, laughed at and photographed by Sri Lankan authorities".

One of them was the Defence Attache Priyanka Fernando, who made threatening gestures that were caught on video by the group.


Several British Tamils spoke out on social media too.

Minutes after the UK MPs circulated their statement on social media, the Sri Lankan government released this statement:

"Authorities in Sri Lanka have taken serious note of videos being circulated on social and web-based media of an alleged incident involving the Minister Counsellor (Defence) attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London behaving in an offensive manner."

"In this connection, instructions have been sent to Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in London today, 6 February 2018, to suspend the Minister Counsellor (Defence) from work, with immediate effect. Authorities in Sri Lanka including the Sri Lanka Army will initiate inquiries on the incident immediately."

In response, Mario Arulthas, advocacy director for PEARL, a human rights organisation based in Washington D.C., wrote: "When the Sri Lankan gov acts with such vigour on known and unknown war crimes issues, and not just in response to a PR disaster, then I’ll consider giving them some credit."
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