British Tamil Orgs write to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

A joint letter to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs as this matter is directly relevant to both of those offices.

As you may be aware, organisations supporting this request were formed in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. We function with the specific intention of securing justice for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, preventing further human rights abuses and ensuring that third parties such as the UK government fulfil their obligations under international law in taking action to halt the systematic and gross violations of human rights being perpetrated against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan Government.

Brigadier Priyanka Fernando was posted to London as the Sri Lankan High Commission’s defense attaché in 20171. On Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day, 4th February 2018, he attracted attention by not only swearing words of racial hatred, but also issuing threats to kill by making throat-slitting gestures to peaceful Tamil protestors outside the High Commission in London.

Brigadier Priyanka Fernando in full military dress uniform, doing this in front of the High Commission building went viral.

The victims who feel threatened and intimidated have approached the Police and made complaints to arrest Brigadier Priyanka Fernando.

Tamil Solidarity, the organisation that organised the London protest on Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day with the Tamils Coordination Committee (TCC-UK) has made a formal complaint to the High Commission and launched an online petition calling for the immediate removal of the abusive defence attaché. The International Centre For Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICPPG) has also made appeals for Brigadier Priyanka Fernando to be prosecuted.

The International Truth and Justice Project Sri Lankan (ITJP) and the Journalists For Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) have published a very detailed dossier setting out the background of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando. Diaspora organisations including British Tamils Forum (BTF) have already made representations individually. A cross-party British parliamentary group urging the expulsion of Brigadier Fernando has written to Foreign Secretary saying that his gesture was “inappropriate, unacceptable and threatening behaviour from someone who is serving in an official capacity as a guest of this country.

In the circumstances, we urge the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to give urgent consideration to the curtailment of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s visa, on the basis that his presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.

We further urge that it would be appropriate in this case to declare Brigadier Priyanka Fernando a ‘persona non grata’ in the light of the credible evidence of his complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity and further, in the light of demonstrable evidence that he has acted in breach of UK domestic law under the Public Order Act 1986 and the Offences against the Person Act 1861 it would be appropriate for this matter to be referred to the Metropolitan Police for investigation.

The British Government is under a clear obligation to the citizens of this country to ensure that those who incite racial hatred are prevented from propagating such views in the United Kingdom. There is clear precedent in the exclusion of individuals from the United Kingdom where their conduct falls below acceptable levels of this country. We urge you to conclude that Brigadier Priyanka Fernando is a person “Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence”, such that he should be determined to be a persona non grata in the UK.

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