Sri Lankan official in UK suspended over throat-cutting gesture

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Lankan High Commissioner London suspend Brigadier Priyanka Fernando

Authorities in Sri Lanka have taken serious note of videos being circulated on social and web-based media of an alleged incident involving  Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, 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, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry said that the authorities in Sri Lanka including the Sri Lanka Army will initiate inquiries on the incident immediately.

British Parliamentarians Joan Ryan and Siobhain McDonagh had called on the British Foreign Secretary to “withdraw Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s diplomatic papers and expel him” from the UK, after he was filmed making ‘throat-cutting gestures’ to Tamils protesting outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, on Sunday 4 February.

Ms Ryan and Ms McDonagh, the Vice Chair and Senior Vice Chair of the Tamil All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), also said in their letter to Boris Johnson MP that the conduct of Brigadier Fernando – Sri Lanka’s Defence Attaché to the UK – was “inappropriate, unacceptable and threatening […] from someone who is serving in an official capacity as a guest of this country.”

Meanwhile, Sen Kandiah, Chair of Tamils for Labour in the UK said that Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s behaviour was despicable.

“His actions were clearly an attempt to intimidate and silence peaceful protests opposed to the on-going persecution of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Given the Sri Lankan military’s long history of committing human rights violations and alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity on Tamils, the Defence Attaché’s threats must be taken seriously by the UK Government,” Kandiah said.

Kandiah said he supported calls from Joan Ryan MP and Siobhain McDonagh MP saying that the Foreign Secretary must expel Brigadier Fernando from the UK without delay.

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