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British to help Lanka military fulfill Geneva obligations

(Courtesy  of The Island)
The UK has again set up an Office of Resident Defence Advisor at the British High Commission, Colombo after a lapse of ten years.

The UK suspended defence relations with Sri Lanka during the tail end of the second term of Rajapaksa administration over accountability issues.

The Island received the following statement from the BHC spokesperson in Colombo yesterday: “Since we announced the re-establishment of defence relations in 2015, a Non-Resident Defence Advisor based in New Delhi has managed our defence relationship with Sri Lanka. Changing this to a resident position enables us to work more closely with Sri Lanka on defence issues as a Commonwealth partner and friend; to support the Sri Lankan armed forces as they work towards modernisation and reform; and help them to play a positive role in fulfilling Sri Lanka’s commitments to the UN Human Rights Council.”

The spokesperson was responding to the following queries (1) who was the last RDA in Colombo (2) When did UK cease to have RDA in Colombo (3) When did new RDA move into Colombo and (4) What prompted the UK to change its policy as regards RDA (nearly ten years after the war)?

Sri Lanka is under pressure to fulfill Geneva obligations by March 2019.

The appointment of a UK non-RDA for Sri Lanka was announced in 2015 following a meeting between President Maithripala Sirisena and the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta.

New RDA Colonel David Ashman paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne on Thursday (Jan 17) at the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS) at BMICH.

The outgoing non RDA, Group Captain Frazer Nicholson who is based in New Delhi, India was also present at the occasion.

Revelation of wartime dispatches from British RDA Lt. Col. Anton Gash in Oct 2017 countered unsubstantiated war crimes allegations pertaining to the massacre of 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front.

Both Sri Lanka and the UK never acted on the revelation in the House of Commons.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

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