While it is up to the Defence Ministry to decide whether to implement the Parliament’s Sectoral Oversight Committee (SOC) on National Security’s recommendation to inform United States (US) Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung to refrain from making remarks regarding the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, the said SOC stated that their message has, however, reached the relevant parties.
The said SOC had recently recommended the particular ministry to inform Ambassador Chung to refrain from commenting on Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.
The recommendation had been made in response to Chung’s remarks on the tense situations that emerged in the country last year (2022).
When queried as to whether he was of the view that the ministry would implement the relevant recommendation, the said SOC’s Chairman, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said that it was up to the ministry to implement it or not, but that the SOC had done its job by making the relevant recommendation. “It has only been a few days since we made this recommendation. We don’t know if the ministry will implement it or not. It is our job to address certain situations and make appropriate recommendations, which we have done.”
He also said that Chung should examine how the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US performs their duties. “For instance, the US Army quelled protestors who broke into State buildings there some time ago. What would happen if the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US said that peaceful protestors’ rights should be ensured, and it was wrong for the army to have chased them away? Would they have tolerated such a statement? The US Ambassador has intervened in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs too much. It should come to an end.”
Multiple attempts to contact State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon and Foreign Affairs Minister President’s Counsel M.U.M. Ali Sabry in this regard proved futile.
Claiming that Chung had advocated for a transparent investigation into the shooting of unarmed protestors during protests, including one in the Mawanella area in April 2022, Dr. Weerasekera had questioned whether actions such as burning tires, blocking highways and railway lines, destroying filling stations, slashing the tires of fuel bowsers, and pelting stones at the Police constitute a protest or peaceful acts.
Referring to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Dr. Weerasekera had said in a letter that an ambassador or high commissioner could not interfere in the internal affairs of another country. As such interference can have implications for national security, he had recommended reaching out to Chung and urging her to abstain from making unnecessary statements of this nature in the future.
Courtesy: The Morning