Citizenship cannot be forced on people - Prof. G.L.

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Chairman Prof.G.L.Pieris addressing a media briefing said it is relevant to remember that Lasantha Wickrematunge’s death occurred in 2009. “The complaint filed by Roy Samanathan was that he was tortured when he was taken into custody in September 2007. So the Wickrematunge matter is 10 years old and the Samanathan matter is 12 years old.

Throughout that period almost every year, Gotabaya has been visiting the US. Hence, it is remarkable that neither of these people felt it necessary to initiate action during the whole of that period and suddenly they have decided to take this initiative just when he is trying to revoke his citizenship.”

Pieris said there is a fundamental principle which has been accepted regarding such cases in both the US and Sri Lanka.

“That is that if the judicial mechanism has been used to secure an irrelavent objective where the judiciary is being used for some political aim, then it constitutes as a serious offence.

Hence, people who are resorting to this kind of action are placing themselves in jeopardy.

We are not in the least bit troubled or anxious about these developments and Gotabaya Rajapaksa will return to Sri Lanka within the next few days and we will pursue our programme to protect Gotabaya Rajapaksa and support his way forward,”Prof.Pieris said.

He noted that if there is any issue relating to war crimes allegations against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the most powerful protection that he can get is by having his US citizenship. That provides him with a shield which is very effective in combatting any of these allegations.

“This was very clear from very decisive action that was taken at the very highest levels of the US administration last Friday at the level of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Action was taken by the US State Department to cancel the visas which had been issued to high ranking officials of the International Criminal Court engaged in probing war crimes allegations against US Security Forces engaged in Afghanistan. The US made it very clear that under no circumstances would the American Government allow a foreign tribunal to inquire into allegations against American citizens or members of the American Armed Forces,”Prof. Pieris said.

“This sentiment was expressed in even more emphatic terms on the floor of the UN General Assembly in September last year on the same day that President Maithripala Sirisena addressed that august body,” he said.

Referring to a statement made by US National Defence Advisor John Bolton that the US would relentlessly pursue any official of a foreign organisation that endeavours to inquire into war crimes allegations against US forces, Pieris said with the fullest awareness of these privileges and protection that the US citizenship carries with it, Gotabaya Rajapaksa made the decisive and final decision to renounce US citizenship. That is a matter within his purview and it is for him to decide whether he wishes to renounce US citizenship and at what time he wishes to do so.

Prof. Peiris pointed out that no government or country can compel any individual to continue with the citizenship of that country against his wishes. Citizenship cannot be forced on people. Nor can such an effort to revoke one’s citizenship be thwarted by frivolous law suits which are brought for irrelevant purposes. In this instance, he said there appears to be two lawsuits one by Ahimsa Wickramatunge, the daughter of the late Lasantha Wickrematunge and the other by Roy Samanathan, a Canadian citizen.

“The issue here refers to the Bona Fides of these litigations. Is there a reasonable basis for these actions to be brought? Therefore, is it done in good faith and is there a proper reason for the action that they are taking? Or is it for a collateral purpose? A purpose entirely unconnected with the professed reason for the law suit. It is very clear what the motive is, the motivation is clearly connected with the Presidential election scheduled for the end of the year. It is also abundantly clear that all these initiatives are by the LTTE. This has been made crystal clear by an incident which occurred last week when a leading NGO representative from the US, Chritina James visited the Northern Province and members of the LTTE met this lady and complained to her that their activities in the Northern Province was obstructed by the presence of the Security Forces.

The LTTE is clearly linked with the Diaspora. The actions by Roy Samanathan appears to have been filed by an organisation who has very close links with Yasmin Sooka. She is a prominent activist in South Africa and served as a very vigorous member of the Dharusman Commission and supported serious allegations against the armed forces without even a shred of evidence, which was greatly harmful to the security forces of this country,” he said, adding that all this requires a huge amount of money and there is no doubt that unlimited financial resources are made available and backed up by an international organisational network is at work in this situation.

JO-MP Dallas Alahapperuma said all this is done in an attempt to deter Gotabaya Rajapaksa from contesting the Presidential election. “Despite a handful of those who want to ensure that Gotabaya is not allowed to contest, there is a greater percentage of people in this country who want him to contest,” he said.


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