The Gash Files and Beyond

Michael Roberts

Shamindra Ferdinando’s rambling presentation of an Interview with Lord the Michael Naseby has produced some vital information about the creaking inner workings of the British government as well as the circumstances surrounding Lord Naseby’s interventions on behalf of Sri Lanka. Naseby’s assiduous effort to extract the reports sent by the British Defence Attache in Colombo in the year 2009, one Lt. Col. Gash, did not commence till November 2013 when David Cameron, the British PM, was about to head to Sri Lanka for the CHOGM conference – a visit where Cameron played the hero for the British public, the world HR lobbies and the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

In parenthesis here, let me reiterate some dimensions of Cameron’s impersonation of Don Quixote in Sri Lanka that I have clarified within Tamil Person and State in 2014: (a) accompanied by a leading Tamil politician, MA Sumanthiran, he undertook “a highly-publicized  visit  to the Jaffna Peninsula which was featured widely in Western media outlets” and in the course of which he was besieged by scores of distraught Tamils carrying photographs of missing relatives;[1] and (b) the individual tales of woe related by some of these Tamils were then retailed as sound bites by the Western reporters without any intelligent probing – exemplifying what Michael O’Leary (himself a former journalist) has called “churnalism.”[2] The whole episode can go down in history as an outstanding display of Orientalism by Cameron and a cohort of British and other Western journalists.[3]

Though useful and vital, Naseby’s intervention from 2013/14 was late in the day.  The UN Panel of Experts chaired by Darusman had submitted its report on the 31st March 2011 and the bureaucrats of the Western world commanding the UNHCR heights in Geneva had their teeth already clamped on one target and one trajectory: namely, pillorying Sri Lanka and placing the country in the stocks. No better proof of this intent can be provided than the remark unleashed at Sri Lanka’s UN Ambassador, Tamara Kunanayakam by Eileen Donahue, the UN Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council.[4]  In September 2011, as the 18th session of the Human Rights Council was in progress and Kunanayakam was proceeding by car to the sessions, she received a telephone inquiry from Donahue wanting to know if the government of Sri Lanka had changed its position in the UNHRC forum and would accept a consensus resolution. When Kunanayakam indicated that there was no change (meaning that GoSL opposition would continue), Donahue’s response was ominous: “Whether the LLRC is good or not, we’ll get you next time!”[5]

Donahue Power

This was vehement vengeance – vengeance arising from (A) the Rajapaksa government’s refusal to abide by the programme demanded by the Obama-Clinton administration in the latter stages of Eelam War IV (viz. January-May 2009) (B) and the setting up of the UN Panel of Experts by Navy Pillai and Ban-Ki-Moon as its witch hunting party (with Yasmin Sooka as its most fervent spearhead).[6] Central voices behind USA’s policy under Hillary Clinton and within the State Department were Samantha Power[7] and Susan Rice. So, in reiteration, it is significant that Kunanayakam describes Donahue as “a close associate of Samantha Power and Susan Rice.”[8]

Behind the holier-than-thou face of those pressing human rights charges, therefore, is the vehemence and vengeance of powerbrokers serving the interests of the Western world.

These interests, of course, are varied and multiple. In David Cameron’s case his visit to Sri Lanka in November 2013 was clearly directed towards cultivating Sri Lankan Tamil and British humanist voters.

This is where the information generated by Lord Naseby’s patient pressure yields significant results that reach beyond Sri Lanka and suggest that there are serious flaws in the British administrative dispensation. It appears that some key British Ministries work in watertight compartments and do not exchange information.

Gash’s despatches went to the War Office (not the Foreign Ministry). One would think that the upper echelon bureaucrats in this office would assign one among their ranks to distil the reports and pass them on to the Foreign Office and other pertinent departments. Was this done? Were the summary conclusions from the Gash despatches made known to David Cameron’s underlings and David Miliband’s underlings?

Since Sri Lanka is a distant arena with limited impact on everyday affairs and the voter base in UK, this kind of shortcoming, of course, would not have serious consequences on British politics. Imagine, though, if such a failure of inter-Ministry cooperation led to failures to identify security threats within Britain – say, from Islamic jihadists within the British populace? THEN ….. one can imagine the furore.

This note is not cast in jest. It is an invitation to Lord the Michael Naseby and those Britons who are devoted to their country to seek information on the degree of cooperation between different Ministries. This is just one test case that must be linked to other such probes.

****  *****


AFP 2013 “Cameron puts Sri Lanka on notice over war crimes; Lanka rejects international probe,” 16 November 2013,

Cumming-Bruce, Nick 2012 “Move at U.N. on Carnage in Sri Lanka Sets Off Fury,” 12 March 2012,

de Silva Jayatilleka, Sanja 2013 Weak-Kneed GSL Response to UNHCR Moves at Geneva in September,” 13 September 2013, ………………………………… ……………………….

Ferdinando Shamindra 2019 “Ferdi grills Lord Naseby: How the Colonel gash reports became public,” 26 September 2019,

Doherty, Ben 2013 “Tamil protesters mob British Prime Minister in Jaffna,” 16 November 2013, mob-british-prime-minister-in-jaffna-20131116-2xn4a.html.

[Tony Donaldson] 2018  Western Neo-Colonialism Today: An Incisive Note from Tony Donaldson, 12 June 2018,

Gowan Richard 2014 A Hardline R2P Interventionist? An American Analyst’s Assessment of Samantha Power in April 2014,” 23 April 2014,

Jayaweera, Rajeewa 2013 “Beware of Gods bearing Gifts,” Island, 25 December 2013 and 7 January 2014

Jayaweera, Rajeewa 2017 “Govt won’t act on Lord Naseby’s statement,” Island, 6 March 2017

Kunanayakam, Tamara 2016: Tamara Kunanayakam’s Forecast in 2015: Evidence today on USA’s Penetrative Thrusts,” 9 August 2016,

Kurukulasuriya, Lasanda 2015 “David Cameron’s Double Standards in Stark Nudity,” 5 December 2013,

Marga 2011 Truth and Accountability. The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka,

Merrick, Jane 2013 “On a wing and a prayer in Sri Lanka: David Cameron ventures on to a diplomatic sticky wicket over country’s human rights record,” 14 November 2013, …………

National Post 2013 “In contrast to Stephen Harper, Britain’s PM David Cameron goes to Sri Lanka to ‘shine light’ on abuses,” 13 November 2013,

News Item 2019 “Samantha Power and Mangala Samaraweera on the Same Wagon Train,” 11 March 2019,

Narendran, Rajasingham 2014 Harsh Ground Realities in War: Decomposing Bodies and Missing Persons and Soldiers,” 28 January 2014,

Padraig Colman 2011  “Evaluating the Churnalism from Channel 4 and the Moon Panel,” 17 August 2011,

Peiris, Gerald H. 2010 “The Doctrine of Responsibility to Protect: Impulses, Implications and Impact,” 30 June 2010,

Reseau Voltaire 2016Mind-Blowing Revelations about US-UN Machinations: von Sponeck in Q and A with Silvia Cattori in 2007,” 12 February 2016, ………………………………………………..

Thuppahi 2015A Critical Bibliography: Challenging the Machinations of the International Powers vis a vis Sri Lanka,” 25 November 2015, ……………………………………………… ……………..

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Tamil Guardian 2013 British Premier’s historic Jaffna visit raises Tamil hopes,”v16 November 2013,

UN PoE 2011 Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts report on Accountability in Sri Lanka, March 2011…. POE_Report_Full.pdf.


[1] See Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, 2014: 20ff

[2] See Padraig Colman 2011 and …. …………………as well as Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, The Handbook of Journalism Studies, London: Taylor & Francis, 2008.

[3] An outstanding illustration of arrogant simple-mindedness can be seen in Doherty 2013. Also see AFP  2013; Merrick 2013 and National Post 2013.

[4] An Email Memo to Michael Roberts from Tamara Kunanayakam, 25 September 2017 – clarifying info she had provided me earlier circa 2016. This memo will be placed in the public realm soon – it is of great importance.

[5] Email Memo to Michael Roberts from Tamara Kunanayakam, 25 September 2019.

[6] For a critical review of the Darusman Report, see Marga 2012. The Darusman Reports assertion that a figure of 40,000 dead was “a credible allegation” was converted in some media presentations into a definitive claim by the deceitful re-phrasing into “a credible figure”. It is also remarkable that a whole train of seemingly intelligent people (Westerners as well as Sri Lankan) have displayed colossal unfamiliarity with warring contexts by forgetting that 40,000 dead in any battlefield should result in are at least 80,000 wounded …. and they have forgotten to take cognisance of the number of wounded Tamil personnel enumerated by he UN offices in Colombo in May-June 2009.

[7] For perspectives on Samantha Power, see Richard Gowan 2014 and News Item 2019.

[8] Email Memo to Michael Roberts from Tamara Kunanayakam, 25 September 2019.


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Filed under accountability, american imperialism, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, discrimination, disparagement, foreign policy, historical interpretation, human rights, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, Responsibility to Protect or R2P, sri lankan society, TNA, truth as casualty of war, UN reports, vengeance, violence of language, war reportage, world events & processes

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