Learning from Lord Naseby’s Passages within Sri Lanka

Anil Perera at https://lankanvoice.blogspot.com/ & whose preferred title is Michael Naseby’s Paradise Lost Paradise Regained – Memoirs of a True Friend of Sri Lanka” 

Having been barraged with unfair criticism, lectured on with unsolicited advice, and abused by some British politicians for defeating their beloved Tamil Tigers, Sri Lankans can take solace in the existence of at least some British politicians who are sensible enough to digest facts and come to logical conclusions. While most Western politicians swallow the Tamil narrative hook, line, and sinker, there are few like Lord Naseby, who keeps an ear to the ground and finds out what happened during the terrorist war in Sri Lanka. Lord Naseby’s experience in living in Sri Lanka in the 1960s and his continuous association with the country would have certainly helped him to find out the truth of what happened during the last stages of the Sri Lankan conflict.


Lord Naseby’s book is well written. It starts with the nostalgic experience of his stint as the Marketing Manager of Reckitt & Colman, Ceylon in the 1960s and then goes on to examine different decisive eras in the post-1978 Sri Lanka. Having met some top Sri Lankan politicians, he has formed opinions about them, which I consider to be pragmatic. He covers the failed peace talks and the Indian intrusion well in his book. The readers learn about Lord Naseby’s and a few other Britons’ contributions to help Sri Lanka recover after the 2004 tsunami.

The second half of the book is about the decisive war and the aftermath. He exposes the hypocrisy of the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron who, while visiting an IDP camp during a visit to Jaffna, complained that it was terrible to see it with his own eyes, but failed to offer any help to alleviate what he thought as the suffering of the internally displaced. He is critical of arrogant British politicians such as David Miliband who reportedly adopted a colonial master attitude when addressing the President of Sri Lanka. He complains about the complete lack of understanding of Sri Lanka’s plight by British politicians.

Lord Naseby describes the action of Tamil diaspora who has no interest or desire to help their brethren in Sri Lanka, but would work hard and spend money to try and prosecute Sri Lanka for defeating Tamil Tigers. He explains the shameful way Channel 4 brought journalism to disrepute with their now-discredited films on Sri Lanka. He also covers the work of the Paranagama Commission and the international legal and military opinion the Commission received. Lord Naseby dissects the often-quoted figures of civilian casualties during the last stages of the war and believes that the figure is in the range of 5,000 and nowhere near the figure of 40,000 quoted by some interested parties.

Perhaps the most important revelation in Lord Naseby’s book is that the UK Government knew by 19 May 2009, through the despatches of the UK Defence Attaché in Colombo Lt Col Gash, that 40,000 civilian deaths were a gross exaggeration, but never said so. He also points out the folly of Ranil Wickramasinghe’s government accepting at UNHCR ‘Violations of Human Rights law’ despite the applicable law being ‘International Humanitarian Law’. It proves the tragedy of having ignorant morons in the Foreign Ministry at that time.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. If not for Lord Naseby, we would have never known about the despatches from the UK Defence Attaché in Colombo in 2008/9 with important facts about the casualties. The UK foreign office had tried very hard not to release the despatches which Lord Naseby requested under the Freedom of Information Act. After several battles and after even going to courts to get them, finally he was provided with copies of the despatches, some of them were heavily censored.

In the Appendices of the book there are copies of some of the despatches. It is interesting to note that nearly 70% of the despatch on PTK Hospital has been redacted. Did Lt Col Gash report that the SL Army did not shell the hospital, as some human rights busybodies claim? Was it the reason for censuring that document?

It is heartening to read about one man’s lonely battle to help a country he is emotionally attached to. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained is a book worth reading by anyone interested in Sri Lankan affairs.

back cover depicting a giant leap!

****  ****

BIBLIOGRAPHY: RELATED

Ellis, Royston 2020Profound Insights into Sri Lanka’s Tempestuous History,” 25 March 2020, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/?p=41347&preview=true

Ladduwahetty, Neville 2015 “Eelam War IV and Issue of Collateral Damage & Civilian Deaths in International Law: Ladduwahetty summarizes Desmond De Silva’s ‘Treatise’,” http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2015/04/27/eelam-war-iv-and-issue-of-collateral-damage-civilian-deaths-in-international-law-laduwahetty-summarizes-desmond-de-silvas-treatise/

Riley, Jonathon 2020 Word Pictures in Deciphering Sri Lankan History, Politics, War,” 26 March 2020, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/word-pictures-in-deciphering-sri-lankan-history-politics-war/

Roberts, Michael 2019  “Ludicrous Verdicts in Powerful Quarters Still Asserted TODAY: Death Toll in Eelam War IV Magnified Manifold,”  2 December 2019, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/12/02/ludicrous-verdicts-in-powerful-quarters-still-asserted-today-death-toll-in-eelam-war-iv-magnified-manifold/

Roberts, Michael 2020 “FOR Sri Lanka: Engaging Lord Naseby and His Journeys in Sri Lanka,” 31 March 2020, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2020/03/31/for-sri-lanka-engaging-lord-naseby-and-his-journeys-in-sri-lanka/

EXTENDED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kunanayakam, Tamara 2014 “ ‘We will get You’ ….American Threat at the UNHRC in Geneva in September 2011.” 27 September 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/we-will-get-you-american-threat-at-the-unhcr-in-geneva-in-september-2011/

Marga 2011 Truth and Accountability. The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka, http://www.margasrilanka.org/Truth-Accountability.pdf.

Mango 2011 “Jim Macdonald of AI boxed into corner by Mango in 2009,” 10 August 2011, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/3133/

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2009 “Prabhakaran: from Catapult Killer to Ruthless Insurgent,” IANS, 18 May 2009 – see http://twocircles.net/node/148596 [reprinted in The Tiger Vanquished, pp. 165-67].

Padraig Colman 2011 “Evaluating the ‘Churnalism’ from Channel 4 and the Moon Panel,” 17 August 2011, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/a-credible-evaluation-of-%e2%80%9cchurnalism%e2%80%9d-from-channel-4-and-the-moon-panel/

Roberts, Michael 2010e “Dilemmas at War’s End: Thoughts on Hard Realities,” 10 Feb. 2009, http://groundviews.org/2009/02/10/dilemmas-at-wars-end-thoughts-on-hard-realities/, rep. in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 267-74.

Roberts, Michael 2010f “Dilemma’s at War’s End: Clarifications and Counter-offensive,” www. groundviews.org, rep. in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 275-87.

Roberts, Michael 2011e “Amnesty International reveals its Flawed Tunnel-Vision in Sri Lanka in 2009,” 10 Aug. 2011, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/amnesty-international-reveals-its-flawed-tunnel-vision-on-sri-lanka-in-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2011f “The Tamil Death Toll in Early 2009: A Misleading Count by Rohan Gunaratna,” 23 November 2011, http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/6285.

Roberts, Michael 2012a “Inspirations: Hero Figures and Hitler in Young Pirapāharan’s Thinking,” Colombo Telegraph, 12 February 2012, http://thuppahi. wordpress.com/2012/11/26/velupillai-pirapaharan-veera-maranam/… rep. in TPS: Essays, 2014: 69-89.

Roberts, Michael 2012b “Longitudinal UNICEF Survey of Nutrition in the IDP Camps in 2009,” December 2012, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/longitudinal-unicef-survey-of-nutrition-in-the-idp-camps-in-2009/.

Roberts, Michael 2018 “Reflections: Interpreting the Gash Files, IV,” 29 August 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/reflections-interpreting-the-gash-files-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2018 “The Western World’s Cumulous Clouds of Deception: Blanketing the Sharp Realities of Eelam War IV,” 16 October 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/the-western-worlds-cumulous-clouds-of-deception-blanketing-the-sharp-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/

2 Comments

Filed under accountability, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, conspiracies, doctoring evidence, foreign policy, governance, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, UN reports, unusual people, war reportage, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

2 responses to “Learning from Lord Naseby’s Passages within Sri Lanka

  1. Chandra Wickramasinghe.

    Lord Naseby has always looked at things relating to problems in SL REALISTICALLY AND OBJECTIVELY..

  2. EMAIL COMMENT from DAYA WICKRAMATUNGA, 22 Spetmebr 2020: “My grateful thanks to you. I always thought Lord Naseby’s analysis of the Tamil Diaspora is quite accurate. Of course that does not mean that Sri Lanka should ignore the rights of the Tamil Community.”

    SPOT ON DAYA says Michael

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