Sri Lankan Higher Commissioner Dr. Chris Nonis in an interview with the BBC said that there was a ‘dichotomy or disjuncture in perception,’ in the portrayals of Sri Lanka and its contemporary reality.
Speaking to BBC’s Mishal Hussain, Dr. Nonis said the distinction needs to be drawn between political and economic refugees who he claimed he had met over the years in his tenure as High Commissioner.
“I would say there are many people who for various different reasons come and seek asylum, and I think what we have to separate, is those who seek asylum as economic refugees, from those who seek asylum as political refugees – You must remember the demography of the country, the majority of Tamil people actually live in the Centre and South of Sri Lanka, if you look at Colombo, its roughly a 30-30-30 percent split between Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim. We have a huge dichotomy or disjuncture in perception between what is portrayed here and the reality of contemporary Sri Lanka” he said.
Speaking further in a question and answer session with Husain, Nonis said that Sri Lanka’s sovereign rights should be respected drawing a sharp distinction between and ‘internationalized’ process and an independent ‘process’ of truth seeking.
“We respect the Sovereign rights of Britain, and of every other country, and we expect you to respect ours. We are a sovereign and an independent state and naturally we expect the same courtesy that you would expect us to apply for your country.”
He asserted that Sri Lanka contrary to what many believed had an independent process to investigate allegations against the Lankan government and submit proposals for reconciliation.
“We do have an independent inquiry and many people who initially criticised the LLRC process changed their views when they actually saw the 388-page document. It was modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. It was set within the Principle of International Humanitarian Law, incorporating the Principle of Distinction and the Principle of Proportionality.” he added.