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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 916

The story behind his recall: Ambassador Assitha Perera tells it all

By K.T.Rajasingham
Colombo, 22 February, (Asiantribune.com):

The Ambassador to Italy Asitha Perera told Asian Tribune that he has received the letter of recall and he said that he has no regrets over his recall, but he alleged that it was a well coordinated ruse to get him out of Italy by vested interest groups – a section of the career diplomatic officials, both in Rome and Colombo and human smuggling facilitators.

Mr. Asitha Perera had told Asian Tribune that it was another well coordinated effort to undermine the non-career diplomat, head of missions, appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa .

He said, "I like to refer you to an article by Rajiva Wijaesinghe in the Transcurrent website of 7th of April, on Page 3, paragraph 2 and I Quote: “There is a concerted attempt to remove the most efficient and loyal non-career diplomats. We have Dayan in Paris, Tamara in Geneva, Asitha Perera in Rome, Palitha Kohana in New York, later I believe Sarath Konghage in Berlin and Chris Nonis in London. End Quote.

He said that, “It is in that context one has to take things and view and of course more recently there was a protest campaign in Rome, that was on last Sunday – 17th February, organized by a Buddhist Priest, as well as by some other Sri Lankans.”

He continued: I have been under increasing pressure to issue letters to the Italian Embassy in Sri Lanka to give visas for Sri Lankans to come to Rome. The human trafficking and human smuggling is the major problem and I cannot stoop to giving letters and facilitating human trafficking and human smuggling, because as you probably know, that it was an open secret in Sri Lanka, that Sri Lankans are charged between SLR Fifteen to eighteen lakhs as fee to bring them to Italy illegally. They are promised of employment and once they are brought here, facilitators disappear, no employment is provided and the consequent of this you get several hundreds of Sri Lankan and lot more, join the unemployed list , forcing a further burden on the already burdened Italian economy.

Ambassador Asitha Perea while talking to Asian Tribune said, "I don’t want to be a party to such type of things. I never did that. I served in South Korea from 2006 for a period of three years and during that time too there was pressure on me to be engaged on these type of things and that is not the way we have been brought up and I don’t want to be party to that and if somebody want to apply for visa, these are people I really don’t know and when we give letters, I give a letter signed by me to the Italian Ambassador in Colombo, then I must take personal responsibility and it was not possible for me to do that type of things to people whom I don’t know at all.

He said also there were other ruses that were used and one of them was ‘to add on names’. When what we are told is to give a letter for a few people and that letter is translated by the facilitator into Italian language and several other names are added on and those people when they come to Italy, in fact it is so well organized that their passports are sent back to Sri Lanka to get other person and that persons goes and shows to the Italian Embassy and say that we people have comeback to Sri Lanka, but the actual fact they are in Italy.

There are lot of pressure on me and I have decided to go back to Sri Lanka. I prefer to go back home rather than engaged and be party to these types of things, Ambassador Asitha Perera said.

Ambassador profusely thanked President Mahinda Rajapaksa for having confidence in him and to appoint him for the first time to South Korea 2006 - 2009 as Ambassador and then in 2011 September to Italy.

He further said: My hands are clean and I have no regrets about it and I have done the best for my country and even in South Korea I got honorary citizenship for all the good work I did.

I don’t want to blame and make a fuss about these things. I am a person who resigned even from Parliament in 1999. I resigned from Parliament, because I felt I have served enough and somebody else should be given an opportunity to represent an area which I found that I will not be able to represent.

I also wish to underline that this is a well coordinated effort to undermine me and to portray non career diplomats as week administrators, corrupt administrators and I can remember Dayan was telling to me that he was accused of something of white-washing or painting of the Embassy or residence and this is certainly not our style and those are things that are handled by attaches and other staff of the embassy

I go back to Sri Lanka with no regrets and as three of us being moved out and in the future corrective steps have to be taken at least to protect the other non-career diplomats, especially the head of missions who have been appointed. And ensure that fair means looked into and they are not harassed.

I don’t know whether you know that the former Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam’s heavy baggage which should have left Geneva to Colombo several months ago , I think it is more than four or five months and it is still in Geneva. She was a capable head of mission we had and I think she made Sri Lanka proud. She told me “Asitha I can handle and fight the LTTE Diaspora, but I can’t fight three wars at a time”. She said, “I can’t fight the war with the LTTE diaspora , at the same time, I can’t fight the war with my staff in the embassy and with the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Sri Lanka”.

When we function as head of missions, we must be given the encouragement and the support to promote and represent our country effectively- he said.

Even in Italy I went to Palermo to establish good relationship with the Tamil diaspora over there.

I was trying to build bridges with different Sri Lankan communities living in Italy. And I succeeded to a great extent.

The foreign Ministry has given me notice and I have to have my heavy baggage packed and sent back to Sri Lanka, otherwise I don’t want to have the same fate my colleague Tamra Kunanyake is experiencing now. I want to ensure that my heavy baggage left the shores of Italy without any delay to Sri Lanka.

I wish to request our President that to have a meeting with the non career diplomats i.e. the head of missions, Ministers, Minister Counselors and others be given an opportunity to meet him and speak to him in private, to give him feedback of our experiences in our respective missions, so that he can decide what he wants to do about it in the future, about the plight of the non-career diplomats who are appointed by him to uphold his image and country's image.

- Asian Tribune -

The story behind his recall:  Ambassador Assitha Perera tells it all
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Italy Asitha Perera presented credentials to the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale (Presidential Palace) in Rome on 28 November 2011.
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