Sri Lanka’s Leader of the Opposition has denounced “terrorism and state terrorism” and called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Israel’s military offensive into Gaza, despite defending war criminals and opposing international intervention in Sri Lanka.
Speaking in Sri Lanka’s parliament after the bombing of Ahil Arab Hospital in Gaza which saw the killing of hundreds, Premadasa described the situation as “carnage”.
“So as a parliament let us propose to the permanent members of the Security Council to convene immediately to end this carnage and this terrorism and state terrorism,” he continued.
His remarks come despite a track record of opposing any international involvement on accountability for war crimes committed in Sri Lanka. Premadasa has previously staunchly opposed UN Human Rights Council resolutions on the issue and announced that “all parties should come together to face threats posed by international forces".
"We in the opposition do not want to see international interference in the country,” he said in 2014, just five years after tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred at Mullivaikkal, a sentiment he would echo several times later.
Premadasa has also stood in defence of Sri Lankan military officials accused of egregious war crimes, including Shavendra Silva who headed the army’s notorious 58 Division, a unit that committed grave violations of international law, including the execution of surrendering Tamils. “He is one of the heroic field commanders who spearheaded the national effort to eradicate terrorism,” said Premadasa. “All of us stand by him and his family at this hour of need,” he said after the United States placed a travel ban on the army commander, which he called “a betrayal of our war heroes by the previous government in Geneva.”
And it was not just Silva that Premadasa defended. "There are various versions of the Geneva Human Rights conference of this year,” he said in 2017, as the UN Human Rights Council was meeting to discuss accountability in Sri Lanka.
“Some claim our war heroes committed war crimes. None of them committed any such crimes."