President Rajapakse’s lessons from the US-Resolution against Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa

– Shenali Waduge –

The Rajapakse Government needs to take a reality check without delay. The US and allies inclusive of India are not concerned about the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or how many died, disappeared or were resettled or the scale of development taking place. These are all smokescreens to hide the true agenda. They are coming after the Rajapakse’s and no one else. Giving Sri Lanka’s assets and resources to India thinking they will return favors, allowing India to control strategic bases is not likely to make Rajapakse’s predicament any better for his departure would end up a competition on who gains access before the other. By that time Sri Lanka’s leaders may be replaced and held accountable for a host of things that can be compiled within minutes and Sri Lankans would find too late that their resources had been handed over to the enemy as well. This is the scenario unless the leaders wake up and take stock of the situation. The solution is not to strike deals thinking they will be let off the hook (because that’s not how things work).

There is more than a possibility that India functioning as US’s ally in the Asian region may well be forging these deals on behalf of the US as a strategic intention to eventually formulate a base in Sri Lanka. With 72million in Tamil Nadu unable to start even the minutest guerilla movement in Tamil Nadu for independence the likelihood of Tamil Nadu seeking separation looks all but a dream only. Besides, Tamil Homeland was just a mirage to create a façade and a raison d’etre for foreign presence in Sri Lanka. The cries, calls and demos overseas works to perfection to interfere in Sri Lanka using every excuse possible. To obtain permanent residency Tamil “economic refugees” would agree to anything (we may need to add some Sinhalese as well showcasing why “economic” reference is appropriate). These Diaspora elements and Tamil politicians are fooling Tamils big time with Eelaam Homeland.

Expose the world’s HR abuses

Our mistake has been and continues to be that Sri Lanka has failed to make use of the facts in our favor. We have been given the international podium and ended up delivering half-hearted appeals. Why have we not used every international podium to table the statistics of our civilian deaths, destruction to property, assassinations by LTTE? That fault lies squarely with the external affairs ministry and in all probability with its head whose records have shown nothing impressive except consistently functioning as a colonial-slave agreeing to everything the West suggests. If we are in a democracy why should any member nation feel shy to voice human rights violations of the accusers in diplomatic eloquence? We did not suggest to do a Mervyn style showdown. The art of diplomacy is that there are beautiful ways to put the truth or even lies across. We need to be brave enough to do so.

Expose India’s war crimes in Sri Lanka

There has never been any mention by Sri Lanka’s foreign service of India’s role in creating and nurturing the LTTE and this is a grave error for by omission we are voluntarily shielding and shouldering India’s crimes. India doesn’t give a damn what Sri Lanka thinks so why should we feel sorry for India? Keeping diplomatic relations is one thing but when things need to be said to correct distortions Sri Lanka must act as a sovereign nation. There’s no point submitting before nations and then crying that we are not being treated as a sovereign nation. It’s time we acted like one.

Investments and investing

The trap post-conflict was the requirement of Sri Lanka to showcase a plan of development and resettlement. By all accounts Sri Lanka’s achievement within 3 years of a 30 year conflict ending deserves kudus given that those accusing have millions yet to resettle and not a single plan to even do so. No resolutions against them, no UNHRC monitoring desk in their countries – but that’s how things work and this is the definition of “democracy” – “you say what we want you to say – you do what we want you to do”.

However, investments are viewed not on what merits the nation but on what goes into one’s pocket. Possibly this is how investments detrimental to the countrys’ sovereignty has come to be accepted despite plenty of warnings. The Sampur coal power plant was one such warning. Those that took part on behalf of Sri Lanka may like to explain to the nation if electricity to Sri Lanka is to be dictated by India the dire situation we may face given that India is a proven unreliable “friend”. Authorities need to relook at all India’s investments and finally accept that they have allowed India far too many leverages because of their personal gains. Never forget Mubarak’s fate and all his close associates now being hounded one after the other. That can very well happen to the leaders in Sri Lanka.

Foreign policy blunders

When the nation is proud of our armed forces why should the external affairs ministry feel shy to also articulate that pride? What stops them from being passionate enough to put things in proper perspective? Do the US / NATO apologizes for its crimes and these are far more than the “supposed” crimes Sri Lanka is accused of? How many of these international representatives even know what LLRC stands for? How many have read the recommendations, the LLRC Action Plan or even the dossiers compiled by the Ministry of Defense? For that matter how many in the External Affairs Ministry in SL has done so as well.

The UNHRC results were because of en masse block votes – US probably told these countries how to vote whilst only a few nations defied and they deserve our gratitude. Yet, even if this is the case it is obvious that Sri Lanka’s diplomats overseas are not projecting the true picture articulated to make at least the people and Governments broads understand the true picture. A handful of tourists who come and see the truth do a far better service in their blogs. The rest is done by the expat nationalistic patriots who painstakingly write and do whatever possible to erase the anti-Sri Lanka image but they don’t get the applause they deserve.

This is not a suitable way to move forward.

We need to have a clearly articulated policy. India’s policies do not change and it is the same for all other nations. What ails the country is that all of the key positions given to senior officials have been run according to their own personal thinking – thus when Sri Lanka should remain sovereign and unitary many have been promoting devolution and federalism and some would say functioned as agents of foreign nations. This has contributed to the detrimental agreements signed over the years because the political leadership lacks the knowledge to cross question and those tasked to do the job end up pushing their agendas. Was this not why agreements such as PTOMS, ISGA, 2002 Cease Fire had been signed? None of these officials deserve any portfolio or people’s respect for being part of these agreements that more or less sold the country.

It is these same officials who have not cared to place on record Sri Lanka’s objections to a NSA over and above being a terrorist organization to be treated on par with a democratically elected Govt of a sovereign nation. How many raised objections to the reference “both sides of the conflict”. If this being the case, why has Sri Lanka not refused “unilateral accountability” and insisted UN punish the LTTE for its crimes and its mouthpieces overseas are living as foreign residents promoting themselves as human rights champions to camouflage their terrorist ideology. Should officials not be insisting that they be charged for their links to LTTE especially financing terror?

Why have we not pursued legal actions for distortions – Channel 4 and NDTV plus a host of others using distorted images and fabricating stories.

The external affairs ministry has not boldly carried out doable goals to protect the nation.

A key blunder was to not articulate our military offensive under correct terminology. Advisors especially the legal and foreign ministry experts should have made sure every statement made by Sri Lankan authorities clearly articulated that we were applying Just War, we declared war on a non-state actor in an armed conflict moreover given that there are no IHL for terrorists, by virtue of LTTE being defined as a terrorist entity further enhancing their position from a NSA and in claiming that civilians were voluntarily with them their “civilian” status was in question. Reference to civilians should have all the time being in inverted commas because of the States inability to vouch that they were truly civilians. Authorities should have clearly articulated that the fact that Sri Lanka launched the “humanitarian” operation on top of the armed conflict was a gesture that no foreign military would have opted to do and it was because of the compassionate principles that Sri Lanka adopted that 5000 soldiers sacrificed their lives to save close to 300,000 Tamil “civilians”.

Why did we fail to put these legal shields in place – who is responsible for this major fallacy that has allowed Sri Lanka to be humiliated for no reason?

Sri Lanka’s Policies must be clear

We need to take a clear stand on 13a – if so, replace the provincial council system with a district based one delegating “devolution” relevant to day to day affairs only. All policy decisions/changes etc made at the center. The corrupt manner provincial councils are governed is enough reason for no delegation to be given. The ground is that no system can be introduced to satisfy foreigners if its going to end up eating into the pockets of the people.

With North populations dwindling allocation of parliamentary seats need to be reduced. Election system of voting parliamentarians need to change. The entire country is dissatisfied. First past the post system will be a good option. No political group should be allowed to bribe the nation and secure ministerial posts. The policy makers need to seriously sit down and see what ails the country and find methods to address them. Every second wasted thinking that everything is honky dory will end up adding a second to their eventual overthrow.

Politicians cannot think they are elected to power simply to attend events, ceremonial openings and travel round the island in motorcades. Their families cannot think they too hold ministerial rights as well. Politicians need to spend time to read, to be updated on world affairs and be more informed than they are currently.

The lessons:

· Rajapakse Government needs to realize that every diplomatic and international effort taking place is to oust them from power. Ignoring this and going about affairs in a way that gives fuel to demand ouster at local levels is committing hara kiri. The gameplan is to make Sri Lanka hang itself by its own follies. Allowing unfettered corruption to the levels that the Public end up having to pay enormous and unbearable cost of living is likely to lead to the Rajapakse’s paving the way for their own dismissal. Wake up to these realities. People unable to handle state institutes should not be kept – whether family or friend.

· If the armed forces sacrificed their lives to save the country – it must not be allowed to be demeaned, devalued or destroyed as a result of selfish personal commercial motives of a handful at the cost of the entire nation.

· Foreign Policy the pinnacle of what Sri Lanka’s future is all about cannot be given to a one-man show whose record is questionable. The foreign policy of Sri Lanka must tap Sri Lanka’s ancient historical past as those leaders had proven track records of domestic and international skills and diplomacy. Place of Buddhism, its laws and practices is most suitable in a world declining in values, natural resources and other vicissitudes. Place of Buddhism cannot be set aside because those holding portfolios personally think it is not fashionable enough.

There is much that needs to be done. Those that love the country enough not to betray are many still – those who do are made to look many because they buy themselves access to Sri Lanka’s media. Their actions may win them accolades amongst themselves but in the eyes of the rest they are looked down upon and they know so too.

Inspite of all this, the Government needs to be aware of the realities, who the snakes around them are and devise how best to come out of the situation by properly putting the country on track taking into consideration the dynamics that prevail to divide it.