Sacrifices for Sri Lanka’s CHOGM

CHOGM Sri Lanka - 2013

– by Shenali D Waduge –

Those who sold the idea to host CHOGM in Sri Lanka marketing the virtues of holding chairmanship of the Commonwealth, its values, the prestige, the pomp and pageantry, the arrival of VVIPs and other dignitaries forgot or ignored one important fact. The lobbying did not come without strings and the strings were not designed for Sri Lanka’s benefit and the ultimate plan was to lead a jubilant President and his Government to commit their own hara kiri – the 1st casualty of that endeavour became the northern provincial council elections an inaction against a party that openly campaigned on a separatist agenda and has won resoundingly.

How did CHOGM become more important than safeguarding Sri Lanka’s sovereignty?

We need to take note that the calls to hold the Northern elections came knowing that CHOGM was on the cards. But no official would have used the example of Iraq to remind those pointing fingers at Sri Lanka that Iraq a country illegally invaded by the US and NATO in 2003 promising to restore democracy gave the country its first election ONLY in 2013 – 10 years after illegal occupation. Sri Lanka’s North took part in its 1st election within months of war victory in 2009 with the 2010 Presidential Election with even the displaced voting.

The elections were held obviously as part of the promised deal to have the heads of Commonwealth nations visit Sri Lanka. Falling prey and ignoring the calls to first repeal the 13th amendment, remove land and police powers from the provincial councils that came even from the Defence Secretary were ignored. These were all deterrents that would have protected Sri Lanka in case of any mischief by both TNA and external factors. Deals will continue to be offered to ensure these items remain in limbo because these are loopholes.

Disregarded too were calls to use the 6th amendment to the Constitution against the TNA which would have forced them to change their manifesto and halted their separatist drive and ideology that continues to keep the Tamil public brainwashed. With separatism removed from TNA it would have been perfectly ok for the Tamils to vote for them – we cannot stop minority racism. Yet, the reality is that TNA won campaigning on a separatist agenda – yet how many Tamils would have even read the manifesto to realize this or even cared?

Why are we celebrating colonial rule?

If advisors had proposed to hold CHOGM taking the risk of a come-what-may approach in holding the election minus the importance of taking action on the 13th amendment, land and police matters and ignoring the 6th amendment such advisors need to be removed for the likelihood of taking Sri Lanka towards a Sudan-style or Kosovo type division is simply facing us in the horizon. And for what?

How many realize that all the hype associated with CHOGM is all about celebrating being a former colony? What is there to celebrate about that? Do we celebrate our people turned into slaves, treated as slaves to make the roads for which people now say we must thank the British? Do we celebrate the plunder of our country, the takeover of lands and property, mass murder of our ancestors, the conversion of the Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus? So why have we gone out of our way to even bring out the statue of Queen Victoria? How many in the Government know any of the exploits and tragedies to nations and natives under her rule? Do we celebrate this too?

How many cared to ask exactly what values would Sri Lanka’s President have to adopt while holding chairmanship of the CHOGM for 2 years? Did they not envisage that these commonwealth values would mean that he may be compelled to take his own soldiers before war crimes tribunal just to save his? These are all traps been laid out and sold taking into consideration the weaknesses of leaders. Let us remember that the CFA/ISGA/PTOMS all came with massive money carrots dangled to mesmerize politicians into appeaement!

How many of our advisors would shirk from the idea of questioning why Sri Lanka should ask Britain to apologize for its guilty history in Sri Lanka. As the head of the Commonwealth is it too much to expect Britain to admit that it plundered Sri Lanka, killed thousands of natives and converted them? Is it unfair to expect that Britain do justice for the wrong and apologize and compensate for their crimes? If Britain fails to admit its wrong what good are commonwealth values? These are nothing but hypocritical values.

Sri Lanka was built on Buddhist values and these values were based on compassion for both man and animal – who can find fault with such values that 180 Sinhala Buddhist kings followed even Tamil Chola King Elara who went so far as to punish his own son for harming a cattle. Why are our people hesitant to value the culture and Buddhist values brought down from history but go behind western values which we see falling apart in their original nations?

Minorities cannot dictate how the culture and values that passed down from history be changed simply because some liberal notion has dropped from the sky in the 21st century and totally foreign values have crept in following colonial rule?

Grim future unless….

The 5 year phase of peace marking the defeat of terrorism on 19 May 2009 to 21st September 2013 will soon usher in a period of tension and that is going to be only the beginning.

If we are hosting Commonwealth heads – these heads are coming from nations who were also former colonies and none of them except perhaps Australia and Canada can claim to be developed. Do we really need to make their short stay resemble that of a developed nation because all these trimmings are not coming out of anyone’s pockets but the taxpayer and much of the luxuries imported will not end up enjoyed by the public who are paying for them but by politicians who are simply counting the days when they can claim them for their own.

The commonwealth heads need to also realize they are coming into a country that is building itself from a 30 year war and they are well advised to ask themselves how far they had contributed to helping Sri Lanka during the 30 years to expect luxuries to  be showered on them.

The public will be in for further shocks no sooner these heads depart only adding to the high cost of living on account of political incompetence and corrupt government officials who continue to hold posts while sending the public into great difficulty. Does the Government realize that the blunders they have made in Sampoor power plant deal will leave generations of the Sri Lankan public and the environment of the country in jeopardy? Does the Government realize that inspite of voting for them how many houses are virtually living in darkness because they can’t afford to keep the light bulbs on? For the gratitude of placing faith in the Government it must surely get its act together and not take its vote base for granted. Were these deals also not part of the sacrifice for CHOGM who will suffer for a few days of pomp and pageantry?

The Buddhists voice

Many are noticing a rise in the Buddhist voice. That is so because they have watched in silence and have noticed that leaders are plunging the nation towards difficult times. They have noticed that leaders have taken for granted their vote and courted minorities giving undue privilege and spearheaded only the wishes of the minorities causing a lot of incursions likely to lead to greater calamities unless checked and halted. They have watched officials take decisions for personal gain or to advance agendas of those attempting to divide Sri Lanka. The majority are now claiming their historical ownership having realized the country’s sovereignty is at stake.

The majority Buddhists have a historical claim to Sri Lanka which no one can question. It is the majority Buddhists who came forward to defeat terrorism, it was they who fought the enemy and sacrificed their life. How many others who claim to be citizens of the country have come forward to defend the nation? During the last months of the war given that many soldiers became injured and 5000perished to save 300,000 Tamils it was the Southern mothers who gave 3000 of their sons each month so that the defence establishment was never in want of soldiers. This was the majority displaying nationalism to defend the nation. Those who defend the nation can only claim ownership to the land and all others forfeit that right. They cannot cloak status of victim and use that to demand to be put in par with the majority.

Has the Foreign Ministry defended the nation?

There is little doubt of the role of the Foreign Ministry but how far has it defended the nation. The West was quick to fault the appointments of military personnel in particular those who led the war effort because in them they saw true defenders of the nation and they preferred men and women who would tow an appeasing line comfortable to the western multicultural norms and western line of thinking and those seeing things from the western lens of what suits Sri Lanka. How many of such officials do we have in the foreign ministry? How many diplomats have been remunerated for slandering Sinhalese Buddhists because they are the stumbling block to taking over a nation and that is why at every turn the Sinhalese Buddhists are now targeted. Politicians are remunerated to go against the Sinhala Buddhists and Sinhala Buddhists become target because they are the stumbling block to securing the nation and it is they who back a political leader that protects the nation.

Why can’t the Foreign Ministry meet the public and entertain the thoughts of the public?

Why does the Foreign Ministry completely ignore the nationalist forces who passionately defend the nation considering them the hoi polloi (masses taken to mean in a derogatory sense)

Today the battlefield is in the communication arena and the foreign ministry is lagging behind where the patriotic forces are doing what the foreign ministry has failed to do.

How many of our diplomats would go out of their way to defend the nation? To what extent has the Foreign Ministry strategized on how Sri Lanka, though small and debt-ridden as we are needed to use the full strength of diplomacy and the openings afforded at diplomatic levels to get the true picture to the foreign politicians and even unbiased media and academia? How many of them felt a self-compunction to strategize how best to negate the false propaganda and to use their office to carry that message across without having to be told what to say and how to say it? There are a handful but even they are side-lined in the Foreign Ministry and given minor roles!

Why has the Foreign Ministry’s appointment of an expert who distorted historical facts to claim Anuradhapura was ‘multicultural’ on the guise of conflict resolution not been investigated? Respected diplomat Bandu de Silva in an article titled ‘A look at an Insider’s Challenge to History Brown Sahibs and cultural definitions’ exposes this superbly.

Where is the fight back that late Lakshman Kadiragamar proudly displayed at various international podiums making all citizens proud of the manner he defended the nation and answered questions leaving presenters speechless?

Has it not been left to the nationalist forces to out of their own personal funds to drive a campaign to respond to the negative media that has not had any attention of the government? Is it not the nationalist forces that are using social media and negating the lies and falsehoods that are being used to discredit Sri Lanka and push a totally divisive agenda that appears to be of little interest to politicians and their coterie interested in using every deal and opportunity to make a fast buck?

TNA’s Chief Ministerial candidate did not fall from the sky – these were all planned, just as how immediately after the war, the former army commander suddenly came out to challenge the President, the rise in fanaticism of Muslims and a new culture evolving is also part and parcel of the same set of incursive invasions that even the west is now realizing is a headache to the rest of their communities. Pointing out such resulting in their politicians using that to claim ‘victim’ status and enjoy more privileges is also part and parcel of a bigger plan – East and North need the same attention of intelligence and security forces as well as the Government. Attending openings and reading out prepared speeches is not enough in the light of the incursions taking place.

It has been easy to turn areas into minority only communities and use that to influence local authorities and provincial councils and slowly advance only the requirements of the minorities and the government and officials are either clueless or simply do not want to put systems right without realizing that they are simply inviting future troubles.

These incidents taking place are not without planning. The Government’s attention is always diverted to one area while multitude of plans are in place to attempt to dislodge and displace the Government but if the Government are foolish enough to play into these plans then it is committing its own hara kiri.

Let the President himself not forget that the present incursions can boil over and affect his 2015 Presidential poll and simply taking for granted his vote base is not a risk that should be taken for his advisors have ensured that the deals that have been struck are slowly meant to throttle the President subtly and without notice.

CHOGM was a bait and we will see several more casualties of falling prey to desiring to be the king of the show over and above the need to deal with pressing issues that should have been priority concerns. Let Sri Lanka also remember that any friend of Sri Lanka always eyes its own interests first and therefore Sri Lanka should also be thinking of the country’s interest and not that which suits other nations.

How many sacrifices need to be made to satisfy a handful and at what cost would it be to the nation and the people?

Having sacrificed the land what do they propose to do thereafter – what happened to the once leaders of Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Serbia ….. these are lessons for us all?