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Serendipity

 

 

Lanka David Vs World Goliath

It is heading for a David Vs Goliath confrontation — Sri Lanka Vs the United States of America and Europe or in short Sri Lanka Vs the Rest of the World. The US State Department is to present a report on ‘war crimes in Sri Lanka’ allegedly committed during the last phase against the war against terrorism. There is also a special report by European Union investigators on the extension of GSP Plus concessions to Sri Lanka (amounting to $ 3.3 billion) that had made adverse comments on the violation of conditions stipulated about human rights. The fallout of these adverse moves could bury the little Lanka David.

It is indeed ironic that from biblical times, in stories about little Davids and giant Goliaths, little David’s supporters have been numerous and few or none had rooted for the Goliaths. But in this David Vs Goliath confrontation the Lankan David stands almost alone while the giant Goliath has the backing of all the universal giants.

The only support for the Lankan David comes solely from Sri Lankans. Sri Lankans whether they like their President Mahinda Rajapakse — who has stepped into the shoes of David — or not, have no other option but to back him for otherwise they would be letting down Sri Lanka — permitting  interference in their internal affairs, violation of their sovereignty and being treated as a third rate nation.

The rights and wrongs in this controversy have been subjected to scorching debates on TV and the press and need no repetition. While desperate Sri Lankans have vented their spleen in the media to no effect, the question to be posed is: Can this little island with scant resources afford to take on this confrontation? And if so for how long?

No country with meagre resources such as ours can alone take on the Western industrial countries particularly when they happen to be our top ranking trading partners. It is time our leaders decide to unlock the locked horns and think of alternative strategies. The mood right now is upbeat — one of righteous indignation but those at the helm must consider where all this froth and fury, however justifiable it may be, will take this country?

Yankee Dicky

A starting point would be to consider where it went wrong. How did Sri Lanka and these Western countries who were friends and allies begin to drift apart? The West and Sri Lankan governments differed on how to resolve the ethnic problem from the very commencement, the West calling for a political solution while governments found it impossible to drop the military option with Velupillai Pirapaharan hell bent to carve out a state with the force of arms.

J.R. Jayewardene, the pro American ‘Yankee Dicky’ was thwarted from exercising the military option only by the intervention of India. Yet, relations with Western nations remained firm as ever with these countries funding the massive Accelerated Mahaweli Project and other development projects.

Friction between the Rajapakse administration and the West was apparent from the very beginning and came to a head during the final stages of the war on LTTE terrorism. The West was manifestly wrong in demanding the end to the military operations at the climax of a 30 year old war. How could they have expected the war to have been called off at that stage? Was it the failure of Sri Lankan diplomacy that brought the Lankan-Western clash to a climax? Or were there other reasons as alleged now?

Failure in diplomacy

Has the LTTE been successful in lobbying/buying/ or convincing the West as alleged although the West still considers the LTTE a foreign funded terrorist organisation? Has not the West cracked down on the LTTE, even during the final stages of the war, on financial operations in those countries?

If the LTTE, under trying conditions during its dying days, was able to lobby and influence American and European governments what were the efforts made by the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry and its missions abroad? If these allegations of LTTE lobbying are true is it not an admission of the abject failure of our Foreign Ministry?

Deny allegations

Human rights violations were and still are cited as reasons for the Western crackdown. These violations have been denied outright by the Sri Lankan government. Why are we not able to produce documentary, photographic evidence to disprove these allegations? Mere harsh editorial rhetoric and articles by intellectuals spotlighting the hypocrisy of the West in the press will not do. Western hypocrisy has been rubbed into them from colonial days but colonialist skins are impervious to the truth

Was keeping out the media — particularly the Sri Lankan media — from areas of conflict a gross mistake? The independent Sri Lankan media could at least have justified the government’s claims, if they were true.

For the past few weeks Sri Lankan leaders and the media have been lambasting the British TV Channel 4 for screening a horrendous video where some people alleged to be Sri Lankan security personnel are shooting unarmed Tamils. Sri Lankan experts have declared the video to be faked but Philip Alston, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Extra Judicial Killings has called for an independent investigation into the authenticity of the video.

Sri Lanka should ask the UN to go ahead and conduct such an investigation.  Dilly-dallying on this video will only result in international audiences accepting it was true even though we Sri Lankans will scream denials in our little island till we are blue in the face.

The Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara has called upon parliament to make a vigorous defence of the country against the slurs made. But alas, can the parliament claim to have any credibility or expect respect from the outside world if they are to go by the way members of the supposedly august assembly have behaved? Does the Speaker expect the opposition to support any move made by government members considering the gross manner in which the opposition MPs have been treated?

Human Rights in General Assembly

The UN itself  is pressing hard on protection of human rights of Tamils particularly those IDPs held in camps against their will. The government bragged quite a lot about their diplomatic success in thwarting moves to condemn this country for violation of human rights against Tamils at the UN in Geneva. The man who worked out the strategy and led the charge to defeat the Western move appears to have treaded on the toes of the high and mighty and is no longer a ‘war hero.’ He has been brought back to the lecture rooms of the Colombo Campus.

Is there no strategy to defend Sri Lanka at the current General Assembly sessions on allegations of violation of human rights? Even though we have only China and Russia who may cast their vetoes in Sri Lanka’s favour in the Security Council what of the General Assembly where we are expected to have mass support. Have they been canvassed and asked to take up Sri Lanka’s cause?

Conspiracy

Finally, it is alleged that there is a vast conspiracy led by Western powers and backed by NGOs against the Rajapakse administration to destroy it. Is it because of President Rajapakse developing close relations with China and also with regimes such as that of Ahmadinejad of Iran, Gaddafi of Libya, the Burmese military junta and Hugo Chavez far away in Venezuela?

China has very close relations with many other countries but it is not known whether America and other Western nations have conspired against governments  of these China-friendly countries. With friends like Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad and the Burmese junta, are conspiracies necessary? Or is it that President Obama leads the Western nations with the objective of combating the Mahinda Chinthanaya?


 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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