The Sunday Leader

Illusion-Mongering, For Geneva

“The bamboozle has captured us”. - Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World)

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

The Rajapaksa administration’s tryst with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is just two months away. India, Spain and Benin are assigned to review the Lankan case; indubitably, Delhi’s will be the decisive voice.
The UPR report will be submitted to the next UNHRC session. That session will also review the progress made by the Rajapaksa administration in implementing its own LLRC Report, since the one year grace-period accorded to Colombo under the UNHRC Resolution will end in March 2013. An unfavourable UPR report is bound to colour the way the UNHRC will view and judge Colombo’s record.
A negative outcome in Geneva will not cause an international tsunami; NATO forces will not swoop on the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port; nor will the UN impose sanctions. But a second Geneva debacle can produce some serious international irritants. For instance, it will impact adversely on the 2013 Commonwealth Summit in Hambantota by strengthening boycott calls and igniting diplomatic efforts for a venue-change.
A über-successful Hambantota Summit is a Rajapaksa desideratum. President Rajapaksa’s unquenchable yearning to rub shoulders with Western leaders is no secret; and he must be imagining so many ‘The Queen and I’ moments – Lankan dinners and English teas, many a têta-à-tête and innumerable photo-opportunities. Mahinda Rajapaksa clearly intends to be the ‘Belle’ of the ‘Hambantota 2012’ Ball and he would not want anything to mar this gala he is giving himself, at an enormous cost to the nation.
So Colombo will go the extra mile to ensure a favourable UPR Report.
The question is what will that extra mile consist of? Will it consist of real improvements in the observance of human rights and the protection of democratic freedoms? Or will it consist of lies and deceptions?

Political Hallucinogens

Last month, in response to an outbreak of child abuse by politicos, the UPFA decided to sack those of its elected representatives implicated in serious crimes.
Sampath Chandrapushpa, the Chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha, is the key suspect in the Christmas Eve-murder of a British tourist and rape of a Russian tourist. His letter of dismissal was sent by the UPFA General Secretary on July 25th. Just four days later, on July 29th, the same General Secretary sent a second letter to Mr. Chandrapushpa informing him that “the previous letter is invalid and he has been reinstated as PS Chairman and that his party membership has been restored” (The Sunday Leader – 12.8.2012).
Tangalle is the Rajapaksa-heartland; the Ruling Family would have handpicked the man to Chair the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha. That man was Sampath Chandrapushpa. The on-high mandated political-reincarnation of this alleged murderer-cum-rapist reinforces a familiar lesson: Rajapaksa favourites are above the law. Under Rajapaksa Rule, absolute impunity is the reward for total fealty to Rajapaksa-interests.
The Sampath Chandrapushpa tale is also indicative of the course the regime will take to evade a second Geneva debacle.
Lies and deceptions are indispensable weapons in the Rajapaksa arsenal. The Siblings know that in politics it is not necessary to deceive all the people all the time; deceiving the target audience of the moment, for the moment, would more than suffice.
When Indian Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj visited Colombo, President Rajapaksa informed her of his willingness to implement the 13th Amendment in full. Less than a week later he denied that he even discussed the 13th Amendment with Ms. Swaraj.
After the Geneva debacle, Minister G. L. Peiris trekked to Washington and presented to Hilary Clinton a human rights plan, a document so comprehensive as to win the unqualified approval of that exacting lady. Within days, the Rajapaksa regime denied the very existence of the plan.
When a controversy arises, and a national or international uproar ensues, the Rajapaksas adopt a conciliatory mien. They make the right noises, offer extravagant promises, appoint commissions and occasionally sacrifice a few foot-soldiers. They buy time by creating the impression of compliancy and reasonableness. Once the looming danger becomes less immediate, the undertakings are contradicted, commissions consigned to oblivion and it is back to ‘ruling as usual’ for the Siblings.
That, for instance, was how the Tigers dealt with the issue of child conscription during the Third Peace Process. Their first recourse was Denial: ‘We don’t have a single child soldier’; then came Reality-Distortion via Language Rules: ‘We have a few child soldiers because some war-orphans absolutely insisted on joining’. Next came the Undertakings: ‘We will release all child soldiers by…’ followed by ‘Stage-managed visits’: ‘Come and see for yourselves’. Off and on, the Tigers would ‘demobilise’ a handful of child soldiers with much fanfare, while hiking up conscription, away from the public eye.
The Rajapaksas resorted to the same smoke-and-mirror method on innumerable occasions, their clever use of the IIGEP to deflect international pressure on human rights during a crucial period in the Fourth Eelam War being an ideal case in point. A tome would be necessary to do justice to the dexterous manner in which the Siblings confounded India on the devolution issue. When the Rajapaksas re-enthroned the unitary-state concept, they silenced India by supporting a political solution based on 13+. As the war entered its final phase, they did another pole-vault and rejected 13+ while lauding the 13th Amendment and promising to implement it fully. Once the war was won, the full implementation of the 13th Amendment was replaced with 13- (no land or police powers). The current position is a ‘home-grown solution’ in place of the Indian-imposed 13th Amendment.
Last week, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo advocated the expeditious implementation of the LLRC plus a political solution to the ethnic problem. He was clearly hinting as to what Colombo needed to do to obtain Indian backing in Geneva. According to media reports, before the March 2012 vote in Geneva, India asked the Rajapaksas to agree to the 13th Amendment. The Siblings refused (probably under the misconception that Beijing could deliver); India voted against Sri Lanka.
To avoid a repeat, the Rajapaksas may promise Delhi 13 or even 13+. Basil Rajapaksa might deliver the undertaking personally, coupled with a confidential plea for Indian forbearance, until he and his ‘moderate’ brothers can rein in the Sinhala hardliners. (Today the JHU is a mere Rajapaksa creature but will Delhi remember that?). Since the Siblings would know that behind the grand political rhetoric, Delhi’s truest concern is for rupees and cents, they might buy some credibility with a few sweetheart land-deals plus promise to sign the free-trade agreement.
It might work because Washington and Delhi, despite manifold evidence to the contrary, seem to believe that the President of little Sri Lanka would not really lie to them. Lie to Sinhalese and Tamils – yes; lie to the Global or Regional superpower – absolutely not.Human rights and democratic freedoms, including devolution, are anathema to the Rajapaksas. Their real nature can be best understood by little incidents such as the unnecessary defacing of the road-mural commemorating Neelan Tiruchelvam. That churlish act was not motivated by political need. They did it because they can do anything. Absolute and arbitrary power is what the Siblings want. That is why they will promise heaven and earth, and deliver purgatory.

12 Comments for “Illusion-Mongering, For Geneva”

  1. Saro

    It is an open secret that people of notoriety namely Mervin Silva, Douglas Devananda, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, Santhirakasan and many more higher assailants to afloat this corrupt and dishonest government. There have been many abductions and murders of dissidents and journalists, has a single culprit been properly brought to justice? NO.

    Friendly western and eastern politicians and diplomats were invited to wine and dine with the anticipation of impressing the international community to escape from the investigations of alleged war crimes, violations of international laws and gross human rights violations. All that we have seen are wasteful -time and money – committees and concealment of their reports. Those who helped the government to eliminate the only opposition in May 2009 have a lot to answer for the continuing sufferings and hardship of the masses of all communities.

  2. Lanka Liar

    Yea you have characterized Sri Lankan behavior. Do you have a single English word for this character. Perhaps shall we call it “Lanking”

  3. punchinilame

    The Sinhala media has censored itself so much so that n single sinhala voice
    opposing the Crimes of the MR+Family will be ever heard, making way for
    another 2/3rd majority!

  4. Sri

    Not purgatory but hell under the PTA? That is assured. It will be a repeat of the LLRC, then an Action Plan, then possibly a National Commmittee to study the Action Plan and make recommendations to the Select Committee and so on and so forth until time heals the bad memories until finally RIP. Then of course it will be time for the next election. The Chinese mix up the l’s fro the r’s and ,may be on standby at Hambantota just in case of any “trouble”, a well known established fact of life in Sri Lanka so long as the PTA is in place with 300,000 military,.The future is assured given the well known fact that “democracy” by elections is agiven factor. Jayawewa! The IC can be taken care of by throwing few billions of $ worth of arms and armaments their way to heal their broken economies.

  5. WEST IS BEST

    This govt and country are going to the dogs. I hope international forces will invade SL and sanctions will be implemented so that this genocidal third world govt will be kicked out for good. Liars, crooks and rapists. I single handedly stop anyone from my western country from visting SL on holiday. It is the worst country in the world.

    • Hewa

      I am a Sri Lankan living abroad and here on a short holiday.I only saw or heard a little of the stuff the above 6 contributors to this forum have written but on the other hand quite a number of positive features and developments. Yes there are rapists, crooks and many other bad types but tell me which country does not have them.You mentioned of stopping tourists coming to SL but what I saw at the airport and some hotels only mean that you are living in a dream world.The other point I observed is that the media in SL is either totally supportive ( the likes of DN) or completely negative( the likes of SL) of the Government.; very few take an unbiased view.SL is a country which has overcome a bloody terrorist war with the ruthless LTTE after nearly 3 decades. Name one country which has fully defeated terrorism in our living memory.Quite a number who write to these columns are venting their anger after being unable to accept the fact that Eelam and a divided Sri Lanka is nothing but a dream.MR gets the credit for defeating terrorism and uniting the country but he should also realize that law and order, better human rights and an administration sans crooks are now the needs of the hour.

      • SamSamNorway

        Dear Hewa
        “West Is Best” is salivating at the thought of a white mans invasion of Sri Lanka.. because the US does not have the largest per-capita incarceration numbers on the planet and there is no crime there.. Nothing like race-riots of the British variety or nutbar-shootings of the Wisconsin or Oslo variety.. No rape of underaged kids by (well.. we all know who)…
        So, West is Best is right.. There is no crime in the West (it IS Best after all)
        :-)

      • @Hewa
        There are plenty of Silly Lunkets like you now domiciled in western countries, who come on a months holiday once a year and try to tell the rest of the people who live, work and suffer under this ”Family Dictatorship” how great life is for them. YES. No bombs going off at the moment…but that is the only silver lining to be seen. Everything else is there from abductions of political opponents to corruption of olympic proportions to the rape of children by politicians of the ruling party and the country being turned into one big army camp…and not forgetting the hundreds of people escaping by boat to Australia. Why don’t you come and live and work for a year in this country and then postulate what a great country you live in?

  6. Sinniah

    How many will heed your words?

    They semmes to be born to do that…..

  7. Ebenezer Thurairajah

    @Hewa

    You are posting a link to an article by “Renaissance Man” ?????????

    An avowed anti-Rajapakse, former Canadian who decided to return to t he
    Emerald Isle (for some reason, obviously) and now spends his time grumbling about how bad things are in Sri Lanka when compared to Canada ??

    Give me a break !!!

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