By Emil van der Poorten –
Subsequent to the Human Rights Council’s resolution on Sri Lanka this year there has been some thoughtful analysis from knowledgeable quarters. There has also been the (inevitable) sycophantic babble from the “Rajapaksa Pandam Hamudawa” (R-P-H) that seems to constitute the larger part of the “punditocracy” of Sri Lanka, thanks to the government’s ownership of or control over the media. The R-P-H determined that Sri Lanka won some kind of moral victory and suggests that everyone from the Congo to the United Arab Emirates who voted “for” Sri Lanka practiced democracy and human rights on their home turf, when, in fact, the only countries which appear to be close to practicing democracies in that list are Venezuela and Ecuador! The tragedy, though, is that these monumental idiocies are likely to be believed by the semi-literate that constitute a significant part of the English-language newspaper readership of this country!
This rubbish deserves appropriate dismissal, particularly considering the source. When Sinhala Buddhist triumphalism rose another notch with the Rajapaksa regime’s cobbling together more votes in Geneva than those seeking to censure the Debacle of Asia, I described that event as a Pyrrhic victory. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would have realized that that “victory” was not going to provide final determination in the matter of international attitudes towards Sri Lanka’s human rights record. Despite a pompous professorial boast about having vanquished the forces of evil, two years later those chickens have come home to roost. In fact, the first resolution of censure came last year and this one only serves to confirm opinion and intent.
The abuse of any and all critics and a new plethora of fabrications and bluster has been the response of a morally bankrupt regime. It was NEVER likely to work, despite the smarm on its edges provided by the “academic troika” that continues to sup at its table while preparing the ground for a departure from its ranks should the opportunity present itself! It should have been evident to anyone that the lies the government spokespeople kept spouting, particularly since they were often contradictory, could not be maintained even over the short term.
Now you have the spectacle – again – of the “circle-the-wagons-and-shoot-madly-in-every-direction” gang at full volume. We have one government spokesperson thanking India for its conduct in Geneva while another seeks to take back from the Lanka Indian Oil Company its storage tanks on Orr’s Hill in Trincomalee, in an act of petty revenge. You have an alleged civil servant who arrogates unto himself the authority of some middle-eastern Pasha expressing his disappointment over India’s conduct at Geneva. The contradictions are numerous, to say the least, and to expect any reduction in the days ahead would be completely unrealistic and is akin to providing a troop of monkeys with cut-throat razors and then expecting them to use those tools and march up and down the parade ground in military formation!
Sri Lanka’s government spokespersons, have lied over and over again in a manner that has put Richard Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook!” to shame. The difference here is that Nixon was no fool and the R-P-H are distinguished only by their determination to write the definitive guide-book on self-aggrandizement with little intelligence to apply to that exercise.
And what about the “International community?” Is it likely to rise up on its hind legs, whinny loudly like some Sri Lankan Lone Ranger’s steed and stomp on these miserable defilers of human rights and elementary decency? Not a hope, my friends. They can’t be bothered to provide our Rulers for Life with anything more than a gentle rap across the knuckles because they have more important fish to fry than this misbegotten bunch with a proclivity for mayhem and murder. There are all kinds of new vistas that are opening up in places such as Myanmar, Kenya, West Africa and Zimbabwe, not to mention the Maghreb. They know their energies can be far more profitably exerted in such places with the promise of paybacks both higher and of longer duration than the Debacle of Asia can provide.
To repeat for the umpteenth time: the only support for those concerned with the moral dimension of what has happened and is happening in Sri Lanka are the people of decency in organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group. And let me anticipate the usual babble from the R-P-H by asking them to please substantiate their endless accusations that all and sundry critical of the Sri Lankan government are “in the pay of the LTTE-rump” or whatever their current term of choice is. Put up or shut up once and for all! The simple reality is that it is such organizations and individuals with a social conscience – be they from Trincomalee, Timbuctoo or Toronto – that have kept the fires of morality and ethics in Sri Lanka despite significant personal risks to themselves and their families from a junta that will brook no dissent.
To repeat what I have said before, what will force the final denouement is the looming economic collapse. Even though there is a significant (and noisy) moronic fringe insisting that the “White Economies” will collapse and Sri Lanka will emerge Phoenix-like, out of that carnage, reality suggests otherwise. Add to that the fact that the means that might have been available to us in the national treasury to alleviate the looming financial crisis have either been plundered or frittered away through monumental incompetence in administration.
There are only so many loans that can be raised to pay the interest on those that are already coming due and the destitution that is going to be visited upon all but the Kleptocratic Family is only too evident already. However, one little thing needs to be remembered by those plundering the substance of every Sri Lankan of this generation and the generations to come: this is a small island and when you reduce us all to near-terminal “badagini,” there isn’t going to be enough escape road for even your fastest Lamborghini!