By Emil van der Poorten –
Every time any individual or group, foreign or local, sounds in any way critical of the Rajapaksa Regime, their local lackeys come storming out of their trenches, bayonets fixed, ready to do battle against “those in the pay of the neo-imperialists, “the “rump of the LTTE,” the “Tamil Diaspora” and/or some other anti-Sri Lankan entity that they either invoke or create for the occasion.
The reason that these folk incessantly advance for the allegedly evil conduct of these enemies of our heaven on earth is that they are simply “jealous of a country being run by and for Sri Lankan Buddhists as a virtual Valhalla.” These enemies of the (Sri Lankan) people are allegedly driven by simple JEALOUSY, no less and no more. I have been generous in my use of italics and bolded capitals in the preceding sentence because the obsessive behaviour I describe is deserving of such hyperbole. What makes matters even worse is that a significant number of people in this country buy into this belief! It has reached a point where a friend, writing recently to Colombo Telegraph, appears to have thrown up his hands in despair, saying the only sane response for anyone of decency was to leave Sri Lanka post haste!
Let me, however, try to advance a few facts that I hope will stop those now in mid-stride to the passport office, have them pause and consider the context of the current lunacy and return to hearth and home to give the land of their birth “another chance,” if you will.
Since these allegedly subversive organizations are identified as the root of Sri Lanka’s problems and ultimately responsible for a potential mass exodus of Sri Lankans of civility, it might be instructive to examine the credentials of those evil organizations.
The consistent claim –made over and over again, without a shred of evidence in support of it – is that those organizations critical of affaires Sri Lankan are in the pay of “the Tamil diaspora” in one guise or another. They seek to destabilize Sri Lanka and hand it over, presumably, to those same evil paymasters, the Big Bad Wolves of this particular tale. That scenario has the evil émigrés returning in triumph, killing all the Sinhala Buddhists and living happily ever after!
Let’s examine the more prominent of the international organizations that have consistently been pilloried in this manner particularly for calling for an independent investigation of the crimes against humanity and war crimes that were/might have been committed by both sides in the final days of the “Eelam war” because it is they who are primarily accused of being cat’s paws for the Eelam Horde and those of us critical of the current Sri Lankan government.
Let’s take the oldest of the currently prominent human rights organizations, Amnesty International (AI). Its statement of purpose reads: “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.” It first made an international impact, shortly after its founding in the very early seventies, in Sri Lanka, when educated rural youth, in an insurrection driven by unemployment, were being tortured and summarily executed by a government responding with unbelievable ferocity to their revolt. AI sent observers here, including one of its leading lights at the time, Martin Ennals, and ended up criticizing the government of Sirima Bandaranaike for its extra-judicial methods. AI has more than three million members worldwide and I am proud to have been a member of it many years ago while many of my friends continue in membership, actively supporting its work worldwide. It is more than a bit fanciful, to say the least, to suggest that such an organization can be bribed, in any shape, form or fashion, to do the bidding of any or all of the expatriate Tamil organizations or other evil-doers, don’t you think? In any event, a reference to the Wikipedia entry for the organization might prove instructive to the monumentally ignorant who keep parroting the official government line in the matter of “enemies of the state.” Sadly, those who are that ignorant will continue to be so because they choose that level of ignorance!
Next, let’s take a look at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Again, I’d recommend going to the internet for comprehensive information on the organization. However, it might be appropriate to refer to a few individuals who helped bring it into existence and continue to support it.
Among the founders were a President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, Gareth Evans (a past Foreign Minister of Australia) and Bernard Kouchner (founder of Medecins Sans Frontiers and future French Foreign Minister then). The current head of ICG is Louise Arbour who has a history without equal as a jurist, beginning in the Province of Ontario (Canada) where she distinguished herself not only on the bench but chairing very important special commissions of inquiry. She was elevated to the Supreme Court of Canada which she left to become the Secretary General of the United Nations Human Rights Council. There she was responsible for bringing to justice the first war criminals from the old Yugoslavia. She has been the recipient of something like forty (that’s right 40) honorary doctorates! Among ICG’s Board Members are Kofi Annan (a past Secretary General of the UN who, for the benefit of those alleging the organization to be a creature of US foreign policy, was pushed out of the UN by the US because he wouldn’t toe that country’s “line!”), Wim Kok, a previous ( Labour Party) Prime Minister of Holland etc. ICG has been consistently critical of human rights abuses around the globe, not letting off the hook states very obviously “clients” of the USA.
How about Human Rights Watch (HRW)? Suffice it to say that it has come under fire for being “pro-U.S-policy” in Latin America and “anti-Israel” in its treatment of issues involving the Palestinians. Any organization that is caught in that kind of cross-fire can hardly be accused of an overweening Pro-US bias! Its statement of purpose reads, “Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch opposes violations of what it considers basic human rights, which include capital punishment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Human Rights Watch advocates freedoms in connection with fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion and the press.” Given dedication to those ideals, one need hardly be surprised that HRW comes under consistent attack both by the current government of Sri Lanka and its acolytes!
Constraints of time and space do not permit of discussion of the other “culprits” in the matter of being “paid conspirators” against Sri Lanka. These include, but are not restricted to, Barack Obama, Members of the British and Canadian Houses of Commons, the Swiss, German and French legislatures, the US Senate, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy etc.
The political climate in Sri Lanka is one in which Richard Milhous Nixon would have thriven! There is what can accurately be described as a dedication to falsehood, threat and intimidation in response to anything resembling critical assessment. This extends into every area of expression, be it at time of elections, in the media generally or even in the matter of private street-corner or drawing-room conversation, with virtually every media outlet either owned or controlled by the government or self-censoring to the point of irrelevance in its reporting. A recent classic example of this is the fate of Sri Lanka’s Columnist of the Year 2012, Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema, who had her home invaded TWICE, and her family, including a ten-year old daughter absolutely terrorized by armed thugs. This was followed by a completely fraudulent story, alleging her possession of jewellery of huge value, circulated as an “official” response. That this act of terrorism didn’t end in murder(s) was only due to fortuitous circumstances – her husband arriving home in the early hours of the morning rather than being in the house at the time the gang broke in!
I saw a recent reference to that famous quote about taking the beam out of one’s eye before pointing out the mote in one’s neighbour’s. That certainly came to mind when juxtaposing the barrage of accusations against those allegedly in the pay of the Tamil Tiger Rump/Tamil Diaspora/Enemies of the People of Sri Lanka against the kind of criminality that Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema and her family have been subjected to. And the response of our media which seems only too ready to support the conspiracy theorists I have already mentioned? Not so much as a mention of the fact that no one even knows the whereabouts of Sri Lanka’s most recent Columnist of the Year, chosen by the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) and The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL), not even from the leading lights of those two organizations!
The icing on that particular cake is that four days before I typed this – on the 19th of September – CTV News, Canada’s most watched television network, reported the fact that Mandana had fled Sri Lanka and was in “a north American country.” Maybe the SLPI and TEGOSL should set up a special award for “Lack of Intestinal Fortitude” and present it to one of their number next year! That might provide an indication of who are REALLY “bought and paid for” and by whom!