22 October, 2017

Belarus And Sri Lanka: Birds Of A Feather

By Pearl Thevanayagam

Pearl Thevanayagam

Both Belarus and Sri Lanka share some commonalities in the field of governance, press freedom and human rights. These do not exist in the two countries and their respective presidents truly and sincerely believe their countries are their own fiefdom and not a democracy as many of us would want to believe.

It may not be common knowledge that as President of Belarus since 1994, Alexander Lukashenko, brazenly extended his term through constitutional amendments to fit in to secure unlimited presidency not unlike our own authoritarian president of two tenures to infinitive thus appropriating himself the leadership of Belarus against the will of his people and against democracy.

Belarusis a one party democracy and it does not tolerate dissent. It declared independence on August 25, 1990 and it is a battered nation successively ruled by invaders.

EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) in UK organised the Press Freedom Forum on Belarus, an annual event examining press freedom in under-reported countries, at the House of Commons in 2007. The event coincided with the visit of Lukashenko to UK where this writer and a Belarusian exiled journalist went to cover the press conference in London. Access was denied to us by the black-suited bodyguards of the president.

On a tip-off the president would be staying in Mayfair that night and hosting a dinner reception, we hot-footed it to the hotel in the biting November cold and stood for hours at the door handing out leaflets outlining the many human rights violations including curtailment of press freedom to the dignitaries arriving to welcome him.

Some of them hissed profane words according to my Belarusian colleague and others simply refused to take our leaflets. Anyhow, we left a bundle at the reception and left another lot at Frontline, the war correspondents’ club in London.

Mahinda Rajapaksa decamped to Belarus of all places to visit his counterpart last week as the UNHRC chief was in Sri Lanka on her fact-finding mission. He probably was seeking sagely advice on how to thwart UN scrutiny on his abysmal performance in annihilating a terrorist outfit aka the Tamil Tigers along with 40,000 or more Tamil civilians.

The ending of the 30 or more year long protracted war between the governments and the LTTE is certainly a victory for the whole country. But it did not result in the peace envisaged.

Dirt-poor army recruits from villages who thought they were protecting a Sinhala Buddhist nation from the clutches of terrorism and more importantly for the price of a few lakhs of rupees bestowed on their surviving family members in case they die a heroic death in the cause of their motherland returned in body bags. ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) which ordered them pre-emptively will vouch for this.

What price patriotism?

UNHRC chief Navi Pillay arrived last week in Sri Lanka to probe war crimes among other matters, which if her dossier she had gathered since the end of war in May 2009 and earlier investigations of the 30 or more years of war against Tamil Tigers and the systematic undermining of the rights of ethnic Tamils by successive governments proved correct, then  President Mahinda Rajapaksa who hammered the last nail in the coffin during his tenure since 2004 to stamp out Tamils has a very good chance to be despatched to Hague along with his cohorts as war criminals alongside Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Charles Taylor of Liberia, Cambodia leaders and other war criminals such as leaders of Rwanda and Congo among others.

Hague prison for war criminal leaders has good facilities including TV and internet access as befits world leaders who had hitherto enjoyed their VVIP status. This is a fate neither disinformation campaigns nor diplomacy can thwart. The president’s destiny is sealed and his days are numbered.

Ms Pillay is someone who brooks no nonsense when it comes to human rights violations. Salvos thrown in her direction that she is a Tamil is no excuse; she stands for justice for the oppressed and she has a proven track record of judging for herself the atrocities leaders committed against dissenters and minorities. UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) which metamorphosed from commission which did not have much clout takes her submissions very seriously.

Tamils in Sri Lanka have waited for far too long since independence to gain parity and they have endured decades of suppression all in the name of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony contrary to the teachings of their Guru Lord Buddha who chose the middle path and showed all humans are equal and showed compassion towards his enemies and revered even the lowliest forms of life.

Buddhism is now a chauvinistic and self-serving philosophy where its followers choose to oppress other religions as we see in Burma and our own island.  Buddhism is now pitting against Islam now that its focus has shifted away from Hindu Tamils. And they have the support of the West for whatever reasons. Justice has been delayed and justice needs to come fast and full. The government should be prepared for its destiny.

*The writer has been a journalist for 24 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal; where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com

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    “Dirt-poor army recruits from villages who thought they were protecting a Sinhala Buddhist nation from the clutches of terrorism and more importantly for the price of a few lakhs of rupees bestowed on their surviving family members in case they die a heroic death in the cause of their motherland returned in body bags. ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) which ordered them pre-emptively will vouch for this.”

    We and the Nation are for ever grateful for our dirt poor army recruits who saved our nation from evil . so you can go stuff your self pearl .

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      abhaya,

      You are an ostrich and because your head is buried in the sand you don’t see anything and any impending dangers.
      But you are an idiot so it is no point trying to educate you. This time next year your proud nation will be getting ready to wave goodbye to your MR under whose Command the Dirt-Poor army butchered thousands of Tamils.

      Despite the backing of the Former World Power Russia Milosevic was put on a Plane by its people to face trial at the Hague and you will be standing amongst the Dirt-Poor Army to wave goodbye and will be proud no doubt.

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    I do not believe that President MR’s days are numbered or his destiny sealed. Unlike other tyrants MR Inc. are still revered by the majority as the ultimate heroes.

    The Sri Lankan people are reconciled to the idea that the tyrannical rule of the Rajapaksa brothers are a small price to pay for the deliverence of the country from the iron grip of LTTE. In a country that thrives on the Mahanama and Ravana myths and packaged modern day lies, the myth of the Rajapaksa invincibility will go on and on and on.

    No chance of MR or his brothers being handed to the hague.

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      Gonbella,

      From what you have uttered it is obvious you don’t know much about International Politics.
      For your information it is not what you lot think or do that matters but what the power players think and do.
      If America decides to do something there is nothing in the World that can stop them and if you want proof just follow what is going to happen in Syria.
      America has decided to punish MR and again if you proof just listen to statements from the State Department on Sinhala Lanka

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    Pearl, good thing you didn’t make it to Minsk; cold as hell!
    Still it was nice to see Percy and Alex chatting away like old love birds. After Alex offered Percy the trad welcome of a piece of bread and a pinch of salt, the two got down to nibbling draniki and sipping kvass as they groped for some familiar subjects for discussion. They consoled each other on the mutual loss of the EU GSP status but agreed, what the hell, we can do without European largesse. They exchanged tips on the challenges that came with extending presidential terms and how to handle cocky ngo’s and irritant journalists. But they rued at how difficult it was to get in a bit of personal shopping when in London. Both men confessed to difficulties with their neighbouring big brothers and agreed that it is always best to check your fingers when shaking hands with them. O, how they laughed!
    One other thing Pearl; the Belorussian food was nothing to write home about – worse than two-day-old thosai. True! But….psst! the presidential entourage took their own rice cooker, samba, spices, rampa and karapincha. Fine thing no!
    Pearl, all that you have written is spot on. How odd that our president was unable to be here to keep order in the sty when the good lady visited. Damn shame no when ministers of state behave like half-past-six oiks. Then again what do you expect. However, the lady is nobody’s fool and will surely execute the coup de grace in style and in her time. Now that THE VISIT is over it will be business as usual and our saffron robed thugs will be back on the prowl looking for a bit of action against our hapless muslim brethren who are now firmly flavour of the year. And yet, the common man in our island paradise lives on in happy ignorance that Sinhala-buddhists are fast earning an international reputation as the new ethno-religious pariahs. What a sorry state of affairs.
    One final tip, Pearl. I learned that if you do business in Belarus you run the risk of being shunned by American banks. Is that true? Or is it just ‘certain’ types of business?

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    Hope the international vested interests (West, India, China, Russia, etc.) don’t sabotage an independent international Investigations on war crimes committed during the war against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

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      Correction: “………..during the war against Tamils in Sri Lanka”

      There was no war against Tamils in Sri Lanka but against Tamil Tiger Terrorists in Sri Lanka.

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    Birds Of A Feather, flock together

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    The two Rajapassa brothers will have to convict some people at least those involved in the killings of the five students and the 17 aid workers…they are not going to fool the international community with zero casualties stories and stories about how many people the LTTE killed. If not, I suppose in time if they continue to drag their feet, a warant may go out for their heads just like what happened to Omar Al Bashir of Sudan.
    All of this depends on how good their luck is. Idi Amin died in exile in Saudi, Pinochet died of old age and Pol Pot died in the jungles in his sleep…but people like Saddam and Gaddafi died violent deaths. I wonder if the Rajapassa brothers ever think about such things? The diaspora seems like they are in this for the long run and they seem to have plenty of patience like the Nazi hunter Simon Weisanthal. Lets wait and see what fate holds for the Rajapassa brothers…

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    Man
    Kinda is not birds of feather he birds of poops

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    “Buddhism is now a chauvinistic and self-serving philosophy where its followers choose to oppress other religions as we see in Burma and our own island. Buddhism is now pitting against Islam now that its focus has shifted away from Hindu Tamils. And they have the support of the West for whatever reasons. Justice has been delayed and justice needs to come fast and full. The government should be prepared for its destiny.”

    In 1948 governance of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon)by “Mahasammathaya” was changed to “Janasammathaya”. Except the government of referendum in 1983-1989, all other governments were duly elected by people exercising their franchise. Results of elections since 2009 reflects gratitude to MR and those who campaigned against MR or expressed views critical of MR or sold the soul of the country of birth for dollars fled the country. Now there are many fronts of those live overseas in exile and still selling the soul of the country to make a living in exile.

    The name of the writer indicates that she is a Tamil Christian. I am not a racist or a fundamentalist. Yet I cannot forget the suffering of Sinhala Buddhist and Tamil Hindu colleagues during my university days. Muslim Colleagues from poor economic backgrounds were supported by Islamic organizations and so were the Roman Catholic and Christian Colleagues from same background. Other than the education loans disbursed through bank of Ceylon or People’s Bank there were no assistance from Buddhist or Hindu Societies.

    It is very clear that critics of the regime have now chosen the religions as the cover for creating clashes between communities of different faiths. BBS vs Islamist-Muslims on Halal issue was given wide publicity but the underlying issue of Wahhabi-Muslims trying to get a legal foothold for Sharia Law, recognition of Madrasahs in national education policy and raising funds for all activities through halal certification, was never given publicity or mentioned.

    Under these circumstances it can be argued that MR is in the process of creating a non-aligned movement of countries in search of economic cooperation without racism and religious fundamentalism. “Cataclysm” by William Clark would be worth reading.

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    Curious to know what those 50 some Businessmen who went there achieved.

    What type of business deals they and SL government signed.

    What type of Govt. investment projects are planned to setup in Belarus.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaVutb5VcII
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8Imq0K-7Q0

    Any info available…….

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      Saw the well-fed roly-poly Percy Mahenda Rajapaksa rolling down the steps of the plane.

      What a contrast to the thin famished Sri Lankans he is ruling over.

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    Seriously, we need to look at the facts. This government is neither good for the majority Sinhalese nor for the minorities as has been proven since it took over the mantles of power.

    We need to alert the red button if we are to survive as a democracy. We are ruled by an autocratic filial fiefdom which consists of a neophyte of a and perkssingle Rajapake family which has nary an interest in the welfare of Sri Lankans.

    We are ruled by thugs in the cabinet who neither have breeding nor education. Watch Gota and Mervyn and you will cringe in shame. Even the educated have succumbed to Rakjapakse magic through bribes and perks. No more do we have statesmen. We have scoundrels and criminals running our country.

    Sri Lanka is fast descending into a failed state and selling its principles to foreign governments who are willing to buy us out lock, stock and barrel. When China takes over our economy then it would be too late to re-awaken to the stark reality that we are under its power. India too is eyeing the island’s natural resouces and claiming authority over its maritime boundaires as is seen in the dabate over Katchathivu.

    The only way out is to gang together aka Arab Spring and throw this government out.

    It is now up to the people to stand up or let this government sit on us and subjugate us.

    Patriotism does come at a price. And that price is our subservience to a religion or a philosophy conjured to mesmerise the un-suspecting meek populace.

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