By W. Vishnu Gupta –
The sanctions imposed by Canada on Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa plus two of their cohorts is an ominous sign for the Rajapaksa family in Sri Lanka. It is a welcome gesture that many Sri Lankans have been waiting for, and a sign of a worldwide dragnet needed to apprehend Rajapaksa family alleged to have committed economic crimes. Rajapaksas and their proxies may have little or no assets in Canada, therefore they may treat the recent action of the Canadian government as irrelevant because of their condescending view of the world affairs due to ignorance and lack of civility. They may not even recognize the danger to the family until the next set of sanctions imposed on them very soon. Rajapaksas and Ranil are yet to recognize that patience of international community specifically that of truly democratic nations have run out, antics of Mahinda-Ranil duo in front of international forums such as UNHCR and the dubious acts performed to swindle international donor countries/agencies and IMF have failed to produce any tangible results. However, no one should be surprised if other G7 countries decide to follow the lead taken by Canada, notably France, Germany, and the UK. If these three countries in the Group of seven go along with Canada as expected by many critics and implement sanctions against Rajapaksas and their inner circle, they (Rajapaksas) may not find any place on earth to hide.
It is obvious, Canada has waited more than a decade to see how Sri Lankan government will respond to human rights violations charges levelled against the regimes controlled by Rajapaksas before enacting Special Economic Measures (Sri Lanka) Regulations on January 10, 2023. The words are unambiguous, it says the officials mentioned have committed “gross and systematic violations of human rights.” The next day Ali Sabry, Current Foreign Minister, former personal lawyer of Gotabaya and handpicked Gota-Stooge as a national list MP has summoned the Canadian envoy in Colombo to foreign ministry in Colombo. What a hilarious response from a regime that has violated human rights continually under the union of Mahinda, Gotabaya and Ranil. Ali Sabri supposed to have said the decision of Canadian Government “sets a dangerous precedent,” and accused Ottawa of caving to Tamil diaspora politics in Canada. There may be a little truth about Tamil Diaspora, but there is no iota of sincerity about the dangerous precedent remark. Because Ali Sabri, being a Gota stooge has done much harm to Sri Lanka by denying the excesses committed by Mahinda and Gota and supporting the administration of illegally installed president in Sri Lanka. Ali Sabri was a powerful key player in the cabinet of Gotabaya accused of economic crimes and currently he is pleading with international agencies including IMF to bail out equally vile and corrupt puppet government coterie headed by Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Sri Lankans must welcome whole heartedly the enactment of sanctions against Mahinda and Gota and thank the Canadian government for initiating an effective process to free the nation from the grips of oppressive regimes of oligarchies thus far led by Rajapaksas and Ranil. Most likely, Ali Sabri and his present boss Ranil haven’t paid full attention to the full text of the special economic measures (Sri Lanka) adopted by the government of Canada. It refers to the current government of Sri Lanka’s
“imited meaningful and concrete action to uphold its human rights obligations’ as the target of the regulations and further states that the “sanctions send a clear message that Canada will not accept continued impunity for those that have committed gross human rights violations in Sri Lanka”.
Global Affairs Canada has further identified
“political interference” causing “numerous current and former state officials credibly implicated in war crimes [having] charges against them arbitrarily dropped or convictions overturned.”
The government with the help of corrupt private media houses, should not interpret these sanctions as steps taken by Canada against the Sri Lankan citizens. It is well known that Canada always respected sovereignty and the unitary status of Sri Lanka, but it does not mean that the international community including Canada should overlook the excesses, economic crimes, and human right violations committed by a few oligarchy families. Sri Lankans especially the Sinhala Diaspora must encourage other G7 leaders to follow the steps taken by Canada. The implications of “current and former state officials” should be taken seriously, for example Ranil has publicly declared that he did everything to shield Rajapaksa gang from the accusations made in the UNHCR. Those who bragged during “yahapalanaya” saying that they “saved Mahinda Rajapaksa from the electric chair as well as avoiding international inquiry” may not have realized the gravity of Canadian initiative yet.
Moreover, those who are accused of being the ringleaders of CB Bond scam too should worry about applicability of an international dragnet sponsored by democratic countries such as Canada in the future, because it was an economic crime. Though the attempts have been made currently to portray the present regime members as lily whites to placate the international community, the truth about the political leaders who swindle the nation are well known in the western capitals. The professed friendly Asian leaders too, must be worried about doling out much needed foreign capital to a regime sans credibility and known to have supress the dissent of underprivileged and marginalized majority with the help draconian laws such as Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Ranil, Ali Sabri and Wijeyadasa should tell the truth to the people about why international community is reluctant to help Sri Lanka to overcome the present economic crisis. One of the obvious reasons is that the Governments led by Rajapksas and Ranil have failed to heed the advice of UN human rights experts, they have called repeatedly for an immediate moratorium on the use of PTA and urged to substantially review and revise the legislation to comply with international human rights law. Instead of a moratorium and revising the law, they reinforced it by adopting every clause in the act to arrest innocent protesters of “Aragalaya” movement. It is somewhat akin to giving phallic gesture or the “middle finger” to the UNHCR. In 2022 the UN has warned that:
“There is a grave risk to the rights and liberties of people who may be detained arbitrarily, especially religious and ethnic minorities, and the use of the law may curtail political dissent with no effective due process guarantees,”
Apparently, the PTA amendments presented in the parliament in February 2022 were not adequate to satisfy the recommendations made by the international human rights experts as well as those concerns expressed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
The upshot of the responses on PTA made by Rajapaksa-Ranil duo to the UNHCR ensured that there will be no trade-related assistance from European Union. It proves Rajapaksa-Ranil duo never cared about the welfare of the citizens of Sri Lanka because just like their predecessors did, they were preoccupied in preserving and protecting their political survival either by hook or by crook. For example, unwillingness to employ definitions of terrorism that comply with international norms has allowed Rajapaksa-Ranil duo to arrest students and civil activists arbitrarily. The time has come to stop continued impunity for those who have committed gross human rights violations and crime against humanity since 1950’s until now.