18 June, 2019

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Counter Justification For A National Security State Through National Unity Charter

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunge gave an early warning of things to come during his visit to Washington DC in February to lobby against the proposed UNHRC resolution on war crimes that was being led by the United States and reached its denouement in the vote in Geneva on March 27.  The presidential secretary drew upon his knowledge of the workings of Sri Lankan society and government to warn of chaos if the resolution was passed.  At that time he was criticized for making this statement.  It was seen as reviving the ghosts of Sri Lanka’s most tragic episodes, the anti Tamil riots of 1983, behind of which were sections of the then government.  The larger implication of his statement was that an international investigation into the last phase of the war, which would implicate those who ended LTTE terror in the country would be resisted to the fullest extent possible.

Those who have been seeking to promote accountability in Sri Lanka, as the means to reconciliation, are perhaps thinking in rational terms in which concepts of Rule of Law, Due Process and Separation of Powers prevail.  But it appears that what exists in most parts of the world is something entirely different.  The March 31 issue of Time magazine has a commentary on how geopolitics impacts on the way nations act.  It refers to Russia’s takeover of Crimea, and the response of the United States and its Western allies who have been impotent to stop the course of events.  The article by Robert Kaplan states, “The worldwide civil society that the elites thought they could engineer is a chimera.  The geopolitical forces at work will not be easily tamed.  While our foreign policy must be morally based, the analysis behind it must be cold blooded, with geography as its starting point.  In geopolitics the past never dies and there is no modern world.”

In Sri Lanka, barely five years after the bloody end of its three decade long separatist war, the patterns of the past are re-emerging. But on this occasion there is no disorderly chaos of mob violence, rather a more deliberate and controlled movement that would necessitate a state of national emergency.  The shoot out in the North in which three persons, alleged to be gun carrying LTTE members, were shot dead in an encounter with the army, is a harsh reminder of how the present is inextricably connected to the past.  The killing of these three persons has followed weeks of cordon and search operations, and the arrests of more than 60 persons which the government itself openly states as indicating a bid to revive the LTTE.  These incidents suggest that the presidential secretary’s words are coming true, but not in the way anticipated by his critics.

Saving Grace

However, the desire of the government to deal with the threats to itself emanating from the international community has to be balanced by its need to maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the Sri Lankan people.  In accordance with the country’s political ethos this legitimacy comes from winning elections, by hook or by crook, if need be, but they need to be won.   The setback suffered by the government in the provincial council elections to the Western and Southern provinces loom large in political discussion. In particular, the loss of the ethnic and religious minority vote would be a cause for concern to the government.  None of the minority candidates on its list got elected at the polls.  This seems to be causing a serious rethink of government policy.

The National Unity Convention organized by the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration last week gave the government an opportunity to begin the process of winning back that waning ethnic minority electoral support.  President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech on the occasion was most impressive.  He came across as reflective, thoughtful and conciliatory.  The President commenced his speech by referring to the victory achieved by the Sri Lanka cricket team at the T20 world championship.  He said that all communities had celebrated together.  He also saw this same diversity of people and their unity at the National Unity Convention and rejoiced in it.

One of the main reasons for the flight of ethnic minority votes away from the government has been the increased number of attacks on places of worship of minority religions and disruption of their meetings in which they have sought to champion their causes.  The President appeared mindful of this problem when he pointed out that Sri Lanka’s history and cultural ethos was to give diverse people the protection and space to live their lives without seeking to change their identities.  He explained that when the Muslims were persecuted by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the King had given them refuge in the east. Likewise when the Catholics were persecuted by the Dutch they were given refuge in Wahakotte in the middle of the country.

Referring to the historical account of King Dutugemunu, the President said that there were those who said that racist interpretations could be given to that war, but these needed to be dispensed with. Instead we should take from the story the honour that King Dutugemunu bestowed upon the fallen King Elara’s tomb.  He said that racist interpretations should be set aside and instead there should be an emphasis on dialogue and sitting down at the same table.  The President ended his speech in the Tamil language to the joy of the audience who applauded virtually every one of the sentences he spoke. The National Unity Convention was veritably an island of peace, goodwill and harmony which, alas, is not being reflected in the arena of national politics and national security.

Present Reality

The present Sri Lankan reality is one of confrontation and polarisation. The clock has begun to tick on the international investigation, which is set to commence after the passage of the resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.  The government has decided not to cooperate with this investigation and to take action against those Sri Lankans who cooperate with it.  It has banned the most important of the Tamil Diaspora organizations that lobbied for the passage of the UNHRC resolution. Among those banned are organizations that have met with world leaders and held meetings inside their parliaments.  A blanket ban against so many Diaspora organizations who maintain close links with their kith and kin living in Sri Lanka will deal a heavy blow at any prospect of national reconciliation.

On the ground too, especially in the North, where the last phase of the war was fought, the tensions have risen dramatically.  In the Kilinochchi, and Mullaitivu areas there is heavy presence of military and intelligence units. Frequent cordon and search operations, checkpoints and arrests are rife.  Several cases of arrests of persons have been reported.  Some of the arrested individuals were subsequently released after questioning.  But this has caused fear and tension in the community.  It appears that the main targets of the arrests are former LTTE cadres who have not undergone rehabilitation and individuals who have recently returned from overseas.  The motivation for these actions would be to nip any possibility of future revolt in the bud. However, President Rajapaksa gave the insights that are necessary for a different type of peace building which is more lasting and more beneficial for all concerned.

In the course of his speech at the National Unity Convention the President pointed out that “We pardoned thousands of former combatants as we have national history in our minds. National unity cannot be established in a fraudulent manner.”  This refers to the trust that is needed for peace building.  In addition to President Rajapaksa, Ministers Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Tissa Vitarana and Rajitha Senaratne also spoke of healing, togetherness and the need for a political solution.  The opposition was represented by UNP parliamentarian Eran Wickremaratne   They were all present when the People’s Charter for Unity was ratified, which in its preamble stated that it was “Guided by the rights and duties enshrined in the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further obligations assumed in line with global and regional rights declarations and conventions ratified by Sri Lanka.”  The challenge will be to operationalise this charter in an increasingly bleak environment.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    It is the action of the Rajapakse regime that matters, not his speeches stupid.

    Gotaby created a drama of Gopi and imaginary Tigers, murdered and buried them with the press muzzled to hide the truth! Ask the Tamils of the North for the truth, but who dares?

    This fool goes on trying to win support for the junta. What a hypocrisy!

    Liars rule and their henchmen hail the junta.

    • 2
      1

      Thiru,

      You have summarised it very well.

      “These incidents suggest that the presidential secretary’s words are coming true, but not in the way anticipated by his critics.”

      “President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech on the occasion was most impressive. He came across as reflective, thoughtful and conciliatory. The President commenced his speech by referring to the victory achieved by the Sri Lanka cricket team at the T20 world championship. He said that all communities had celebrated together. He also saw this same diversity of people and their unity at the National Unity Convention and rejoiced in it.”

      “The President appeared mindful of this problem when he pointed out that Sri Lanka’s history and cultural ethos was to give diverse people the protection and space to live their lives without seeking to change their identities. He explained that when the Muslims were persecuted by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the King had given them refuge in the east. Likewise when the Catholics were persecuted by the Dutch they were given refuge in Wahakotte in the middle of the country.”

      “Referring to the historical account of King Dutugemunu, the President said that there were those who said that racist interpretations could be given to that war, but these needed to be dispensed with. Instead we should take from the story the honour that King Dutugemunu bestowed upon the fallen King Elara’s tomb. He said that racist interpretations should be set aside and instead there should be an emphasis on dialogue and sitting down at the same table. The President ended his speech in the Tamil language to the joy of the audience who applauded virtually every one of the sentences he spoke. The National Unity Convention was veritably an island of peace, goodwill and harmony which, alas, is not being reflected in the arena of national politics and national security.”

      “The motivation for these actions would be to nip any possibility of future revolt in the bud. However, President Rajapaksa gave the insights that are necessary for a different type of peace building which is more lasting and more beneficial for all concerned.”

      “In the course of his speech at the National Unity Convention the President pointed out that “We pardoned thousands of former combatants as we have national history in our minds. National unity cannot be established in a fraudulent manner.” This refers to the trust that is needed for peace building. In addition to President Rajapaksa, Ministers Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Tissa Vitarana and Rajitha Senaratne also spoke of healing, togetherness and the need for a political solution.”

      • 3
        0

        Jehan Perera must be high as a kite on Vasudeva and Nimalka’s hand outs!
        National Unity Charter is another RUSE to DISTRACT, DIVIDE and RULE Sinhalaya Modayas like JP – sorry to say!
        Meanwhile Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the Jarapassa regime’s CHAOS SPECIALIST – Lalith Weeratunge – has organized and is running State Terrorism and a DEEP STATE to ensure that the Jarapassa family remains in power forever. The modus of operation is SPIN and Myth making and resurrecting the LTTE terrorism bogey and running the Balu Sena (BBS) to DISTRACT sinhalaya modayas from STATE TERRORISM run by Gota the Goon who is a liar and murderer:
        1) The entire GOPI story is a MYTH to justify Gota’s military colonization of the north and the militarization of the Sri Lanka state and Sri Lankan STATE TERRORISM. The Gopi story and LTTE was re-invented during the Geneva Resolution. Gopi who was subsequently murdered by the State Terror squad called the Sri Lanka military. A full inquiry into why Gopi and his friends were not captured alive, injured and disarmed needs to be conducted given the massive force that went to capture the 2 so-called LTTE Terrorists. 2) BBS leader slamming Basil is a way to pretend that there is no support from the Rajapaksa dicatorship for the BBS terror squad that is meant to DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE the polity and the SInhalaya Modayas who live on a diet of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism. SInhala Buddhism is an insult to What the Buddha Taught.
        Dream on Jehan Perera and give another peace prize to that corrupt activist Nimalka who is in bed with the Shameless old dead leftist clown and Minister of Spin and national DISINTEGRATION – Vasudeva Nanayakkara!

        • 3
          0

          Don, you are so right!
          JP is a terrible social and political analyst: A trained analyst knows that he needs to read between the lines and examine what is SAID AGAINST what is DONE and MEANT! This is doubly true of politicians who are proven liars – like Mahinda Rajapaksa. Jehan seems to have LOST THE PLOT!

          First principle of social and political analysis is to know that: People rarely say what they mean or do what they say! This is doubly so in Sri Lanka where SPIN and deceit and jealous BACK STABBING is the principle mode of social interaction!

          • 3
            0

            JP is writing naive Bullshit and tip toeing around Rajapaksa’s crimes, while disseminating SPIN by the regime to cover its crimes..

            This writing by JP is an INSULT to the intelligence of Sri Lankans – if this is the standard of political analysis by Civil society leaders in the country – God help us!

            • 0
              0

              FAKE ENCOUNTER – that is the name of Gota the Goon’s “proof” that the LTTE is being resurrected!

              It was a FAKE ENCOUNTER that resulted in the murder of 3 Tamil youth one who was called Gopi.

              This is to legitimize Gota the Goons Massive military BUDGET, and State Terrorism also against Sinhalas in Weliweriya etc.

              The Rajapaksa strategy of Divide and Rule is now clear – in the north it is the military occupation and FAKE ENCOUNTERS and in the south of Lanka it is the Balu Sena – BBS that takes orders from Goon Gota..

              • 0
                0

                Gota Vs. Gopi!

                Fake encounter one. Wonder when, where and how fake encounter 2 will be?

                Meanwhile Gota’s slush funds aka Defense Budget is growing and growing with the State terrorism and impunity…

              • 0
                0

                IT is astonishing that the local media – even the so called liberal press like Daily Mirror, Times, etc just publish Gota the Goon’s and MOD spin without any questioning of the Gopi Story and the circumstances of the killings.. The Sri Lanka media or forth estate is a disgrace! Particularly the racist Sinhala press..

            • 0
              0

              Hey
              We have a small addition Maths to do:
              Murali’s business class tickets for UK parliamentarians and their spouses:
              http://www.channel4.com/news/sri-lanka-conservative-labour-trip-cancelled-war-crimes

              Traffic lights to show off army economy in Jaffna:
              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27015012

              • 0
                0

                Traffic lights in Jaffna!
                So many street vendors from the South supported by the army in Jaffna!!
                Nobody can fool the international community like the Rajapakses!!!

        • 3
          0

          Right on Don!

          The GOPY story and RESURRECTION OF LTTE is a MYTH to intimidate the Northern Provincial Council and terrorize Tamil people. T

          This Gopi MYTH has been carefully crafted by Gota the Goon and his terror machine’s intelligence operatives of the DEEP STATE of the Rajapaksa quasi-military dictatorship. The purpose is to have a permanent STATE OF EMERGENCY and military rule.

          The Gopi Myth story has been FABRICATED and is being used to LEGITIMIZE bringing out the army in the Northern Province to terrorize the Northern Provincial COUNCIL as well as the people of the North – after the Geneva Debacle for the regime.

          The GOPI and LTTE Resurrection myth is part of the STATE TERRORISM propaganda machine of the Rajapaksa quasi-military dictatorship.

      • 0
        0

        They’ll keep on talking till the North is filled with the Sinhalese and the Tamils are too weak to do anything and the international community is SriLanka-fatigued.

    • 5
      3

      Do.
      There isn’t a single action where the President hasn’t shown the utmost disregard regard towards the Tamils and Muslims.

      • 1
        2

        Panbog, you are a man of an edifice with a convolutes mass of gray. So, let others ponder and exemplify with regards to what the President disregards.

    • 3
      1

      Speechwriters do their remit well for international consumption.

      Can they hide the fact that the President enacted the 18A suppressing the 17A though his election manifesto2005 says he wanted to abolish the Executive Presidency(which Presidential hopeful didn’t say that?)
      Can they hide the fact that the President wound up the ”Peace Secretariat” as soon as the war was over? Who else deals with RECONCILIATION:
      Vasudeva and Tissa of the DEAD LEFT shamelessly clinging on to the most malicious leader who is beating the malice of even the foxiest JRJ???
      If it were not for CHOGMSriLanka, we wouldn’t have had NPC elections , but 19A!
      Why is the elcted NPC kept utterly powerless though most of the (little) power it had had been scoured away by Divineguma Bill though the government was letting itself into the bottom of any regard any foreign legal entity (forgetting Sri Lankan citizens for a while) could have for Sri Lanka?
      Can he release the reports in:
      http://f.cl.ly/items/2c0m2i0Y3V2A2D2X052C/A%20list%20of%20Commissions%20and%20Committees%20appointed%20by%20GoSL%20since%202005%20_December%202013.pdf
      Can he do what he pretended to do just before the visit of UNHRC Chief?
      Can he stop Namal from sticking his and his dad’s pictures on books given to students in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu:
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/namal-rajapaksa-building-a-cult-of-personality-in-the-north/
      The lies the President has told foreign journalists!!!!!

    • 3
      1

      National Unity Charter? MY FOOT!
      Jehan, Have you become the Propaganda Secretary to the Ministry of National and Left Disgrace run by dead leftist CORRUPT clown, Vasudeva Nanayakkara? Vasu’s Ministry is a family business – run by his son!
      Politics Sri lanka style – Business as usual!

      Or, Have you joined the SPIN masters at Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s MOD and is the Ministry of Defense now paying your salary JP?!

    • 0
      0

      Tamil parliamentarians have questioned this shoot out. There is an obligation for the government to offer proof of what happened to these peoples representatives. As they were unsuccessful of getting any honest responses from government, other than Jehan Perera like the government’s’ agents substantiation, they are asking for international inquiry in this murder. The international bodies for responsibility to protect has to come forward to take this matter into their hand. There are stories as leaked by the government’s soldiers that the killed ones were only informants. There are very unfaithful acts by government.

      Lalith Weeratunga, a direct agent of the king, has delivered what he has promised. He will not be able take any part on presentations of any useful matters in the future. Western government hereafter should treat Lalith Weeratunga as one like Douglas Devananda.

  • 3
    1

    All this is utter humbug!

    Sengodan. M

  • 3
    0

    Is Jehan Perera relating a story to the marines? Did the due process and the rule of law take leave of absence in the wanton killing of Kopi and the imaginary war against the non existent LTTE threat. Bensen

  • 3
    0

    With the re-militarization of the north and the NPC in place a Crimea like situation will result in Sri Lanka very soon – after Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister of India.

    Jarapassa will have torpedo up his ass and northern Sri Lanka will become part of greater India. So much for the National Unity Charter!

  • 0
    0

    The recent incidents of “shootings” of alleged insurgents show that the wheels have well and truly come off of the GOSL. Leaving aside whether or not the shootings actually occurred, there is no doubt that the GOSL is doing everything it can to publicize these “encounters”, both domestically and internationally. The message to the US is: “hey, we told you not to pass a resolution – now see what you did – because of your actions, the war has re-started”. Does the GOSL really believe that they can strong-arm the US by behaving so insolently? Since the GOSL is now challenging the authority of the US by saying that they are not going to comply with the resolution, the US has no choice but to follow through with it. If they let the GOSL off the hook and allow the likes of Dayan to brag for the next 100 years about how they “defeated” the US, the world order that is based on precedent and respect for global institutions such as the UN, is going to come crashing down. Thanks to the GOSL, this is now a zero sum game. Either the GOSL or the US will win a complete and absolute victory. I don’t know about all of you, but my money is on the US!

  • 0
    0

    JP writes in a manner that is like looking for patrons. For a long time it was the diaspora and NGOs.Now he is batting for the Rajapakse junta. Isin’t there a better and more honorable way to make a living ?

  • 0
    0

    Jehan/Dayan and the rest .

    Why does SL Heads of States and Sinhala Majority become statesman like only when there is overwhelming pressure either a military threat in the form of Air dropping in the case of Indian intervention and the subsequent 13 Th amendment by JR, Military threat by LTTE and subsequent CBK initiative for constitutional amendment or the more recent MR talk/initiative about pluralism and reconciliation after UNHCR resolution?

    All these things points to no genuine willingness or acceptance of minority rights and dignity, given the opportunity they would revert back to majoritarian hegemony.

    Like the current state of 13 th amendment with lack of merger of North East,No land powers,No police powers and with the amendment of divinuguma bill and 18 th amendment , stripping of rest of the powers to Provincial councils.

    How long are you going to try to hood wink the Tamils and the international Govt?

    Wake up and be more introspective. Do you want real peace and reconciliation or give up and have a referendum among tamils and ask the question what do they want..

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