28 October, 2020

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David Cameron And Jayalalitha, Or Mahinda Rajapaksa?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

There are two main positions with regard to the international campaign against the Sri Lankan state of which the current spearhead is the upcoming session of the UNHRC in Geneva. I hasten to add that I regard it as a campaign against the state because the main charges are not on issues of human rights and domestic governance but on precisely the ‘last stages’ of the (popular) war which liberated Sri Lanka from terrorism and reunified its territory as a state; a country.

One position is that of the blind defence of the status quo; the state and the government, on the basis of national sovereignty. The other is that of support for the international campaign on the grounds either of its intrinsic merit or as the only catalyst of positive change (be it in the North or South).

I occupy and propose a third position. It recognises that aspects of the status quo are responsible for Sri Lanka’s vulnerability to external intervention and advocates that change —reform— is both intrinsically desirable as well as imperative to defend national sovereignty, while however, remaining unflinching in its defence of national and state sovereignty against external interventionism of any sort.

I would go on to state that the only external factor that is likely to succeed is one that is regarded as legitimate by the majority of Sri Lankan citizens; one that emanates from the friends of Sri Lanka not known to be susceptible to the hostile Tamil Diaspora. Simply put, it is a diplomatic initiative from the Eurasian region, chiefly by Russia and China that will work.

Such an initiative would, in the main, respect remain within the one the parameters of state sovereignty as understood in Eurasia and the global South. Such a diplomatic initiative will limit itself to facilitating the political resolution of the Tamil question and the fast-track implementation of the LLRC proposals on accountability rather than open up for external inquiry the conduct of the closing stage of a war of reunification and liberation from fascist terror.

I believe my perspective has at least two major virtues. Firstly it takes into account the vast evidence that external pressure especially from former colonial overlords and /or large neighbours with long histories of incursions generates an internal hardening and closure of space rather than its intended opposite.  Thus it is counterproductive. (Izeth Hussein’s superb recent piece ‘The Military, the Minorities and Neo-fascism’, indicates one possible trend that could grow into an outcome).

Secondly, this perspective is in complete consonance with the political, ethical and moral stance of the most progressive elements of the global south and indeed the international community.  This is most easily illustrated by the words of Graca Machel, a militant of FRELIMO and widow of two of the most ethical leaders of liberation struggles the world has known, namely Samora Machel and Nelson Mandela.

Any but the most lunatic critics of Sri Lanka and/or the Rajapaksa administration would concur that Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe was a far worse affront to international norms of democracy, human rights and good governance than Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka. Therefore, Graca Machel’s principled stance on Zimbabwe is all the striking and much more valid in the case of Sri Lanka.

A piece filed from Johannesburg by David Smith in The Guardian (UK) of April 16, 2010 was captioned ‘Stay out of Africa this time, Nelson Mandela’s wife tells Britain’. The ‘strap’ reads “Graça Machel condemns UK on its Zimbabwe policy, telling Westminster politicians to ‘keep quiet’ about former colonies”. The story goes on to say:

“…One of  Africa’s most eminent political figures has condemned Britain for taking a patronising “big brother” attitude to its former colonies. Graca Machel, a founder member of the Elders Group of world leaders and the wife of Nelson Mandela, warned British politicians to “keep quiet” about countries such as Zimbabwe and let African diplomacy take its course.

Machel, 64, is a former first lady of Mozambique, where she served as education minister, and has won numerous international awards for her advocacy of women’s and children’s rights.

In an interview with the Guardian in Johannesburg, she indicated that the crisis in Zimbabwe has revealed the shortcomings of a persistent imperialist mindset.

“Can I be a little bit provocative?” Machel said. “I think this should be an opportunity for Britain to re-examine its relationship with its colonies. To acknowledge that with independence those nations will want to have a relationship with Britain which is of shoulder to shoulder, and they will not expect Britain to continue to be the big brother.

Graça Machel: ‘Britain needs to stop being a big brother in Africa’

“When a nation is independent, there is no big brother. They are partners. Part of the reason why Britain finds it difficult to accept Zimbabwe is precisely because that relationship of a big brother is influencing [efforts] to try to understand.”

…Machel added: “I’m not saying things are OK, they’re all fine in Zimbabwe. I’m saying a different kind of dialogue, a different kind of bridge to try to understand the other side could have produced a different result from what it is.

“The more the British shout, the worse the situation will be in terms of relationship with Zimbabwe. That’s why sometimes I really question, when something happens in Zimbabwe and Britain shouts immediately. Can’t they just keep quiet? Sometimes you need just to keep quiet. Let them do their own things, let SADC (Southern African Development Community) deal with them, but keep quiet, because the more you shout, the worse [it is].”

Asked if Britain’s attitude is patronising to its former colonies, Machel replied: “I’m afraid so. And what I’m saying is they have expectations which do not always coincide with what are the aspirations and expectations of those who are their former colony.

“When you change the relationship, you just have to give yourself to take the humility to stop and listen. And when you listen, then you take into account the other side. You put your case, then you take the other side. In a way, you harmonise interests of both sides.”

(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/16/big-brother-attitude-africa-zimbabwe-machel)

Let us move beyond Graca Machel to those of an individual who is probably the most universal emblem of uncompromising struggle against oppression, exploitation and the Establishment as of strivings for justice—Che Guevara. Stephen Soderbergh’s two movie epic starts with Che’s visit to New York in December 1964 and depicts almost his entire speech to the UN General Assembly. At the time Cuba had been ejected from the OAS, the Organization of American States. Che’s notion of sovereignty is instructive and paradigmatic:

“Cuba comes here to state its position on the most important points of controversy and will do so with the full sense of responsibility that the use of this rostrum implies, while at the same time fulfilling the unavoidable duty of speaking clearly and frankly…We feel that we have the right and the obligation to do so, because our country is one of the most constant points of friction. It is one of the places where the principles upholding the right of small countries to sovereignty are put to the test day by day, minute by minute…To the ambiguous language with which some delegates have described the case of Cuba and the OAS, we reply with clear-cut words…”

In speeches from Havana to Algiers, from Punta del Este to New York, Che, internationalism incarnate, drew a line in the sand on national independence and “the principles upholding the right of small countries to sovereignty”. In his famous speech of 1961 in Uruguay he declared:

“…It is a revolution that has reaffirmed national sovereignty… And every time that an imperialist power subjugates a territory, it is a blow against every inhabitant of that territory. That is why we struggle for the independence of other countries, for the independence of the occupied territories, indiscriminately, without asking about the political regime or about the aspirations of those who fight for their independence.”

To those who applaud a UN investigatory mechanism on  Sri Lanka’s war, one may reply with the words of Che at the UN rostrum:

“How can we forget the betrayal of the hope that Patrice Lumumba placed in the United Nations?…Who can deny the sad role that the imperialists compelled the United Nations to play?”

“…there must clearly be established the obligation of all states to respect the present frontiers of other states … we feel it necessary to stress, furthermore, that the territorial integrity of nations must be respected and the armed hand of imperialism held back…”

One commends to the reader’s attention the point Che Guevara makes, namely that the sovereignty of states, especially of small states, must be defended from imperialism— even when it operates under the cover of the UN— “indiscriminately, without asking about the political regime”.

Thus the character of the political regime in Sri Lanka should not be a criterion when defending the sovereignty of the state, the country, especially against imperialist moves and pressures of the most hypocritical sort. However, this does not mean that the struggle against the political regime must not go on or must be suspended.

It does mean though that at a time that national and state sovereignty are under siege and one of the forces propelling that siege are ethnic secessionists in the Diaspora and neighboring Tamil Nadu who would like to see the end of Sri Lanka’s territorial integrity, then the contradiction with the existing political regime becomes secondary if that regime is taking a stand in defense of sovereignty. This statement must immediately be qualified because the political regime is not proving effective in the defense of national sovereignty and its own behavior is one of the factors rendering sovereignty a target. Nonetheless, under the current circumstances in which there is no viable alternative leadership of political competitor who is more committed to and capable of defending Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, the  present regime cannot be the primary political target or regarded as the main enemy of the people.

I presented my perspective as a third view, but the only choices we are sometimes presented with in a concrete situation, are two, not three or more. Following Che’s injunction to use ‘clear cut words’, may I state that if it boils down to a choice between being brainwashed into damning the last stages of Sri Lanka’s war as some kind of a mini-Holocaust (perhaps as a reaction to the regime’s no-brainer ‘humanitarian war/zero casualty policy’) and upholding the necessary and just character of the war as a whole, I choose the latter. If it is a choice between the state that dumped Agent Orange on Asian children and the Sri Lankan armed forces, I choose the latter.

While I have no problem with those who criticise or oppose Mahinda Rajapaksa, I do have a problem with those who do so while not having opposed Velupillai Prabhakaran with at least the same vehemence.

While I do not have a problem with those who reject the Rajapaksa regime, I do have a problem with those who do so while remaining uncritical about the stances on Sri Lanka of David Cameron and Jayalalitha.

In short, I have serious problem with those whose criticism of Mahinda Rajapaksa supplants or supersedes their defence of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

If the choice is between David Cameron and Jayalalitha on the one hand and Mahinda Rajapaksa on the other —and only so long as that remains the choice— I have no hesitation in opting (or more accurately, continuing to opt) for Mahinda Rajapaksa. I believe that will be the politico-existential choice of the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Dear Dayan,

    Can you please clarify ?

    “While I have no problem with those who criticise or oppose Mahinda Rajapaksa, I do have a problem with those who do so while not having opposed Velupillai Prabhakaran with at least the same vehemence.”

    Are you equating our beloved president with Velupillai Prabakaran ?

    You clearly are.

    But then was it not you who advised Premadasa to arm the LTTE, when you duped your comrades in the N&E Provincial Council and let them to be decimated by the LTTE, including Preme – who was stupid to listen to your advise ?

    You really had no problem with the LTTE then – because it suited you. But now you have. So according to what you write, you have a problem with your self ? Perhaps it is time to visit a doc ?

    Tell the doc that you suffer from all kinds of ailment self delusion and desperation – out of which you support the “popular war” – totally un-popular, with every one except Sinhalese Racist, in whose camp you have clearly put your self in.

    Sad to see you deteriorate so quickly and patently – as seen by all those who comment here.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan Mervyn Silva

    Let us put your argument rightly

    One who believes in Christianity needs to oppose Judaism.

    Is this you were preaching in Geneva and France?

    You are a Dilate but not a Diplomat

  • 2
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    Such a shameless creature is this author,
    whether you have three views or ten views, the fact of the matter is that your government has been comitting structural genocide to make tamils as second class citizens, as part of that it started with maximum killing under shielded shelling, You cant win the lies that your government is propagating for last 5 years, and you seek eurasia help to defend your lies.

    • 0
      2

      first learn respect people who are greater than you. If the gove needs to put Tamils into second class citizen what is the need of a genocide. A genocide eliminates people. You have no knowledge on SL and dont talk about things you dont know.

      Maximum killing under shielded shelling? what is that? learn to put an argument in English properly.

      • 0
        0

        sach

        “A genocide eliminates people.”

        Not over night, but over a period of time through a process.

        Look what had happened to my people. The entire country was populated by my people. The kallathoni Tamils and Sinhalese from South India not only had grabbed my ancestral land but over a period of time had committed genocide.

        “learn to put an argument in English properly.”

        Good advice would you mind following it yourself?

        If you can’t write your stupid arguments in English please type them in Sinhala or Tamil it wouldn’t make much difference.

      • 0
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        Greater than me? How? A person selling his souls to defend criminals are not even greater than animals, let alone comparing to me.
        Please google for the meaning of shield. And please dont talk about english knowledge, I will not die if my english is poor, I am not a lingustic inferior. So you have all knowledge about UK, Norway, JJ and TN to comment? Hos is that?

        • 0
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          i dont comment on any other thing here except SL which i have knowledge of. All the JJs and Cameroons i comment with relation to SL. And Dayan is not defending a war criminal he is defending the stata his country which as a foreigner you have no business of.

          I dont care about your english but it is boring to decode what you mean in your english.

          • 0
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            I have every business as long as my state takes care of diplaced people from SL. If you are not able to understand the very simple english that I write,it is your problem, not mine.

            • 0
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              First your simple English most of the time is wrong when it comes to grammar making it harder for the reader to understand.

              And the reason you have to take care of displaced is because you re country waged war here. That is poetic justice. At least do that job properly take care of the displaced people without making them live in hell like places for 30 years. And stop stealing fish, i think that would help more.

  • 2
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    @LAL

    you answered in a typical sinhalaya modaya fashion. How on earth are hindi speakers superior to tamilnadu when living standards are much worse in the north of india and if north indians are so superoir how come ost of the migrant workers in tamilnadu are north indian and they do the jobs that tamils dont want to do.

  • 0
    0

    D.J you are acrockdial tears. you talk accoding to the climate, you talk about against the government, again youu talk against the foreign countries interfearing in interanal matters,on hole you are communal.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan,
    There is a message that you defend the Government instead of MARA due to get another (A)mbassador from Gota. Is it True? Further, the reason that you keep silence without responding to anyone may be you realize that there is a controversy between your behaviour and the writing. Isn’t it cheap?

  • 0
    0

    What a colossal waste of time and writing. The hegemony of the Sinhalese will always prevail. The current majorities in all countries of the world are hardly the candidates to support any move that would change the SL scenario – for fear of creating a precedent that would endanger and jeopardise the very same hegemony their majorities currently enjoy.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan,

    Leopard never changes its spots and doesn’t matter how hard you try to disguise I can see through you. Your undying love for MR and his Agenda will always cloud your Judgment and let me pick up on couple of things.

    1)There are two main positions with regard to the international campaign against the Sri Lankan state of which the current spearhead is the upcoming session of the UNHRC in Geneva. I hasten to add that I regard it as a campaign against the state because the main charges are not on issues of human rights and domestic governance but on precisely the ‘last stages’ of the (popular) war which liberated Sri Lanka from terrorism and reunified its territory as a state; a country.

    *** I disagree and put it to you that it is a Charge against MR as he was the Commander in Chief who was responsible for the Genocide. To put it simply the Main Charges are on Violations of Human Rights spanning 64 years , bad Governance culminating in the unjustified and unwarranted killings of thousands of Innocent Civilians.
    What do you call asking people to move into designated safe areas and deliberately shelling those safe areas causing carnage.
    My friend yours was a State Terrorism which created Prabakaran and don’t try to bullshit. We are not prepared to take lectures from you on common decency and civilised standards. MR is a Thug and a Criminal and if you want proof just ask Dr.Shirani, SF and Lasanthas widow and many others and they cant all lie.

    2) I would go on to state that the only external factor that is likely to succeed is one that is regarded as legitimate by the majority of Sri Lankan citizens; one that emanates from the friends of Sri Lanka not known to be susceptible to the hostile Tamil Diaspora. Simply put, it is a diplomatic initiative from the Eurasian region, chiefly by Russia and China that will work.

    *** I totally and utterly disagree with the above for the following reasons.

    a) I am sorry to say that the vast majority of the Sinhalese ( 20 million )and you included are born Racist headed by MR. The decent civilised Sinhalese like Dr.Shiranee, Sharmini Serasinghe, R M B, Tisaranee, Dr.Asoka ( with some reservations ) only number about 250,000 and sadly their voiced is drummed out in a sea of Racist Voices. So I disagree with you that we are going to have consensus on the external factor and it has to be forced down the throat.
    b) The Tamil Diaspora have a legitimate voice just like the Jewish Diaspora ( Who Guarantee the existence of the State of Israel ) and the Diplomatic Initiative don’t mean anything. There is no freedom in Russia and China is responsible for Tiananmen Square Massacre and these two Countries have already refused to support your Mother
    Country.

    3) If the choice is between David Cameron and Jayalalitha on the one hand and Mahinda Rajapaksa on the other —and only so long as that remains the choice— I have no hesitation in opting (or more accurately, continuing to opt) for Mahinda Rajapaksa. I believe that will be the politico-existential choice of the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens.

    The above is your prerogative and the feeling is Mutual. I don’t trust MR and I have no hesitation in Trusting the Iron Lady and Mr.Cameron.

    Can you see we are World apart.

  • 0
    1

    Tamils, [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    @LAL you answered in a typical sinhalaya modaya fashion. How on earth are hindi speakers superior to tamilnadu when living standards are much worse in the north of india and if north indians are so superoir how come most of the migrant workers in tamilnadu are north indian and they do the jobs that tamils dont want to do.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan:

    You have to look to the Sinhalese and the Mahinda regime to believe you in making the not-so-obvious to look like obvious. The enmity between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, the two major races does not have the like comparison in case of Zimbabwe. The more likely comparison would be Bosnia and Serbia or East Timor and Indonesia and in both cases the minorities got their separate states.

    Please get over with your dream. We have got over it.You have made it succinctly clear that the Tamils will never get their fair deal from the Sinhalese. It is what the Sinhalese want the Tamils to have that would be offered to the Tamils. This has been times and again rejected by the Tamils. The only time the Sinhalese regime was willing to listen was when Prabhakaran pointed his guns at the Sinhalese and blew off a few of their leaders. He may not have achieved what he desired but the NPC elections would more than demonstrate that the Tamils are not in any mood to give up their struggle to mind their own affairs. In short, neither the Sinhalese nor the Tamils are going to live in peace any time soon. As the world watched how MR was pursued relentlessly during the CHOGM meet, now he has to spend on GL Peiris to visit countries to seek their support.

    From the time you moved your hoax resolution to the time when two successive resolutions were passed against SL, you better have better grips that while your world may be a snapshot, the world has moved on dramatically. It is true that China got trapped by MR with the huge investments and the commercial interest it has to protect but Libya’s lesson would not have missed on China. Anyway, if SL becomes another Syria, then that is the price it has to pay for its wayward ways and what more, with ADVISORS and CONSULTANTS like you, it will continue to be bogged down with international harassment and nagging and who knows, with the kind of pursuit and if the Congress led govt in India goes down, then most probably it will be sayonara to the Rajapakses and it might be even the gallows.

    If after almost five years the SL regime has been stalling the process of accountability and it has visibly not pictured in your realm of senses in your arguments, don’t expect the Tamils to be a distant observer either.

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