By Donald Gnanakone –
Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasu
The article “A Role For Sri Lanka In US Pivot To Asia” reverses the foreign policy of GOSL by promoting full alliances with USA when they are already close allies with China and undermining US and Indian foreign policy in the Indian ocean. Perfect example of double speak with their forked tongue. I doubt the US or India would trust the Rajapakse regime any more since they have broken every promise and agreement for the past 30 years. The Navy kills Indian Tamil fisherman regularly, and Tamil Nadu and India has been very patient and even cowardly without any retaliation whatsoever.
The selective quotes of the previous Secretary of State and the US government officials are very misleading. One has to only read the several statements issued in the last few days by Secretary of State Kerry, White House, State Dept. Spokes person Victoria Nuland, US Ambassador Michelle Sisson, BBC interview given by Robert Blake and a few other statements issued clearly indicate that US-Sri Lanka relation is at it’s lowest levels in the 65 year democracy.
Sri Lanka is a perfect example of Kleptocracy run by Kleptomaniacs of the First and extended family, where it is an Autocracy where Nepotism, Cronyism, Family Bandyism, Extremism, racism and chauvinism flourish.
It is State Terrorism that is practiced in Sri Lanka after the end of the war 4 years ago, where there are 80,000 war widows and 500,000 Homeless and landless Tamils. 100,000 Tamil civilians were slaughtered, and over 50,000 were injured.
260,000 Tamil homes were destroyed by the Rajapakse regime and NO replacement homes has been built. But in the last 4 years after the war the military budget has totaled over 10 Billion dollars consuming 25% of the annual export revenue. The widows and the homeless Tamils complain of RAPE, molestations and sexual harassment/intimidation on a daily basis by the 150,000 military troops stationed in the Northern province.
The infrastructure such as new roads, bridges, culverts, widening roads,A9 highway, expanding Palaly airport, KKS Port, railways, power stations are mainly for the military benefits, and future expansion of colonizing the North with permanent military families. This is planned to provide military housing for the extended family of the troops such as parents, in laws and their own families with free land. There is a lot of poverty among the Sinhalese families in the South and they are land less and homeless too. But that was not due to war but decades of lethargy and being lazy.
Ambassador Jaliya talks rubbish about Sri Lanka being such a pivotal and of strategic importance to the US to counter China and even India. US has already important allies in South East and East Asia, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. It is the US which controls the Malacca Straights in a defacto manner.
The middle east is already covered for the past 10 years with the Iraq and Afganistan war and also being prepared against Iran. US is building good relationship with India and Pakistan is totally dependent on the US for it’s very existence as well as it’s military strength against India.
US has a huge military base in Diego Garcia bought from the British (That is another story) and Maldives cannot say BOO to a goose in the Indian ocean with less than a million people in population.(395,000).
To cut to the cheese Ambassador Jaliya has no clue of geo politics, and Sri Lanka has become a vassal state of China and playing the China card against India and the USA… More than half the population in Sri Lanka do not want such a foreign policy especially the Tamils who are are definitely more aligned to India, US, Canada and UK/Europe. That is where the diaspora also lives and many have (mostly all who can) have become citizens of those countries pledging allegiance to their new country and flag.
The huge increase in tourism numbers are bogus as this 2 million diaspora (Of all communities) are visiting Sri Lanka with their foreign passports and are part of the tourist statistics. Further more nearly 25% of the tourist are from India and mostly Tamils from South India or Sri Lankans of previous decades returning to Sri Lanka..There were over a million Tamils of Indian origin who were forced to leave the country since 1948 independence as well. Even the popular former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu late M G Ramachandran was born in Sri Lanka and his family forced to leave due to the poor Sinhala-Tamil relationship and treatment.
The huge increase in percentage in the economy is because of the low base numbers due to the 30 year war and the Rajapakses are borrowing billions of dollars from the IMF, World Bank, and from the Chinese and Americans at very high interest to carry on their Dog and Pony show of development. Sri Lanka could become a Greece, Iceland or Cyprus soon but saved by the $5 billion dollars of inward remittances sent by the diaspora. Another Billion dollars are sent by the Housemaids working in the middle east who are mainly Sinhalese.
There are huge commissions earned by the First and extended family on the loans and corrupt contracts for which there are no tenders and cost control. The white elephant projects are the $3 Billion dollar Hambantota Port project, Hambantota Airport, Noricholai Coal Power project which are all built by the Chinese without tenders. Many lucrative railway and highway contracts are also given to the Chinese which also carries very high commercial interest. They also keep supplying arms, ammunition equipment and spares so that GOSL maintains a $2.5 Billion military/police budget.
The reduction in duty for the automotive was for a few months where the first and extended family as well all their cronies who have made money in illegal contracts and deals import Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati, Benz, BMW luxury vehicles virtually duty free. In the stock market a few have made unconscionable profits from insider trading and some of them own their own stockbroker companies. Their official incomes are only $2,000 dollars at best, but purchases several luxury vehicles each worth more than $100,000 and also duty.The ambassador has the audacity to boast about reduction in duty for luxury vehicles when the average annual income in the country is less than $4,000. The unemployment rate is over 10% camouflaged by a huge military and 1 million house maids being exported to the middle east. Another quarter million Tamils have escaped to India,Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia with the help of the Sri Lankan Navy and living as refugees.
Sri Lankan democracy is where the dictatorial President manipulates the Parliament by buying the opposition MP’s so that constitutional changes can be made so that he can contest elections and be President for life. Recently the Chief Justice was sacked and his stooge was appointed. That is how he can boast of a two third majority. Now the judiciary is not independent at all and has become another tool of the autocratic leader President Rajapakse. The elections conducted are also flawed with severe violations, bribery and corruption. Rajapakse himself was installed in power in 2005 by the Tamil rebels who were bribed by US citizens in Colombo via current MP Tiran Alles, former foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera his campaign manager.
Parliamentary democracy is being mocked and the international community is being fooled. It is time for the international community to wake up and indict Sri Lanka after independent investigations. As far as the US is concerned they need to fully investigate the 4 US citizens who were responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, gross human rights violations, and abuse of power. They also used chemical weapons, cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs as well as illegal mines. Those countries who sold such weapons of mass destruction would also be in trouble and that is also why there is so much reluctance on the part of the international community. China was the largest supplier of all weapons and machinery. India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan and South Africa were the other big suppliers. But many European countries, US, and UK also supplied weapons and sophisticated machinery.
Two of the US citizens are the President’s younger brothers, and another is the former army commander who was jailed for 27 months for alleged military crimes. But he was a Presidential candidate against Mahinda Rajapakse and the opposition supported his candidature. The former Minister of Justice operated the “concentration camps” for 310,000 Tamils one of the first since the Nazi regime during the second world war.
In conclusion, the State Department last week has threatened Sri Lanka that they would start their own investigations. We Tamils welcome that statement and will also plead and lobby to conduct such investigations. Mere statements would be useless unless it really materializes into action. The US needs to fulfill it’s legal obligations of investigating their own citizens who are allegedly to have committed war crimes. US courts also has full jurisdiction on the US citizens but not on the Sri Lankan or Australian citizens.