By Hema Senanayake –
We the people have a great human quality. It is imbedded into our mind. That important quality is sympathy. It is this quality of sympathy which leads you to offer money or food to a panhandler. Sympathy is a wonderful feeling. Some people abuse the sympathy of others.
In the coming presidential election it seems that the government is going to exploit the peoples’ sympathy to the highest possible level. How do they do it? They say, “If the president Rajapkasa is defeated, the Tamil diaspora is hatching an international conspiracy to take him before the International War Tribunal by April 2015.” They further insist that the common candidate of the opposition is aiding and abetting this conspiracy. Why do they say this?
Not because it is true, but because they want to exploit the peoples’ sympathy shamelessly. This seems to be the government’s main strategy in the political campaign. If the above allegation is true, no president would declare an election while having two more years to serve before expiration of his current term. The government wants win or more correctly abuse the sympathy of people. On the contrary the opposition candidate wants to launch a campaign on policy issues. In this regard his policy on war heroes is clear.
You do not want any of the war heroes to be charged before any court no matter whether it is national or international tribunal. You feel that way because you want to be grateful for the service they have done for the country. But it seems that the president Mahinda Rajapaksa did not have that much of gratefulness or he does not have it now. If any recent war hero was punished by any court, then it was done not by an International War Tribunal but by a War Tribunal set up by the president himself. The whole country believes that the president or somebody in the administration fixed Sarath Fonseka so as to be punished and put him into jail.
The King Dutugemunu unified the country. From the history books even a child knows that the King had Ten Great Warriors (Dasa Maha Yodayo). Perhaps without them, the King Dutugemunu would not have been able to win the war. Put all the ten great warriors together, then, you have General Sarath Fonseka, the great warrior of the contemporary history of Sri Lanka.
But, have you ever heard of a Dutugemunu who put the Ten Great Warriors into jail? Perhaps you may not. But, President Mahinda Rajapksa has done it. He put General Fonseka into jail. One might think that this is “the most unkindest cut of all.” As far as I know still General Fonseka’s civil rights are not restored.
Contrary to the President Rjapaksa’s approach on war heroes, the common candidate has promised that he would not allow any war hero to be tried before any International War Tribunal. He points out that Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the International War Tribunal, hence Sri Lanka is not bounded legally to appear or participate in the proceedings of the court. However his stance will make him voluntarily bounded to expedite reconciliation process meaningfully.
Also, this does not mean that the Ealam diaspora is not looking avenues to bring war heroes before an international court. Their effort is known to everybody. The government knows about it and so is the opposition. However, this effort can be defeated only with one strategy. That is to isolate LTTE diaspora while Sri Lanka being not isolated among the international community. That is the strategy devised by late former Foreign Minister Kadirgamar. This is a job entrusted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sri Lanka is failing in this strategy now.
We need two things to do if we do not want to be isolated and want to isolate LTTE diaspora. Firstly, we need to have a system of good governance domestically. Secondly, we need to have the best diplomats placed in strategically important duty stations and let them do their job freely, creatively and respectfully. Today, Rajapaksa administration is far away from both these requirements. Recently this was shown to the whole world beyond any doubt. That was when a monitoring MP Sajin De Vass Gunawardena physically assaulted the High Commissioner of United Kingdom, Dr. Chris Nonis.
The assault took place. It was accepted by the Cabinet Spokesman. The Venerable Sobitha told about it to the media. Yet, Sajin De Vasa Gunawardena was not required even to make an apology. In one assault Sajin De Vass destroyed the respect of our all diplomatic officials. By allowing Sajin De Vass not accountable for his action, the President proved the world that Sri Lanka has no system of good governance which upholds the basic principle of accountability.
It is well known that the President want to rescue all his men when they do punishable offences. He was open and admitted about it. Until recently what was not open was his willingness to fix others when they go against him. He now declares that he has “files” of others. May be he can use those files if he wants to fix others, if necessary.
The whole country and the international community now know that his willingness to prevent his “men” being accountable and his willingness to fix others, have gone too far. The first casualty of this behavior is the breakdown of good governance. This is the first reason for Sri Lanka being isolated among the international community. Not the past war crime allegations. Therefore, good governance is not an abstract concept; instead it has very practical impact in our daily lives. Also, establishing good governance domestically is highly important in winning the fight in GENEVA.