28 October, 2020

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Lakshman Kadirgamar For Tomorrow

By Amali Wedagedara –

History is made by people and therefore it is a collective action. However, the spotlight is greater on the role of certain individuals who have excelled in their respective fields, thereby contributing to the development and shaping of the contours and the trajectories of human history. Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, the former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, is one such individual whose presence lingers on, even after his demise. He presided as foreign minister in 1994 at a moment when Sri Lanka was severely challenged in the international sphere due to the negative propaganda disseminated by the LTTE against the Government of Sri Lanka. The charismatic Lakshman Kadiragamer, made a continuing impact through the international campaign he spearheaded against the LTTE’s terror. Within a few years he was successful in containing the role of the LTTE internationally in terms of banning the LTTE in Europe, the US, Australia and Canada, distilling and suppressing means of fund raising. Restricting the outreach of the LTTE proved highly significant in the final war against the LTTE which came to an end in May 2009. Today, three years after the end of war, seven years after the assassination of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka is facing challenges of the same nature which existed when Kadirgamar took over the foreign office. Anti-Sri Lanka propaganda fabricated by pro-LTTE factions is affecting the country with a new vigour. Sri Lanka also faces the challenge of reaching out to the moderate Tamil community. How would Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar have confronted such challenges? How do we make use of the precedence and processes which have been set by him in securing our sense of autonomy in the international sphere? How do we contextualise the ideas of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar to overcome the challenges of today: reconciliation among different ethnic groups to achieve long lasting peace and promoting dialogue and participation of Diaspora communities through a comprehensive communication plan?

Answers to these questions are embedded in the writing, speeches and interviews of late Mr. Kadirgamar which bring to light his values, norms and culture which guided his behaviour. Such sources constitute the strategic culture of a nation inevitably becoming the guiding stone of the actions of the current and future leaders. Therefore, one should not treat enunciations of individuals of such stature in isolation. This article presents a preliminary analysis of this endeavour.  It focuses on one of Mr. Kadirgamar’s speeches: A Path for Peace which was delivered on April 10, 1997. It was articulated to a different audience and in a different context. However, the content is very much applicable to today.

It should be noted that his contribution is not limited to the role he played and to the position he held. Kadirgamar with his enlightened sense of identity managed to transcend his primordial identity in terms of race, religion and ethnicity. Instead, he endorsed a broader identity – that of being Sri Lankan, thus rendering himself as a valuable national symbol that Sri Lanka needs to disseminate ethnic-harmony and the notion of the ‘Sri Lankan-ness’. There is no question that it was beneficial to have the support of individuals from the Tamil community such as Kadirgamar, Neelan Thiruchelvam and Ketheshwaran Loganathan who made a conscious decision to support the Sri Lankan state in their efforts to secure cooperation from the Tamils as well as to minimise their alienation. The impact they made on the local as well as international reconciliation was greater since they were the quintessential diplomats in conveying the message of peace when the country was plagued with a conflict of an ethnic character.

A path for peace essentially communicates a strategy to reconciliation.  While placing his primary argument for reconciliation in rekindling the innate goodness which is embodied in the human condition, Mr. Kadirgamar observes that “the battle for peace [has to be fought] in the hearts and minds of people”. On that very premise, he states that the challenge to reconciliation is placed on overcoming the mortal quality which is “the ability to remember, not to forget, to nurse long memories” whereas forgive and forget would expedite reconciliation processes. Therefore, Sri Lanka has to address the concerns of the Tamils who have left the country with a feeling that there would never be “justice and dignity for the Tamil people”. It is also important to triumph over “confrontational democracy”, a political practice in Sri Lanka ever since the Independence and harness the reconciliation process with a collective effort to ensure that “a minority shall never again be bullied and humiliated”. According to Mr. Kadirgamar, strengthening the feeling of being Sri Lankan can be achieved through improving awareness, recalling and reviving memories associated with episodes in the past when people like Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan fought for the rights of all Sri Lankans. In addition, he draws attention to the political courage of the leaders of the country – to disengage themselves from reactive politics and have the courage to say no, especially when the leader enjoys a significant popular mandate, and to renounce “the prospect of extracting short-term gains from an issue which so vitally affects the future of the country”.

The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, named in honour of late Mr. Kadirgamar has done some work in a similar line. A living memory of late Lakshman Kadirgamar, the Kadirgamar Institute has been engaged in a series of activities which facilitate the national reconciliation process. The four national conferences the institute held created a constructive platform for multiple groups comprising of policy makers, implementers, civil society members and other stakeholders to engage, to debate, to broaden their awareness with the ultimate objective of creating a filter effect to the policy making in the country. In order to be consistent with the visionary that late Kadirgamar was, the institute is conducting in depth research on crucial issues associated with Sri Lanka’s foreign policy which will assist the relevant establishments in taking informed decisions.

When we are getting ready to commemorate late Mr. Kadirgamar, an ideal way to pay our tribute will be to strengthen the institute which bears his name, which revive his legacy and sustain the processes in foreign policy which he crafted.

*Amali Wedagedara holds a masters degree in International Politics from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has majored in Economics and Statistics from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi. 

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    Amali, you and others give misplaced praises and credit to Lakshman kadirgamar, who has hardly met any of these authors or interacted with them.
    I have known Lakshman and his immediate and extended family for over 40 years. And in case you all did not notice, I am a Tamil who also know and understand the Tamil people very well unlike the late Minister.

    India proscribed the LTTE soon after Rajiv Gandhi the leader of the Indian opposition was assassinated in Tamil Nadu and well before Lakshman entered politics as a national list MP. Laksman stood tall among the ministers of president Chandrika’s government, because they all were pygmies compared to the giant Lakshman was with the exception of G L Peries who had great “paper qualifications”. That includes the Minister of Labor and later fisheries.

    Do not also forget that India betrayed the Tamils for their own geo political need and greed in 1987, after coming as peace keepers, the IPKF. Later they were known as “Innocent People Killing Force” which the Sinhala President and the JVP as well as MP Rajapakse did their best to get rid of but did not know how… May I remind you all that Mahinda Rajapakse ran even to UNHRC Geneva, where he was helped by a young Tamil girl 24 years ago. She was none other than Tamara Kunanayagam. So India had it’s own grudges against the LTTE and the Tamils who defeated the mighty Indian military while the Sinhala terrorist aka JVP was killing Sinhalese selling Indian Parripu and medicines in the South.

    May be the journalist and commentators are too young that they do not know their history or have selective amnesia like the NE provincial councilor who served under/with CM Varatharajaperumal, and then escaped to India running away from JVP. He is Dyan Jayatileke.

    The second country which proscribed the LTTE in 1996-1997 was USA, whereas LTTE has never committed any act of violence or threat to America. Out of the ten groups which was proscribed LTTE was the only Non Islam organization and it happened to be convenient. LTTE nor the diaspora did not have the sophistication or competency to challenge that proscription and they never did in over 10 years and even now. Kadirgamar’s contribution was negligible at best and USA does not react to unknown foreign minister’s lobbying, of those who never even visited the white house like the current president of Sri Lanka..or the previous President.

    The third country which proscribed the LTTE was Great Britain, and that too was Post 9/11, which had no contribution from Kadirgamar although he knew many in the British cabinet as President of the Oxford union, and practiced law in London. There is no doubt that Kadirgamar was a brilliant academician and great sportsman. Kadirgamar was not FM between 2001 and 2004. The rest of the countries proscribed the LTTE, after his assassination, the 27 EU countries, Canada and Australia. In other words Kadirgamar was more useful to Sri Lanka dead than alive.

    Nevertheless, UK permitted Mr and Mrs Balasingam and A C Shanthan as well as the TRO to operate in the UK without any hindrance and supported the CFA and the several Peace talks..Did you all were under illusion that there was no fund raising for the LTTE in all the 32 countries between 1991 and 2009? There was also open support including many members in the Parliament. 3 years after their demise the Tamils have more support worldwide. That is not due to a bad foreign minister but due to the Rajapakse regime and their war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Tamils cannot take too much credit for that support either!!!! Although they do..It is purely guilt conscience that they too have blood in their hands, either directly or indirectly, and even India joined in, supporting the watered down UNHRC resolution sponsored by the USA. There is more fireworks expected in Geneva in the next 2 sessions… So keep tuned in.

    The journalist who consider Lakshman Kadirgamar a hero of the Sinhalese should get their facts right, and how he sabotaged the peace process between the 2002 and 2005, dissolution of the Parliament, until his death as FM in August 2005. Soon after, President Rajapakse cut a deal with this very LTTE via Emil Kanthan and Tiran Alles, and was installed to power by the LTTE, thanks to the boycott of the Presidential elections in the NE. The rest is history, and the LTTE also learnt it’s fatal lesson for that monumental blunder. The soil is still polluted with Tamil blood (40,000-100,000) and Sinhala chemical weapons and bombs.

    Furthermore, Kadirgamar assassination investigations especially under Mahinda Rajapakse as PM and President, have been engulfed with major cover ups, and incompetency, and some even deliberate criminal negligence. That is altogether a different subject, which also included Mrs. Kadirgamar, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Major General Asoka Jayawardene, and his brother Colonel Sarath Jayawardene who was given the private contract to be in charge of the FM’s security. He was attorney Suganthie Kadirgamar’s brother in law. lol.
    There is much more……

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      LOL Donald, You really are hilarious! By the way, do you write Karunanadhi’s scripts? Because his antics resemble well with your comments. I must strongly agree with you however, when you said “India betrayed the Tamils in 1987”. It is true, because, had India not intervened, Sri Lankan forces would have made soup out of big mad Prabha’s balls in Vadamarchchi in 1987, ending the war. By intervening, India rescued the mad guy, who survived to wreak havoc for another 22 years killing tens of thousands of innocent Tamil and other civilians in the North and soldiers from all over the country. Indeed it was a betrayal by India of the innocent people.

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        LMAO,Rubert has a different version of histroy to tell us..

        Miller blew himself and the army camp that had the important supplies and battle hardened soldiers to fight LTTE in 1987, sl army was short in supply and morale, JR having realized LTTE cannot be fought and won, brings India into the scene.

        …So this talk of “making soup of Praba’s balls” is contrary to reality as India’s intervention whether it be in 1987, 2000(jaffna siege) and 2009, have always saved the balls of SL Army’s balls from being made as soup by LTTE.

        In case you are wondering who Miller is, he is the first suicide cadre from LTTE.

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      This Donald J Gnanakone man is a nut case. once he said he went Kadiragamr funeral, now he says Tamil’s are hate of K. WTF? :) :)

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        Calling him a “nut case” does not counter his argument, instead exposes your inability to even do it and questions your mental status, as a person in his right mind will not believe in calling names as means of counter argument.

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    This man’s moral character is in question when he married the second time round a person younger than his own daughter. Thereafter Sugandhi, the second wife keeping the family out at his funeral. Secondly his integrity, for having connived with corrupt CBK after revealing about the Thwakkal deal. How can such be considered as Great Personalities just because one is qualified and good at Oratory.

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    THE GREAT PERSONALITY, WHO CARED FOR ALL CITIZENS OF OUR MOTHER LAND, SRI LANKA AKA CEYLON, IS NONE OTHER THAN THE WORLD FAMOUS, SIR PONNAMBALAM RAMANATHAN. BEING A STRONG TAMIL, HE IS THE PERSON WHO CARED FOR THE SINHALESE KANDYAN CHIEFTAINS WHO WERE IMPRISONED BY THE BRITISH. HE TOOK A PETITION HIDDEN IN HIS SHOES, TO GREAT BRITAIN AND HANDED IT OVER TO THE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, EXPOSING THE ATTROCITIES THE BRITISH FORCES WERE DOING TO THE CEYLON NATIONALS.
    SIR PONNAMBALAM RAMANATHAN IS THE REAL HERO OF SRILANKA (CEYLON).

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      DeSilva, I totally agree. LK is no comparison to the GREAT PERSONALITY of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. Sir PR lived an exemplary life that others could emulate. They were really great men not Humbugs as LK.

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    This is really a good post.

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    Yes, I was at the LK funeral which was overwhelmed with Buddhist monks although LK was a Christian.
    He was cremated by his wife. He was not respected in his death..

    As for IPKF, they killed about 10,000 Tamils and their atrocities were well documented, including rape etc. President Premadasa himself spoke.
    But there was NO Mass Murder/killings like in 2009..

    I wrote the facts to the benefit of the authors and future authors/editors
    et al.
    Not for any of the “strays” who just want make soup out of any ones balls, and females.. Rather cannibalistic SOB’s, and that might be the cause of incest and child rape which is rampant in the South. Sickos….

    I do not throw stones on shit- Lest it spread.

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    He was a traitor to his (Tamil) community and betryer of his (Christian) religion.
    True he was educated and had the gift of the gab, Still not an
    honest person.
    He defended the massacre of Tamil detainees and many attrocities by the Govt. Being a Tamil, he was believed by international leaders
    in condemning LTTE.
    Why did he marry a second time, going against his religion?
    He was groomed by CBK to become the Prime Minister, because of his talents and she did not want Mahinda to be PM.

    MR may be involved in his demise, but the truth will not surface for a long time.

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    When you talk about FACT, you presumably talk about the acronym (Flippin’ Ass Cares no-Toss), which is the polite term to describe fat Prabha.

    LOL 10,000, did you count it yourself? If the blood thirsty LTTE agreed to what they signed up to in the Indo-Lanka peace package, or behaved in front of their masters IPKF, nobody would have lost their lives, would they? Anyway, 10,000 is still a lot smaller number than 100,000, the number the ruthless impotent Prabha killed over 30 years, isn’t it? Having proscribed so many youth, there is hardly any doubt that Prabha and his gang engaged in incest and child rape. Yes it is a good practice, you shouldn’t throw stones at your food.

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      Flippin hell, “100,000” did you count them as they fell dead?Must have been a one hell of a job.

      “proscribed so many youth”
      So these youth(code named child soldiers) were responsible for the defeat of the fourth largest army(india) and the victory LTTE enjoyed over SL Army over two decades? So SL Army and GOSL lobbied heavily to fight kids??????

      Flipping hell :o

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    Talking like the War Criminal who is hiding from the USA?
    Pigs eating shit?
    I won’t waste time with such animals.

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      Ha ha war criminal should have shared your delicacy but after Nanthikadal, you don’t have to wate your time or food for him, you have the full plate for yourself, you must be delerious with joy. Anybody who cries for some screwd up mind who killed, in addition to 100,000 innocent over 30 years, Kadirgamar, Rajiv Ghandhi, Neelan Tiruchelvem, Amirthalingam and many more who were politicians not gun weilding terrorists, must have enjoyed the pigs gourmet at some point, if not at all times.

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        “Over the 30 years”, how convenient?

        Lets forget the 30 years before that shall we?Lets forget how tamil politicians and innocent tamils who were not gun wielding state terrorist were killed, also lets forget the legacy which continues to this day in the name of political prisoners.

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    LK won hearts and minds of average Sri Lankans.

    Sri Lankans wanted to see him at the highest office of our country. The Presidency.

    He was a Sri Lankan patriot. Through and through.

    LK was no coward. LK never back-tracked in the face of LTTE brutality.

    He gave his life for Sri Lanka. To keep it united. To keep it peaceful.

    Sri Lankans will build a nation on LK’s legacy.

    A united nation where race and religion will not be used to destroy each other. But, to bind us together.

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      LK was a virtual buddhist, his work is exaggerated by people who have not met him,so much so that he is laughing at you people from heaven.

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    Sourrounding vantage points including the empty upstairs of the immediate neighbour,from which a gunman could target LK were NOT inspected before he was shot while getting out of the pool in the premises of his residence.
    The many armymen there did NOT fan out to inspect neighbouring houses,soon after the shooting.
    It took half an hour for him to be transported,after the shooting,to hospital.
    It took more than two hours to establish a cordon on roads sourrounding the residence, by which time,the shooters had escaped with the rifle.
    Was his assasination planned?

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    Responding to the last paragraph of Donald J Gnanakone – August 13, 2012 at 8:15 am regarding Lakshman Kadirgamar killing, I quote from ‘My Belly is White’ by former Defence Secretary Austin Fernando. He says

    “As a special case Lakshman Kadirgamar was given special security cover, not only locally but even when he visited foreign countries. My Ministry engaged a commissioned military officer recommended by Lakshman Kadirgamar to accompany him on his foreign visits. We bore the costs. Ranil Wickremesinghe was quite keen on Lakshman Kadirgamar’s security and provided a special budget line under my ministry to the tune of Rs. 5 million per annum. He deserved it due to the security threat on him. It was more than the security given to Tilak Marapana. Mind you this level of security provided for Lakshman Kadirgamar was not given by his closest friend and political boss Chandrika Kumaratunga or the Peoples’ Alliance government, but by Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNF Government.

    Lakshman Kadirgamar’s Personal Assistant Swineetha Perera coordinated the services given to Lakshman Kadirgamar, which included maintenance of the official residence, costs of foreign visits, security, recurrent expenditure for supply of electricity, water, repair and maintenance of 12 vehicles and fuel. I wish this magnanimity be a lesson to all other politicians.” (page 140)

    As this writing is unchallenged for last four years after publication, one may conclude that the adverse comments made regarding security of Lakshman Kadirgamar in the comments on this article cannot be hurled at Ranil Wickremesinghe government, alleging ‘incompetency’ and ‘deliberate criminal negligence.’

    Even Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader has enjoyed unprecedented “security Magnanimity” of Ranil Wickremesinghe, Austin Fernando and Army Commander Lionel Balagalle (pages 140-142). May be that Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot even remember such magnanimity showered on him!

    These are bouquets not offered and will not be offered either to the deserving!

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      Politico, thank you very much for enlightening the readership of facts. Leave alone Ranil’s magnanimity, he is lambasted every turn on false and baseless charges. I have observed that the Sri Lankan society in general is without gratitude. It is said that a society sans gratitude will never have peace and will never prosper. Therefore is it surprising that we are bogged down in the same Pig Shit hole that Gota spoke of?

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      @Politico.. Kohithey Yanne, Malle Pol.
      LK was assassinated by unknown gunmen possibly of the LTTE, or Karuna group, or others, in August 2005.
      So the security issues were directly under the President being C in C, and the Prime Minister Rajapakse. The presidential elections was not decided by the Supreme Court, nor the Presidential candidate, although Rajapakse was the PM. It was well known that there was no love lost between the LK and MR camps. Again, at best there was a serious security lapse which the MOD, Jayawardene brothers, SLA, and STF were involved.
      There was a lot of embarrassing evidence suppressed and covered up.

      This is the last paragraph you refer to ” Quote
      Furthermore, Kadirgamar assassination investigations especially under Mahinda Rajapakse as PM and President, have been engulfed with major cover ups, and incompetency, and some even deliberate criminal negligence. That is altogether a different subject, which also included Mrs. Kadirgamar, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Major General Asoka Jayawardene, and his brother Colonel Sarath Jayawardene who was given the private contract to be in charge of the FM’s security. He was attorney Suganthie Kadirgamar’s brother in law. lol.
      There is much more……
      Unquote”

      The mind boggling fact is Sugandhi’s bil Sarath Jayawardene was a director of a private security firm of the island Group. He was given the GOSL contract to protect the FM, in addition to the SLA, PSD, MSD and STF… That was the issue, and the private residence in Buller’s Lane where LK visits regularly for a swim and other rendezvous was part of the security network, which needed in fact more protection.

      Read Bandula Jayasekera -Then reporter for the Island. He claims that Mrs kadirgamar was present at the residence when the shooting occurred. The army did in deed transport a lady from that residence soon after the shooting, which was also known to CCD SSP Sarath Lugoda who was in charge of the investigations for over 9 months or until he retired..

      Later, all that information was suppressed together with the investigations of all those who were on duty, and the one who claimed that he shot at the window of Lakshman Thalayasingam’s home. But they did not search the house for 3 hours. Thalay, who I knew very well told me that, though terrified to talk on the phone while I was in Colombo.

      Thalay, his invalid wife, and two months later my “late” brother Charles were arrested under false charges by the police, instigated by one news paper editor who was an intern with LK, and was given advise on divorce issues by LK. (lol)..

      Coming to Austin Fernando, who was nothing but a wimp, and he back stabbed Ranil after leaving office. What he did when he was in office can only be imagined, and the MOD was always sabotaging the peace process, via Chandrika and Lakshman himself. Both were instrumental in dissolving the Parliament, after taking over the 3 important ministries in October 2003 when Ranil as PM was having a meeting at the White House.

      But what Austin wrote Ranil giving extra security to Lakshman, allowing LK to even occupy the FM’s official residence, without even asking him to move to another Government owned house is correct. I have had arguments on this subject with …………, and some members of the cabinet in 2002-2004 in Colombo. Austin F was subservient to LK was well known as LK was the chief adviser to the President CBK.

      The role of the Jayawardene brothers, and the armed forces should have been investigated and 7 years later they are all still clueless as they were when it all began. The same with the Lasantha murder investigations where all point so brazenly to the MOD and SLA. LK’s assassination was more subtle but the investigations or lack thereof, with cover up, suggest a conspiracy of sorts or criminal negligence at best.

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        Not only LK, all other high profile murders despite covered by mystery are blamed on LTTE, persons at CID and Defense must be having the easiest job in town, just blame LTTE for all the murders, no work done, yet they get paid-wow.

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    LK’s murder was certainly shrouded in mystery as it took over three hours for the Forces to cordon the area where the incident occured in the High Security zone in Colombo. Had they responded immediately, as they should have, the culprit/s would have been caught. So it is obvious the Authorities wanted the sniper to escape just like Lasantha’s murder. Further Sugandhi has benifited and receives recognition more with LK dead than when he was alive. No wonder the French say ‘Serche La Fam’ when a crime is committed looking for the woman.

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