By Muhammed Fazl –
“A hero is not coz someone puts on a uniform and picked up a weapon… but because he put it down and stood up for the truth” – Dr. Dahlia Wasfi.
Dear Mr. Rajapaksa,
Assuming the ‘tense situation’ in the country seems to be simmering down somewhat in the eyes of the ignorant, thought I will take this opportunity also to refresh the nation of fickle minds about an impending and a catastrophic juncture this country could be facing. But let me first give credit where it is due.
It should be mentioned that the whole nation is indeed grateful to you for being instrumental in giving leadership towards defeating one of the most ruthless terror outfits in the world. Your careful planning and efforts in beautifying the city and its infrastructure is another achievement that few could criticize. While facilitating the building of high-rise apartment complexes and mixed developments for the wealthy, providing livable housing at the same time to the displaced and the less-fortunate is also nothing short of a milestone that will be etched in the minds of many for years to come.
Leaders should be respected and not feared… or so I used to grow up believing in. Mere mention of your name alone creates a sense fear psychosis. And it makes me wonder what could have befallen the ‘nation of lions’. Could it be the silencing of dissenting voices? Or the extra-judicial killings by para-military forces loyal if not aligned to you? Or to a lesser extent, could it be the commanding of loyalty by inducements of monetary rewards and top public postings, especially in the Foreign Service? Either case, it would be next to impossible to please all your detractors and all the time. And it would be only fair that I remind you of your role in the soon to be overthrown government, lest you forget and before the ordinary masses run out of patience and cast their first stone.
You have been suspected of giving orders to eliminate surrendering LTTE militants, to torture and kill captured leaders and their foot soldiers belonging to the same militant outfit, plundering of war booty running into hundreds of millions of dollars for personal gain and ordering the continuous firing at enemy targets and hospitals by paying scant regard to civilian casualties among others. While at no point I believe your intentions were to cause TAMIL civilian casualties necessarily, I am pretty sure you would adopt the same tactic should a Sinhala or a Muslim militant group resort to using human shields in a battle. Hence, acknowledgment of your resolve in defeating ‘your enemies’, be they from any ethnicity and by all means, becomes equally important. Also, I sure hope you will be absolved of complicity if not direct involvement in mass graves unearthed in the recent past in Matale etc.
You have been implicated in fraudulent arms procurements, once again running into hundreds of millions of Dollars. The ‘MIG’ deal and Lanka Logistics purchases indeed raises a can of worms. Your modus operandi of giving multi-million Dollar contracts to private business entities using state institutions that you ‘oversee’, and without any established tender procedures and deriving a ‘sizeable’ personal income in return from those operations is no more a secret now. The business and your association with M/s Avant Garde Maritime Security, Kotte in securing major shipping lanes from piracy is just one ‘partnership’ that I believe I need not remind you of.
Assuming you have amassed a fortune enough to sustain a dozen generations carrying the infamous ‘Rajapaksa’ name, I question your wisdom in doing so. The 7-11 attendant or the computer operator or whatever that you were while eking out a meager living in the US, isn’t it a sharp contrast when comparing it with your present lifestyle? If only your government stipend is sustaining you and your family, would you come clean with audited accounts of your net worth for the sake of good governance? And if you are equally zealous in your attitude in acquiring ill-gotten wealth as much as you were during the time of war, wouldn’t that be for your children whom I believe are not imbeciles or retards? Would you seriously compromise their future too in a possible ‘court of accountability’? At old age and claiming to be a devout Buddhist, have you forgotten that, based on life-expectancy averages, your days are numbered in this world and the fact that only your good deeds can help you in the life here-after?
You claim to have won a war and bringing about a sense normalcy to the country. Yet you have a security contingent of over 1000 protecting you around-the-clock. Is it not a form of imprisonment in your own country, unable to move about freely? Does it not also indicate your failure to establish peace? Is it not the injustice you perpetrate that gives you a feeling of insecurity and sleepless nights? It might be possible that you would have established safe havens overseas in the event of a change of government in Sri Lanka. I remember you flying to Singapore just before the last Presidential elections over a minor health scare. Were you not heading Lanka Hospital (the best-equipped) at that time? When you travel overseas, does the Department of Customs check your luggage for millions of Dollars in currency notes since you are only a government servant? At a time when even gas station attendant jobs are being snapped up fast, I would rule out the possibility of you returning back in to the US. But Seychelles and rogue states in Africa do come into mind considering your inevitable circumstances. Wherever you may choose to flee to, I wonder if your conscience would allow you to experience contentment and happiness especially now that you are reaching the last stages of your life.
Increased budget allocations for Defense (in peace times),militarization of fabric of a society, politicization of State & law enforcement departments/armed forces and the ‘hijacking’ of the judiciary by your government is the result of unpopularity amongst the majority of the masses. Your method of suppressing dissension violently and unjustly will give rise to more protests leading to the inevitable and much sooner. However sincere you may be in your intentions for the good of the country, failure to establish accountability for abuse of power and corruption has taken us to a point of destruction and bankruptcy. Power corrupts and undoing the damage and future progress can take place only with a new leadership at the helm. Spending millions of Dollars on lobbyists with little known credentials while blowing ‘hot air’ and making pseudo nationalist speeches on local platforms defying pressure from the ‘Western hemisphere’ does not yield positive results. Your failure to address the grievances of victims of state-sponsored terror and that of militant groups and lawlessness in the country defines your unsuitability to hold onto your present job in the Ministry of defense.
Creating a right-wing militant form of Buddhism and creating the hype and a fear syndrome about a non-existent Islamic militancy does not do favors either in prolonging your quest for power and/or curry favors with the West. It is matter of time before all your ill-informed and ill-conceived plans are exposed.
With the noose tightening around you, ‘your armed forces’ and the government you represent in nations ‘championing’ human rights causes, I cannot help but feel remorse for your sleepless nights and the quagmire you could be facing domestically should there be a ‘reversal of fortunes’ in a game where ‘kings and queens’ used to hold sway.
Pawns they may be, but the game-changer is not far off from your door-step. In an era where mightier dictators are falling like dominoes, let this be the first offer of safe passage to you and your family. The rise of ‘power of the people’ cannot be tamed, and me being a member, I am willing to extend an olive branch should you choose to accept. For starters, your immediate resignation as Secretary to the Ministry of defense will signal a positive step in the right direction.
May God show you the correct path and have mercy on your soul,
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and through FB (Fazl Muhammed Nizar).