By Malinda Seneviratne –
I was in New York the other day, but that was not to address the UN General Assembly. I just took part in a side event on maternal and child health and attended an event hosted by the Canadian American Business Council (CABC). My Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird spoke at the UN instead of me. He represented Canada and my position pretty well I thought, at least to the extent that he thought he was representing me.
But I’ve been thinking. I didn’t attend the UNGA not because I though maternal and child health was more important or that powwowing with the CABC would be a more fruitful exercise, but due to misgivings.
You see, I have made it clear that I will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 in Sri Lanka. I’ve stated my reasons. You can google to find the reasons. I’ve thrown words and terms like human rights, reconciliation and accountability. But I’ve been thinking, as I said. The truth is I know jack-whatnot about Sri Lanka. I know nothing about the history of the conflict. I have no clue about the true dimensions of grievances or the outrageousness of aspirations and so on. All I know is that Sri Lanka did what none of us big-name nations in the West have been able to achieve. I was dumbfounded and took the easy way out; I decided that if it happened, it must have happened at great cost.
I did not consider the fact that the Sri Lankan armed forces could have finished off the LTTE at least 5 months before if there was absolutely no concern for civilians held hostage by the LTTE. I did not ask myself why the Army sacrificed hundreds of soldiers in the last days of the war. There are lots I did not know and lots I didn’t want to know.
But I’ve been thinking. I’ve figured that if I am upset about what people whose reliability is at best suspect claim to have happened in Sri Lanka, then I should be horrified out of my skin about what I do know as fact. I am talking about what my neighbor, the United States of America has been doing and does in countries it is at war (to bring about peace, democracy and stuff, you know?).
I know all about Washington’s many exercises in manufacturing consent to launch wars. There’s the whole Weapons of Mass Destruction story (Iraq), for example. Then we had Libya. Now I know that John Baird said something about Syria and I know it’s a load of crap. If, as he said, Canada will not support brutal regimes that unleash weapons of mass destruction, then I cannot support the USA. Baird was talking about chemical weapons, but I know that there is no conclusive evidence that Syria used them. And I know that US ‘intelligence’ is fond of fantasy! John was trying to read my mind and I don’t blame him for saying these things for I’ve not spoken my mind.
Anyway, I believe that since the UN is headquartered in the USA, my presence would have amounted to tacit support for Washington’s crimes against humanity, in which I am ashamed to say my country has been complicit.
I’ve been thinking. I beat my chest and said I will withdraw financial support to the Commonwealth. I could gone the whole hog and said ‘ta-ta’ to Elizabeth and the Monarchy, thereby freeing my country from the guilt of association and complicity, not to mention being partners in crime of genocidal policy on native people of what we now call Canada.
I’ve been thinking. I’ve realized that if I am to boycott countries guilty of war crimes, I cannot attend any conference in Europe. I cannot go to London and genuflect before my queen. Heck, I cannot go to Canada either.
I think I am going to seek Permanent Residency in the Andaman Islands. I hope they forgive my transgressions, my imbecility and arrogance.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com