By Muhammed Fazl –
While the Oxford dictionary defines the word ‘terrorism’ as “the unofficial or unauthorized use of violence & intimidation in the pursuit of political aims” and the word ‘terrorist’ as “a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims”, the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives a full definition to the word ‘traitor’ as the “one who betrays another’s trust or is false to an obligation or duty”.
The ignorant reader may wonder the relevance of my English lesson to Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but as a result of definitions above and the characteristics of our Secretary to the Ministry of Defence being so deeply intertwined, needless to say, life in modern day Sri Lanka has become more or less akin to that of Gestapo/Stasi Germany half a century ago. To be fair to the present regime, it should be mentioned that the state-sponsored fear psychosis has been in existence even during the tenure of Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa’s presidency.
Unlike in the past and since the mid nineties, when only empty rhetorical speeches were made by opposition parties in their resistance against the violent subjugation of masses and the plunder of economies, it would be insensate on the part of Mr. Gotabhaya and his gang of brothers should they trivialize the threat of a resurgent opposition alliance, led by the ‘never-say-die’ Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. In this context and considering the ‘blood ties’ factor, the need to examine the nexus between the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and the law enforcement machinery headed by Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa becomes exigent.
Three months after the Aluthgama racial violence, justice is yet to be served to the victims and/or their kith and kin. While the failure to prevent violence lies solely with the police force and the army, actions at that time (or inactions) by the Ministry of Defence can be translated quite accurately as complicity in the instigation of communal disharmony between two communities.
Recalling the words of General Moshe Dayan – “Israel must invent dangers, and to do this it must adapt the strategy of provocation and revenge”, and when memories of the war victory fades gradually in the minds of the ignorant majority, Mr. Gotabaya too seems to be ‘moving mountains’ in provoking the Muslims into taking up arms against the Sinhalese-dominated armed forces and the government. While in the West nothing sells like sex, in Sri Lanka, hatred for the minorities seems to be what makes the majority community tick. Up to the task and wasting no time or leaving no stone unturned in consolidating his family’s hold on power, little did Mr. Gotabaya realize the futility in the ill-conceived notion of creating communal strife between Muslims and the Sinhalese. While the peace-loving majority community in this country need not waste time in worrying about an ‘Islamic militancy’ or bother subscribing to politically motivated speeches propagating a sense of Islamophobia, they should also understand that Sri Lankan Muslims will never be coerced or fooled into playing the ‘war games’ that is currently being spearheaded by the government proxy, the BBS.
The Secretary to the Minister of Defence may want to portray himself as a modern day Dutugemunu responsible for defeating foreign and ‘terrorist’ threats, and to showcase a strong and a competent persona to the unsuspecting and the backbone-less majority community. While Mr. Gotabhaya’s dreams should be respected, it is a common consensus among the masses now that he ‘wakes up and smells the roses’ before his ‘natural term’ expires prematurely.
A section of the population may not want Mr. Gotabaya tried for war crimes, but popular beliefs do not absolve one’s complicity in such crimes. In a nation where highest ranking war heroes are incarcerated over political differences and minor irregularities, I am all clueless as to why the main opposition party did not implicate Mr. Gotabaya in any court of law, local or international for crimes against humanity or at least for the alleged fraudulent purchase of arms. While I understand the nature of Sri Lankan politics and sentiments of the majority community, failure to hold Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa accountable or responsible for actions of ministries/departments coming under his direct purview has indeed resulted in a state of lawlessness.
Cries for recompense in the North-East may have fallen on deaf ears, or the trail in search of accountability and justice may have gone cold too… But unlike the cases of mass killings in Indonesia in the sixties, the killings in Chile in the seventies and the ‘killing fields’ in Cambodia among others, and where the perpetrators were brought to justice decades after their reign ended, the right-thinking masses in this country need to insist on instant justice and one that would be a deterrent for the future generation, that is if and when Mr. Gotabaya is put on trial of course.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Opposition to the current despotic government comes out alive only when individual positions and perks are at stake. Failure to even question Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, let alone file a case against him for all his wrong-doings by no opposition party is beyond my comprehension. Could it be the ‘unleashing-of-violence’ capabilities of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence that has silenced the opposition all this while? And if that is the case, would it not make Mr. Gotabaya a terrorist, at least as per the definition in the English dictionary? If public money running into millions of USDs is being looted by Mr. Goatabaya, if lives of future generations are pawned and if they are made to repay loans taken on commercial rates of interest for white-elephant projects initiated by the same Mr. Rajapaksa…, would it not also make him a traitor to the nation?
For what it is worth, let this be a call for the brave to unmask the pseudo patriot, who is after all a public servant. Sharing a lesson in chess in conclusion, though the King of the opponent is the target, more often than not, victory is made easier only when the queen is eliminated.
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and through FB – Fazl Muhammed Nizar.