27 September, 2020

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On The Pace And Substance Of Demilitarization

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The love that the British have for Sri Lanka is of such magnitude that one wonders if Sri Lankans should bother to love their country.  They so loved this island, let us not forget, that they pillaged, burnt, robbed and perpetrated genocide and ethnic cleansing of a kind that even the LTTE in its most terrible days couldn’t come close to matching.

And so when the likes of David Miliband, David Cameron and Hugo Swire wax lyrical about island-love, it’s quite normal to shrug and smile.

Just the other day, Hugo Swire, the Britsh Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth, made a speech in Parliament about Sri Lanka: ‘Though military drawback is evident in some areas, we are concerned at military involvement in commercial and other civil activities, such as education, tourism, and agriculture, and the occupation of land in high security zones. We will continue to raise this issue with members of the Sri Lankan Government, and press the need for the military not to partake in civil activities.’

If Swire really wants to know the truth about militarization and de-militarization, then he should do two things. First, he should compare the ‘what was’ with ‘what is’.  Here, in Sri Lanka, people know both.  There in Britain, Swire doesn’t have a clue and if the picture he has is what’s offered by Tamil chauvinism, then we can’t really help him.  If he is ignorant and wishes to remain so, that’s his problem.  If he’s pretending to sleep, nothing will wake him up.  If he listens to the TNA, which claims that the Governor of the Northern Province knows about ‘war crimes’ and not about ‘constitution’, and doesn’t bother to ask what the TNA knew, knows and will not reveal about complicity in terrorism, that’s again his problem.

Secondly, he should read a bit of history about post-conflict situations.  He could scan the globe and start counting the number of military bases operated by Britain’s mother country, that’s the USA, in countries they have been at war with.  He could check how many British troops are stationed outside his country and ask himself why. He will come up with a single word (an excuse, really): threat.  Then he could ask himself a question about the goose, the gander and sauce.

Not everyone in Britain thinks like Swire of course.  Lord Tim Bell put it well: ‘It’s a fashionable thing to criticize the way the Sri Lankan government has behaved. David Cameron had one meeting in the north of the country with 200 people who have lost relatives. You have to remember there was a 30-year civil war. The Tamil Tigers weren’t exactly gentle, nice people. And for Britain to ponce around the world talking about human rights after what we did in Afghanistan … It’s what Winston Churchill called ‘our usual export’: hypocrisy.’

So let’s leave Swire to his fancies and instead address the issue of the military and its involvement in commercial and other civil activities.

Sri Lankan security forces fought a ruthless terrorist outfit.  Sri Lanka is plagued by the operations of LTTE remnants as well as outfits loath to say anything wrong about the LTTE or other representatives or tacit supporters of Tamil chauvinism and extremism.  Sri Lanka has learned the hard way that it is better to be safe rather than sorry.  Sri Lankans and not the likes of Swire have to decide where to station her troops. Indeed, Sri Lankans and not Swire have to decide how best military personnel should be deployed in a post-conflict scenario.

It’s nice for countries like the UK and USA that are perpetually engaged in military operations in some corner of the world.  Sri Lanka doesn’t do ‘invasion’ and perforce must either go for a considerable downsizing of numbers (not safe, yet) or find alternative activity for military personnel.

Throughout history, victorious armies have been dispatched to fight new ‘enemies’ (that’s what the US/UK has done and does even today).  Sri Lanka lost close to 200,000 people over the last 40 years to two insurrections, the struggle to overcome the terrorist threat and the debilitating tsunami.  An equal or larger number are employed overseas.  There’s a huge human resource problem.  There’s also a relatively idle set of able-bodied young men and women who have acquired specific non-military skills during the conflict and in post conflict relief and rehabilitation work.  Nothing makes more sense that for these people to be deployed in non-military activity.  We could have that, or we could start another war (like the USA/UK did and does as though it’s part of their national cultural ethos).  Considering the very real problem of ex service personnel taking to crime, we could opt for that lovely eventuality too.

We are in transition from military to civil.  Does not and should not happen overnight and certainly not because some lackey of terrorism (certain elements within the TNA for example) want it and certainly not because some ignorant man in Britain is suffering from post-colonial angst.

So, thank you Hugo Swire, but no.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 4
    1

    “We are in transition from military to civil” the writer will say the same thing in another 30 years time. Come on man you cannot you read the mindset of Rajapakse & co.

    • 3
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      Of course he has to tell the mind set of Rajapaksa’s, becuase he is bribed by the regime with lap tops duty free cars and all other perks for their personel benifits. Malinda is one of the media prostitutes. There will be a day all these media men will be judged. Until then you may carry on

  • 6
    1

    ..and you think Lord Tim Bell thinks for everyone in Britain?

    Where are these remnants of LTTE you keep referring to?
    Look in your backyard for KP, Karuna, Pilliyan.

    or are you saying all Tamils are LTTE remnants?

    • 2
      1

      if you are blind and deaf we cant help you .

      • 2
        0

        First Try to Help MALINDA.

        He said “Considering the very real problem of ex service personnel taking to crime, we could opt for that lovely eventuality too”.
        “find alternative activity for military personnel”,

        Yes, ex service personnel???????,
        The real problem is with one of Malinda’s bosses, psychopath ex Soldier Gothabhaya and
        His Blood lust ex Military white van goons.
        Hothambaya has found for them, for Ex military personnel some Interesting Killing activities.
        Northern Province Chief Minister, Honourable C.V. Wigneswaran said at the Sarvodaya Annual General Meeting.

        “a former LTTE military commander was being commissioned to restart an LTTE outfit subservient to the powers that be”.
        So Hotahambaya is giving contract jobs To kill who ever Comes to peace with Sinhalese and Tamils???????????????????.
        Malinda, Aney, Plese Call Your MAHARAJA,
        And Tell him That, And Chant with him MAHARAJAANENI;
        RAAJA BAHAWATHU DAHAMMIKO!!!!!!!!.
        I forgot To tell,
        for Ex military personnel, some Interesting activities can implement when CASINOS start.
        that is a big profitable business also.
        That is “Male and female Prostitution.!

  • 3
    1

    So,who are the army fighting in the north – war widows? university students? people evicted from homes? people whose homes were/are being demolished even today? journalists who write what is happening? people who grieve for their past relatives? hindu clergy who entreat military not to enter temples with boots on? those released after ‘rehabilitation’?
    UK and US troops fight insurgents in other nations’ homelands after being invited to do so.

    • 0
      0

      ” UK and US troops fight insurgents in other nations’ homelands after being invited to do so.”
      ‘Invited’ by the likes of Gen. Idris of Syria, who on finding that his following was near non existent joined up with the nebulous Al Qaeda. Or by the likes of Gibreel in Libya who after Gaddafi was murdered by Libyan rabble, was himself eliminated from power, and is too frightened to live in Libya, for serving a foreign enemy. Let us not forget the KLA, known as the supplier of human organs for transplantation, a NATO creation, in pursuit of the ‘balkanisation’ of Yugoslavia and the creation of a greater Europe. There are others too numerous to summarise here, except that the latest attempt, in Ukraine, failed miserably. If Idris and Gibreel were patriots, who sought the distruction of their motherland for personal gain, then we too have many such patriots in Sri Lanka.
      US and UK DO NOT fight insurgents in other countries, but create, train and fund them in order to destroy them from within. Their actions have never been altruistic.

  • 1
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    Malinda writes well and his research is commendable. But alas, he is duty-bound to the President who gifted him with a lap-top. Ergo he is a lapdog eating crumbs from the State and forfeiting his credibility if at all he has any.

    Who knows he might get a position as de facto diplomat abroad aka dis-information counsellor to counter allegations of war crimes gathering momentum.

    This is what happens when President chooses to ignore Foregin Service protocol ignoring the standard requirements of diplomats passing FS examinations and appoints neophytes willy-nilly.

    No wonder the counsellors escape with clocks and bed linen from hotels and give us a bad name. At least they should have the chutzpah to steal a Rembrandt or Kohinoor diamond. But since their tastes are plebian they would not know a Rembrandt if it hit them between the eyes.

    • 1
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      It would be a disaster for our already ailing FS to have people like Ping-addi Seneviratna and Gong-addi Rajpal adding to their woes. Diplomacy is not for amateurs and exceptions should be few; and there are none who fit the bill right now as far as SL is concerned.

  • 1
    1

    “ethnic cleansing of a kind that even the LTTE in its most terrible days couldn’t come close to matching…”

    ha ha ha ..you guys are now in re write history mode.

    you are trying to white wash the ethnic clensing the GOSL is now undertaking in Sri Lanka…

    please we Tamils are not gullible or stupid…may be you are writting for the sinhal modaya readers?

  • 0
    0

    ‘Considering the very real problem of ex service personnel taking to crime……’ This statement is a detestable slur on our valiant, disciplined fighting men and women who put their lives on the line so that this odious shit could live in a free Lanka writing some rubbish. He should be ashamed and immediately withdraw that statement; but don’t hold your breath folks for this ‘ping-addi’ ponce is thick-skinned too.

  • 1
    0

    Good Article Malinda . it id none of their business . let them pass a 100 resolutions nobody really cares .

    • 0
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      Ist lanken nation that powerful ? Sure for the nitwits of your kind.

    • 0
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      Mee harakas of your kind would NOT see beyond. That is clear to everyone.Srilanka is just an another poor country to ICs.

  • 0
    0

    Malinda argues that nothing makes more sense than for these people to be deployed in non-military activities, such as military involvement in commercial and other civil activities, education, tourism, and agriculture, and the occupation of land in high security Zones. This would make sense if done not only in North & East but also in other areas throughout the Island.

  • 0
    0

    MIlinda purposefully refuse to state some of other facts of war and post war times. USA, UK, India helped to finish LTTE in many ways. Now these big brothers closing down Sri Lanka because of the big hotheadedness of the MaRa family ruling our country. Because of their thug diplomacy with these big brothers.

    Whether we like it or not USA, Europe have their say in world affairs. EVen Myanmay, Iran realised this fact they started corporating with big brothers.
    Not sure when MaRa brothers going to realise these realities.
    wait and see !

  • 0
    0

    MALINDA SENEVIRATHNE:

    First you should DEFINE what this DEMILITARIZATION means.

    Tamils think, Sinhala soldiers OCCUPIED their homeland, DID THEY ?, and SO THAT, the Occupiers should withdraw. That is demilitarization. They call it SINHALA – SOLDIERS too when, very well we know, that Tamil soldiers also involved in every thing.

    So, use words carefully.

  • 0
    0

    The military is involved in non-military activities. Apparently there’s no enemy to fight. Then why are they in the North in the first place?
    So we have to find other jobs for them? What did they do before they joined the army? The writer should visit Indonesia, more specifically Semarang; a huge military presence, but always confined to barracks unless there’s an emergency.

  • 1
    0

    I didnt read what this fellow had written. This is nothing but Mr.Sum Con Lie

  • 1
    0

    Hope you got the Lap top – all the lap dogs got one it seems. You deserve two at least.

  • 0
    0

    Malinda,

    Do you understand the meaning of genocide. Your Nation and you should be proud of massacring Tamils and called this as liberation.

  • 0
    0

    “. Sri Lanka is plagued by the operations of LTTE remnants…”

    The LTTE remanats are with the Govt …Karuna and KP and Daya Master etc

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