26 September, 2020

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On War Criminals & Privileged Holidaymakers

By Chaminda Weerawardhana

Dr. Chaminda Weerawardhana

Dr. Chaminda Weerawardhana

Ex British Prime Minister and multi-millionaire Tony Blair’s summer holiday in Sri Lanka has been taking place under privileged conditions, with next to no media exposure. A visit that takes place on the invitation of those holding the reins of power in Colombo, the Blairs were provided with state security and amenities during their visit. Two people who have played a special role in facilitating this visit were, indeed, Mnagala Samaraweera MP and Chandrika Kuamaratunga. The former, a clothing design graduate of Central Saint Martin’s in London, was also instrumental in fixing up a meeting between Tony Blair and Mahinda Rajapaksa back in 2006. That meeting took place in Britain, at a different time, for Messrs Samaraweera, Rajapaksa and Blair. In the previous year, Samaraweera played a frontline role in Rajapaksa’s presidential campaign, which led to Rajapaksa’s election as Sri Lanka’s fifth executive president. In that same year, Blair secured his third re-election as British Prime Minister, with a parliamentary majority slashed to a mere 66 seats (as opposed to UK Labour’s 160-seat majority in the previous parliament). Having been Prime Minister since 1997, Blair’s popularity was in decline. A key reason for this was Blair’s decision to support the Bush administration’s war in Iraq, in the absence of a 2nd UN resolution. At the 2005 general election, the Liberal Democrats castigated Blair as responsible for the carnage that was Iraq, an argument that won for them a good few disenchanted Labour voters.

Flash forward to 2015.

Blair - Mahinda MangalaSamaraweera

Having just won the general election with a high count of preferential votes, Samaraweera has been reappointed to a cabinet ministerial portfolio somewhat removed, to say the very least, from his profession-proper (i.e. fashion designer) – that of foreign affairs. Indeed, Sri Lanka often distinguishes herself in appointing individuals with no prior experience in diplomacy and/or international civil service, no significant foreign experience, experience with international consultancies, or remarkable foreign language skills (other than Sinhala, Tamil and English) to spearhead its foreign policy apparatus. Having said that, Samaraweera’s appointment is less appalling, when compared with some of his predecessors, and more alarmingly, the track record of foreign affairs ministers who happened to be highly qualified, such as university professors. To borrow from Paul Auster, the Music of Chance certainly appears to be in Samaraweera’s favour in the 2015 quarter.

Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa was ousted from power in January 2015. Local specifics put aside, this was the result of an operation that received U.S. and Indian endorsement. Given the security challenges the USA is facing in the South China Sea, there is a clear effort to ensure that USA-friendly governments hold power across the South and Southeast Asian regions. In this light, it was neither majoritarian politics, corruption nor nepotism that caused disfavour for Rajapaksa internationally, but his close ties with Beijing. Rajapaksa’s second attempt at a political comeback was equally thwarted, through political machinations that ensured the West’s preferred outcome. Media reports indicate that Rajapaksa has nonetheless decided to remain in politics, most probably to wait for a new opportunity to spearhead a Sinhala nationalist uproar against the Ranil Wickremesinghe government. There is no question of the fact that the Rajapaksa ousting has been favourable for media freedom and fundamental rights. Domestically, a primary cause of public disenchantment with the Rajapaksa administration stemmed from the myopic policies of his siblings and preposterousness of his offspring. Despite his downfall, Rajapaksa continues to command the support of a considerable segment of the Sinhala community.

Mahinda Tony BlairInternationally, the Rajapaksa administration’s biggest controversy involves atrocities committed during the last stages of the war, and in its immediate aftermath. The Channel 4 revelations have provided insights into such violent excesses that could have been avoided, in the best interests of the Sri Lankan state. In an era of smart phones, selfies and quick information transfer, occurrences of this nature cannot be pushed under the carpet, as the Rajapaksas initially envisaged. The issue has been used for political advantage in both Tamil and Sinhala nationalist circles, with relatively little done in the interests of the people who lost loved ones, orphaned children, single mothers, parents who lost their children, who are all forced to live with the burden of their suffering.

Let’s say it out and loud: the Rajapaksa administration’s post-war by-line that it fought the war with ‘zero civilian casualties’ is, if anything, is a blatant con. No counterinsurgency operation is fought with zero civilian casualties. If an investigation is to be held on every act of atrocity committed in the war’s latter stages and immediate aftermath, the finger is very likely to be pointed at those who held the highest decision-making powers in Sri Lanka’s security establishment back then, especially presidential sibling Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a citizen of the United States of America.

Blair

Blair, our protagonist of a holidaymaker, has a deeply tarnished reputation in his own country, with allegations of war crimes looming large over his prime ministerial legacy. The release of the Chilcot Report has been deliberately dragged on. Despite inconsistent justification narratives, it is a clear reality that the Bush-Blair adventure in Iraq – launched against expert opinion – opened a Pandora’s Box of instability and terror in the Middle East, which has today transpired into the ISIS phenomenon. In this backdrop, Blair’s 2007 appointment as the Quartet’s Special Envoy to the Middle East was all but futile (he resigned from this duty earlier this year).

Blair ChandrikaNew Labour, largely Blair’s brainchild, represented, pace minor exceptions, a continuation of a Thatcherite outlook. Labour under Blair veered so much to the right that in retirement, Blair’s true colours recently emerged when he strongly condemned Jeremy Corbyn MP’s Labour leadership bid. Corbyn, MP for North Islington since 1983, has been wrongly classified as representing an ‘extreme left’, when in reality, he upholds a moderate social democratic policy agenda. Blair has predicted the ‘annihilation’ of Labour if Corbyn is to be elected leader in September 2015. Blair’s aversion was for a man who, aged 66, has injected unprecedented new energy to the Labour Party through his leadership campaign, attracting a large following of youth and securing expert endorsement for his economic policies, a breath of fresh air to repeated austerity. Blair condemns Corbyn’s social democratic policies – which more and more people embrace heartily – as ‘old-fashioned leftist’. While Corbyn’s popularity rises day by day with his agenda filled with jam-packed public meetings, Blair categorically discards the views of Party members, calling for a leader who would unconditionally stand by the capitalist interests that Blair represents. The 2015 Labour leadership campaign has unambiguously exposed Blair’s right-wing and outright anti-democratic leanings. Corbyn, for his part, has responded in no uncertain terms.

Blair, Rajapaksa and yahapalana whitewashing

Both Blair and Rajapaksa terms of office are stained by allegations of war crimes and both have demonstrated anti-democratic tendencies. Blair took Britain into an outright illegitimate, ill thought-out and neoliberal military venture in the Middle East. In fairness to Rajapaksa, he fought a secessionist foe within the national territory of the country he led. There was a long track record of failed efforts at seeking a negotiated compromise – a situation that led to the view that the only way forward lay in militarily defeating the LTTE. Despite the atrocities, and as opposed to Blair’s Iraq nightmare, Rajapaksa’s war served to improve national security in his country. Rajapaksa’s failure mainly lay in the non-respect of no fire zones, violence upon the surrendered enemy, and the unwillingness to launch a credible national mechanism to examine such atrocities.

What leaves one bemused is the ostensibly anti-Rajapaksa Colombo elite’s attitude towards Blair. Why do Sri Lankan leaders, supposedly committed to the rule of law and good governance, court Blair? The answer partly lies in the Colombo elite’s blind admiration of all things Western and white. The visit of an ex-British Prime Minister is thereby perceived as an ‘achievement’ of the yahapalana government’s measures to rebuild Sri Lanka’s ‘image’ internationally. That ex-Premier’s record in the UK and on the world stage is irrelevant to Colombo’s elite. In their euphoria over Blair, they ignore the fact that the dubious records of Blair and Rajapaksa are equally controversial. Their prejudices and biases make Rajapaksa the villain/village thug and Blair a distinguished foreign dignitary.

Secondly, Colombo may intend to request Blair’s help when dealing with the UN HRC and Western governments. Blair himself has promised to talk on behalf of Sri Lanka internationally. Colombo will certainly have an influential friend in Blair, but steps of this nature do not differ from the Rajapaksas hiding behind Sir Desmond de Silva QC, costly lobbying firms and Chris Nonis’s London contacts to hide their wartime failures. A mature and more advisable approach is that of harnessing international links with individuals with strong track records of standing for human rights, the duplicity of the international system and injustice, in all its forms.

The day the Colombo elite reaches that level of maturity, beyond their neo-colonial, ‘Master-race-worshipping’ hangover, Sri Lanka could take real forward steps.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    9

    Tony the phony Blair liked to be known as Miranda at university and was fined fifty pounds at Bow street magistrates court London 1983 for soliciting abnormal sex in a Gents public toilet?

    • 8
      1

      Dr. Chaminda Weerawardhana

      RE: On War Criminals & Privileged Holidaymakers

      Usually, war criminals end up in Hague. Why is Tony Blair in Lanka, the Land of Native Aethho, infested by Paras? Does he want to add to the Para population.

      Any LTTE Piston gang remnants left to provide the Hauge treatment in Lanka?

    • 6
      1

      janaka

      “Tony the phony Blair liked to be known as Miranda at university and was fined fifty pounds at Bow street magistrates court London 1983 for soliciting abnormal sex in a Gents public toilet?”

      This is extremely minor compared to the war criminal activity in Iraq as the Np. 2 War Criminal behind George Bust based on the lies of WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction.

  • 12
    5

    With full knowledge of the American Government’s deception, Blair encouraged and supported the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. His act was intentional, malicious. If there ever was a war criminal deserving of the death sentence, that is Blair still breathing and living a lavish life with his ill gotten multi millions.

    That atrocity, the so-called war on terror, is not ended; it is continuing world wide under Obama’s “drone regime”. It is continuing in USA under the Homeland Security Law. It is continuing inside Banana Republics controlled by tinpot dictators, and cruel feudal minded rulers in the Middle East. These wicked men get an orgasm, simply by dropping poison gas and cluster bombs on innocent civilians: to visualize, think “Gotabaya”.

    The Government of Sri Lanka, Ranil Maithripala et al should feel ashamed of themselves for having this imbecile felicitated for his “achievements” at taxpayer expense. We citizens have been stripped of our dignity.

    Is there not one single person in the whole world who is willing to sacrifice his own life, to get rid of this evil man?

  • 7
    4

    Man what’s with that guy on the far left on the 3rd pic. Is he trying to burn someone down with his laser rays zooming out of his eyes!

    • 4
      0

      He has just seen YOU!

  • 12
    3

    The irony here for us 60 percent Sri Lankans is this:

    We HATE Mahinda Rajapakse for the atrocities he committed with regard to thousands of our citizens, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim.

    The same 60 percent LOVE Blair for atrocities he committed with regard to the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians he murdered all over the world, in collaboration with George W. Bush.

    • 7
      0

      That is because they are our Lords and Masters (both erstwhile and now future), and can do no wrong… while Rajapakse et al, are just a bunch of natives

      Sadly, we still have that Colonial Subject mentality…. I guess it goes well with our Victorian values !

  • 7
    1

    An excellent piece. I hope Blair reads it!

  • 9
    1

    Wonder if this bLIAR is still manufacturing Weapons of Mass Deception.

    • 3
      1

      Georg’s Bush

      “Wonder if this bLIAR is still manufacturing Weapons of Mass Deception. “

      Looks like he is War Criminal Addict.

      Why Can’t he retire from the War Crimes Business like you did?

  • 1
    0

    I do not know up to which time this Yahapalanaya continue since Mahinda interferes ruling activities unduely today.

  • 10
    0

    Blair is a tainted man. He was supposed to settle the Middle East problem. He did nothing. Now, he is after Sri Lanka, possibly because he smells money and will have the brown people stooging him. He is yesterday’s man and best confined to the rubbish heap. Chandrika who is trying to revive her fortunes may want him by her side but she is a war criminal too. Her family started it, killed 70,000 Sinhalese during the JVP uprising and bombed the church at Navaly. Maybe, war criminals need to stick together to exchange notes.

  • 8
    0

    I must add that his is a well informed and well written piece- a pleasure to read.

    • 0
      1

      I have sometimes wondered, while reading your comments, what kind of brain you were were carrying. Now I know. It is the dead variety.

  • 7
    0

    Blair wasn’t called Bush’s lap poodle for nothing. The Bush-Blair regime is complicit in all the unraveling chaos and ISIS/Al Qaeda terrorism that resulted in their illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003

  • 5
    0

    Look at that picture. Chaura Rajini is asking Tony bLiar whether he has any plans of selling his Mansion in the Midlands.

    • 2
      0

      And Tony bLair is saying “Yes of course; But If you’ll only tell me, how much you paid for Prince Andrews castle”

  • 3
    1

    Tony the phony Blair liked to be known as Miranda at university and was fined fifty pounds at Bow street magistrates court London 1983 for soliciting abnormal sex in a Gents public toilet?

    This time no fine as mangala went to his abode which was gurded well.

    “Wonder if this bLIAR is still manufacturing Weapons of Mass Deception”
    Nope. These days he is screwing up the Middle East and the Arabs with deception.

    Do not know what Sira exchaged with this murderer? Words or gifts?

  • 3
    0

    Why did Ranil invite this war criminal into our country who has committed crimes against thousands of innocent people in the Middle East.

    Why should we pay for this millionaire evil murderer and his family to enjoy royal treatment in our country.

    He should be ordered to pay all the costs poor Sri Lanka people incurred for him and his family and deported immediately.

    He was a puppet to Evil Bush and asked Bush’s permission from Bush to address him as John.

    Tony,

    You will continue to burn in hell fire for ever for the evils you have committed on humanity.

    • 1
      1

      [Why did Ranil invite this war criminal into our country who has committed crimes against thousands of innocent people in the Middle East. ]

      I Scratch Your Back And You Scratch Mine/birds of a feather flock together.

      To the Sinhala racists.

      Tomaten auf den Augen haben.
      “You have tomatoes on your eyes.”

      To the war criminals.
      猫をかぶる
      Literal translation: “To wear a cat on one’s head.”
      “You’re hiding your claws and pretending to be a nice, harmless person.”

  • 1
    2

    Yesterday the US said it had decided to move a resolution at next month’s UNHRC meeting in Geneva calling on member states to support Sri Lanka’s independent domestic probe into allegations of war crimes levelled against its previous government and LTTE.

    Well done UNP, all it took was regime change.

    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=130663

  • 2
    0

    Despite 6 decades of Independence, our morally bankrupt elite never miss a chance to kiss the white a…!

    Tony Blair ( gift of gab notwithstanding)is a war criminal along with George Bush. The only reason he is not categorised thus is because he was PM of Britain and GB was President of USA. Of course, being White made a big difference too. Ask Barack Obama about how a black man gets treated.

    He carved out a gig as special envoy to the Middle East and made money through his foundation for a couple of years. This is the standard racket by most Western politicians. This is how they accept bribes for trading influence, legally.

  • 2
    0

    Wow! Thanks to Mangala, the Devil has been given a chance to ascend the pulpit.

  • 0
    3

    Let us get some context here. It is fashionable to call Blair horrible names for what happened in Iraq. How many write in these columns it was that deranged dictator Saddam Hussein – from the minority Sunni sect – who destroyed Iraq by years of horrible HR crimes against the majority Shia in his own country. The massacres include the assassination of leading Shia clerics within mosques in main Iraqi
    cities. Saddam using Sarin gas on his own people that killed over
    5,000 in one single incident will remain an ugly of world history for a long time. Over a million Iraqis and Iranians were gassed to death when Saddam engaged in an unnecessary and avoidable fraternal war with Brother-Iranians, where the use of banned chemicals was more norm than exception. Have you remembered Saddam’s thuggery against little Kuwait on whom he inflicted his large army disregarding world opinion? The allies went in to Iraq to interdict the plentiful supplies of banned WMD that was in the control of this disturbed man. While the Iraqi war on going and Saddam knew he was losing, he is reported to have moved his stock of WMD across the Syrian border. So that explains how now Syrian President Assad is using these against his own population.

    The Allies went in only after years of warning to Saddam to stop his misadventure. He cared two hoots to the call of the IAE authorities and continued to play ducks and drakes with them.

    So when some of us criticise Tony Blair in ugly terms, please be reasonable. He was one of Britain’s most able PM’s in recent times and deserves to be treated with greater respect by Sri Lanka – one of
    Britain’s old friends.

    Backlash

    • 2
      0

      @backlash

      Yes, lets DO get some context here.

      You missed the bits where the US armed Iraq when the US puppet ruler in Iran (the Shah) was overthrown. You might also consider that the weapons that Saddam used against the Iranians actually may have come from US stockpiles

      Are you seriously claiming that Iraq is now a more peaceful and prosperous place than it was under Saddam ???????? Or Libya, when under Gaddafi (both I might add, were Western darlings)

      Bush Senior had the good sense not to decimate Iraq and overthrow Saddam after the Kuwait War., unlike his brain-dead offspring decided otherwise, plunging the Middle East into a crisis from which it has yet to emerge.

      And the accomplice in all this ? Blair.

      So you can go and kiss his small donkey if it so pleases you.

  • 5
    1

    Dr. Chaminda Weerawardhana

    On War Criminals & Privileged Holidaymakers

    *** It was a fair effort but you have muddied a few things and omitted a few.

    Blairs Legacy following the Illegal War in Iraq:

    *** Britain thinks that it has a special relationship with USA but that is a fallacy. I remeber when Blair went to US before the War Blair said he will not be forced into rushing into the War. But when he came back he was a changed man. He was ordered by Bush to toe the line and Balir couldnt bomb his way out and they became Partners in CRIME.

    2) Two people who have played a special role in facilitating this visit were, indeed, Mnagala Samaraweera MP and Chandrika Kuamaratunga.

    *** This was to use Blairs services which these days amounts to making speeches for money but no respects him. The two who invited him are ” Pankawalas” still subservient to the British RAJ.
    Even the Queen snubed Blair and he was the only ex Prime Minister not invited to Prince Williams wedding.

    3) Flash forward to 2015.

    *** This should read Flashh back the Iraq war.

    4) Sinhala, Tamil and English) to spearhead its foreign policy apparatus. Having said that, Samaraweera’s appointment is less appalling, when compared with some of his predecessors, and more alarmingly, the track record of foreign affairs ministers who happened to be highly qualified, such as university professors.

    *** I know who you are referring and the relationship between him annd MR was a bit like Prabakaran and Anton Balasingham.

    5) Rajapaksa was ousted from power in January 2015. Local specifics put aside, this was the result of an operation that received U.S. and Indian endorsement. Given the security challenges the USA is facing in the South China Sea, there is a clear effort to ensure that USA-friendly governments hold power across the South and Southeast Asian regions. In this light, it was neither majoritarian politics, corruption nor nepotism that caused disfavour for Rajapaksa internationally, but his close ties with Beijing.

    *** You are partially right in the sense it was India who was the driving force behind the Regime change as US cannot and will not act without Indias endosement as India is the Regional Player.

    6) Mahinda Tony BlairInternationally, the Rajapaksa administration’s biggest controversy involves atrocities committed during the last stages of the war, and in its immediate aftermath. The Channel 4 revelations have provided insights into such violent excesses that could have been avoided, in the best interests of the Sri Lankan state.

    *** I have already said that they are partners in CRIME.

    7) Let’s say it out and loud: the Rajapaksa administration’s post-war by-line that it fought the war with ‘zero civilian casualties’ is, if anything, is a blatant con. No counterinsurgency operation is fought with zero civilian casualties. If an investigation is to be held on every act of atrocity committed in the war’s latter stages and immediate aftermath, the finger is very likely to be pointed at those who held the highest decision-making powers in Sri Lanka’s security establishment back then, especially presidential sibling Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a citizen of the United States of America.

    *** There is overwhelming evidence of the atricities and that is why Manga is Globe trotting to save Sinhala Lanka and Mahintha and wants to have aan internal inquiry.

    8) Blair, our protagonist of a holidaymaker, has a deeply tarnished reputation in his own country, with allegations of war crimes looming large over his prime ministerial legacy. The release of the Chilcot Report has been deliberately dragged on.

    *** Dont forget this is an internal inquiry and the State apparatus will save Blair.

    9) Secondly, Colombo may intend to request Blair’s help when dealing with the UN HRC and Western governments. Blair himself has promised to talk on behalf of Sri Lanka internationally. Colombo will certainly have an influential friend in Blair, but steps of this nature do not differ from the Rajapaksas hiding behind Sir Desmond de Silva QC, costly lobbying firms and Chris Nonis’s London contacts to hide their wartime failures. A mature and more advisable approach is that of harnessing international links with individuals with strong track records of standing for human rights, the duplicity of the international system and injustice, in all its forms.

    *** This is a non starter as Blair flouted International norms and Ignored UN mandate and went into an Illegal War. How can he then argue at the UN on behalf of Sinhala Lanka. Blair wont even be alllowed to go in to Speak. Money wasted yet again this time by Mangala and CBK

    • 3
      0

      @kali
      Brilliant !!! Of course, the “Raj Worshippers” amongst us will be highly offended at what you say but those with an ounce of sense will know the truth of it

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