16 May, 2021

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Rajapaksa Nemesis – Samantha Power – Leads Vital USAID: Aid Tied To Human Rights

By Daya Gamage

Daya Gamage

A staunch critic of the manner in which Sri Lanka’s Eelam War was fought under President Mahinda Rajapaksa – while being a top official in Obama White House, and thereafter – a well known crusader of human rights, rule of law, war crimes and genocide, Dr. Samantha Power was unanimously cleared by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be President Biden’s Administrator of the most vital United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on which most developing countries heavily depend .

The appointment of Samantha Power is not very good news for the incumbent administration in Sri Lanka which is headed by the onetime defense secretary, who executed the war against the separatist Tamil Tigers, and the president who headed the administration that annihilated the Tigers now functions as its prime minister. Ms. Power has openly declared them as war criminals.

Both Rajapaksa brothers were in Dr. Power’s radar when she was a top policymaker in the Obama administration, and thereafter when international bodies such as UNHRC commenced scrutinizing the manner in which the Eelam War was executed.

And now back in the government when she heads Washington’s premier economic assistance agency, she brings her concept of tying aid to human rights. The March-2021 released US State Department Human Rights report on Sri Lanka for the year 2020 was critical of Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration saying it violated of human rights and degraded rule of law.

On Thursday April 16, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved Dr. Power to head the USAID. It is interesting to note that the Chairman of the Committee Senator Robert Menendez in December 2019 has gone on record inquiring from the Chief Executive of the MCC at a Hearing “Is that the alleged war criminal Gotabaya Rajapaksa elected president in Sri Lanka?”.

Dr. Power looked at the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration in a very unpleasant manner: “The incumbent Rajapaksa administration had governed largely through divisiveness and fear, and it had persecuted critics,” said Power in October 2015, several months after Sirisena had taken office. “And that’s why it’s so encouraging that, at the same time it’s confronting some of the darkest and most painful chapters in its country’s past”.

Not so good news on the way to Sri Lanka is that once Samantha Power is confirmed by the full Senate, President Biden is expected to place her on the White House National Security Council (NSC), the supreme body in the U.S. that formulate foreign policy.

Under the Obama administration, she served as a White House national security staffer from 2009 to 2013, before going on to become the US ambassador to the UN until 2017. It was during her tenure at the UN she took some interest when Sri Lanka was on UNHRC agenda.

Power’s first visit to Sri Lanka – as a member of the White House NSC – came in 2010, just over a year after Sri Lankan government forces defeated the LTTE. This visit clearly denotes how the White House NSC works in which she will be member soon.The war news peaked just months into the Obama presidency and caught the attention of the new administration while activating Ms. Power.

“I had successfully pushed for Obama to raise his voice against the wartime atrocities being carried out in countries such as Sri Lanka,” wrote Power in her 2019 book, The Education of an Idealist. And though the US president addressed the situation personally, the US government faced widespread criticism for doing little to stop what Obama himself would later term as “ethnic slaughter”.

The United Nations failed to “prevent ethnic slaughter in places like Sri Lanka” said former US president Barack Obama in his memoir, ‘A Promised Land’, reflecting on his time at the White House.

On eve of Samantha Power assuming the reigns of America’s premier foreign aid agency, it is imperative to note the mind-set of Power had toward Sri Lanka, especially the Rajapaksa brothers who are currently at the helm, and how she views the dispatch of foreign aid to countries that have questionable human rights issues.

Few doubt Ms. Power’s zeal — given her career as a war correspondent, human rights activist, academic expert and foreign policy adviser — even if it has meant advocating military force to stop widespread killings.  

Now, a President Biden’s  nominee to lead the United States Agency for International Development, she is preparing to rejoin the government as an administrator of soft power, and resist using weapons as a means of deterrence and punishment that she has pushed for in the past.

It is interesting to note that USAID and the State Department have budgeted about $2 billion on programs to foster democracy, human rights and open governance abroad in the 2021 fiscal year.

It is an area that Ms. Power is expected to expand. The Biden administration’s first budget blueprint, released on April 9, asserted it would commit an unspecified but “significant increase in resources” to advance human rights and democracy while thwarting corruption and authoritarianism.  

In a briefing to the International Crisis Group (ICG) in November 2018, Samantha Power urged the US to consider suspending aid and imposing targeted sanctions on Sri Lanka, in response to the Island’s political crisis, the period President Sirisena fired Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to install Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“The dangers of [Sri Lanka] constitutional crisis are clear: violence is possible & Rajapaksa’s return to power will likely end flagging efforts at ethnic reconciliation,’” Power posted on Twitter.

Stating that the proposed prime minister appointee Mahinda Rajapaksa stands “credibly accused of war crimes,” Power noted that “institutions in SL are bending but not breaking”.

It is interesting that Sri Lanka take note of what shape America’s premier aid agency could take with Dr. Samantha Power as its Administrator.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    10

    USaid is a front for the CIA. Generally sent to undermine unfavorable govts. The ones that that are not cost effective to invade or foster revolutions like the Arab spring. Read confessions of an economic hitman by John Perkins. Americans right now are waging a proxy war in Ukraine to undermine Russia, planning to attack Iran, while continuing to cause havoc in Hong Kong to unsettle China. SL does not feature in any of this.

    • 4
      2

      Before the author of this article wrote five articles in five days about US foreign policy, he should have known that he has a better known but uneducated namesake who was MP for Amparai:
      .
      http://archive2020.manthri.lk/en/politicians/49
      .
      The other fellow is also wealthier, apparently.

      But misidentification by four people for the current, much despised woman who is a National List MP, reputed to be a film star, is what happened after he wrote his first and second articles.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dueling-nationalisms-jvp-role-in-it-u-s-indifference-to-youth-88-89-massacre/
      .
      Please see the comments that I have made there.
      .
      Many people are clearly writing too many comments without thinking. “leelagemalli” is another. I won’t put Native Vedda in the same category. He does an amazing job, flitting here there and everywhere. He, too, makes mistakes, not reading carefully enough,as here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/what-should-be-the-political-economic-alternative/
      .
      It is SJ who claims admiration for North Korea. It was elsewhere on CT that Native Vedda and I exchanged views on that article, which he said that he had read together with the comments. There was yet another comment that I submitted, but it was rejected because it was too late by minutes.

      .
      tbc

    • 2
      1

      Continued . . .
      .
      Apologies for that much bold, above:
      .
      We don’t need clearer proof that SJ who so often sees specks in other people’s eyes, and even the usually astute old codger, don’t read articles, they merely read previous comments and write nonsense on occasion. Just yesterday, oc acknowledged that he didn’t know of the existence of two Namal Rajapaksas as a result of which he was taken for a ride by nimal fernando.
      .
      Humour? Of a very low level, worse than fiddling while Rome was burning.
      .
      This clearly is the man who has authored the current article:
      .
      https://www.tilaksblog.com/2020/01/daya-gamages-interview-with-ambassador-schaffer/
      .
      He writes unbothered by the fact that his two previous articles have attracted only one comment each. Hasn’t he asked himself why almost nobody reads what he has written? There can be
      no doubt that he knows the subject that he is writing about.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe
      (NIC 48 3111 444V) aka Sinhala_Man

      • 3
        1

        Dear S_M,
        Having read this author’s article “What Washington Missed When Involved In Sri Lanka’s National Issues” published by CT on April 09, 2021, I felt this Dayan Gamage has set out on a dishonest agenda of his own.

        In that particular article, he strung together cherrypicked quotes out of U.S. government documents to present as if those constituted fully flushed out official U.S. foreign policy on SriLanka and the U.S. governments’ regrets over its past policies. I didn’t appreciate that palpable creative dishonesty. It was deliberately narrated to make fools of the U.S. state intelligence and the U.S. officials’ knowledge of SL’s national issues.

        He gave little weight to the contribution of Sinhala Buddhist nationalistic policies and actions of the SL governments dating back to independence towards the armed Tamil political uprising. He embellished the caste divide of the North as the major impetus for the political violence in the North.

        He has conjured up the notion that the SL state has been unfairly ostracised/punished over the years. That’s the common theme across his articles.

        There’s already enough around here to misinform, misdirect, and whitewash reality. Don’t need this Dayan Gamage to expand that space.

        • 2
          0

          Thanks, Sugandh,
          .
          Yes, we must tread carefully.

        • 1
          4

          Sugandh,
          “…contribution of Sinhala Buddhist nationalistic policies and actions of the SL governments dating back to independence towards the armed Tamil political uprising.

          Do not blame Sinhala Buddhists for the blunders made by racist separatist Malabar Vellala Tamil politicians like GG Ponnambalam, SJV Chelvanayakam, R. Sampanthan.
          For instance, Ponnambalam ignited the first Tamil-Sinhala riots in 1939 by giving a racially motivated speech at Navalapitiya denigrating the Sinhala-Buddhist culture, its history and the people. Then he asked for 50:50. When he demanded 50-50 the Sinhala Board of Minister offered him 43 per cent. Ponnambalam rejected it. Which majority in the world had given 43% to a minority of 12% on an issue of so fundamental as power-sharing? The Tamil leadership blundered and the blame is put on the Sinhala-Buddhists.

          • 3
            1

            Dear EE

            You have been peddling your deceptive narrative far too hard for far too long. I imagine you will do so until your last breath. By now, it’s only natural you’ve lost any sense of reality and reason. You know what they say… Mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

            While there is accurate information and fair analysis of GG Ponnambalam’s speech out there, it ain’t yours, and your keyhole perspective is wildly imagined and preposterous. One needn’t endorse GG Ponnambalam’s policy stance to be fair.

            No political blunder is an excuse for anti-Tamil pogroms, military intimidation, abuses, aggression on peaceful demonstrations, extrajudicial abductions and killings, and state-run terrorism. The reality is well documented. Neither you nor Dayan Gamage can pull the wool over the eyes of the progressive world. But you can do so with the people of SriLanka like the Rajapaksas did to the 6.9million citizens.

            Good to know this author Dayan Gamage is a member of the H.L.D.Mahindapala fan club… He had taken the opportunity to comment and peddle his book in 2017 here;
            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/h-l-seneviratne-repeats-ponnambalams-apocalyptic-racism-blaming-bandaranaike/

    • 6
      1

      Dear Mr Gamage,
      .
      Thank you for your great article. Let s hope the best with her return, things would change for the betterment of a better srilanka.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFzFlS1szRE
      .
      I am also in the view, Mangala Samaraweera is one of the sensitive politicians we have in SL today. Ms. CBK was in the same view on Msamaraweera. Unfortunatley, all those feel to be normal are being beaten in racism dominated srilanka. Who are the architects, if not medamulana criminals.

      • 2
        0

        Dear LM, I think one can imagine how SriLanka’s political landscape is and would have been for any politician with a conscience and the desire to do the right thing!

        Outnumbered by those blind and deaf to any voice of reason and righteousness. A deeply stifling landscape. Madness in abundance for such voices to be drowned out.

        Having watched the video link in your comment, I am reminded of Mangala’s association with Mahinda Rajapaksa, and wonder how Mangala was able to get Mahinda to buy in to his initiatives towards compensation to war victims and setting up the OMP, etc. Surely MR didn’t let those initiatives materialise swiftly; it seemed MR liked the optics on the international stage, and there was certainly international pressure.

  • 1
    10

    that is really awesome isnt it dumpling ? noone is asking for their aid or AIDS

    • 5
      5

      Hi freeloader Diana Gamage , FYI Samantha Powers was short listed for Vice President nominee and then for Blinken’ s post. Biden has known her for years and hence there is mutual respect She was brought in by Obama and was through out a trusted aide.

    • 2
      2

      a14455 / April 18, 2021

      Are u that proud to be srilanken (better said sinhala buddhist- backlicker to Rajapakshes) ?

      Truth is not only americans, but GOSL has gone after BANGLADESH with their usual begging bowl… in the days to come… .no doubt, bitch s sons leaving their ALFA people mentality aside, have to leave for ETHIOPIA for loans.
      :
      The CHINESE would help, but on higher interests.

  • 11
    3

    This is a double blow for GR because he is also becoming unpopular with the Sinhalese people caused by sagging economy and his behaviour. Many people are also unhappy with the sovereignty issues caused by the port city project. The resolution 46-1 of the UNHRC has also put him under great pressure from international community.
    He is trying to divert the attention of the people. The easiest way to do this is to resurrect the LTTE. Towards that end he is arresting Tamil people and keeping them incommunicado and calling them LTTE. Some Tamil websites run by either the government or some other powerful body is also trying to resurrect LTTE in the cyber space. The aim of these people I s not to let Tamils live in peace.
    Hope Samantha Power will look in to it.

    • 4
      3

      ShanR,
      .
      You can say that again about their growing unpopularity with the Sinhala people.
      .
      Just see how it’ll be by the 10th of August when it’ll be one year since rotters like “Kudu Lanza” and his relative Namal Rajapaksa will say that they have been in Parliament for a year since the last General Election.
      .
      Yes, we are counting the days for us to see the end of these horrible fellows.

      • 3
        1

        Sinhala Man@
        .
        Kudu Lanza is reported to have been beaten by a group of women in Negombo two days ago.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zwBj82lkJ0

        Auditor general, over to you, please check how Nimal Lanza became untouchably wealthy within 10 years ? I have no doubt, even little children would be in the opinion, his whole scale drug trafficking and various other illegal businesses are known to everyone in that region. However, his close ties with MEDAMULANA criminals, make him very important to the area and stay scot free….

    • 0
      2

      ShanR,
      Did ‘Paradeshi’ Tamils allow Native Sinhalayo to live in peace?
      —-
      “The aim of these people I s not to let Tamils live in peace.”

  • 6
    2

    It is ironic that Samantha Power will be the person who decides if the Rajapaksa’s deserve to get USAID or not. She was demonized left right and centre by the Rajapaksa’s and their brainwashed supporters, all because she wanted them held accountable for their war crimes and discrimination of minorities, and they responded as they always do – attacking those who question them. Looks like Nandasena is having one bad day after another.

    On researching who Samantha Powers is, one cannot help but being impressed with her qualifications and experience. She has a far better standing in the world than the Rajapaksa’s have. She has even criticized American policies. The Rajapaksa’s have a bad habit of insulting, lying, exaggerating, and demonizing, all international officials every time they are held accountable by them. Their supporters keep believing them, and their campaign of lies.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantha_Power

    The chickens are coming home to roost and we are in for a tough time all thanks to Nandasena and his band of thugs, felons, and unqualified cronies.

  • 7
    5

    Dear Sinhala Man I read all the articles free loaded by this digital sniper. I addressed intentionally as Diana Gamage not just because of name sake but lacking ethics , moral in their roles .

    • 2
      2

      Thanks.
      .
      I’m sorry that I under-estimated you.
      .
      You’re right. We don’t know this man at all, and it is indeed unusual for a guy who has never written before to write so many articles all at once.
      .
      I think that I will hold my silence and see what others like NV make of this.

  • 2
    2

    This is very high praise indeed for Mangala Samaraweera from Samantha Power.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFzFlS1szRE
    .
    Mangala, you deserve every word of this half-hour on Youtube. I hope that you will form a front to fight this rotten “Double-Paksa” family. I trust you to work out the details; I only suggest that you have nothing to do with Wijedasa Rajapakshe.
    .
    We all make mistakes occasionally. Just once I voted in the Colombo District, and I voted for Wijedasa – at the suggestion of Ravi Samaraweera who was a Badulla District MP.
    .
    I’m no Marxist; I have nothing against Marxism, though. It has been said that it is like Christianity without God. Gauthama Buddha would have approved of it for the social organisation part of his philosophy. I suggest that we vote for the NPP, which has many persons like us in it. That is what I suggest to the General Public. I wouldn’t dare suggest what Mangala should do. After all, he knows politics much better than I do.

  • 2
    0

    SL Tamils had been unlucky in NOT having solid support from any country in the world. India is not keen to see ‘SEPARATISM’ succeeding as it will be a disaster to the Indian union. Sikhs wanted a separate state–Khalistan. Hence, India provided vital intelligence to GoSL to defeat LTTE. Without the clearance from the AMERICANS,
    NGR would not have been able to contest the Presidential Election. NGR,during one of his visit to USA, had met Robert Blake in 2018 or so. What did they discuss ???
    It is a FACT that no country in the world is really taking Human Rights seriously, as long as they can TRADE with the country be it autocratic/ barbarious

    • 0
      0

      N
      “SL Tamils had been unlucky in NOT having solid support from any country in the world.”
      *
      You seem to realize something that the Tamil leaders still flogging the dead donkey of International Intervention on behalf of the Tamils do not seem to know (or pretend not to know).
      *
      The next issue is WHY the bad luck? (South Africa showed some genuine interest. But that has been lost.)
      India was always willing to sustain a Tamil political group that will do its bidding to keep SL in check. It still does.
      No more no less.
      *
      The US has ways of betting on all horses as long as they do not have hostile loyalties. It once put a few dollars on the tiger as well.
      *
      Have Tamil leaders ever thought of building bridges with the oppressed people of the world?
      That is where sincere support is possible.

  • 1
    4

    “As the government continued to evade international commitments, the following April, Power declared Sri Lanka “a global champion of human rights and democratic accountability”.

    https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/samantha-power-sri-lanka-and-another-opportunity

    Excellent. This is what I have been saying all along.

    • 2
      1

      Dear Lester:

      Power made that statement in April 2016, which was after (1) decimation of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in Jan 2015 (and thus democracy and rule of law were on the return) and (2) UNHRC Resolution 30/1 had been cosponsored by SL under the Yahapalana government in October 2015.

      Clearly Power was hopeful and had placed emphasis on those vast changes and the promises of the Yahapalana government to materialize.

      On Oct 29, 2018, Power tweeted;
      “ Democracy in #SriLanka upended by Pres. Sirisena’s actions. He promised accountability but now brings back Rajapaksa, who was responsible for war crimes, disappearances. Urgent diplomacy needed – Sri Lankans have dealt w/ too much bloodshed to go backwards”

      • 0
        0

        Sugandh,

        According to WSWS, which is anti-Sri Lanka, “Washington only began criticising these crimes when China emerged as the main supplier of military hardware and finances to Colombo. In the UN, the US pushed through a resolution calling for an international inquiry into Sri Lankan war crimes.”

        So regardless of whether so-called “war crimes” exist or not, USA does not care about Eelam Tamils or fake freedom fight. Sri Lanka only has strategic value as a deterrent to Chinese expansion.

  • 4
    1

    Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha were the three tough women who ran Obama’s foreign policy. Politically they are all right of centre and willing to commit US military power. They are all three also brilliant. Rice is the least rightist of the three and probably the least pro-Israeli.

    Rice and Power have been appointed to positions in the Biden Administration. The way things are going the Sri Lankan Government is, if not on a coalition course, at least poised for an unfriendly relationship with USA-Biden. Being less powerful Gota is obviously going to be the loser. There is a limit to what Beijing can do to save his skin.

    • 3
      1

      But Rice now handles the domestic affairs portfolio and has no role to play in international affairs.

    • 2
      2

      … coalition course or collision course?

      • 0
        0

        Dear Nathan,
        .
        I spotted that myself immediately. Kumar David himself admits that quite a few typos creep into his writing.
        .
        Yes, they can be disconcerting, but not to us. Kumar may himself have spotted it and decided that most would automatically have read collision. If attention is drawn to it, we may see a spark of humour, but essentially he will put the blame on himself.
        .
        I’ve been a teacher, so I notice these things. Weren’t you also one, if only for a short while?
        .
        I’m not faulting you for pointing it out.

    • 0
      2

      A leftist scholar desperately pins his hopes on the US Right.

  • 0
    5

    Sinhala Man says he does not know who the writer is. He is not ‘Diana’

  • 1
    6

    Sinhala Man says he does not know who the writer is. He is not ;Diana’ or ‘Ampara Gamage’. He is Daya Gamage, a retired Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Govt. Daya Gamage is a veteran writer who wrote for Asian Tribune for 15 years on International Affairs. In fact 3 years ago he published a book “TAMIL TIGERS-DEBT TO AMERICA: US FOREIGN POLICY ADVENTURISM IN SRI LANKA’ He is a very knowledgeable man on US Foreign Policy on Sri Lankan Affairs.
    Please note what he writes.
    Gemson42

    • 4
      1

      Yikes, Asian Tribune? It was K.T. Rajasingham’s corrupt venture. It seems to have died a well-deserved death.

      • 1
        0

        Agnos
        It has fulfilled its mission though, like some vested interest operations that I have come across in recent years.
        It has made shamelessly vicious distortion of history ‘respectable’ to the extent that people continuer to respond seriously rather than ignore.

    • 3
      2

      Thanks, “Gemson42”
      .
      Now the problem is that I don’t know who you are! You seem to me a very recent commenter. It looks as though you want me to take special note of your advice to take this Daya Gamage seriously. O.K.
      .
      The identity of most of the other commenters is not known, either. However, Sugandh, chiv, Simon, leelagemalli, old codger, et al, have proved to be steady and reliable “friends”. When the first of them told me that Daya Gamage has “cherry-picked” certain details, I took note, and may be for the first time went back to this article to see what he was really saying:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dueling-nationalisms-jvp-role-in-it-u-s-indifference-to-youth-88-89-massacre/
      .
      I think that Sugandh is right.
      .
      Like many other amateurs, I often make mistakes. In this matter, I feel that I have provided a service to many by getting Gamage’s identity clarified.

  • 5
    3

    Boy o boy. If I had lived in U.S many years and now in India that makes me too a honorary foreign service officer and an expert on foreign policies of both countries ?? Asia Tribune is not U. S foreign desk just like CT where the chief editor may be in hiding due to Rajapaksas murderous hunt. I admit to a MISTAKE on my part. As eekdevi mentioned it was Susan Rice and not Samantha who was short listed for VP nominee and Blinken,s position. Some one here had already mentioned about this guy in Asia Tribune in one of his previous article where there was 2 or 3 comments including mine
    (Unofficial foreign analyst) . We are aware of our Lankan foreign analyst from Geneva performance. We also have Mahindapala, Laksiri and the nut case from U.S who said Covid is just a conspiracy. Agnos , is she related to KT Rajasingham.
    The title Tamil tigers debt to U.S says it all .

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