30 October, 2020

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Rajapaksa Power-Plays: Cheating Tamils And Demonising Muslims

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“With or without anticipation, Israeli policies helped shaped the kinds of enemies that pledge to sacrifice their lives to fight the Jewish state…” Saul Landau (IPS – 29.2.2009)

The Rajapaksas are masters at the art of political marketing. They have developed an ‘all you need to know’ crash course in building innocuous facades to hide insalubrious realities. Perhaps all the people cannot be fooled all the time. But, going by the Rajapaksa record, fooling all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time can more than suffice.

For a while, at least.

Can the Rajapaksas continue to cheat the Tamils and demonise the Muslims with total impunity, endlessly? Or is their run of luck petering out, finally?

From 2006, the Siblings have promised varying degrees of devolution to the Tamils. Every promise was observed in the breach. Four years after the war ended, the North remains a de facto occupied territory, with little normalcy and even less democracy.

Last year President Rajapaksa promised to hold provincial elections in the North in September 2013. If that promise is kept, the North will have an elected provincial council in five months, headed, most probably by the TNA.
Will the Siblings honour that promise? Or will that too become an empty pledge?

What did Gotabhaya Rajapaksa mean when he said, “The ongoing crisis in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, over accountability issues here, should discourage those pushing for devolution of power under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. A hostile Provincial Council Administration in the Northern or the Eastern province in Sri Lanka could be inimical to the post-war national reconciliation process”. (The Island – 29.3.2013)

Are the Siblings planning to postpone PC polls in the North? Can they get away with it?

Lankan National Interests vs. Rajapaksa Familial Interests

Holding a reasonably free and fair election for the Northern provincial council, on time, is the most sensible course of action from the point of view of Lankan national interests. Such an election will satisfy the moderate majority and isolate the hardline fringe in Tamil Nadu (after all, the plight of Lankan Tamils is not the sole issue in Tamil Nadu politics). In fact nothing will prick the pro-Tiger balloon in Tamil Nadu faster than a functioning provincial council in the North, consequent to a free and fair election. Every time the Rajapaksas delay the Northern PC poll, they play into the hands of the pro-Tiger lobby in India and in the West. Every postponement merely proves the hardliners in the Diaspora right and turn Vellupillai Pirapaharan into a prophet, posthumously.

The Rajapaksa reluctance to hold PC polls in the North is sourced not in national security concerns but in concerns about their own power. The Siblings are as opposed to devolution of power as they are to separation of power. Any lingering doubts on that score should have died with the impeachment of the Chief Justice and the supine conduct of the Usurping CJ.

In order to win the Northern provincial council election, the Rajapaksas will have to engage in violence and malpractices (including outright rigging) on a horrendously massive scale. And they will have to do so throughout the campaign plus on the day of the election. Such a manifestly unfree, unfair and violent electoral process will inflame Tamil Nadu. It will also strengthen the demand for a boycott of the Hambantota Commonwealth.

Is postponement the way out? Can the Rajapaksas use their usual delaying/deflecting/time-buying tactics with customary impunity? Or will they have to pay a price, this once?

The Siblings neutralised Delhi in the past, with a combination of guile and unctuousness. According to a Wikileaks cable, President Rajapakse achieved Indian neutrality during the Fourth Eelam War by offering New Delhi a carefully calibrated combination of information and misinformation, false promises and dissembling reassurances. He allayed Indian fears about the human cost of the war by promising a ceasefire, reassuring New Delhi officials that, post-conflict, he would undertake to implement a political solution to the ethnic problem. According to one cable, a senior Indian official informed the US ambassador that ‘President Rajapakse had agreed to announce on April 27 a cessation of hostilities with the LTTE’ after consulting his cabinet, and the NSA wanted the Americans to stay silent ‘until Rajapakse fulfils his pledge and announces the pause’. According to another cable, the Indians assured the Americans that Rajapakse ‘intends to pursue political devolution (‘the thirteenth amendment plus’) and will make a gesture soon to win over Sri Lanka’s Tamils’.

Given this record, the Rajapaksas might be thinking that they can postpone the Northern PC poll without suffering any major ill effects of Indian provenance. If Delhi proves uncharacteristically recalcitrant, Colombo can always use the threat of Chinese subs enjoying unrestricted access to Lankan waters. Indeed, Delhi may prefer to limit itself to mere rhetoric, but concerns about electoral futures and national stability might preclude such an insouciant response. Congress administration will be concerned about national elections in 2014 while the Indian state would worry about the radicalising effect the unresolved ethnic problem will have on Tamil Nadu. A postponement of the Northern PC poll would be a whole red flag to the Tamil Nadu bull, electorally and politically. Therefore Delhi is unlikely to allow Colombo to break this promise with the same ease and impunity as it broke every previous promise.

And the Indians do have a handle this time – the Hambantota Commonwealth Summit. An Indian threat to boycott the Hambantota Summit can seriously derail the Commonwealth hopes of the Rajapaksas.

So the Siblings are facing a conundrum. They cannot have the election because they are bound to loose it. They cannot postpone the election because that is likely to incense Delhi upset the Commonwealth-applecart.

So what will the Rajapaksas do? Manufacture a crisis? If so what form will it take? The resurrection of the LTTE? An outbreak of anti-Muslim violence? A TNA-Al Qaeda nexus? Will Kuragala be turned into a mini-Ayodhya? Will there be some ‘incident’ in the North, which can be blamed on Tiger-remnants backed by Tamil Nadu?

Whatever the crisis the Rajapaksas manufacture, it will have to be carefully calibrated. It cannot be a generalised crisis since that will strengthen the demand for a Commonwealth venue-change. And any bogey will have to have a limited-reach because one with a national presence will bolster the boycott demand.

The Rajapaksas may or may not succeed in conjuring such a localised crisis and a circumscribed bogey. They might succeed in postponing the Northern PC poll without endangering the Hamantota Commonwealth dream or they might not. But they cannot cheat the Tamils and demonise the Muslims without seriously undermining Sri Lanka’s national security. The attempt to disempower the minorities and forcibly weld them into a Sinhala-led nation might help cement Rajapaksa Rule; but it will also cause the country to careen into a new conflict.

Already the Lankan Diaspora is as large as 3 million – this in a country of just 22 million. If a new conflict erupts, all those who can get out will do so, leaving this place a festering hell for the rest.

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Latest comments

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    “The evil that men do lives with them; The good is oft interred with their bones”. So be it with the Rajapakshas.

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    Thisaranee, another excellent piece!
    The Sinhalaya modayas have finally clued on to the Rajapassa military dictatorship strategy: DIVIDE, DISTRACT (people from the main problem which is the corruption and economic crisis they have brought on the country by attacking the Muslims and other minorities) and RULE..
    The problem is that there ain’t no opposition as the political culture of the country is rotten to the core as is Ranil Wickramasinghe – the other dictator

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      Thisaranee and Anouk,
      I know you are honestly very much worried about Muslims in SL … Do not worry too much, guys … They are very much live in SL .. Look at the statistics … there are 42 mosques in Kattankudy alone and 5000 mosques all over the island for 1.6 million Muslims …
      They even let NON Muslims (92% of the SL population) to eat halal food without asking their consent …. Ofcourse, it is done harmelessly by way of putting Halal certificate on thousands of food items .,.. They even make lots of money out of it …..

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        Mr Bruno

        Where did you get your bogus statistics from – Boru Bala Sena?

        Even your mahanayakas are not bothered about this halal bogey the boru bala sena created, why are you?

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        If any religious place of worship is not patronized it would become a ruin. Even if there are so many mosques as you say, who cares, they have worshipers at those locations. In a country where freedom of worship is allowed by the constitution one should not worry about the number of mosques or temples that are there. Have you for one minute thought of all those “BO GA Temples” created by the birds which are now places of worship. There is a limit to hatred and blindness.

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        Looks like the foolish Rajapakshes and their recent creation (the BBS) are trying to invite the Al Qaeda to Sri Lanka.

        It is very clear that the Rajapakshes have got into the self-destructive mode but unfortunately they are not only destroying themselves but also the whole country and the Buddhists along with them. Only those who believe that they are the true Sri Lankan Buddhists should come forward and stop this nonsense before it is too late.

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    “Nothing will prick the Tiger Baloon in Tamil Nadu easier than a TNA controlled North”. says Ms T.

    Do our inhabitants want to prick it?.

    Wonder whether TNA has made a pact with Vaiko, Nedu. Seemon, Emmanuel and Rudrakumaran?

    Heck of a lot of Tamil Diasporians want to go back.And most want a Lankan Passport.

    But Ms T reckons it is a festering hell, unless Sambandan becomes the CM of the North.

    Bit of a puzzle, isnt it?

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      sumane, you speak, like most of our sinhalese, without understanding the problem at hand. you speak of rudrakumaran. you speak of alliances. you speak of things, in short, that our govt. very cunningly keeps out of the sphere of public discussion.

      Rudrakumaran’s isnt the only faction in the tamil diaspora abroad- there’s one led by a former military goon of VP’s, which advocates another war- mostly supported by the young and middle-aged tamils abroad. Then there’s the tiny minority who may be said to be KP’s school of thought, who believe in knuckling under. Rudrakumaran’s TGTE is backed by the senior first-generation tamils of the diaspora, who’re against another war and want international pressure to create a negotiation with lanka. That is the only thing keeping Rudrakumaran relevant in the diaspora scene; once the senior moderates go, there’ll be nothing to prevent the diaspora deciding another war is in order- and that’s when all hell will break loose.

      And yes, Lanka will become a festering hell should another problem happen- like she said, and like has occured to most people, this time even the sinhalese with enough money will get out of the country, leaving it to racists, thieves, drug lords, murderers, rapists, terrorists and politicians. If that isnt your idea of a ‘festering hell’, sumane, i dont know what is.

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        kp,

        A few good deliveries.

        Why do the seniors have to go behind anyone?.They are most welcome as tourists, short or long term.

        And may even qualify for a dual passport soon.

        They can buy a pad with a Colombo postcode and enjoy a good life rather than getting bored shitless, now that their professional and productive years have come to an end.

        KP followers are caring and intelligent people who have sympathy for the poor captives.

        They will get their Duals soon if they want to,but I am not sure whether they are as well heeled as the Seniors.

        The followers of the Praba Goon , to use your description, are a different cattle of fish.

        They wouldn’t get even a tourist visa if they have any demerit points.

        With the current border protection which is in place it will hard for the Diaspora middleagers and their youth to reach the North.

        If the TNA gets a hold there, things may change, unless Mr Sambandan and Mr Sumanathiran give a categorical assuarance to the inhabitant population that they will never allow any of their followers or any one else to take up arms against the Sinhala or Muslim inhabitants.

        Until such time the great majority of the inhabitants will be wary of the TNA and its allied Opposition gaining power to rule them.

        Because they do not want Thisaranees of the Diaspora to see this beautiful land becoming a festering Hell.

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      The Sinhala leaders and their governments have proved to the world that they are incapable of governing minorities…thus the world has to decide (Just like what happened in Kosovo…and S. Sudan…) to let the minorities govern themselves.

      The next step is clearly the ‘Eezham Referendum’ … the IC and the UN should supports it.

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    hey i was wandering my best reporter ever was DBSJ….do u livve in SL or else where it dont matter 2 me coz u r doing a gud job// I WAZ WANDERING I CUD MAKE U MY SECOND NO HARD FEELINGS

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    Thisaranee, go and listen to the spies that the Rajapakses plant around the country to gauge the pulse of the people who vote for them. That is how they know what steps to take to keep themselves in Power. They are not interested in the Colombo based, English Media reading crowd.

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    When I read the comments I notice two things. 1) There are those who are blinded by the government by managing the information that goes to the public. 2)There are those who get more information and mostly live in foreign countries where the democratic rights of people are respected. Both these group in their own way think they are right. But the truth of the matter is life is not just black or white, its mostly grey. It is very important for us to evaluate every situation by not getting our selves worked up by following what we hear blindly but by evaluating and understanding the true situation. Today Rajapakse government has made the people fools. If the rest of Sri Lanka can have Provincial Councils why not the North? Has Rajapakse Government of the idea that North is a separate country under the control of Sri Lanka, if not there is no reason why there should not be a Provincial Council Election. Further if the constitution allows certain powers to the Provincial Councils, why are the PCs not enforcing those rights?

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    Since this lady and all the other writers are so concerned about the Muslims – can their Muslim friends get them to stay at least for a holiday in Saudi or Afghanistan and ask them to write as they do from there … so see how wonderfully they would be treated….!!

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    Sri Lanka according to the Rajapakses is where you can fool all the people all the time. This strategy did not work out with the Indians and TN who have caught on. Our people still continue to be fooled. Consider the words of the clown prince yesterday.

    MP Namal Rajapaksa on creating religious harmony :-

    United People’s Freedom Alliance Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa says that a village development programme centered around the temple has been initiated.

    The parliamentarian expressed this view at a religious event held at the Gatambaru Rajamaha vihara on Wednesday.

    The event was held to gift the elephant named Nandimithra to the Gatambaru Rajamaha Viharaya.

    A group of dignitaries including the Secretary to the President on Parliamentary Affairs Kumarasiri Hettige were also present at the event.

    ”The programme to create religious harmony, the upliftment of the youth through the teachings of Buddhism and the development of the village centered around the temple has already commenced. At the same time we are constantly receiving the blessing of our Buddhist monks to carry forward those programmes that protect the Buddhist culture and traditions. It is because of this initiative that we are able to highlight and develop those special temples that are of historical value,” said UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa

    This seems to be divineguma in action centered on the temple. What about other religons and ethnicities, divinesuma?

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    Pl give us a method of e-mailing your articles to friends all over the world, without going through FACEBOOK.
    Thanks

    Click print then you will see the email option – CT

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    Tisaranee as usual says, Rajapaksas cheat Tamils and added new one demonize the Muslims etc,.. No devolution ..North de facto occupied territory, less normalcy and democracy.& promises to India etc. Even some commentators are backing her,but looks failed to see Rajapakses ended terrorism in Lanka & perhaps exported LTTE menace/ terrorism to Geneva & EU, so people are thankful to this govt. for ever,& brought normalcy democracy to this country , ended untold hardships / death & destruction & can never be defeated democratically at least for next 20 years, unless foreign power captures Lanka. All what says become nonsense & waste of time on key board. Uninterrupted Lanka bashing will have no any practical effect.
    After all who cares India ? Is there anything India can do ? other than losing US$ 3.6 Billion (2012) trade with Lanka? (it was US$ 5 Billion in 2011 & lost ground here thanks to India’s UNHRC Vote against SL)

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    Brilliant, Tissaranee! You are clearly the best journalist Sri Lanka has today. So incisive, so intelligent and so perceptive.You see through the Rajapakse modus operandi very clearly.
    Only, be careful for you might be a missing person!

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    Now I understand why the Sunday Leader got rid of Tisaranee. Every article she writes is something negative about a Rajapakse. One must wonder if Tisaranee is a Rajapakse herself, albeit fallen out of favor for going astray.

    • 0
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      The latter is true I suppose so :)

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