25 September, 2020

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Sowing Fear; Breeding Discord: Politics In Rajapaksa-Wonderland

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Only hate was happy….” Auden (In Memory of Sigmund Freud)

On Tuesday, around 700 Tamils – mostly elderly women – set off from Jaffna. As Lankan citizens, they were exercising their constitutional rights; as family members of the war-disappeared, they intended to participate in a demonstration against extra-judicial killings, outside the UN office in Colombo.

They never made it out of Vavuniya. “The military said the protesters were stopped for their own safety after reports their vehicles were been attacked…… In the end, the mainly elderly women protested in Vavuniya, where they had been halted…..holding pictures of their relatives….” (Colombo Page – 6.3.2013).

The demonstration, organised by Mano Ganesan, was aimed at drawing the attention of the UNHRC, currently in session in Geneva, to the very real problem of the war-disappeared. Since the regime allowed the protest in Colomboto go ahead, its real problem was not with the demonstration per se but with the participation of Jaffna Tamils in it.

Post-war, a new wall is dividing the North and the South, a wall kept up in the name of national security by the Rajapaksa regime. Economic, cultural and personal contacts between the North and the South are permitted, in general. But political contacts between the North and the South, outside the Rajapaksa-fold, are regarded with zero-tolerance.

So UPFA leaders can have political rallies in the North; and pro-government Tamil politicians can bus innumerable Tamils for political events inColombo(no stone-thrower problem there!). But any Sinhala-Tamil contact within the oppositional fold is perceived as a threat and treated with anti-democratic and illegal severity.

An oppositional unity which cuts across ethno-religious-class lines is the ultimate Rajapaksa nightmare. The regime becomes jittery whenever a Southern political party tries to reach out to the North. The JVP, several smaller left formations and even Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP have experienced the violent effects of this absolutist-intolerance.

Preventing any anti-Rajapaksa political awakening in the North or any anti-Rajapaksa political unity between the North and the South is thus a top priority for the Siblings.Sri Lanka would not been in hot-water in Geneva today, had it not been for this Rajapaksa obsession. Had the regime permitted normalcy and democracy to return to the North, post-war, the war-crimes charges would not have taken wing. If the Tamils were allowed to enjoy at least the limited freedom permitted to their Sinhala brethren, that would have sufficed to neutralise the West and keep India on the Rajapaksa-side. The world was tired of Mr. Pirapaharan’s murderous maximalism, and all the Rajapaksas had to do was to make minimal political concessions to the Tamils. Instead they imposed an anti-democratic Sinhala Peace on the Tamils, thereby giving the ‘war crime’ charge a new life.

Had the regime allowed the Northern Tamils to come to Colombo and take part in the demonstration, it could have used that fact to bolster its own claims and attack its opponents in Geneva, with some credibility. Instead the regime opted to provide its opponents in Geneva with one more weapon. In the power-besotted Rajapaksa eyes, permitting a majority-minority alliance within the opposition-fold is a far greater evil than tarnishing Sri Lanka’s international reputation.

When Lankan-interests conflict with Rajapaksa-interests, the latter wins, always.

Tiger Eelam and Rajapaksa Sri Lanka

Vellupillai Pirapaharan wanted not an Eelam for Tamil speaking people or even a Tamil Eelam. The only Eelam he was interested in was an Eelam under his total control.

Up to a certain point, the contradictions between Tamil-interests and Pirapaharan-interests remained minor and non-antagonistic. But when they diverged, sharply, and turned inimical and mutually exclusive, it was his interests Mr. Pirapaharan prioritised, over and above Tamil-interests, every time. This obsessive vision not only pushed the Tamils towards a historic defeat; it also blinded Mr. Pirapaharan to his own long-term interests. He decided to abandon reality altogether and chase his dystopian mirage. An un-heroic death on the shores of Nandikadal was the appointed end of that journey.

The Rajapaksas do not want a pluralistSri Lankaor even a Sinhala-supremacist Sri Lanka. Their Sinhala supremacism is as instrumental and opportunistic as Vellupillai Pirapaharan’s Tamil supremacism. It is a useful – and a necessary – handle. What the Siblings really want is a Rajapaksa-supremacist Sri Lanka, a country under their total control, a land ruled by their family for evermore, their own ‘Thousand Year Reich’.

Rajapaksa-interests and Lankan-interests are already divergent and headed in opposite directions. The contradictions between Rajapaksa-interests and Sinhala-interests too are slowly turning antagonistic, especially in the economic sphere. The irrational Family-first economics of the Rajapaksas is seriously undermining Sinhala wellbeing. A genuinely Sinhala supremacist regime, for instance, would have prioritised improving the lot of Sinhala farmers over the building of an unnecessary airport in Mattala. But for the Siblings, the pride and joy of having a Rajapaksa Airport far outweigh all the needs of all the Sinhalese. Eventually Sri Lanka will become a graveyard of infrastructural white-woolly mammoths, all named after the Rajapaksas, while most Sinhalese wallow in poverty.

Sinhala supremacism is a weapon to promote and a mantle to cover Rajapaksa supremacism; no less, no more. The Siblings will conjure into being crucibles of hate from time to time, to assist in its agenda of keeping ordinary Lankan too divided and afraid to realise the ill-effects of Rajapaksa-rule.

Like the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)

Last week, a BBS delegation powwowed with the Army Commander and the IGP. The meeting with Gen. Jayasuriya was “also attended by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Major General Shavendra Silva…” (The Sunday Leader – 3.3.2012). Its purpose was to discuss the BBS claim that ‘Islamic terrorist groups’ (including Al Shabaab) are here. “The Venerable Embilipitiye Vijitha Theor said the monks handed over some documents to the army to back their claims and called for an in-depth investigation” (ibid).

The BBS came into being, organisationally, in July 2012. Today it is a major political player. Such a meteoric rise is not possible in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, without Rajapaksa patronage. The BBS is obviously a Rajapaksa-pawn, used by the Siblings to further their own dynastic project.

Pawns are expendable, and replaceable; infinitely.

According to the Sunday Times website, there is a plan to incarcerate BBS activists until the UNHRC sessions are over[i]. Whether this faux ‘show-and-tell’ crackdown happens or not is immaterial. The BBS will perform its allotted role and evaporate from the polity and public memory. But the venom they spewed will continue to fester, impeding unity and promoting discord/fragmentation.

That is precisely what the Rajapaksas want. If Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus suspect, fear and hate each other, if they build walls against each other, if they maintain a climate of cold war across these psychological ramparts (interspersed occasionally by real conflicts), they will never be able to unite, politically. And the Rajapaksa future is secured.

Hatred breeds hatred; violence begets violence. That is precisely the Siblings’ purpose. Countries which are normal and peaceful do not need heroes or saviours. SoSri Lanka must always be awash with suspicion, fear and hatred. How else can the minorities be cowed into inaction and the majority made to cling to the Kurakkan-shawl for protection?

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    BRILLIANT, AS USUAL, TISARANEE! PLEASE STEER CLEAR OF ANY WHITE VANS IN YOUR VICINITY.

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      Indeed excellent piece Thisaranee! Thanks so much for speaking out when the so-called civil society organizations and media remain deaf and dumb to the Rajapassa attack on Lanka’s multicultural social fabric..
      DIVIDE AND RULE, MILITARIZE AND LOOT THE NATIONAL WEALTH WITH IMPUNITY IS THE RAJAPAKSE PROJECT TODAY – all in the name of “economic development” lead by a moronic Rajapassa sibling who has not got a basic university degree. Basil’s mug shot is all over town these days, seems like he is competing with brother Mahinda for the top spot, but the days of Rajapassa brothers are numbered.
      ON the street and in public discourse today is now how regime change may happen..
      This would have been unimaginable a couple of years ago.. things are moving fast under the surface in Lanka..

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        Dinuk,
        Basil will soon be awarded an honorary degree,like Mahinda.
        The VC who awarded one to Mahinda has been ‘promoted’ as chair of UGC,and her husband is to replace her,it has been reported.
        Gota has one, and Chamal too will be awarded one soon.

        • 0
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          Dinuk:
          Do you know whether Basil will get 10% of one or whether it will be 50% of an Honorary Degree given what the current rates are?

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          Dinuk are you sure Basil will want a degree? He won’t just be happy with all the BASIL GAL he is selling to the govt? All the pavements are becoming broader than the roads! And when people haveno food( markets are fast looking like Bandaranayake times) why do we need this many walk ways?where is the fat to burn? Basil if he was normal will be happy with his gal sales

        • 0
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          Absolutely correct,

          All the SXXT Eating Pigs Need Doctorates With Their Names,

          Dr Mendis Should be busy with them,

          Synthetics, Child Psychologist also need Doctorates too.

  • 0
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    If the allegations of BBS is true then let the govt take suitable action. However if untrue the BBS should be held responsible for making unfounded allegations and creating racial unrest. The BBS moves around as if they own the heavens and the earth. The time will come when their true motives and garbage will be revealed to the public.

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    Already 90% of Sri Lanka Tamils support Opposition parties. The BBS will force the moslems to all support the UNP. The Catholics will very soon tell that Rajapakse sycophant Malcolm Ranjith to take a hike and turn to the Opposition. This will form a formidable anti Govt vote at the next elections.

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      A rigged process has no value to humanity.

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    This may backfire on the regime. As another commenter said, the Muslims feeling let down by the present regime, may all support the opposition. The Rajahs are asking for trouble by not clamping down on the hatred, vicious accusations, and the targeting of Muslims businesses.

    There are rumors that non Muslim businesses who export products with the halal label have already felt the loss of business from those countries, due to this reprehensible behavior by the BBS, and the indifference of the government.

    All around, Sri Lankans of all religions will feel the pain, at various levels.

  • 0
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    “….and all the Rajapaksas had to do was to make minimal political concessions to the Tamils,” I am disappointed in you Tisaranee, treating us like a nonentity, less than a herd of cattle. “Minimal political concessions” may be enough for you and the world(you shouldn’t be making that assumption of the world) but not for us Tamils whose aspirations are real, reasonable, fair and just! I thought you knew better!

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      Usha, dont lose heart, we all know how you feel. Tisaranee, in context of what was said, ‘minimal political concessions’ in her sense was ‘would have better than none at all’ (which is exactly what happened). At least a token effort would have averted a closer scrutiny from UNHCR allegations against HR violations. This Pakshaya can never be trusted to be just and fair to his constituents and doesn’t deserve to be the country’s leader.

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    “Vellupillai Pirapaharan wanted not an Eelam for Tamil speaking people or even a Tamil Eelam. The only Eelam he was interested in was an Eelam under his total control.” this is the thinking/idea of Sinhelese

    My leader fought for me. my generation and my future generation. Eelam is not his interest, its Tamils interest (VADUKODAI RESOLUTION). He took the lead because he was a born leader.

    if Eelam was his interest, after 2009 (after the silence of guns) demand for eelam should have stopped, its still alive and it will be alive until Tamil Eelam triumph, Eelam dream is alive because thats the only way Tamils could protect their life, culture, identity and future generation permanently from Srilankan genocide

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    Dear Ms. Usha S Sri Skanda, the aspirations and grievences of Tamils are indeed real and reasonable. But all that Rajapakses had to do was t make some shallow concessions to the Tamily polity to shut them up. Does Karuna or KP or the bought over TNA or even the Thodaman fraction think the Tamils need anything anymore. Where is the voice in the parliament, atleast for the implementation of the LLRC recommnedations? Where is the Tamil intelligntsia?Mosr of them are bought over by this regime. THe regime had to make less than minimal concessions to the Tamils to gain this unshakable status. Forget evrything else that happened after 2009. What about before 2009. It is alleged that only a monetary “bribe’was sufficinet to ensure that the tamils refrained from voting at the eelction where Rajaapkse was first appointed. Even the tamils who were not in LTTE controlled areas like Colombo, Negambo, Nuwara Eliya voted in the current president. The tamils have been their worst enemy , not the Sinhalese,not the extremist Buddhists, not the Rajapakses. Tamils have behaved like a herd of cattle- I dont blame the poor and terrorized people who lived under the LTTE rule. You all voted the same when Rajapakse first came to power. What do you call that behaviour- conciously defeating the one man who lost forever so much credibility among the Sinhala Buddhist majority by trying the peace process? People like you with internet access, education, civil status, economic stability- you all went in a herd and defeated the one man who would have had the moral courage to deliver justice. Not even your own Tamil politicians care that much about your own people because they are bought over. They have betrayed their own borther for money.Do not grudge Thisaranee. She merely states the truth.

  • 0
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    Everything has a happy ending. The Rajapakses are just having their day in the limelight, and before long will see their day in the dimlight. It is how it happens. There is only so much a mad megalomaniac can do before his true colors are exposed. Lucky for the present leader his flock is still living in a dream that has yet to turn into a nightmare.

    Don’t lose heart, your reporting of today, its true, but with hope tomorrow will be a new dawn devoid of this nightmare. You have like us wakened up to the nightmare a little earlier than the others, that is all.

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