18 October, 2017

States Of Denial, The President And His Brother Gotabaya

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Enemies of the President’s Promise: Grumpy 2 

So his attitude seemed to harden with the passing years. Also, sadly, even though he might not have been ambitious himself, he seemed to see himself as the principal guardian of the victory the forces had won, with an obligation therefore to block the way of those who were anxious to give more political powers to Tamil politicians. Though, under threat from the LTTE, some of these had seemed to subscribe to the LTTE ideology, in fact most Tamil politicians were moderates who were relieved that the LTTE had been vanquished. They were prepared to disavow terrorism as well as separatism, but they were anxious to exercise political power in predominantly Tamil regions, at least in terms of the Provincial Councils Act of 1987. But those who were opposed to even that limited devolution, on the grounds that it would inevitably lead to separatism, saw Gotabaya as their champion, and he came in time to articulate their views with increasing  assertiveness.

An extreme example of this came when, in 2013, with the President making preparations to have the long delayed Provincial Council election in the North, he declared publicly that it should not be held. Ironically, according to the President, he had been in favour of holding those elections a few years earlier, soon after the war ended, which would have been a sensible move, and would have led to a better result for the government. It was Basil then who had insisted on delay, on the grounds that his building programme would ensure more and more support for the government. But by 2013, more perceptive perhaps than Basil about political realities in the area, perhaps realizing too how he had contributed to increasing unpopularity, he came out strongly against having a poll. And typically this  occurred while one of the more extreme coalition partners of the government, which was seen as close to Gotabaya, had introduced a Bill to amend the Provincial Councils Act so as to water down their powers. So powerful did this combination seem, even though the evidence of elections had made it clear they had minimal popular support, that it was feared the President would back down.

mahinda_gota - colombotelegraphBut he went ahead and elections were held. The TNA won handsomely, with the determination of the Tamils to vote against government increased perhaps by what seemed strong arm tactics on the part of the forces against a candidate who was identified closely with the LTTE. She did remarkably well, which might well have been predicted.

This makes one wonder why the forces should have got involved, and indeed it was so foolish an action, were they the perpetrators, that one wonders whether she herself had arranged the attack, given that only she could benefit. However there had been previous instances of such folly on the part of the forces, as when a meeting of the TNA had been attacked some months previously.

That incident was bizarre, because by the time the violence occurred the TNA representatives had finished speaking and left, and until then, they said, what were clearly soldiers in mufti had behaved with restraint. When I asked the Jaffna District Forces Commander what had happened, he said that his orders to behave correctly had been disobeyed, as a result of provocation by one of the later speakers, a Sinhalese member of a small radical party. But I could not understand why he did not then take forceful disciplinary action. Apart from the fact that soldiers should under no circumstances react violently against civilians unless they are themselves in grave danger, it was possible that there were members of the forces who had no affection for the government, nor for Tamils (following the approach of Sarath Fonseka before his conversion), and they had no qualms therefore about aggression that could bring the government into disrepute. Government was only playing into their hands by refraining from disciplining them.

But Gotabaya seemed beyond such considerations, in what seemed wholehearted endorsement of what the forces did. Another example of this occurred in Weliweriya, in the Gampaha District, where the forces opened fire on some demonstrators and killed a couple of young men. It was argued that the demonstrators had intended to provoke, which was doubtless true, but that did not explain why the forces reacted as the provocateurs wanted. And though Gotabaya granted that the incident was regrettable and needed to be looked into, it was not apparent that disciplinary action was in fact taken against those responsible for undue violence. Indeed, as usual, the report of the inquiry that was held was not made public, nor any action taken on the basis of that report publicized.

Matters were complicated by the army insistence on secrecy with regard to such disciplinary proceedings. Thus, when the LLRC report came out, and the Army Commander appointed a Commission to look into matters it had raised, he kept the matter quiet. I told him that he should at least publicize the fact that an inquiry was being conducted, but he said that was not their practice. Predictably, when a couple of months later he told an American envoy what was being done, there was a newspaper report to the effect that, under American pressure, an inquiry was being conducted.

I used to believe it was simply a foolish and unthinking adherence to British practice, that the British themselves had changed, which led to such secrecy. But I realize too that this is an easy way of actually avoiding serious action. If what is done is not made public, then it is very easy to do nothing, or very little. Certainly there seems to be no evidence that the forces have taken disciplinary action commensurate with obvious breaches, or have looked systematically into the abuses as to which, according to the LLRC report, there are credible allegations.

So Sri Lanka finds itself under continuing suspicion. While I believe we must resist efforts to have international investigations (not least because the manner in which the Darusman Panel conducted itself leaves open to question both the motives and the methodology of those who will be imposed upon us), our internal investigations must be credible. This means that they should be conducted not by the forces, but by an independent panel. That we have amply qualified people for this purpose is obvious from not just the LLRC (which those opposed to us said previously would be a whitewash) but from the Udalagama Commission which looked into the Trincomalee incident amongst others. The failure of government to publish the report of that Commission testifies both to the objectivity of the report and the incapacity of government to deal with anything that does not conform to its own myopic perspectives.

In this regard Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s determination to defend his forces from any criticism, regardless of what they might have done, may in the end prove decisive in ensuring the success of the campaign to denigrate Sri Lanka and its government. This in turn will set the seal on the failure of the Rajapaksa government to promote reconciliation within the country and thus build sustainable peace following its military victory. But Gotabaya would cite precedent for his intransigence, namely the approach of the Israelis, whom he sees as a model with regard to dealing with terrorism. Certainly the new settlements that are being introduced in the North, even if not as blatant and widespread as what the Israeli government has perpetrated in Palestinian lands, seem based on the Israeli approach to ensuring control of a recalcitrant minority.

Gotabaya could cite precedent too for ignoring UN reports, given how the Israelis dealt with the Goldstone report. But the idea that Sri Lanka can work as Israel does is preposterous, given that we do not have the support of the Americans, who have made it clear that they will nullify any international criticism of Israel. And of course Gotabaya’s approach goes hand in hand with actions designed to alienate India, which might have provided some sort of a shield against international condemnation, even if not as thorough a one as the Americans furnish Israel with.

This continuous jibing at Inda led most recently for example to a more than usually flagrant insult to India in a column by Shenali Waduge, who has become the commentator of choice on the Defence website. That, which was run by professionals during the conflict, turned into a loose cannon afterwards, dedicated it seemed to promoting the Secretary to the Ministry, whose public appearances and pronouncements were given prominence – quite unlike what had happened previously, when he had been content to remain in the background. Then, a couple of years back, Shenali Waduge was discovered, and featured prominently, as she also is in government newspapers.

On this latest occasion the Indian High Commission had protested, and the article was removed. This was accompanied by an ‘unqualified apology’ and the claim that the article ‘had been published without appropriate authorization and not reflecting any official position of the Government of Sri Lanka or Ministry of Defence and Urban Development’.

This is unlikely to convince anyone, not least because the article had been accompanied by a ridiculous cartoon, which was not the work of Ms Waduge. And the fact that she, and those expressing similar viewpoints, have been featured prominently on the website as well as in government newspapers, is not likely to have escaped the notice of the Indian government.

My attention had been drawn to this phenomenon a few years back by an Indian journalist who had covered the conflict, and whose balanced reporting had made it clear that our forces had not behaved in the appalling manner they were accused of. She expressed regret that the Sri Lankan government was so negative about India, and when I said I did not think this was the case, she pointed out the many articles attacking India that seemed to have official sanction. I did raise the issue subsequently when the management of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises, and asked if this was policy. To my relief I was supported by almost all other members of the Committee, whether from government or opposition, though one said that we had a right to defend ourselves when attacked. But when I pointed out that the Indian government, far from attacking us, had supported us solidly in our fight against terrorism, he too granted my point.

The Secretary to the Ministry said there was no policy at all to attack India, and later thanked me for the intervention and said it would help him to exercise some control. But he proved powerless, for the attacks continued. Clearly the influence of the Defence Ministry, and the Minister of External Affairs who took his cues from Gotabaya, was too strong for him. The sniping continued, and Shenali Waduge, joined in 2014 by Senaka Weeraratne who had worked at the Peace Secretariat but whom I had had to restrain because of his chauvinism, which was expressed with astonishing insensitivity, became the most publicized writers in government publications. Denying them after they were given excessive publicity was a foolish step. Some sort of remedial action is needed, and it is to be hoped that Gotabaya, or the President if Gotabaya believes he can get away with this sort of behavior again, calls a halt to such effusions in state outlets.

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  • 5
    0

    Prof,

    “LLRC (which those opposed to us said previously would be a whitewash)”

    It is still a white wash.

    This is TNA’s response

    ****(1)*******

    “The LLRC’s processes and practices have failed to win the confidence of the Tamil community. The Commission also falls dramatically short of international standards applicable to accountability processes.”

    “The Commission spent a mere twenty-two days in the North and East in total, compared to the fifty-six days spent on hearings in Colombo. The Commission often cited the lack of time as the reason for cutting short the testimony of witnesses. In many cases, prospective witnesses were never given the opportunity to testify and were requested to merely send in their concerns to the Commission in writing.”

    “The LLRC did not have an effective witness protection programme.”

    “One witness from Kalmunai, who complained of being tortured and sexually assaulted, was later summoned to the Fourth Floor of the Criminal Investigation Department. This incident confirmed that the government monitored the LLRC’s proceedings and that the anonymity of witnesses was easily compromised.”

    “The LLRC’s interim recommendations, issued more than a year ago, are yet to be meaningfully implemented.”

    “Instead of dealing with the law, the LLRC seeks to divert attention to the ‘unprecedented’ nature of the Sri Lankan experience.”

    “The need for an accountability process that meets international standards while delivering on the right of victims to truth, justice and reparations (including guarantees of non-recurrence) is an urgent and important one.”

    “Given the government’s failure to institute a process that meets these benchmarks, the TNA calls on the international community to institute measures that will advance accountability and encourage reconciliation in Sri Lanka in keeping with the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts.”

    *****(2)******* Mr. Sampanthan’s speech in parliament

    The LLRC released its final report on 16 December 2011. The TNA welcomed a number of the LLRC’s recommendations dealing with human rights issues including displacement, land dispute resolution, detention, media freedom and investigations into extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. To date merely a handful of these constructive recommendations have been implemented. The government’s own claims about progress have been contradictory. In February 2014, Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris asserted in Parliament that 85% of the recommendations had been fully implemented. Meanwhile, the President himself informed the UN Secretary General in May 2014 that only 30% of the LLRC recommendations had been fully implemented. We recall that the Minister of Plantations Mahinda Samarasinghe at a press conference in March 2013 claimed that 99% of recommendations had been fully implemented. We therefore note that the government has been completely disingenuous in reporting progress with respect to implementing these recommendations. Moreover, many recommendations the government deems ‘fully implemented’ have in fact not been implemented at all. For instance, in January 2014, the government claimed to have fully implemented the recommendation on investigating past attacks on media personnel. In proof of such a claim, the government cited the online complaints mechanism available to journalists to complain to the Sri Lanka Press Council, which is a highly ineffective mechanism that contributes more towards restricting media freedom rather than promoting it. Meanwhile, investigations into the assassination of the Editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge, the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda and the numerous attacks on the staff and offices of the Jaffna-based Uthayan newspaper, are either incomplete or nonexistent. Moreover, in January 2014, the government claimed it fully implemented the LLRC recommendation on the investigation and prosecution of illegal armed groups. Yet many identified perpetrators of gross human rights violations, who belonged to these groups and enjoyed the patronage of the government, continue to enjoy impunity.
    Though the LLRC did not have a direct mandate to address accountability issues, it did, however, possess a mandate with respect to ensuring “national unity and the non-recurrence of ethnic tensions in the future”. It is in this context that the LLRC sought to also deal with the question of accountability. The TNA in its response to the LLRC published in January 2013 expressed disappointment with respect to the Commission’s findings on accountability. The LLRC’s analysis was flawed for a number of reasons including weaknesses in methodology and in the application of international law to the facts surrounding the last stages of the war. We note, however, that the LLRC called for investigations into specific incidents involving the death of civilians. These include the alleged attack on civilians in Chundikulam by the Navy on 10 May 2009, an incident at Mathalan on 20 April 2009 where the Army allegedly prevented civilians from crossing over to government controlled area, and the government shelling of civilians in Pokkanai. Yet no genuine steps have been taken to investigate these incidents. The Army Board on the Recommendations of the LLRC, in its report released on 24 January 2013, observed that “the questions whether civilian casualties in fact occurred or whether such incidents were collateral or incidental damages that are inherent with the vagaries of war have not been answered affirmatively by the LLRC” [sic]. The Board recommended the appointment of another Army Board of Inquiry to investigate allegations contained in the LLRC Report and the Channel Four footage. The Army then appointed a Court of Inquiry to investigate these allegations, which concluded in February 2013 that “instances of shelling referred to in the LLRC Report were not caused by the Sri Lanka Army.” Moreover, a Navy Board of Inquiry concluded that “the allegations made against the Sri Lanka Navy that it fired at civilian targets are baseless as there is no evidence to indicate that the Navy personnel were responsible for any attacks on civilians or civilian property either deliberately or by negligence.” The reports of the Army Court of Inquiry and the Navy Board of Inquiry have not been published to date. This policy of secrecy and non-transparency is entirely consistent with the government’s failure to publish the Report of the Udalagama Commission, which made certain crucial findings on certain gross human rights violations, including the killing of five students in Trincomalee and the killing of 17 aid workers in Muttur in 2006.

    • 2
      0

      Anpu

      Rajiva Wijesinha types:

      “not least because the manner in which the Darusman Panel conducted itself leaves open to question both the motives and the methodology of those who will be imposed upon us)”

      Could you remind this “gid” to read the report once again, nowhere in the report it mentions Darusman Panel, but it was officially known as The Secretary General’s Panel of Experts.

      Hope the gid will learn.

      • 3
        0

        Thanks NV.

        Prof is referring to Silva’s report whenever he says LLRC report
        [Edited out]

        Please write instead of posting links – CT

  • 12
    1

    Gootabaya is getting ready to go back to USA where he has a mansion.

    • 2
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      Only the mansion you know of. He also owns 40% of a Texan oil company and owns two floors of the newly opened World Trade Center building. It is rumoured that he has six Rolls Royces parked at his mansion in california, awaiting for him in mid January.

      Good times for us after January!

      • 4
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        Email:

        I don’t think GoRa will go to the US because he will have to face war crime charges. With his smallest brain in the animal kingdom, he might try to stage a military coup and then – as it would fail invariably and badly – he might take a refuge in a third country such as North Korea or Cuba…..!!!!

    • 4
      0

      Since he is a highly educated man, he can find employment back in a petrol station. Yes, I wonder where he got all this money from.

    • 6
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      Tamodaya Madaiya:

      It looks like you have just recovered from a deep coma. The house Gotha bought from looted cash from his native country Sinhala Lanka was raided by thee State Authorities and they have asked the failed businessman the Petrol Station Attendant ( Gotha ) for explanation as to where he got the money from under US money laundering rules.
      The authorities are waiting and as he touches down he will be whisked away to Guantanamo.

  • 8
    3

    Shenali Waduge should be appointed External Affairs Minister.
    Sack GLP

    • 4
      2

      Lorenzo,
      Shenali is a Buddhist fanatic. We need people who keep religion out of governance.

      • 1
        0

        It will be frying pan to fire. Racist take position.

    • 0
      0

      you mean the one who wrote against J Lalitha and then apologized for that?

  • 12
    3

    If Tamils are given some sort of devolution of power there are unlimited resources for development, that will flow into SriLanka. instead of fighting with the gigantic Tamil Diaspora, we must channel their resources.knowledge and power to develop their regions. The wealth thus accumulated will trickle to every part of srilanka. Before we know we will be as great as Singapore or even better.

  • 10
    1

    After Prof. Rajiva crossed over to the opposition, he became very sensible and unbiased in his writings and it was a fitting reply by Anbu. Freedom of speech is in the offing, fearlessly.This is a good sign for the future.

  • 7
    0

    “In this regard Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s determination to defend his forces from any criticism, regardless of what they might have done, may in the end prove decisive in ensuring the success of the campaign to denigrate Sri Lanka and its government. This in turn will set the seal on the failure of the Rajapaksa government to promote reconciliation within the country and thus build sustainable peace following its military victory.”

    Again you justify the need for Independant,credible external inquiry into war crimes committed by both sides,If I may add, the period of reference must be extended to include, all events since JVP insurrection in 1971.

    I rest my case.

    Thank you Rajiva.

  • 3
    0

    Rajivas “enlightenment” comes too late!! Was he frightened of the white van? Or did he wanted keep his job and perks as long as possible? People like you who were supposed to advisers should have warned the king or left him long ago!!

    Thirukkural says:

    Without courageous counselors to point out his fault and so protect him, A king will ruin himself, even without foes.

  • 2
    0

    Im happy that K A Sumanasekera’s real identity has now been revealed he is non other than Kandiah Arsaratnam Sumanasekeram from a high caste Vellala family in Jaffna! the fellow was masquerading as an Aryan Sinhala weeraya all these days folk!

  • 2
    2

    This disgraceful fellow Rajiva is carefully planning his switch to the opposition.

  • 2
    0

    Prof!

    We need more from you…

    Keep continuing…

  • 2
    1

    Rajiva,

    As for “In this regard Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s determination to defend his forces from any criticism, regardless of what they might have done, may in the end prove decisive in ensuring the success of the campaign to denigrate Sri Lanka and its government.” -isn’t that what you recently celebrated as the “greatest victory” won by your pal Dayan, the one and only political scientist who believes that “the protest against apartheid was rooted on majoritarian aspirations for the domination of minority”?

    Do you really know if you are “going or coming?” – you seem to have completely lost the marbles now!

  • 2
    1

    Prof. Rajiva

    What is the story behind the banning of the national anthem being sung in Tamil?

    Dr.RN

  • 0
    0

    Shashikala Premawardena of Kotte is another like Shenali Waduge.Both do same dirty work.

  • 0
    1

    I think Rajiv Wijesinghe wants to come back to the govt.

    That is what he is trying.

  • 2
    0

    Who are the firends of the president I wonder?
    May be-

    1) Baboon Gunndasara(BBS).
    2) Kudu Duminda.
    3) Corrupted Chinese mega industries.
    4) White van drivers.
    5) Few bone licking Ministers/MP’s.
    6) Drug Mafia.
    7) A few racist Buddhists.
    8)

    Who else???

    • 1
      0

      Wimalasena Pannikiya a.k.a Wimal Weerawansa
      Dayan Jayatileka so called ex-diplomat or diplomutt
      Dilith Jayaweera a money launderer
      Asanga Seneviratne a money launderer
      Tiran Alles a wheele dealer rogue businessman

  • 1
    0

    “An extreme example of this came when, in 2013, with the President making preparations to have the long delayed Provincial Council election in the North, he declared publicly that it should not be held. Ironically, according to the President, he had been in favour of holding those elections a few years earlier, soon after the war ended, which would have been a sensible move, and would have led to a better result for the government. It was Basil then who had insisted on delay, on the grounds that his building programme would ensure more and more support for the government. But by 2013, more perceptive perhaps than Basil about political realities in the area, perhaps realizing too how he had contributed to increasing unpopularity, he came out strongly against having a poll. And typically this occurred while one of the more extreme coalition partners of the government, which was seen as close to Gotabaya, had introduced a Bill to amend the Provincial Councils Act so as to water down their powers. So powerful did this combination seem, even though the evidence of elections had made it clear they had minimal popular support, that it was feared the President would back down.”

    Man can this guy talk or write first gota wants to have it then he doesn’t basil don’t want to have it but “according” to the president he did want to not have it.
    Man I hope they were more decisive during the war

  • 1
    0

    The person who is most in denial is you Rajiva

    P.S. what happened to the Satana Broadcast
    Did Gota or BAsil Or MR who wanted it shut down or did one want it shut down but the other did not then they decided not to decide but the program was shut down and no one knows who did or din’t want it shut it down

  • 3
    0

    Prof:

    It is too late to save Sinhala Lanka from disaster and your analysis belongs in the History Bin.
    No doubt you will have the opportunity to stick up for Gotha & the lot by giving a Character reference when they give evidence at the Hague.

  • 1
    0

    All this Blah Blah presupposes a peaceful election.
    But, in the north, the intimidation and thuggery has already commenced.

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=37524

    It will slowly spread down south – this will be the bloodiest of all elections.
    MR simply cannot afford to lose – the very lives of himself, immediate and extended family and close diehard henchmen depend on it.

    • 0
      0

      Justice,

      I am unable to access the article on the Tamil Net website. Can you copy and paste it here, please?

  • 0
    0

    Gota’s photo with a decent haircut. LOL!

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