By Emil van der Poorten –
It never ceases to amaze one who has several decades of “hands-on” experience being part of and subsequently working with new immigrant populations for many years in a “First World” country that such absolutely malicious nonsense can be consistently published about those Sri Lankans, who for whatever reason, have settled permanently in Europe, America or Australasia and choose to offer, often very constructive, criticism of the governance (or lack thereof) in what used to be considered the beacon of democracy in South Asia.
In setting the tone for the abuse, our expatriates are accused of a) living in the lap of luxury after having got into places such as Canada under false pretexts, or b) being sentenced, primarily those of Tamil origin (invoking the caste of “untouchability”), to a lifetime in pursuit of something akin to a PhD in toilet cleaning.
These broad accusatory generalizations parading as descriptions of the immigrant’s lot are so deliberately false that the authors should be prosecuted for stupidity above and beyond anything expected of them even by their paymasters!
Having set the tone for the abuse and threat, they begin to allege the motives for criticism of any description of the Sri Lankan regime, and these are basically two in number.
The first is that because Sri Lanka is now paradise on earth, anyone critical of the broad criminality that is a day-to-day reality here is a paid lackey of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or their alleged successors, the Tamil Diaspora. Of course, this shotgun approach does not so much as consider that all Tamils, in particular, no matter where they now live, are not now and have never been (to quote the man who could well be the patron saint of these apologists for the Rajapaksa Regime – “Tailgunner Joe McCarthy, he of “anti-Commie” witch-hunt fame). What is interesting in this context is that the man acknowledged as the Tigers’ primary financial manager who bankrolled the atrocities of a group acknowledged as the worst of its kind in modern history, Kumar Pathmanathan (as he calls himself in one of his many aliases), has been, literally, embraced by the Rajapaksa Regime and appears to have been reborn as some kind of Dravidian saint! This is particularly interesting in the context of people such as Arundhati Roy, the late Nelson Mandela, Noam Chomsky, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Louise Arbour etc. etc. being accused of “being in the pay of the LTTE.” This monster and several of his surviving colleagues, under the patronage and protection of the Sri Lankan government, are now the leading “good guys” in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Does this suggest a new dimension in hypocrisy or is it just proof that the government of the Debacle of Asia truly has no limits to its application of impunity? It should never be forgotten that this man is guilty of the most capital offences in the history of our country by directly providing the wherewithal for the murder and mayhem that consumed several generations of Sri Lankans and three decades of our history.
The other prong is another that lacks even a smidgen of credibility. It is a consistent cry that anyone not prepared to march in lockstep with our local goose-steppers, is seeking to undermine national integrity because they are “jealous” of the paradise that Sri Lanka has become under the Rajapaksa Hegemony and will, therefore, do all in their power to bring all of Sri Lanka to its collective knees. Not one of these noisy individuals is capable of or even attempts to flesh out their arguments and the reason for that is pretty obvious: you can’t “flesh-out” a cadaver.
That there are, among Sri Lankans domiciled overseas, some who have partisan political axes to grind with the ruling party hardly needs confirmation. This is true of every new immigrant population in every one of those countries that have accepted them. I personally recall the clashes between new immigrants from Serbia and Croatia in the city of Edmonton in Canada at the time that the former Yugoslavia was disintegrating, not to mention the conflict between Eritreans and Ethiopians among others. However, to even suggest that every critic of the Rajapaksa Regime is driven by simple malice and jealousy or is in the pay of some dark force funded by “the LTTE” is beyond ludicrous!
What is obvious to anyone who has been following this sort of accusation for any length of time, particularly on web publications that permit interjections by readers, is that there is a battery of “critics” which, it is suggested by much circumstantial evidence, is part of a “dirty tricks squad” financed and supported in other ways by those close to if not part of the current regime. This had its beginnings with the military activities of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols that disrupted the military activities of the LTTE and appears to have been transformed at the end of hostilities into a civilian initiative to disrupt the new “enemy,” those who sought a return of civic rights, inclusive of that of dissent, when the war was over. It is particularly interesting that it is those most guilty of irrational threat, abuse and criticism that are most condemnatory of anything even vaguely resembling criticism of the Sri Lanka government particularly from overseas. Talk about glass houses and those throwing stones from within them!