Colombo Telegraph

The Fluid Prejudice In Writing History

By Sarath De Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

I can’t understand why they had to fight a conventional war. Prabhakaran could have gone underground. If I was the leader of the LTTE, I would have gone underground and I would have been in the jungles – fighting a guerrilla fight.” – Mahinda Rajapaksa in Interview by Editor of the ‘Hindu’8th July 2009

Prabhakaran died on 19th May 2009. The day after on 20th May, a triumphant President Mahinda Rajapaksa affixed his signature on a new one thousand rupees currency note portraying his mustachioed, shawl draped self, with both arms raised high in symbolic acknowledgment of the gratitude of the nation. The Central Bank then confirmed that the “decision to issue such a commemorative note was taken immediately after the completion of the humanitarian operations on 19th May, 2009.”

Thus commenced the single most successful political hoax in our history – the making of a parvenu patriot. His remarkable political success was due to his phenomenal ability to silence dissent by methods both good bad and absolutely ugly.

The caption of this article is inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s Devils Dictionary definition of history. “History is an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.”

On Friday 17th July 2015 the ex-president launched his return bid with the theme: “a new life to the country and a new beginning.”

Lest we forget, we who did not agree with the affable autocrat, lived in fear. We collectively surrendered our capacity for analysis of events. Fear paralyzed our will to resist. Until 8th January denial was mandatory. It is only in the past six months that we dared to speak of what frightens us.

With the looming threat of a return of the brutal ‘Bodhisatva’ it is high time that we dismantle false history.

In the five post war years of playing poker with Packer, Mahinda Rajapaksa rewrote history both modern and medieval. He developed a ‘ patriotism’ that excluded the inconvenient as propganda of the enemy. He assigned the task of sugar coating the ‘tragic’ and the ‘terrible’ to a new breed of Buddhist preachers who set up urban temples that served ‘take away’ morals. The electronic media was creatively exploited to extend the despotic regime’s control over its people. The semi-literate were seduced. The literate were either ridiculed or coaxed in to acceptance of Mahinda’s ‘sanitized truth.’

The political charlatans who wrote their own laws, undermined judicial decisions of the few judges who defied executive intimidation, now promise a new country and a new beginning. The divisive language of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is again crawling in to mainstream politics. This is Buddhist country. ‘Devadaththa’ too could aspire high!
As conceded by himself in the interview with the Editor of the ‘Hindu’, Mahinda did not win the war. Prabhakaran lost the war.

Mahinda shoud be stopped in his tracks.

Of all leaders of independent Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is clearly fortune’s favourite. Four Presidents JR Jayewardene , R Premadasa, Chandrika Kumaratunga and D. B. Wijetunge were confronted by a Prabhakaran who was demanding a piece of territory. President Rajapaksa confronted a Prabhakaran who was defending a territory with international monitors playing referee. That explains President Rajapaksa’s quandary as to why Prabhakaran was ready to fight a trench war instead of the shadow war of a guerilla.

It was also the good fortune of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to have contested the presidency when a wide swathe of territory was under the effective control of an implacable terrorist who preferred him as against his opponent.

The interview given to the Hindu is available in the public domain. That he was satisfied with the detailed report is evident from the fact that soon after the interview the eminent Indian scribe earned the “Sri Lanka Rathna “.

Wars can be won or lost for a variety of reasons. The Americans lost the war not in Vietnam but in the streets of Washington. General Giap – the Red Napoleon says as much in his memoirs.

The much maligned ceasefire agreement gave the Tiger leader the illusion that he was indeed in command of some real estate. Prabhakaran had not read General Giap. After the victory at Dien Bien Phu, Giap observed, “a strong rear is always the decisive factor for victory in a revolutionary war.”

This writer has many reservations about Mr. Ranil Wickremesighe. The CFA may have been deeply flawed. Yet, it is the cease fire agreement of Ranil Wickremesinghe that entrapped him in a situation where he had no ‘strong rear ‘.

The Ram interview published by the Hindu in three parts makes interesting reading. There is a revealing intervention by Lalith Weeratunge.

Says the secretary to the President “When in April 2006, when they tried to assassinate the Army Commander, the President said – this was in the next room – “as a deterrent, just one round of bombing, then stop it.”

The great redeemer and warrior President tells Ram “Yes, I said: Just go once.” We were very careful. We did our best to find a way out through talks.”

Mahinda Rajapaksa did not win the war. He stumbled on victory. That explains the jailing of the General.

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