By Tisaranee Gunasekara –
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
We know him as Kumaran Pathmanathan alias ‘KP’. The Interpol knows him as Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam. He is on the Interpol’s wanted list for a variety of crimes starting with terrorism. Unsurprisingly; for decades he was a senior Tiger leader, a trusted confidant of Vellupillai Pirapaharan and the LTTE’s chief arms-procurer.
In a lawful land, when it came to charging ‘KP’, the problem would have been not where to start, but where to stop. But in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, the AG’s Department under Presidential control cannot charge ‘KP’ with even the most miniscule crime because “there was no evidence or complaints” against him (Daily Mirror – 17.10.2012). So while lesser Tigers fester in jail, Vellupillai Pirapaharan’s hand-picked successor is a free man, “involved in the development drive being carried out in the North and East” (ibid).
Thus ‘KP’, the former Tiger chieftain, joins the illustrious company of Minister Mervyn Silva and son, Parliamentarian Duminda Silva, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and Air Lanka Chairman and Presidential brother-in-law, Nishantha Wickremesinghe – men whom the law cannot touch because they belong to the charmed circle of Rajapaksa kith- and-kin. ‘KP’ is now protected with Rajapaksa-Teflon and not even the Interpol will be able lay a fingertip on him (if the Interpol tries, we will howl about ‘sovereignty’ and ‘imperialism’).
The government which persecuted General Fonseka and Senior Journalist Tissanayagam, the government which has appointed a cabinet committee to investigate the Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission Manjula Tilakaratne (even as his assailants roam free), the government which illegally incarcerated almost 300,000 civilian Tamils, including children, in open prison camps to catch a few hundred Tigers, cannot find even an iota of evidence against ‘KP’ who for decades kept the LTTE plentifully supplied with weapons of destruction.
In a lawful land this would be considered rank, obscene injustice. Under Rajapaksa rule, this is the only justice possible.
The happy fate of KP is a morality tale about Rajapaksa law: the Rajapaksa kith- and-kin can never be guilty of any crime while Rajapaksa opponents have to be guilty of some crime. (Just as Rajapaksa-economics dictate that a country too poor to spend much on education or health is rich enough to buy a satellite and inaugurate a space programme; and Rajapaksa-governance rules that only brevet colonels can become effective school principals).
Today Rajapaksa law is predominant. Fortunately, the normal law, though under siege, still retains some life, some capacity to alleviate injustice.
Are we going to allow the law of the Rajapaksas to pulverise the Rule of Law? Do we not comprehend the dangers inherent in allowing the judiciary to become the handmaiden of Rajapaksa Rule?
‘Power is God’
The Divi Neguma Bill is about Rajapaksa power. Its primary aim is neither development nor poverty alleviation, but the further expansion of Brother Basil’s extensive economic empire.
The 13th Amendment is one of the few really existing impediments to this manic power-grab. If the Divi Neguma Bill, which plans to give Basil Rajapaksa absolute control over a huge chunk of national wealth, fails, it will be thanks to the democratising potential of the 13th Amendment. Without the 13th Amendment, even the most independent judiciary would have found it difficult to legally impede the march of the megalomaniacs. That is why the regime has set its sights on the 13th Amendment.
Joachim Fest argues that Adolf Hitler’s absolutist project succeeded so well partly because “everything he did, including his surprised lunges for power and arbitrary acts, was planned in such a way that at least part of the population would have good reason to feel thankful to him” (Plotting Hitler’s Death). Vellupillai Pirapaharan made excellent use of Tamil nationalism and Tamil pride to win support for his horrendous dystopia.
The Rajapaksas too excel at conjuring attractive mantles to hide their frightening aims and dangerous objectives. Thus patriotism is being used to justify the opposition to the 13th Amendment. Last month an officer who contributed significantly to the anti-Tiger cause was thrown to the wolves to save a ministerial offspring. Last week ‘KP’ was set free. The anomalies are glaringly obvious; but the Siblings know – as Herr Hitler and Mr. Pirapaharan did – that enough people can be deceived all the time, if you rave against international conspiracies, wave the flag and do the patriotic-dance, with convincing frenzy.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa compares the 13th Amendment with the Norwegian sponsored and Tiger-appeasing Ceasefire Agreement (CFA): “the 13th Amendment and the CFA didn’t serve the people of Sri Lanka. Instead they facilitated interests of various other parties including the LTTE. Interestingly both supported the separatist cause” (The Island – 14.10.2012). The logical and the factual fallacies of this statement are mind-boggling. The aim of the 13th Amendment was to find a political solution to the ethnic problem by ensuring for the Tamil people a modicum of devolution. It did not promote separatism; on the contrary it enabled many former Eelamists to support the Lankan state by demonstrating the possibility of a peaceful and democratic path to win Tamil rights. The Tigers opposed the 13th Amendment as viscerally as Sinhala supremacists do because it indicated, however faintly, the possibility of a Lankan future.
The CFA on the other hand was aimed at appeasing the LTTE to the hilt. The Tigers turned the North-East into a de facto Eelam, thanks to the space, opportunities and powers provided by the CFA. That is why Vellupillai Pirapaharan regarded the CFA as a trap with a lot of use-value while he abominated the Indo-Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment wholeheartedly, as dangerous betrayals.
The 17th Amendment was an entirely indigenous product. It had nothing to do with India, Norway or any Western power. Its sole aim was to democratise the polity by making the political playing-field a little less unbalanced. But Rajapaksas killed it because it impeded their unyielding quest for even greater power.
Patriotism is just a cover to fool the Sinhala South. Rajapaksa-power, Rajapaksa-glory and Rajapaksa-safety are the sole concerns of the Rajapaksas.
The Siblings are trying to create a majority-minority, Sinhala-Tamil/Muslim, anti-devolution-pro-devolution gap to facilitate their power-grab. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s definition of the 13th Amendment as an anti-national, pro-separatist piece of legislation is a case in point. That false equation will not only enable the regime to label as traitors anyone who supports/defends the 13th Amendment; it will also be helpful in discouraging civil society from standing foursquare behind the judiciary in its current efforts to resist the rampaging executive.
Power is the Rajapaksa God and the Divi Neguma Bill is the latest instalment in their serial power-grab. Its current difficulties demonstrate the use-value of the 13th Amendment and its democratic indispensability as the last constitutional bastion against Rajapaksa absolutism.
That is why the Siblings want it out.
The debate over the desirability and viability of devolution must await a post-Rajapaksa future. That politico-ideological-intellectual exercise is a task for a happier tomorrow. So long as the Rajapaksas rule, even those who oppose devolution (and Tamil rights) must defend the 13th Amendment unequivocally, if they want to save some democracy and justice for the Sinhalese.
Brian Senewiratne / October 21, 2012
i do not know Tissaranee Gunasekera but if there was anyone in that talent-depleted country who should be nominated for recognition internationally, it must her.
Her writings put mine to shame. Understandably, becuase she is a writer, I am just an ordinay doctor whose expertise is medicine.
there is another difference. while mine are rambling theses which no one reads, hers are concise, precise articles that makes reading them a joy, not an ordeal as mine are. the only other person who could write as well was the late Adrian Wijemanne whose wrings i have undertaken to publish but shamefully have not because oof a supposed lack of time. this will be done hopefully before I die.
As long as there are people like Tissaranee left in Sri Lanka there is hope for that Failed State. How long se can survive, physically, i mean, is in the lap of the Gods. If what happened to another writer,Lasantha Wickrematunga and his successor, Frederica Jansz, ia any indication, the time for her is short. That is not an opinion to be debated, but a fact to be faced. We need more Tissaranees in Sri Lanka and if they are not being produced, she must be cloned.
My greatest regret not being able to return to Sri Lanka and not become a ‘disappeared’ person is that I will never have the chance to shake this lady’s hand and say how proud I am that a Sinhalese, of my ethic community, has the guts to do what she is doing from under the very nose of tyrants. This is far differnet from what I am doing from the safety of Australia.
I guess Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in the only language he is familiar with will call Tissaranee “a pig who eats shit! Shit! A fucking shit jounalist”. That will ironically add to her stature but if he goes on “People hate you. They will kill you” then it is time she left as Sonali Samarasinghe (ex-Sunday Leader did) and which I hope Frederica Jansz will do before it is too late.
The hope for the future of Sri Lanka lies on the shoulders of people like Tissaranee. When the murderous regime running Sri Lanka falls, as it surely will as I have stated in my recent article on the closure of the Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka will owe Tissaranee a huge debt.
Dominique / October 21, 2012
So you finally figured out that no one reads your “rambling theses”. Good!
Wijebahu / October 25, 2012
Brian Senevirathna, We all know you are an extremist as same as other megalomaniac prabhakaran, only difference is you have few qualifications to call your self a doctor. I have seen few of your interviews and you nothing but hate Sinhalese and Sri Lanka. one reason for Rajapakses popularity is people like you. People tolerates Rajapakse and his wrong doings thanks to extremists Tamil Diaspora and supporters like you who always wants to see Sri Lanka and Sinhalese going down the drain.
Justice / October 21, 2012
There is too much power with one man who also commands an army of 275,000 and police of 50,000, all loyal to him. More is to be spent on them in 2013. His extended family are all in key positions.The bunch in parliament including the ‘bought over lackeys’ are spineless.
The stage is set for a full ‘official’ dictatership.This would be necessary soon,when the present extravagance causes extreme rise in the cost of living,to stifle dissent and rebellion.
Naga / October 21, 2012
If Brian Seneviratne is right in saying that Tisaranee is based in Sri Lanka, then it gives lie to the propaganda that no journalist who dare to criticize the present government could be safe in Sri Lanka. Week in and week out Tisaranee had been writing commentaries sharply critical of Mahinda Rajapanse and his so-called ruling clan. I have not heard her alluding to any threats to her safety in any of her writings.
firstname.lastname@example.org / October 21, 2012
Yes we will have Despots and man that will rule us to the kill, What must be done is for the Christian Church to rise up to the Occasion in demonstrating all Biblical values and living out Gods Righteousness in such a manner that we become a light unto our nation so much that the desired change towards Righteousness, Truth Justice and Love will take root.
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / October 22, 2012
George Orwell’s work “Nineteen Eighty Four” is a secondary school classic in Australia and a “must read” for readers / commentators on this forum. Whereas Orwell saw the future in Europe / UK nearly half a century before the year 1984 his predictions have been brilliantly accurate with regard to geopolitics in general and the nature of the West’s global preponderance in particular.
nagendra / October 22, 2012
Yes, yes we have all heard of Orwell’s book and read him as well. Please spare us your pretentious advice. Who IS this character Pethiyagoda? He seems to think that he knows everything and yet as his posts show, he knows nothing!
Patriot / October 23, 2012
If the rulers had one tenth (1/10) of vision and knowledge of Tisaranee, our country would have been a real paradise by now. Unfortunately their greed and selfishness have ruined that opportunity. At least I know there are some right minded people who could make a change and Tisaranee is one of them. We need more of her.
ALCH3MIST / October 25, 2012
A round of applause for your well-thought-out post.
IMHO: Love it or loathe it, the Rajapakse family is here to stay.
From a realistic point of view: everything is a dictatorship. Call it what you will: a democracy, a socialist nation, communism – either way, the power of any nation is controlled by a few. Read: it’s all bullshit either way. Most of the time, these “controllers of nations” take a backseat. If our case, they’re right at the forefront and grinning away unashamedly.
@psmarmindra: I respect all religions, but demonstrating biblical values? Perhaps you should flip to Genesis Too extreme even for a dictator.
Put religion aside. Put caste, creed, and culture aside. We’re all humans. What you do, what you speak for – speak as a human being.