By Tisaranee Gunasekara –
“The key to wisdom is this — constant and frequent questioning … for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.” – Peter Abelard (Sic et non[i])
In 1964, a joint session of the US Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution giving the President carte blanche to wage war in South-East Asia.
41 years later, declassified NSA documents confirmed what global public opinion had known/suspected all along – that the August 4th attack on two US ships by North Vietnamese Navy, which precipitated the Gulf of Tonkin resolution[ii], never happened. The portentous event was nothing but a lie, used by the Lyndon Johnson administration to hoax and frighten America into an unnecessary war in Indo-China.
The truth about the Gulf of Tonkin incident came too late not only for Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea but also for Iraq. The second Bush administration used the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ lie to bamboozle and terrify the US into another unnecessary and disastrous war.
People do not expect their leaders to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But most people find it hard to believe that rulers can deceive a country into a deadly conflict. But rulers do commit such crimes, especially in places where a majority are either too beguiled to ask probing questions or too apathetic to think for themselves.
This month, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province CV Wigneswaran accused the Rajapaksa administration of trying to resurrect a bogus Tiger: “The latest we hear is that a former LTTE military commander is being commissioned to restart an LTTE outfit subservient to the powers that be. Thus the white van drama could now be enacted with a different cast.”[iii]
The story the CM is referring to appeared in greater detail on the banned website, Lankan news web. The website claimed that the former Col. Karuna, on the instructions of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, tried to persuade former Trincomalee leader Col. Paduman to start a bogus LTTE to conduct false flag operations: “Paduman had straightforwardly told Karuna that he wanted to revive the armed struggle against the Sinhala government. Kruna then told Gotabhaya that he cannot convince Paduman into agreeing to his project. Taking matters into his own hands Gotabhaya met Paduman at a secret location, and as a result of that meeting, Paduman was absolved of his charges and acquitted in late September… Paduman is now in Trincomalee…. he has taken 40 LTTE cadres who had been under him in the armed wing to Colombo. They are now receiving special training at a location near the Panagoda Army Camp…. The foundation is now being laid under the defence secretary’s orders to revive the LTTE….to assassinate leading Tamil politicians…. The defence secretary has tasked the new LTTE with the elimination of all pro-democratic tendencies.”[iv]
The former Col. Paduman, who was indicted in 2011 for attacking army camps, and assaulting and killing soldiers, was indeed acquitted, in September 2013, for lack of proper evidence. Whether the AG’s Department contested the judge’s decision or concurred with it is not known. If the AG’s Department did not oppose the judge’s decision, it would indicate that the Rajapaksas wanted Mr. Paduman out for some reason. Did the Rajapaksas engineer Mr. Paduman’s release because they have some use for him? Will he start an NGO like Mr. Pathmanathan or enter politics like Mr. Muralitharan? Or will his role be a more sinister one, as the Lanka News Web alleges?
That the Siblings are extremely worried about the TNA and the NPC is no secret. Their worry stems primarily from Rajapaksa supremacism and not Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism. The Rajapaksas cannot abide alternate centres of power and influence, however democratic or constitutional. That is why they replaced the 17th Amendment with the 18th Amendment and subjugated the judiciary through the impeachment travesty.
If the TNA can be brought to heel like the SLMC, the CWC and the EPDP, the Rajapaksas would be perfectly willing to accord it some protection and patronage. Their inability to subjugate the TNA to their will is the true source of Rajapaksa ire. The TNA is in the oppositional space and therefore constitutes an impediment to the Rajapaksa plan to impose familial control over the Lankan political, socio-economic and psychological landscape.
Will the Siblings opt to debilitate the TNA by any means necessary, including the creation of a puppet-Tiger?
The Tigers wanted to be the sole representative of Tamils. The Rajapaksas too are consumed by monolithic dreams. They oppose devolution and democracy for the same reason – both entail loss of control.
In 2007, President Rajapaksa came up with his own proposal to resolve the ethnic issue. That Rajapaksa-proposal planned to replace provincial-level devolution with district-level decentralisation. In this downgraded-system, the President could appoint as the District Chief Minister a member of a party which enjoyed his confidence rather than the confidence of the majority of the district – with the council’s concurrence. If the council refused to concur, the President could suspend the council, and govern in its stead.
Either way, the President would rule.
Had that Rajapaksa-proposal replaced the 13th Amendment, an alleged murderer rather than a former Supreme Court judge may have become the Presidentially-nominated CM of Jaffna. And the country would have had to subsidise 30 chief ministers instead of just nine!
That Rajapaksa proposal also gave the President the right to appoint a majority of the proposed senate[v] and empowered the central government – i.e. the President – to appoint members to the Land and Water Commissions. The District Ethnic Ombudsmen were to be appointed by the Justice Minister in consultation with the President; ergo they too would have been Presidential nominees.
Clearly the Rajapaksa notion of a home-grown solution would be an arrangement which furthers Familial Rule rather than power-sharing.
A ‘Tiger-rebirth’, and consequent ‘security concerns’, could be ideal excuses to justify such a counter-devolutionary home-grown Rajapaksa solution.
The Rajapaksas believe they have a de facto covenant with the Sinhala-South: Sinhala-South’s consent to Familial Rule in return for defeating the LTTE and reasserting Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy over Sri Lanka. Economic factors are slowly undermining this Mephistophelian bargain. The Rajapaksas need an extra-something to keep Sinhala-Buddhists in thrall.
Will the Rajapaksas opt for a ‘Jihadi-threat’ or a resurrected-Tiger?
Internationally there are many precedents for this sort of skulduggery. Israel reportedly played part-midwife to Hamas because of its need to weaken and displace the secular PLO. Evidence has emerged that the Moscow terrorist attacks which enabled the meteoric rise of Vladimir Putin were carried out not by Chechens but by Russia’s Federal Security Service[vi].
Are the Rajapaksas planning to hoodwink and terrify Sri Lanka into a new war?
The story of a Rajapaksa-puppet in Tiger-garb may or may not be true. But it needs to be investigated, talked about and resolved, one way or another.
CM Wigneswaran’s statement deserves serious and critical examination. Hopefully a parliamentary debate on the subject can shed light into any diabolical corners extant and catalyse a much-needed public discussion.
[i] Yes and No: The Complete English Translation of Peter Abelard
[v] The senate was to consist of 75 members. Of this 25 was to be appointed by political parties; 30 district chief ministers will be ex-officio members of the senate; the other 20 will be appointed by the President. Since the President also appoints the chief ministers, altogether 50 members of the senate – i.e. an absolute majority – would have been presidential nominees.
The Man without a Face – The unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin – Masha Gessen
[vii] Seymour Hersh quoting an anonymous intelligence official wrote, “a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented upon orders from the President within 24 hours” – New Yorker – 25.2.2007
[viii] The army is believed to have leaked information about the planned attack to national and international press. On Feb 25th, 2007, The Sunday Times of London reported that some of America’s most senior military officials were planning to resign if the White House orders air strikes on Iran. The media reports fuelled a public debate. Democrats in congress also reportedly resisted the planned attacks. http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/whitehouse200703