Colombo Telegraph

The Visit By Madam Pillay: Imperialist Politics, Regime Change And The R2P

By Surendra Ajit Rupasinghe

Ajit Rupasinghe

The recent visit by Madam Navanetham Pillay will turn out to be a dramatic turning point in the future of the country. Her reports could either sound the death-knell to the Rakapakse Regime, or be given a new lease of life. It is a matter of how the symphony will be orchestrated by the US, the supreme grand conductor of the UN. It is not Madam Pillay who would decide on the follow-up. Madam Pillay could be expected to play her role professionally and with detached objectivity and integrity. Yet, ultimately, it is the US that would manipulate the outcome.

Just by the way, the insolent behavior of the inimitable clown, Hon. Minister of Public Relations, Mr. Mervyn Silva would have irreparably damaged the image of Lanka internationally, as a pariah State, since only pariahs behave in such a low-life, uncouth and uncivilized manner, as to propose marriage to a visiting foreign dignitary.  As decent, civilized citizens, this display of indecency affects all of us, since it taints our image worldwide. This is not an isolated event. The long litany of outrageous, bellicose and unlawful behavior by the Minister and his son is on record. On behalf of all citizens, President Mahinda Rajapakse should reprimand the Minister and relieve him of any official position in the government and be thrown out of politics. Or, is it that the government is far too obligated to protect him, even at the expense of the reputation of the country?

In a fundamental sense, the Geneva resolutions are a part of the geo-strategic, political agenda of the US. The whole accountability issue has less to do with human rights and international humanitarian Law, than the foremost need of the US-led Western bloc to pry the Regime away from the strategic orbit of China. How else can a resolution moved by the number one terrorist state in the world be even entertained, let alone followed through? Who is impressed or fooled by this rank and murderous hypocrisy? However, I wish to point out that Madam Pillay’s mandate and methodology is circumspect, given the politics and the modus-operandi of the UN and the UNHRC. The political framework and the methodological  paradigm of the UN and the UNHCR is such that it is mandated not to identify structural roots of violent conflict, but to address its more blatant violations, when it becomes problematic for the powers that be. It is mandated to address symptoms and effects that disrupt the system of imperialist international relations, but not root causes. This is because the UN is part of defending the prevailing international status-quo and not in promoting genuine revolutionary democratic transformation. Let me point out some of the consequences of this political mandate and its attendant methodology.

Sri Lanka today is a quasi military-police State, under the cover of a constitutional democracy. A ‘State within a State’. It is a constitutional dictatorship, backed by neo-fascist, religious fundamentalist forces, driven by an agenda to foist a supremacist, hegemonic, theocratic dictatorship over all of society. Madam Pillay expresses concern about the attacks on religious minorities. Are these just aberrations of an otherwise healthy democracy? You express dismay over the intimidation of those who dared to speak to you of their silenced grievances. Are you aware that the very same Regime and its religious fanatics have continuously and systematically hounded and threatened witnesses and victims who have spoken out? You are not impressed by the series of Presidential Commissions of Inquiry into extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances hurriedly put together at the eve of your arrival, and in exclusion of the series of white van abductions and extortions in the South that spread white terror throughout the island? You are not impressed by military tribunals set up by the military to inquire into possible crimes committed by its own forces? What about the chain of command?  Do you possess the mandate, the methodology, the instruments and mechanisms to investigate whether the sum total of all these crimes against the people and against humanity are systemic, systematic expressions of  a single, unified political agenda?

Madam Pillay, if you need to get a ‘holistic’ picture, you need to get this snap-shot through your professional lenses. State terror is not so much to be measured by the calculation of the number of terrorist violations, although there is enough arithmetic to go by. It is to be effectively measured by the degree of fear and insecurity that a citizenry suffers from the felt threat of violent terrorist reprisal by the State. The very perception of imminent terror is more terrifying and effective than the individual acts of terror.  It has the chilling effect of silencing any and all dissent. The killing of political prisoners in Vavuniya, the massacre at Welikada, the killings at Chilaw and Weliweriya are designed to strike terror at the very heart of the people. When this is combined with the complete, blanket denial of accountability for any violation of international human rights and humanitarian law it is all that more invidious and insidious. When the barefaced claim of ‘zero tolerance for civilian casualties’ is declared in the face of mounting allegations and agonized pleas, the crisis of credibility is, indeed, terrifying. When the assassinations of eminent politicians such as Hon. Joseph Pararajasingham, Ravi Raj and so many others, and of such illustrious journalists of courage and integrity as the late Lasantha Wickrematunga, D. Sivaram and so many others remain unaccounted, then this creates an overriding and overwhelming climate of fear and insecurity. How better to enforce a mute, deadening, submissive silence? When the former Attorney General, Mr. Mohan Pieris claims at the Committee Against Torture (CAT) that he has reliable information that Prageeth Eknaligoda is absconding in some country, and then refuses to divulge his reliable source in a domestic court of law and even arrogantly declares in abject contempt that only “ God knows where he is”, then the citizens know that they will never ever have recourse to legal justice. When a Supreme Court judge is morally scandalized and unlawfully removed by a kangaroo parliament as an act of blatant political revenge and is replaced by this very same former Attorney General, then the entire judicial system has irrevocably lost its legitimacy. When all three branches of government that are supposedly instituted to preserve the separation of powers as a guarantee of democratic governance are brought under an omnipotent Executive enjoying Constitutional impunity, then, Madam, the whole democratic political order has been effectively and fatally undermined. When it is claimed that post-war demilitarization is a difficult process requiring time, you could ponder then why the armed forces are being beefed up, with the largest part of the annual budget allocated to defense- to the tune of some 265 billion? Do you possess the tools and methods to investigate how, through military occupation, colonization and land grabbing, you could effectively wipe out the political status of a Nation? Is there a definition of political genocide in your lexicon? You should ponder the implications when the Minister of Justice says that it is not time to repeal the PTA and that it would be repealed, if at all, when the government so decides. Did you travel to the deep interior in the North to witness the degrading, sub-human living conditions of the masses and experience their pervading and abiding sense of abysmal fear and insecurity, even as you express your appreciation of the lucrative mega-projects that fill the coffers of an inner coterie of corrupt, crony politicians and power brokers? Your limited mandate does not include the Batalanda torture chambers, the mass graves in Weeraketiya and now, Matale, the whole litany of communal pogroms, abductions, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings that have ravaged and terrified the citizenry for decades. Why only Sri Lanka? What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, chemical warfare and mass massacres in Vietnam (Agent Orange, Mi Lai etc), Shatlla and Sabra refugee camps, Jenin and Fallujah, Abu Graib and Guantanamo? Who shall present a resolution to the UNHRC to appoint an international commission of inquiry into these most willful, horrendous, genocidal crimes against humanity?

The whole of the justification for all the terrorist crimes of the State is that the LTTE was ‘ the most powerful, ruthless terrorist organization in the world”. True enough! The crimes of the LTTE against Sinhala, Tamil and Moslem civilians do not need to be recounted. They are, indeed, barbaric and despicable and have no place in a liberation struggle. But to justify even more horrible, barbaric, systemic and continuing crimes and violations against the people and against humanity by the State on this basis, is to turn cause and effect upside down and make a mockery of natural justice.

As for some of us, we are deeply concerned that your reports will be filtered through by the US to ensure that the stranglehold on the Regime is loose enough for it to breathe and strong enough to strangle it, if it does not fall in line. Alas, your reports and interventions shall feed into the politics of imperialist Regime Change and of the R2P- ala Iraq, Libya- and imminently Syria and finally Iran? Even if against your will, your professional intervention will serve the US to  pursue its agenda of maintaining and expanding its global hegemony and strategic superiority. As much as the LTTE and the State are on trial for Crimes against Humanity, the United Nations and the UNHRC are on trial for being an instrument of the US and for playing imperialist politics with human rights.

*The writer is Secretary: Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist): E-Mail <

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