18 September, 2021

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Victor Ivan Says “Not A Black But A Heavy Hand”

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

In my piece last week (Black Hand or Manic Folly) I summarised a much canvassed view that a conspiracy was in progress to stir up trouble as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and set in motion a dastardly plot to impose dictatorship. I did not use names for obvious reasons but Victor Ivan in Ravaya of 22 June has taken the plunge and pointed the finger at Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse (GR); Victor accuses GR of being insensitive, heavy handed and brusque, not of intentional conspiracy. This is different from the ‘Black Hand behind the scene’ conspiracy theory. The later is voiced by word of mouth in opposition quarters, particularly the Dead Left and Colombo society. The common factor is that both Victor and the BH theorists agree President Rajapakse is guilty giving his brother too a free hand to damage the fabric of liberal governance.

Victor’s article is going viral thanks to its sensational content, but since it is not available to non-Sinhalese and non-web readers (Ravaya is not on the web but Colombo Telegraph carried a summary in English) it is necessary to describe its main contours. It is also important to note how it sharply differs from conspiracy theories. Victor has fulsome praise for GR as a leading contributor to war victory. Then he turns sharply critical of GR’s role and his brother’s lack of oversight in the post-war period.  For example he asks why was the military not sent back to the barracks at the end of the war as any democratic President should have done; why are prisoners held in military custody and not handed over to civilian custodial authorities as after 1971 and 1989-90; why is the military involved in every layer of civilian life; why is military brass filling diplomatic, gubernatorial and corporate placements?

Excellent questions but Victor’s explanation borders on the naïve. Oh aiiya is soft on mali and since GR is popular he is, unwisely, allowed to do as he pleases.

Excellent questions but Victor’s explanation borders on the naïve. Oh aiiya is soft on mali and since GR is popular he is, unwisely, allowed to do as he pleases.

Excellent questions but Victor’s explanation borders on the naïve. Oh aiiya is soft on mali and since GR is popular he is, unwisely, allowed to do as he pleases. I find the reasoning unconvincing but let me move to a more important point. Victor agrees that Gota is stirring up trouble that will end in disaster. He is to blame for the mess in the country; for example increasing alienation of the Tamils, the UNHRC sword that dangles over our heads, the anti-Muslim outbursts and so on. GR is not doing it deliberately says Victor, but the consequence of his wilful and insensitive behaviour is that “he is digging the political grave of his brother and the government”. This is pretty much as verbatim a translation as my rudimentary Sinhala, assisted by friends, can manage.

It is at this point that Victor becomes both unconvincing and incoherent. The crucial question is “Why is Gota conducting himself in this fashion?” Victor’s answer contrasts with other analysts. There are two serious theories on offer; (a) the Black Hand or conspiracy theory that I have adverted to and (b) what I think is more likely, that the government has lost control on all sides and is floundering like a drunken sailor. Victor offers what strikes me as a rather mechanistic and simplistic third alternative. Gotha is just a military man, says Victor, he lacks the sophistication and nuance that someone with political experience would have acquired over time. The only way GR knows to do things is the heavy handed, jackbooted, helmet wearing military style. This brittle, peremptory style of the army when carried into civilian life in peace time leads to calamity says Victor.

That’s Victor’s explanation and analysis. To repeat: GR only knows how to do things in the marching, stomping way and that’s the cause of the turmoil. Actually Victor ties himself up in knots. There are several knots but this is the messiest one. He alleges, and most people readily agree, that Gota has encouraged and protected extremists; the power the BBS wields is not natural nor of its own, it is the reflected glory of the Defence Secretary, Victor concedes. He adds that there is a “mysterious” (that’s the best word in translation I could think of) relationship between Gnanasara Thero and the Defence Secretary. These assertions fly in the face of the relatively innocuous ‘rough and ready military-man’ thesis; instead they give the conspiracy theory very much the edge. Hence there is a contradiction between Victor’s description of the background and his explanatory framework. (I trust my weak Sinhala has not led me to seriously misunderstand the emphasis of the article). I prefer to stick with my ‘This chronic government has made an unholy mess of everything’ gripe, but if I were compelled to choose between Victor’s non-conspiratorial military-man excuse and the offerings of the conspiracy theory addicts, quite frankly, between the two, the latter makes more sense.

Mounting international pressure

Whether you are persuaded that conspiracies are hatching, or gross military brawn is on the march, or maybe agree with me that the regime has landed itself an unholy mess, there will be more hazards for the government when the UNHRC investigation starts work. Let it first be granted that Navi Pillay’s parting shot has been brilliant – I doubt if a better set of “Experts to assist the UNHRC team in conducting the investigation” could have been put together. The three Experts will lead the investigation while the skills of the officers (forensics, law, investigative expertise) will ensure that nothing can be hidden. Taken together the credentials of the Experts and the skills of the 12 person team are excellent and those like me who welcome an international investigation are delighted. There is little that will give comfort to alleged human rights violators, whether in Ministry, military or paramilitaries, or among LTTE-rump survivors. I hope the investigation will also make it a point to enter a posthumous verdict in respect of the alleged war-crimes of the late LTTE leaders. All this is essential if Lanka is to realise closure of this most tragic phase, put the past behind and turn a brighter face to the future.

A lot is known of the background of Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, Pillai’s successor at the UNHRC. My reading is that it is not that he is a Muslim but that he is steeped in the springs of Western liberalism that will make him Pillay’s true intellectual successor. It is lousy luck for Gotabaya and the BBS, and for the Rajakapse government that anti-Muslim riots, with state connivance at worst or apathy at best, fanned out at just this moment. But if my hunch is right it is not Islam’s Bedouin tracks in the sifting sands of the dessert, or the muezzin’s call echoing across the stillness of the morning that will count; it is modern liberal values that will spell out what the new Secretary General’s moving finger inscribes. This is scant comfort for an atavistic regime.

Zeid bin Ra’ad (50) schooled in Surrey, read for his B.A. at Johns Hopkins, and took a PhD from Cambridge. His mother is Swedish. He is married to American Sarah Butler whose father is British. Ms Butler was educated in Texas and at SOAS and has worked with the UN and UNICEF. Zeid bin Ra’ad is currently Jordon’s Permanent Representative to the UN and an expert in criminal justice. He played a central role in setting up the International Criminal Court and served as president of its governing body (I hear “God Forbid!” gasps). He investigated and wrote a report for the UN Secretary General in 2004 on abuses committed by UN Peacekeepers; the focus was sexual abuse by men in uniform (Nimalka must be cheering the appointment!) Let’s be clear about it; human rights violators and war criminals will be ladled out of the frying pan into the fire not because the new Secretary General is a Muslim, but because he is palpably steeped in a Western humanist and liberal ethos.

Will this government shun the Panel?

On the face of it the regime and to its shame (again) the Dead Left is toeing the JHU-Weerawansa line; “Boycott the Inquiry, deny visas to the Panel, declare Sri Lankan sovereignty supreme over all the nations of the earth”. The UPFA slogan is Defy the UNHRC! Damn the consequences! These guys are such loonies that they may actually do it. The other day I heard a Dead Left Minister declare “How dare they investigate us”. I bit my tongue not to ask “Us! When comrade did you get involved in war-crimes”. But after the treachery of voting for the Eighteenth Amendment and the duplicity of participating in the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, this lot is capable of soiling its undergarments in all circumstances.

The Dead Left counts for nothing, so let’s ask the real question: What will be the consequence if the regime boycotts the investigation and obstructing its work? By obstruct I mean not only denying the team entry visas, but also enacting regulations and resorting to threats to prevent loved ones of the dead and surviving victims from giving evidence. The inquiry will then go ex-parte, but maybe in a perverted way that’s to the advantage of the government whose witnesses will shrivel under cross-examination. What will the world and the UNHRC think of a government that refuses to cooperate with a duly constituted inquiry by a formal UN body? India abstained in the UNHRC vote but it certainly will not condone thumbing the nose at the world body once it starts work. Will the unstoppable momentum of all this lead to sanctions on the regime’s leaders (I hope not export-import, banking and the country as a whole). This is new territory in international law and we will have to watch.  Or better we can send the Rajapakses packing before 15 April 2015 when the panel is expected to submit its report. Why not we do this and give ourselves a nice present in time for Aluth Auvurudu­?

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Latest comments

  • 6
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    Kumar David –

    “On the face of it the regime and to its shame (again) the Dead Left is toeing the JHU-Weerawansa line; “Boycott the Inquiry, deny visas to the Panel, declare Sri Lankan sovereignty supreme over all the nations of the earth”. The UPFA slogan is Defy the UNHRC! Damn the consequences! These guys are such loonies that they may actually do it. The other day I heard a Dead Left Minister declare “How dare they investigate us”. I bit my tongue not to ask “Us! When comrade did you get involved in war-crimes”. But after the treachery of voting for the Eighteenth Amendment and the duplicity of participating in the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, this lot is capable of soiling its undergarments in all circumstances.”

    WOW.

    Compared to NM Perera et al these dead left guys have nothing left.”These guts, really fit the bill of Shills, but elected by the Sinhala Modayas.

    Why protect the War Criminals?

    • 1
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      You, the so called intellectuals, political scintists, journalists, and social scientists will go on analyzing ad infinitum while the mastermind Mahanama’s master plan rolls on steadily with the Sinhalese Buddhist-ization of the island.

      It’s really a waste of time analyzing, reading or thinking about hypothetical things while Mahanama’s bandwagon rolls on incessantly.

  • 3
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    “Or better we can send the Rajapakses packing before 15 April 2015 when the panel is expected to submit its report. Why not we do this and give ourselves a nice present in time for Aluth Auvurudu­?”

    “We”, comrade?

    • 1
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      Yes,
      That request does extend to you as well,DJ.

    • 2
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      Dayan

      Actually by “WE” KD has excluded bootlickers and shills!!

      If the cap fits…….???

    • 0
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      Dayan de Silva:
      I am certain that Kumar has more self respect than to include YOU in any “we” he refers to.
      When are you going to have your friend Jarapassa set up a PhD in sycophancy and duplicity and make you the first recipient?

  • 1
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    Kumar David June 22, 2014 at 8:08 am:

    Dr KS should extend this piece including sections on (a) The BBS-Army nexus, if any, (b) possibility of much bigger conflagataions even if not as horrendous as 1983, and (c) international repercussions and the possibility of regime change (How many opponents? India, the West, the Tamils, the Muslims, the Liberals, the Left, the Colombo elite, the Islamic states).

    —-

    Kumar David made the above comment in response to an article by Kalana Senaratne on CT.

    1) Observe that his regime change plans to restore democracy does not involve the majority community of the country! What a democratic idea?

    “How many opponents? India, the West, the Tamils, the Muslims, the Liberals, the Left, the Colombo elite, the Islamic states”

    2) There is also a group called “Colombo elite”. Does anyone in Sri Lanka care about these “Colombo elite” types nowadays?

    Anyhow, it is good that we have an election next year so that people of the country can assert their will and chase away all these rats lurking in the shadows (elite and not so elite) :D

  • 4
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    I see something more sinister in our Politics at the moment although the majority seem oblivious to the situation. The recent attack on the Muslims after Gota baptized the BBS two years ago is not by chance but by design. For that matter everything that has happened from Independence or from the time Sir Henry Steel Olcot set foot in this country in 1890 have been by design more than chance. There was nothing to revive in those Buddhists then as they were more genuine in their belief and in practice and were truly tolerant as Buddhist should be. However after Independence not only the Buddhist Clergy in the country were given a free hand to manipulate the Buddhists to their advantage but allowed the Sinhalese Buddhists to persecute the Tamils. Thereafter the Tamils were helped, by the very forces to retaliate with absolute violence assisted by them to carry on a civil war, for well over thirty years. Then they sold arms to both sides making good money. They never allowed decent, honest educated to govern. Various issues led to the field of Politics being made Corrupt and Violent to prevent the Decent, Honest and Educated to stay off Politics. Then they select the Rajapaksas and allow the siblings to get across to the US on the Green Card and cultivate them. When the siblings were briefed and trained properly it was time to get their man MR elected as President with the help of VP himself. Next they betray VP and eliminate him retaining KP to take over the North. Eliminating VP helps MR to consolidate his position as a War Victor and also as the saviour of the Nation. In spite of vehement protests of War Crimes by the LTTE Tamils who got played out in the surrender and the Human Rights Groups with graphic evidence, matters are allowed just to delay and drag. Then they allow the Rajapaksas not only to consolidate the Sinhala Buddhist vote by allowing the BBS to attack the Muslims, but also Militarize the country in the process, so that they are one step closer to their goal. The BBS being given multiple entry Visa for five years and their visit to Norway and the United States with their meetings with Peace Brokers and the LTTE diaspora being photographed together reveal a lot more than what is on the surface. Majority people are in despair expecting a Regime change as speculated by outside sources. The Americans through the UN are only threatening about the War Crimes and how serious they are, no one knows. The sane are hoping whether Ranil would take over with the ouster of MR. Possibly Ranil must be promised so, by these very forces. I am not skeptical but will not be surprised if they pull the rug under Ranil’s feet once again like they did to him in 2005 November. The only way to upset foreign Intrigue is by using a few Bullets than Ballots. Which way Sri Lanka can be seen within the next year.

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      Gamini:

      You are a Demala:

      You accuse Sinhala – buddhists for every thing.

      But, you don’t talk about Tamil greed for a Country for they themselves and the problems created by Tamils because Tamils don’t have their country.

      First talk the truth.

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        Jim Sothy,

        The present Olcott/Anagarika Buddhists have been the main curse and the reason the down fall of this country. Thanks to you buggers this Nation will perish right before our eyes. Be Happy then.

        For you to claim that I am a Demala and you a Sinhalaya, did you see a Sinhalaya do your mother up? Did you have Tamil servants in your house? Probably one of them would have fathered you. Check your DNA to see whether you are proper Sinhalaya or a Demala? Thanks to mediocrity as your self with a few others on this blog, it is no wonder why this country is in this plight.

  • 1
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    There is a point in what Victor says

    MR family still can think of wisely if they truly interested for a decent legacy.

    If Mahinda Rajapakse really needs to change the direction of his government as racist free, he can think of sending Gotha for Maldives for three to six months and take control of defense and re-shuffle the positions within family.

  • 5
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    Victor Ivan have wokenup at last and that piece was great and still admire this man to have balls to take on big Goat-A unlike the other vermins like Dayan J/ Malinda etc.

    It will be interesting why it took 5 long years for Ivan to open his eyes after seeing the carnage exposed by the Rajapakasas and the country going onto another banana republic.

    MARA will definitely win another term considering the weak opposition as well as will brainwash the poor villagers showing the war victory and the only person who can save country from UN etc.,

    There should be some mechanism to send these Medamulana uneducated buffons to hague and its what Sri Lanka need in this hour.

  • 2
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    Excellent analysis of Victor Ivan or in other words President Rajapaksa’s own thoughts by KD. During the time our forces fighting the LTTE, Gotha did a fine job as the co-ordinator between the Forces and his brother Mahinda. On few occasions when Mahinda was pulling back Gotha was up in arms with GSF and threaten to resign. Ultimately Mahinda reluctantly accepted to allow the elimination of the LTTE, but on 11th May 2009 he forced the Army to stop the fight and allow the LTTE guys to run away. But joint forces by Gotha and GSF prevented that.

    As Gamini says Gotha or Basil was not taken seriously by the Americans, if they did that Gotha will never fight with US Ambassador William Blake on January 2007, and create an enemy for nothing. Mahinda should have removed Gotha as the DS after May 2009, and appointed a civilian DS to see the rehabilitation of the LTTE careers according to the prevailing laws of the country, but not under Military rule.

    BBS is a creation of Gotha with some support of Mahinda, but later it took a 360 degree turn about to help Gotha to be the next President. In this scenario we should consider the Surveyor General’s records on land ownership by Muslims. 1999 records with the Surveyor General proves that Muslims hold 73pc of the land mass in Colombo CBD and 78 PC in Kandy. If Muslims, having very close connections to Sinhala Buddhist Grand mothers and mothers should consider Sinhala Buddhist as part of their family and STOP creating unnecessary problems as one of the Mullas said on a Doramadalawa programme.

    UNCHR inquiry will proceed as they did with. The Darusman Report without the help of the Sri Lankan government. If the GOSL did look into the Darusman report leaving aside the brotherly love by Mahinda, today this UNCHR inquiry will not surface. As KD says if the LTTE, the Forces and any other person in the Civil Administration did create these HR violation, it is the duty of Mahinda as the President to get a clear slate to proceeded with a good report.
    The biggest blunder Gotha did was to allow KP to surrender for his money thinking he can be the CM of the North, and allow CA Chandraprema to write a book containing full of lies to elevate him as the man who won the war.

    Statics saws that Gotha was not in Army active services since 1987 till 2005 November when he took over as the position of DS. A signal Corps Lt. Cl without any Army training for 18 years can win a war of 30 years where Professional soldiers other than GSF failed to eliminate the world worst Terror organisation can some one parachuted from USA do in 3.5 years?

    It is high time President Rajapaksa remove Gotha and allow him to take appropriate medical treatments to clear his illness he used as a weapon to leave the Army on Medical grounds. How can a man with mental problems allow to distrust a country belong to 22 million Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and other people?

  • 0
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    The question is how long will Jordan last in it’s present form with the ISIL ‘liberators’ already on it’s borders ?.

  • 0
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    It is impossible to assign motives or give reasons for the actions of the Rajapaksa. This is because many of us think using the intellect we possess. Rajapaksas do not think. Why cannot we believe that they are plain stupid?

  • 0
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    All the “Pandits” talk of “reconciliation, accountability, democracy, rights” etc. Well and good. Even the US is trying to “educate” more and more of the “population” by conducting training classes.

    My worry is: Why the “Tamil Politicians” who were representing the Tamils in the country DID NOT since Independence in 1948 try to work together towards “ONE NATION; ONE COUNTRY”. If that was the driving motive and the force, we would never have gone this far into DISINTEGRATION.

    As things stand today, we do not see and feel such a move by both parties.What has developed today is more and more DISINTEGRATION than a UNITED VISION. All “Leaders” including Politician and Civil Society, are contributing to and building the ROAD to DISASTER.

    • 0
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      douglas

      “Why the “Tamil Politicians” who were representing the Tamils in the country DID NOT since Independence in 1948 try to work together towards “ONE NATION; ONE COUNTRY”.

      The stupid Tamil minority was not in control of the state. Even GG Ponna’s support for the repatriation of upcountry hard working Tamils didn’t result in one nation one country.

      Please note very often the Sinhala/Buddhists conveniently forget the recent history of this island, amnesia strikes them too often and too hard. Even the history the Sinhala/Buddhists remember is the molested one, and now we have Bandas, OTC, Mechanics, and others to continue the best of their traditions churning out perverted and revisionists history.

      Could you let us have a working definition of “ONE NATION ONE COUNTRY”.

  • 0
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    Black hand, heavy hand, Victor Ivan’s questions and KD’s explanations go only towards scratching on the surface. Even if UNHRC will conduct a credible investigation what is possibly the outcome. Ok we remove MR and his goon Squad from governing Sri Lanka – what comes next.

    Can anyone including KD suggest a viable alternative?

    Since independence both major parties failed to deliver on all fronts.

    In the economic front the majority of Sri Lankans are still living below the poverty line. Those in government lived a life of absolute luxury.

    In the race relations front the divide has grown beyond repair.

    In governance checks and balances are almost nonexistent now.

    Murder and mayhem seems the only methodology available for those who are in government. Major pogroms since independence are attributable directly to those who are in governance – Sirimao’s SLFP orchestrated the hunting down and killing of close to 50000 disaffected youth in the early 1970s. JR oversaw the thousands of brutal killing, raping and pillaging of Tamils in 1983. In the 1990 it was the turn of Premadasa to be overlord of mass killings of JVP cadres as well as political opponents. In the 4th LTTE war in 2009 the Rajapaksa brothers were in charge are now facing war crimes investigations into the death of thousands of thousands of civilian Tamils.

    And the governance of Sri Lanka by killing under one pretext or another continues to this day. Human life is so cheap – killing a cow is not ok but killing a tamil, muslim or a Christian is ok.

    I wonder if anyone can come up with a viable suggestion as to how Sri Lanka could be governed as per the doctrines of democracy. In Sri Lanka the problems with governance seem intractable and murder and mayhem endemic.

  • 0
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    Native Vedda: Why go to hair splitting theories? The definition of “ONE NATION AND ONE COUNTRY” is in your own name “NATIVE” without that portion called “Vedda”. Drop those identities like Tamil,Sinhala,Moor etc. If preferred all of us can be NATIVE SRI LANKANS, living in one country called Sri Lanka.

    You, with your name “NATIVE” has given us the lead. Thank you.

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