By Emil van der Poorten –
Consequent to my protest at my column not appearing in The Sunday Leader on the 17th of February, I received a response from its editor stating that this was due to space constraints in that issue of the paper resulting from the need to report on the attempted killing of staffer Faraz Shauketaly. I am accepting this explanation in the context of this being the second instance on which this has happened at The Sunday Leader since the change of editor (and control) at that newspaper and on the assumption that future contributions will be published without any similar untoward interruption!
Last week’s column contained a North American aphorism., a part on the title line and the rest in the opening paragraph.
This week I will again use another (slang) expression from the New World avoiding the temptation to provide a detailed explanation of its content!
However, if any reader’s curiosity is sufficiently roused, I am sure a web search will provide the relevant information!
The most recent example of “it” was the umpteenth repetition of what has become a part of the bana that this regime preaches, the (very) tired “final determination” from our Lords and Masters that “Sri Lanka is a sovereign state and whatever its rulers do within its boundaries is no business of anyone else.” Not even Adolf Hitler, to my recollection, made such a sweeping claim, not even when he was seeking to exterminate the entirety of world Jewry. He then advanced the theory, no matter how spurious, of an Aryan superiority that transcended everything else and which required preservation by what is now referred to as “ethnic cleansing.” I do not recall even that monster of modern history claiming what amounted to blanket impunity, that what happened within Germany – “Greater” or otherwise – was solely the concern of those within its boundaries.
However, this is specifically what those who rule the Debacle of Asia (hereafter referred to as the DoA) insist is their untrammeled right. Incidentally, “DoA” used to be the common acronym for “Dead on Arrival” and this could also be accurately applied to the current state of morality in this country!
Anyway, let me get to the heart of this debate and say, unequivocally, that, no matter how flawed, the practice of the Responsibility to Protect, it is the only means by which any type of justice might prevail in the world, without whole nations being surrendered to every despot who chooses to use the shield of “Territorial Integrity” to practice unspeakable cruelty, torture and violence of every form leading up to plain and simple murder of its citizenry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anything resembling the Nurnberg Trial for war criminality would not have taken place if the type of thinking (principle?) proffered by our rulers had prevailed. After all couldn’t those who were arraigned in Germany after World War II have, invoked the principle of “Territorial Integrity” because every place in which those heinous crimes was committed was part of Hitler’s empire?
Every time international fora, such as the United Nations, seeks to so much as inquire about such matters, our self-appointed defenders of Sinhala Buddhist Civilization, begin the chant of “Territorial Integrity,” claiming it takes precedence over any and every requirement of basic justice. The pass to which we’ve come in this country, is evident enough by the rampant lawlessness that is our day-to-day reality where politicians and murderous, thieving thugs – one indistinguishable from the other – rule the roost. In fact, THAT is the need that is met by invoking this fiction of “Territorial Integrity,” protection of the monstrosity that passes for “governance” in the DoA and a justification for its perpetuation.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what is proposed as an alternative to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is total and absolute impunity in the name of “Territorial Integrity,” “National Integrity” or their fellow buzzwords, all of which do little except put murderous thugs beyond the reach of anything resembling investigation, leave alone charges being laid, trials being held and punishments meted out to those found guilty.
One needs to juxtapose these screamed slogans, repeated ad infinitum, against the blatant lies and half truths that have been spouted since the end of Eelam War IV. Then it all begins to make sense. The irrationality, I mean. The initial claims were that there were NO civilian casualties and our war heroes entered battle with the Geneva Convention (or was it the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?) in one hand and alms for the refugees in the other. The doctors serving in the area under siege were taken into custody when the war was over and then released to a “Media Conference” without equal in the history of modern conflict where they recanted every report that they had submitted about bombardment from land, sea and air, civilian casualties and their desperate calls for help. The “field commander,” as it were, for this example of unprincipled behavior was one whose professional oath (that of Hippocrates) opened with the command: “Do no harm!”
As the evidence of civilian casualties began to mount, the tune began to change, the blanket claims were “massaged,” first into an admission that “there could have been civilian casualties because those non-combatants could have been mistaken for Tigers in “civvies.” Then came a grudging admission that there “could have been collateral damage.” Being so full of “it,” our Lords and Masters couldn’t produce a nuanced retreat from a blanket denial to a grudging acceptance of the fact that it was not ALL Tigers who were killed at Nanthikadal. Impunity, after all, doesn’t engender an ability to retreat intelligently from tales that cannot be substantiated. It breeds arrogance and then violent denial of reality bred of fear once the fat’s in the fire!
A couple of years ago, we were told that the next Commonwealth Games were “in the bag” insofar as Sri Lanka’s bid was concerned. Remember? And remember the reality that the Gold Coast (very easily) won the bid, given that it was a foregone conclusion to begin with?
Then slightly further back in time, we were told that “next year, you’ll be pumping Sri Lanka petrol into your cars.” Remember? All the smoke and mirrors and all the sycophantic posturing of minions couldn’t, obviously, bring up crude from under the Gulf of Manner. Or was it, in the first place, a blatant lie uttered with no respect for fact?
As laughable as all of this might seem, rest assured that it is NOT a matter for hilarity because murder and mayhem, even if practiced by those with imbecilic grins on their faces, is just that: murder and mayhem. And death is the final destination, no matter who causes it. All of this adds up to the fact that, just because “They are full of it,” doesn’t mean that they are any less a menace to civilized behavior as we have known it in this country.
Read the Sinhala translation here. Translated by Yahapalanaya Lanka