26 September, 2020

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Why GOSL Fails Internationally

By JC Weliamuna –

JC Weliamuna

JC Weliamuna

This is among the many important challenges to the “democratically elected” Government of “democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka” (GOSL).  There may be various answers but let me offer five reasons why the present Government in the present frame of mind cannot win the support of the international community at the present moment.

  1. Professionalism in Foreign Relationships vs. Diplomatic Ambush

Politicization of the foreign (diplomatic)service started many decades ago. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is principally responsible for total-politicization of both  the Foreign Service as well as   the public service beyond restoration. He appointed his relations and party supporters without any exposure in diplomacy to key diplomatic positions in the same way he got his people to head and operate the key public institutions. Appointments are based on political connections, relationships and kick backs and nothing is on merit!

Diplomacy requires different background and skills and those who lack that exposure cannot deliver. Foreign relations are a well-studied subject the world over and all important countries invest heavily in improving the quality of their diplomats.  Diplomatic historians to scholars have written so much on foreign relations. Many universities the world over teach foreign relations aiming to understand the machinery of diplomacy and its role in contemporary international society. Those who learn diplomacy will recognize diplomatic theory, historical changes, innovations   and state craft. They also learn on negotiations, mediations, bilateral and UN conventions, multilateral diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, preventive diplomacy and transition regimes. They will have special exposure to international human rights mechanisms. All I want to emphasize is how important it is for the subject of foreign relations be handled by qualified professional diplomats.

Effective diplomatic relationships are not handled by ordinary public servants, officers of the Attorney General’s department, retired generals in the army or paid consulting firms.  The fact that a handful of individuals had managed to secure a diplomatic victory or two does not mean that that those individuals alone can run an efficient diplomatic service.  It is a different profession that can risk a future of a nation.

The Rajapaksa Government has chosen Minister GL Peiris to handle Geneva this time. It was Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe a few years ago.  Dr. Dayan Jayathilaka led it once.  Some time back, Sri Lanka sent hundreds of individuals to “attack” side meetings in Geneva organized by groups considered by GOSL as “anti Sri Lanka traitors”. Quite interestingly, Sri Lanka goes to Geneva with an idea of ambushing the conspirators and not to address the international diplomatic challenges Sri Lanka faces today. These “diplomatic units” are naturally guided by a brief prepared locally. With the anti-international rhetoric one can presume that such diplomatic briefs are a misfit internationally.

With “flatten” strategies, in my view, Sri Lanka has been at a disadvantageous position, even if Sri Lanka had a reasonable message to convince the international community to its advantage. In the absence of a professional team of diplomats, the international consequences may be detrimental.  Naturally, the important innovative opportunities in the international arena are not understood by ordinary Officers (non-diplomats). Officers of the Attorney Ganeral’s Department (who form part of the group) have a tendency to see this as only a legal issue. International diplomacy is not a pure matter of law. On the other hand, when these groups fail on the floor, the national leaders, who trust the teams, tend to believe that the international community is crazy!

When the so called Diplomats fail in basic diplomatic functions such as lobbying, the government resorted to hire expensive commercial firms to lobby USA.  This becomes worse when individuals with vested interest grab the opportunity to earn a fast buck out of these lobbying contracts. Why should we pay so much for lobbying firms, if we have professional diplomatic officials in the US capital?

  1. Mixing Internal Politics with International Relationships

After the conclusion of the war in 2009, the focus of the Rajapaksa Government changed from winning the war to consolidation of the regime.  This was done with a well planned scheme, backed by a strong and costly intelligence and propaganda mechanism, coupled with a militarization strategy.  President Rajapaksa became the voice of the victorious forces as well as the Sinhala Buddhist majority. The Government left no room for any other to clinch the credit for the victory.   It strongly promoted the unification of ideas while silencing or rejecting possible future political challenges.  After the defeat of the LTTE,  the regime was looking for a suitable imaginary enemy – this time they seem to have settled with a whole club of them in one basket – the diaspora, the west, NGOs, United Nations, Human Rights Council etc.    Utterances of ministers Wimal Weerawansa,  Mervin Silva and GL Peiris or the President himself are seriously not different to one another.  On 9th July 2010, minister Weerawansa (who holds collective responsibility with other ministers) conducted a well planned, state sponsored and above all, a most comfortable “hunger strike” in front of the UN Office against the appointment of the Expert Panel by th UN Secretary General. “I will fast until the U.N. panel is dissolved and Ban Ki-moon gives an assurance that he will not label the soldiers and political leaders who brought peace to Sri Lanka as war criminals”. Minister Peiris took a strange position that everyone in Sri Lanka has a right to protest.  We all know that is not the case but it is certainly the case if the protests are against UN and other international actors.

What Sri Lanka  witnesses today is a pre-meditated misinformation campaign at public expense, where the GOSL has also become a victim of being self deceit. The worst part is that foulmouthed and ferocious individuals are deliberately picked up for key positions in the state-owned media to attack identified individuals, groups and organisations. (Not for a moment do I say that private media has been great; rather GOSL has indirect control of most of the private media as well.) Consider the appointment of the present editor of Daily news, who writes most defamatory and repulsive editorials and Chairman of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, who conduct most disgusting  programmes –  with impunity. These editorials and hate programmes are used from time to time to promote hatred against the international community for a purpose. Naturally, once such public opinion is created, and the GOSL cannot extricate itself from it.

Sri Lanka’s most important neighbor is India, whose international cooperation cannot be taken for granted. Trade relationships with the West cannot be ignored. Long standing strategic relationships we had with USA and Scandinavian countries cannot be destabilized.  That is however not important now. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka has ONLY one yardstick to measure foreign relationship now – whether they support the Geneva resolutions against Sri Lanka. If so, Sri Lanka will use all platforms to attack those countries as being “conspirators”, “LTTE supporters” and “being bribed by the diaspora”. This illogical approach has commenced   at the national level and gone into the blood of the policymakers of the country.

Susan Sontag, writer, film maker, literary icon and political activist with enormous experience in conflicts, said “authoritarian political ideologies have a vested interest in promoting fear, a sense of imminence of takeover by aliens”. We do not probably need the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to confirm to us that Sri Lanka is fast moving towards authoritarianism. The manner in which GOSL responses to international community confirms it! Then winning international community becomes an enormous challenge.

The short-term advantage of bringing international challenges to domestic platform  is meant to build up support for the Rajapaksa regime at elections!   All international challenges are well used by the regime to consolidate their political position. International pressure is therefore welcomed so that there will be a common enemy to unite the likeminded opinion and to suppress domestic political challenges.

  1. Ideological jumble

Partly, Sri Lanka’s international failure is associated with an ideological war.  The government and the hard-core think tanks and nationalists have managed to infuse an ideology, in order to maintain the post- war euphoria and Sinhala Buddhist domination.  In order to achieve this, the regime directly and indirectly promotes communal and religious disharmony.  Sri Lanka has an ideal environment to do so with the deliberate emasculation of Rule of Law.  The condition is worse with the Ministry of Defence virtually controlling, directly and indirectly, a greater portion of civilian life of the society including law enforcement, development, recreation, business and strategic decision making at all levels.  Hundreds of churches and mosques were attacked in broad daylight and these continue unabated with impunity, not only because of the collapse of Rule of Law but also because, such hatred is promoted as an ideological tool.  In that background, GOSL is unable to answer a single Rule of Law-related issue successfully in an international forum. Nor is there any willingness by the regime to change its attitude any time sooner.  Instead, the GOSL comes out with rhetoric that s opposition and NGOs are tarnishing the image of the country!

Same is true with how government conducts international affairs.  It appears that the government is confused with internal ideology and global political ideologies.  We do witness different political ideologies – and in addition different dialogues based on philosophies & political theory,  such as North South dialogue etc.  GOSL is trying hard to sell Buddhist values, ongoing development in the North or 2500 years history of Sri Lanka but nothing is connected to international politics at diplomatic level. The issues are not raised on whether GOSL follow Buddhist values or whether GOSL does not develop the country.  There are many other countries older than our civilization. However, with the ideological jumble, GOSL is unable to take a stand!

  1. Hypocrisy on Human Rights and not being Truthful

President Rajapaksak new the importance of human rights when he went to Geneva in 1987/8. He was among the leading political figures in the Mothers’ Front, which worked against disappearances during the then UNP regime.

It is important to realize that the international human rights do not depend on few Western nations as alleged by some, rather it is a collective contribution of a combination of individuals, organizations and progressive states. I am not defending attempts to manipulate human rights by any state. International human rights have now progressed much beyond President  Rajapaksa’s pro-human rights era. The world now recognizes the universality of human rights – meaning human rights is important anywhere in the world, irrespective of geographical limitations.   Let us not forget that human rights that we speak of today had evolved though human experience.  I have heard the President and many others boasting that Sri Lanka has learnt human rights from Buddhism for over  2500 years but are we practicing them now? In any case, what is being discussed under human rights is certain legal rights, not limited to religious values alone. Almost all religions have promoted certain aspects of human rights.

In my view, the only way to meet the global  human rights challenges  to be genuine in the commitment to protect and promote human rights.  If Sri Lanka addresses human rights issues genuinely, no other country can point fingers at us. Why we fail internationally is because we do not do it genuinely. Look at Ratupaswela attack, ‘grease yaka’ attacks in Jaffna, Katunayaka FTZ attack, killing of journalists and ongoing attacks on media institutions, attacks on churches and mosques and so on. Sri Lanka does not address human rights issues genuinely. Quite contrary, the government has nasty reactions on those who raise the issues and undesirable denials on each of those instances.

Government portrays human rights as a devastating philosophy.  Those who promote the vision and ideology of the regime continue to denounce human rights. World does not think so.  At the end of the day, the regime wants public to reject human rights because human rights poses an alternative human vision to the dominant vision of created by the regime itself. It is not too late to realize that the international human rights have developed so rapidly that any anti-human rights front cannot cope up with the fresh challenges. This is the stark reality for GOSL when openly condemning human rights for survival.

Coming briefly to Human Rights Council Resolutions, the GOSL probably believe that all those who favor are in homogeneous group i.e. Tamil Diaspora.  It is time to realize that for diverse reasons different groups, nationally and internationally,   support those Resolutions.  Those reasons include genuine grievances against GOSL such as unbearable impunity in the country.  After all, judging from how Chief Justice Bandaranayaka was impeached, what hope an average person could expect from law enforcement mechanisms to protect him or her.

In my view, even the call for a war crime tribunal can be handled without further damaging the reputation of the country if the GOSL is frank. Take the proposal for a South African type of Truth Commission.  If the Government is willing, I am sure the rest will fall in line. However, the Government of Sri Lanka should be frank and must be genuine about coming out with the truth.  Let us not forget that In the South African model, there was a precondition for reconciliation i.e truth is not negotiable. If  the GOSL is willing to come out with the truth of what happened, then the mode of reconciliation can take different penal or non-penal sanctions.  If GOSL is willing to be truthful – unreservedly- I have no doubt the international community will support such an initiative without any hesitation.  I might also add that the GOSL must be willing to accept the good and the bad side of it willingly and truthfully.

  1. Vested Interest  

The last challenge Sri Lanka has is the vested interest factor. Genuine interests of Sri Lanka are not addressed by our international policy makers today.  In my analysis, Sri Lanka has been a victim of state capture by a few individuals. Also connected to this group are a few intellectuals holding strategic positions. They see the international challenges to the country as an opportunity for them. They do exploit this opportunity rather than making a contribution to resolve the issues affecting our foreign relations. Think of how Sri Lanka is spending millions of dollars on contracting diplomatic work to foreign PR firms in US.  I cannot understand  why and under what legal authority Central Bank of Sri Lanka spends Billions of our Public Finance to pay US Public Relation Firms.

If the GOSL is genuinely interested in addressing the international challenges, probably the best way is to respect governance-related recommendation of the LLRC.  If they do so, then immediately, there will be an effective accountability mechanism and the public service will be extremely independentThere will be a level playing field to impart and gather information. In my view, in such a situation, the business of patriotism, which has now become a monopoly of the Regime, will be seriously challenged by the people themselves.  GOSL under President Rajapasksa and the coterie of political appointees will take all measures to prevent that happening.

Conclusion

Sri Lanka is passing through its weakest period in international politics, since Independence. Despite opportunities, GOSL has not tried to correct its errors. All tools of the GOSL are used to invest in a non-achievable inconclusive ideology, which are without doubt used against our own friends, whom we have now made our enemies.    It is time now, to stop moving in this ruinous. In my view, the only way to correct is by being frank and truthful to our own country (without rhetoric) and to the global community.  If not, we will end up in self deceit.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    2

    Sri Lankan State founded on the lop-sided Mahavamsa philosophy has failed.

    It is time to conduct ‘requiem mass” to Mahavamsa and move on with modern fair and equitable model to take along the ethnic and religious groups inhabiting the island for millenniums.

    • 3
      0

      Thiru

      How can you forget militarization of diplomatic services?

      • 0
        1

        Veddah, Nor only the Diplomatic Services, the whole Public Service is Politicised!

        Government of Sri Lanka spends so much on Free Education and then appoints uneducated sycophants (who are only interested in their 10%) to oversee the performance of Specialists in Education, Medicine and Engineering.

        Does the GOSL not see the mass exodus of these Specialists to other Countries that appreciate and value their Expertise?

        It is not only Asylum Seekers that leave the Country!

    • 2
      1

      It is time to burn all the copies of Mahawansa.It had perverted our thinking and it is full of lies

  • 7
    12

    JC Weliamuna

    You quote Susan Sontag as saying, “authoritarian political ideologies have a vested interest in promoting fear, a sense of imminence of takeover by aliens”. This is exactly what the fascist LTTE rump is doing and this fear mongering is being used by the US and its allies to justify their political engineering in Sri Lanka. Human rights groups and alarmists like you are aiding and abetting this campaign.

    • 7
      3

      On the cotrary P.C Welliamuna’s citing the authority of Susan Sontag’s contention about authoritarianism is appropriate and fitting as the GOSL headed by the President is following in the footsteps of the LTTE in every detail.
      To the GOSL Human Rights,Truth & reconciliation etc., is similar to a beam of light to Dracula.
      So how can one expect the MR regime to be frank and genuine about coming out with the Truth for Reconciliation?

  • 3
    3

    JC Waliamuna doesn’t get it. The so called “international community” were more than prepared to give the government a free pass as long as it agrees to give a substantial amount of Prabas demands to TNA.

    Rather than trying to explain things he doesn’t understand he should think long and hard why they are failing locally. The traitorous bunch are awaiting another humiliating defeat in western and southern provinces, not because Mahinda is competent but only because the opposition is hijacked by a bunch that have no respect towards feelings and aspirations of common citizen.

    • 5
      2

      and it is quite true that Mahinda is a human rights hypocrite. He didn’t care about mothers or sons when the JVP was getting hunted down. He used the opportunity to undermine the state just like Ranil/Mangala duo is doing now. Not sure why we should give Ranil/Mangala a free pass just because Mahinda used to be an opportunist.

      • 0
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        Liberal One, It is futile blaming the opposition. Mahinda Rajapaksa has decimated the opposition. The opposition has no voice and no influence. If they did, they could have had a useful role in helping Sri Lanka. The problem is Mahinda Rajapaksa himself. He lacks a moral code and the courage to stand up for good values, thus subordinating his political ambitions. Instead of making decisions based on political considerations he should be guided by morality. That takes courage which sadly he lacks.

    • 2
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      “the opposition is hijacked by a bunch that have no respect towards feelings and aspirations of common citizen. “

      Actually the opposition (UNP) is being highjacked by MR himself and his opposition affairs minister (RW) performing his rightful duties exactly as his Master wants.

      • 8
        1

        Why the GOSL fails in outside world is:

        a) They appoint former army men marginalizing senior diplomats only for their personal gains – See, how can a tea business man do the job a senior diplomat – but corruption and relatedness is above everything for MR regime – Jaliya W, a candidate even without Alevels represent the nation in Washington today- If MR is not an idiot he could have learnt all these from Bandaranaikes who are well talented to have maintained cordial relationships with any foreign community.

        What has Shavendra Silva as credential to get on Diplomatic areas to qualify him to that his current UN position ?

        What has the guy appointed in Australia, former man from forces, to do the job in diplomatic areas ?

        What qualifications does the chairman of highly bankrupted national carrier today? …. Only qualification is … Rajapske want his uneducated wife to feel FINE.. by appointing his brother in law to the position…. Entire airline has become a ridicule to enitre world today.

        This lists go on few hundreds of kith and kin of Rajapskse are appointed to please and appease them with higher jobs not regarding the qualifications.

        Can a plumber or carpenter do the job of a surgeon ? Yes you can so long Rajapskses are on your side, providing you assistance to function you as a surgeon, but claims of all those patients would arise if not today but tomorrow.

        b) DJ himself fearlessly added his view as to why those European foreign offices failed to do the due – it is lack of skill workers and ones without years long diplomatic experience have been appointed to those positions, by president and the oligarchy itself to comfort and please their relatives and henchmen ( only basing on OUR MAN principle)

        c)

        • 3
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          I agree with your point C)
          GOSL is void , Kaputh, Blank

          • 1
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            Are u perhaps, from Germany to use foreign words such as Kaputt or Blank ?

            • 2
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              Kaput has entered the lexicon of the English speaking Western world. It is used here in the US.

            • 0
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              Blank is a foreign word?
              Kaputt is common

        • 0
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          Unless MR realize the gravity of his actions and reverse them, his kingdom will be short lived. I hope the citizens will pay attention, realize and take action at the next election. This I consider solely as an internal discomposure. However, what I observe now is that the Tamil diaspora is trying to take advantage of this situation by mixing it with the poor outcome of their war to separate the country.

  • 2
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    Mr.Weliamuna
    you missed one important point.

    Mahinda and his brother Gota thought that after defeating LTTE Sri Lanka has become a super power. They thought that all the western powers will bow to them indefinitely

    Mahinda/Gota behaved liked Blair/Bush era of axis of terrorism and “either you are with us or you are with them” rhetoric

    They misread the situation partly because, as you point out they did not have seasoned career diplomats to guide them through the complex web of international diplomacy.

  • 1
    0

    If you search for tenderness
    It isn’t hard to find.
    You can have the love you need to live.
    But if you look for truthfulness
    You might just as well be blind.
    It always seems to be so hard to give.

    Honesty is such a lonely word.
    Everyone is so untrue.
    Honesty is hardly ever heard.
    And mostly what I need from you.

    I can always find someone
    To say they sympathize.
    If I wear my heart out on my sleeve.
    But I don’t want some pretty face
    To tell me pretty lies.
    All I want is someone to believe.

    Honesty is such a lonely word.
    Everyone is so untrue.
    Honesty is hardly ever heard.
    And mostly what I need from you.

    I can find a lover.
    I can find a friend.
    I can have security until the bitter end.
    Anyone can comfort me
    With promises again.
    I know, I know.

    When I’m deep inside of me
    Don’t be too concerned.
    I won’t ask for nothin’ while I’m gone.
    But when I want sincerity
    Tell me where else can I turn.
    Because you’re the one that I depend upon.

    Honesty is such a lonely word.
    Everyone is so untrue.
    Honesty is hardly ever heard.
    And mostly what I need from you.

  • 5
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    I would like to add that Dayan J is also a POLITICAL appointment and NOT a career diplomat.

    And we all remember Tamara’s performance in Geneva :-) another political appointment !

  • 1
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    Weliamuna,
    All you points are good in theory. But you don’t need to worry about anything if you have money to spend. That is how the power houses in the west work. Some campaign contributions to the right politicians will take care of everything. How do you think Saudi Arabia is enjoying life even with violating every law of human rights?

    • 0
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      Exercise caution in your statements. Saudi Arabia might kidnap you for sentencing!! We don’t want to miss you.

      • 1
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        Dont worry, you will never miss me. I will always haunt you with realities of politics.

  • 0
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    In principle I agree with most of JCW’s views save the one in which
    Sri Lanka or its Army cannot be relied upon to investigate themselves.
    With such hoaxes as the now-withdrawn “Zero casualty” nonsense, we
    hardly can claim the required credibility.

    I have heard JCW speak in public platforms and now this narrative. I trust he will not feel offended if, for the position the positions he enjoys entails, he should have his future material whetted for quality
    in prose and diction – such as the one that comes out of his neighbour
    the CPA.

    R. Varathan

  • 1
    0

    Why GOSL Fails Internationally ???????????

    Because of scu7ms like JC Welimuna, Basil F’do of AHRC, [Edited out]Sothy, Jehan[Edited out] and the likes sc(you)ck up to their paymasters hidden agendas.

    Tjhey are in it for the $$$ jarawa.
    If they call thermselves qualified people, why not engage in something that is usefull or beneficial to the Country?
    Free education & subsidised rations the cause.

    Like the Catholic eelamist clergy….. We are first tamils and then catholics.
    First jarawa thern country………
    AND
    Sampanthan, we want peace but back Nazi Pillay’s report in Geneva.
    Blowing hot and cold with the same breath.

  • 0
    0

    Brilliant analysis.
    Shows what happens when we elect uneducated yokels into positions of power.

    • 0
      0

      So should we elect educated dollar suckers instead?

  • 0
    0

    What is this guy talking about ?

    Is he saying that the Sri lankan government is not responsible for the serious human rights violations it had committed or by having right people in right places and becoming genuine etc, that it could get away even if they had committed such crimes ?

    The plain truth is that the government has committed war crimes and it has to face the consequences. Question then is who has the moral authority to find the government’s guilt? US (or the international community- another word for US) has no such moral authority.

    May be Weliamuna is trying to cover up the US’s interventionist policies in Sri Lanka? UNP says that the issue not whether Sri Lankan government carried out such crimes or not but whether the Sri lanakan government is defending itself professionally and adequately enough or not? Weliamuna repeats that while trying to wash his hands if there was an intervention.

    Weliamuna,in his capacity as an asset of INGOs operating in Sri Lanka, must be certainly privy to the discussions on intervention strategies of the US, held in the cocktail parties at western embassies in Sri Lanka,US State Department lobbies, international Human Rights organizations,EU Headwaters, local NGOs/Rights organizations etc.

    So he has reasons to cover up the actions of the offender (US)-while saying not a word whether US is intervening in Sri Lanka or not and not explaining why, if so.

    Weliamuna’s charlatanry cera

  • 1
    0

    JCWeliamuna has set out a fair but depressing explanation for our current diplomatic debacle. I would say that like the proverbial rotten fish, our diplomatic forces are putrid from the head downwards. Our diplomatic service is a mishmash of 1.political appointees of limited vision, 2.favoured relatives of unproven capabilities, 3.a few professional diplomats who find themselves hamstrung by the people in 1 and 2, and finally, a rabble of sycophants and time servers whose only ambition is to be noticed sucking up to their masters higher up the food chain. There is no discipline in this important arm of government that passes for the external affairs ministry. As for the government itself, witness the unchecked tolerance of outrageous undermining behaviour from a slew of ‘ministers’, each one trying to outdo the other in disrespectful and demeaning statements aimed at people we need to professionally engage with. All of the above take their cue from the devious President Rajapaksha, the mealy mouthed GL Peries and a coterie of the like-minded – who lack sincerity and integrity in their dealings and have gained an international reputation as men whose word cannot be relied upon. There are myriad suggestions for improvement, but for now, and with this set-up, the outlook is indeed grim.

  • 0
    0

    All these promoters of human rights who are vocal here did not uphold the human rights of the victims that were terrorized and massacred by Prbhakaran and his band of terrorists for 30years. In fact they have been the cash contributors, aiding and abetting Prabhakaran and promoting his vision of Sinhala and Muslim free Tamil state in the Island. Now those who sided with that ogre have suddenly become defenders of human rights of the terrorists and those who sided with them. What a turn about!

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