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Leading Sri Lanka Into the Abyss

by NILANTHA ILANGAMUWA

Another diplomatic battle has erupted against the glorification of the lawless and authoritarian regime in Sri Lanka. We understand that this panoptic regime’s political existence depends on plundering, not only the wealth of the nation, but also the personnel liberties of the people from top to bottom. As Frederic Bastiat said, “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

It was three days ago, that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who had the fortune to become the country’s Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, (purely because his brother became the President) said that the US has no right to meditate to solve the problems in this country. He said that while continuing to deny that weapons were given to the government sponsored paramilitaries which recruited thousands of child soldiers during the Civil War.

Telling to the United States to avert its eyes from the problems in Sri Lanka is laughable and pathetic, but is still understandable. On the one hand, the US is a large global power, has a far worse reputation, and regularly makes articulated arguments to undermine the rights of other countries. They gloss over their own problems while engaging in hypocritical diplomacy. This has been the case, not only from the day they started waging wars all around the world, but even in more recent times, such as their intervention in Libya, without even the consent of their own congress, as well as engaging another similar kind of drama in Syria, showing that the US is more than willing to compromise its claimed ideals in order to secure their strategic interests.

On the other hand, it is more than a little ironic that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has been railing against US pressure on Sri Lanka to deal with the crimes committed during the Civil War, when he himself worked for and gained US citizenship for his personal and political benefit during the war. Despite an honorable 20 year career as an army officer with extensive foreign training (including Advanced Infantry Officer training in the United States) and combat experience against the LTTE, he retired and immigrated to the US at a time when Sri Lanka needed experienced officers more than ever. While holding a well-articulated negative aspect on Sri Lanka, he was able to establish himself in the US. Nearly two decades later, he was suddenly fortunate to have a central role in the ruling party when his brother became the President.  Though, the Rajapaksa establishment is based on “popular patriotism” none of these US citizen brothers announced to the public that they were going to surrender their US citizenship, which is ideologically completely opposed to the “patriotism” which they marketed. Nor have they expressed any opposition to the United States’ meddling in Sri Lankan affairs by providing extensive training to the Sri Lankan military during and after the Civil War. Apparently, foreign interference is only a bad thing when it doesn’t benefit the Rajapaksa Regime’s political agenda.

It has been widely discussed that when the war started Gotabhaya Rajapaksa never had any confidence that the war would be won, though he later strategically changed his tack. Amazingly, at a later time while attending a live television program along with his brother the President, he told the media, that, he could runaway to US if Sri Lanka lost the war on terror. Now, this same person who holds a US green card urges the people not to trust the US.

There is a popular saying in the United States – sometimes attributed to John Wayne, Richard Nixon, or Chuck Colson, but no one really knows where it came from – that says, “When you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” This is precisely what really goes on out of the view of the public. As this writer declared years ago, in reality the bitter truth is that, none of Rajapaksas trust Sri Lanka or its people, and they seek to totally control both. They trust power and personal establishments in other jurisdictions, and their trust in China and Russia go only as far as their financial assistance to the island nation.

It is undeniable that the Rajapaksa Regime has led this country into an abyss from which it will be extremely difficult to extract itself. No one needs to go into detail to understand the scenario; the manner in which the regime conducts elections is enough to get a clear cut picture. Most of the nightmares, from the forceful eviction of Sri Lanka’s first lady Chief Justice to devastating wildlife to make a good for nothing air service in Mattala, the Rajapaksa regime has shown its ability to undermine the personal liberty in the country.  Rajapaksa is none other than a carbon copy of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. However, nobody knows if the US has any real willingness to help the people if there is a genuine anti-Marcus type rally to eliminate the delusions of the ‘elected’ dictator.

In this context, the message, “We don’t need leaders. We know how to deal with our problems. We do not need American advice on how to solve them.” will have a place in this “patriotic” nation until the people wakeup. That is our history, which has taught us to make the same mistake time and time again: keep the dictator of the feudal hierarchy in power while ignoring what we really need.

The third battle of Geneva is prevailing on this political notion. That’s the battle between, Rajapaksa and the people, between political lies and truth and reconciliation. Though I’m sure I’ll never receive an answer, I still feel compelled to ask Gotabhaya one more time, “If you are a true patriot of this country and deserve to hold a key position in the regime, why don’t you surrender your US citizenship?”

Over to you Gotabhaya.

Nilantha Ilanguamuwa edits the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily newspaper, and he also an editor of the Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives, bi-monthly print magazine. He is the author of the just released non-fiction, “Nagna Balaya” (The Naked Power), in Sihalaese. 

 

Nilantha Ilangamuwa is Editor of Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives. He also edits the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily newspaper. He is the author of the recently released non-fiction books, “Nagna Balaya” (The Naked Power), published in Sinhalese, and “The Conflation”, published in English. 

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