Negotiations on the implementation of UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka that should be a diplomatic exercise to iron out the wrinkles are being subverted into a verbal political brawl by the defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his gang of supporters.
The chest thumping, airport tarmac kissing, self-declared patriot is now equating the UNHRC resolutions co-sponsored by the Sri Lanka government and the United States as being tantamount to treason. Resolutions against Sri Lanka were moved at the UN body during the tenure of Mahinda Rajapaksa as president and the futile fumbling and prevarications to thwart it revealed the diplomatic impotence and the bankruptcy of the Rajapaksa regime.
These resolutions are Rajapaksa’s baby. The alleged crimes and violation of human rights made are said to have occurred during his tenure of office. Rajapaksa’s baby was thrust into the arms of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government. Now Rajapaksa is raising hue and cry in an attempt to deny paternity of the hideous baby of his and blame cast on the UNP and the Maithripala Sirisena led SLFP for it. As a responsible government the leaders, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe are bearing the burden and attempting to resolve the problem in Sri Lanka’s interest.
The role of a responsible opposition when national interests of a country are threatened is to close ranks with the government and help the country to overcome any possible deleterious effects. But that would be quite unlike Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts. The least they can do is to forward their own solution to this intractable issue, if they have found one even in defeat.
What was their response to the serious charges levelled at their government when in power? It was pig-headed, naïve and bordering on the ridiculous. They denied any civilian killings. The 2-IC – Second in Command – of the ‘heroic’ outfit told BBCs ‘Hard Talk’ that there were no civilian casualties! The icing on the cake was that this 25-year-old conflict was described as a ‘Humanitarian Operation’.
This claim fits in neatly to the definition of a demagogue by H. L. Mencken: ‘A demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots’. There were and still there are many in Sri Lanka who will fit into Mencken’s description of idiots and believe Rajapaksa but not in the so called International Community.
Rajapaksa, whether he be in Medamulana, Mirihana or Kurunegala has issued a statement delving into history. The pledge given by the government to implement UNHRC resolutions is as great a betrayal comparable to the Kandyan Convention of 1815, he has said. Whether Rajapaksa with his red ‘Satakaya’ round his neck been seated in the Audience Hall 201 years ago on the occasion of signing of Kandyan Convention , would have flung the document into the Kandy Lake and taken to the hills after setting Kandy town on fire is a matter of speculation. But it is quite unlikely that he would have driven out the British from Lanka in the heyday of their power. Probably they would have cut off salt supplies, burnt their ‘Atuwas’ stacked with paddy and devastated crops as they did, killing and starving the Kandyans to death to quell the Uva rebellion of 1817.
Those who support diplomacy to defying international sanctions say that had we told the United Nations to ‘go to hell’ international sanctions may have resulted in a post Uva rebellion scenario, though not as severe. Recently we saw defiant Iran – the fourth largest oil reserves in the world – succumbing to UN resolutions. Little knowledge of history, particularly with regard to historical analogues, is a dangerous thing.
It is obvious Mahinda Rajapaksa considers himself a ‘Comeback Kid’. In a democracy we are entitled to free thoughts – even day dreams. But it is incumbent on him to say how he will respond to the UNHRC issue if he ever does make comeback.
With this futile exercise of throwing mud and stones at the incumbent government he is not achieving anything for the country. He is only trying to claw his way to power.
The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government has achieved much with diplomacy on this issue. Powerful nations hostile to us are adopting a much more favourable attitude. Sri Lanka has ceased to be considered an international pariah.
The main objection to the implementation of the UNHRC resolutions is the contention that it will result in foreign judges sitting in judgment over members of the Sri Lankan armed forces. No doubt much discussion would have taken place on this issue between Sri Lankan representatives and sponsors of this resolution. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has pointed out that under the provisions of the constitution foreigners sitting in judgment in our courts is not permissible. If so the Constitution has to be amended in parliament with a 2/3rd majority and ratified at a referendum by a two-third majority.
Thus it is not so simple as the signing of the Kandyan Convention as thought of by Mahinda Rajapaksa with his cursory knowledge of history.
The problem with defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts is that they simply do not understand diplomacy. That is why they locked horns with the most powerful nations of the world like a Hambantota buffalo charging into a ‘Walang Kade’ (Pottery shop) way down south.
Rajapaksa should give diplomacy a chance instead of adopting the stance of a village thug with his sarong tucked up calling aloud: ‘Ado, come for Pight’ (Sic).