By Gunadasa Amarasekera
“The nationalist Rajapaksa, who ruthlessly put down the Tamil Insurgency in Sri Lanka was defeated in the recent election in part due to India and Western support for his rival.”This observation by an outsider Munir Akram, a former Pakistan ambassador to UN (The Wolf and the Fox-The Island 2/4) took me down memory lane. It also made me reflect on the modus operandi used by US and India to support the rival.
Thirty years ago in 1977 or so, I brought out a collection of essays to introduce the concept of Jathika Chinthanaya, wherein I commented on the so-called ethnic problem which was raging at the time. The NGO gang had taken it up and was blowing it to the high heavens silencing those who disagreed as racists and chauvinists. This is what I had to say, ‘There is no ethnic problem as such The so-called ethnic problem is a cover used to conceal the conspiracy that is being hatched by US- Western powers, using India’s role very cleverly to destabilize this country’.
At the last Presidential elections I brought up this conspiracy charge to inform the people as to why they should to vote for Mahinda Rajapaksa in order to defeat this conspiracy. The up roar, the bally-ho, the NGO gangs made surprised me. I had obviously touched a raw nerve, a sore point, a matter they would not confront. They were up in arms. A number of articles appeared pooh-poohing my assertion. One Fulbright scholar went to the extent of identifying me as the creator of this myth of a Western conspiracy.
I expected the Rajapaksa a government to take it up so as to awaken the patriotic feelings of the people who had sacrificed their sons to save this country. It would have been a very powerful appeal. The government could have put together all these activities resorted to by these enemies and provided a very convincing picture to the public.
This aspect was not only ignored but those of us who attempted to do so were discouraged. It was only in the last few days that it was taken up and that too in a very luke- warm manner – ‘some Western powers are against us’. Typical of the Rajapaksa policy of saving the beard as well as the cundjee – kedath, revulath beraganna.
This conspiracy had an external component – a role to be played by US and India and an internal component – a role to be played by their agents here. How these two components interacted and worked hand in hand is extremely interesting. My main concern is with the role played by the internal component- the role played by the local forces; but only an awareness of the role played by the external component would make it more meaningful and provide a comprehensive picture.
The external component –the role played by US and India had two main objectives. One was to bring the charge of Human rights violations against the Rajapaksa régime, This was taken up by the US and the Western powers. The other objective was to see the division of the country, facilitating the realization of the hopes of the Tamil separatists by insisting on the implementation of the 13th Amendment. This was taken up by India.
With the failure of the valiant efforts to rescue Prabhakaran the US and Western powers decided to change their plan and concentrate on a regime change. It was almost immediately after the defeat of Prabhakaran that the US state Department filed the charge of Human Rights Violations at UNCHR. Since then, US and the Western allies have affirmed this charge at every session and insisted on the need for an international inquiry. Ban ki Moon appointed an internal panel to provide the necessary evidence for an international inquiry. Darusmann report was the outcome. At every session since then the majority vote was against us.
The talk that Mahinda Rajapaksa and the army commanders would be hauled before the International court in Hague was circulated by the Western media. The media was used to the hilt. A number of films was produced to stress the point so much so that Chandrika Kumaratunge’s son after seeing one of them is said to have been ashamed to be a Sri Lankan.
This charge of violation of Human Rights was a pretext to threaten and intimidate Mahinda Rajapaksa to toe their line This is being gradually revealed by certain statements made recently by the champions of this crusade. Ms Theresa a powerful figure in the state Department had asked the UNCHR to soft pedal the issue and not put too much pressure on Sri Lanka. Similar sentiments have been expressed by some other powerful figures such as Biswal and Commonwealth Secretary Sharma. There is a rumour that there is a request by the US to postpone bringing charges at the March Geneva sessions. Is it the results of the recent elections that has brought about this change of heart? Is the election results a harbinger that their mission is on its way to success?
India’s main concern was to see that the 13th Amendment was implemented leading to the division of the country. Every time the President or some minister went to Delhi this was drilled into them. Modi showed his displeasure for not acquiescing. He not only showed no desire to visit us but also refused to attend the Commonwealth Heads Meeting. It is only now that he shows a change of heart and come over.India had not stopped at that. The RAW agents played a vital role in dislodging the Rajapaksa regime and bringing about the victory of the incumbent President.
The key RAW figure was K Ilango, RAW’s Colombo station Chief. His activities were not all that unknown to the Rajapaksa government. It was a brief news item appearing on December 28th the Sunday Times that disclosed RAW chief’s activities. ‘RAW Colombo station Chief K Ilango’s links with the common opposition had cost him his job’, was how it was reported. It was on a complaint by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to the Indian Security Advisor Ajit Doval that Illango was recalled. By then he had completed his mission. Reuters provided details of RAW agents activities without actually naming him. According to Reuter’s sources ‘he was indeed involved in facilitating meetings to encourage several law makers, among them Sirisena to defect from Rajapaksa’s party’.’
These Reuter reports have been dismissed by Mangala Samaraweera when he visited Delhi. However the political analyst K. Ratnayake (Lanka opinion 2015/1/22 ) has made this valid comment on this matter. “The Sunday Times report was ignored during the election campaign. Both Rajapaksa and Sirisena only hinted at their sharp differences over the alignment of foreign policy. They stifled a debate that could have alerted people to the acute dangers posed by Sri Lanka’s growing entanglement in geo-political rivalries. Rajapaksas who sought to whip up nationalist sentiments by portraying himself as a victim of an international conspiracy did not want to offend India and US and their conspirators by providing details of the plot.”
It was Sino phobia and Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tilt towards China that was at the bottom of this conspiracy of India and the US to dislodge Mahinda Rajapaksa and destabilize the country so that no opposition will come up against the hegemony.
Having delineated briefly the role of the external component I wish to return to my main concern to discuss how that external component-the external forces impacted on the internal component-on the local scene.
Here what impresses one most is the skilful subtle manner in which all this was performed. It was a wonderful performance. The puppeteers were not visible, the onlookers were made to believe that the puppets were acting on their own guided by noble ideals of Democracy, Human Rights and Good Governance.
The Minority Vote
A desperate attempt is made to make us believe that the Rajapaksa defeat is not due to the minority vote alone and that a sizeable section of the Sinhala Buddhist vote went against him.
There was a marginal drop in the votes for Rajapaksa in the urban areas where there was a disillusioned middle class and a lumpen new generation brought up on the Television-Face Book Culture seeking a change- a changed for itself. But the vote bank of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the rural areas was intact.
It is also claimed that the masses in the North and the East voted for Sirisena to win back democratic rights, good governance, freedom of speech etc; It is also claimed that there was no coercion, no influencing, no canvassing. They were made out to be true democrats who had a mind of their own!
To get a correct picture one will have to go back to some events that took place a few months before the presidential election.
After a number of monthly, weekly visits to Delhi, (the Tamil leaders were more in Delhi than in Jaffna), the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachichi (ITAK) had their 15th National Convention on 25/07/2015 where they passed 15 resolutions.
Resolution (1) states the purpose of the Convention- ‘We assure our people that we will take forward our struggle until we achieve the objective of autonomous rule in the North East, based on the principles of self determination and shared sovereignty within a united undivided Sri Lanka.’
Resolution (2) is a request to India and the International Community (US and Western powers ) not to allow the Sri Lankan government to breach the Indo-Lanka accord which is an International Treaty between two Sovereign States.
Resolution (3) the request is once again to India and the International Community to take urgent steps to halt the genocidal activities of the Government.
The last Resolution mentions the primary aim of this convention; if the Government does not change its course before the end of this year the fifteenth National Convention of the ITAK which met in Vavuniya on 5, 6, 7 September 2014 resolves to commence a non violence struggle in the lines of Mahatma Gandhi from January next year.
The opportunity for this national struggle to call the people onto the streets on Gandhian lines was provided by the Presidential election held on 8th January.
The call was answered by the Tamil masses. They came out in hordes – voter turnout was over 80%. Sirisena obtained 80% in Nallur, and 75% in Nuwara Eliya. It is certainly the active encouragement given by India that would have given the necessary gusto to the ITAK to challenge the Government with a struggle on Gandhian lines. It is that same gusto that would have flowed in the veins of the masses. All Arab Springs start off on non violent Gandhian lines.