‘Right’ pacifies West
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in an interview with ‘The Hindu’ said that a domestic mechanism would probe alleged war crimes, allegedly committed by the then government and the security forces during the closing stages of the LTTE war, where the international community led by the USA and the EU has been baying for Colombo’s blood, at least prior to the regime change of 8 January 2015.
The previous regime antagonized the international community (discounting China and Russia) by its leaning towards China as a pretext to cover alleged corruption and human rights scandals and abuse.
The rot, by the very fact, probably set during the closing stages of its war against the LTTE, beginning with the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the editor of the then anti government newspaper ‘The Sunday Leader’ on 8 January 2009 and culminating by denying a visa to Sweden’s then Foreign Minister a few weeks later who wanted to visit the island in connection with the LTTE war just before its conclusion on 18 May 2009.
Sweden at that time held the EU Presidency. The fact that the EU is one of two of Sri Lanka’s largest merchandise export markets and its biggest tourism services revenue generation market was of no consequence to the previous regime.
What was needed was diplomacy both locally and internationally and not a ham-fisted attitude as was dished out by the previous regime in dealing with alleged human rights issues in its prosecution of its war against the LTTE and in its discourses with the international community as well as with the local media.
The mistake it made was by adopting the posture and character of the ‘Ugly American’ sans the military and economic muscle of the world’s largest economy, akin to ‘sheep in wolves clothing’, thereby not only being ineffective, but also by not even having a neutralizing effect vis-à-vis the international community.
The other alleged cans of worms of the previous regime, was corruption and foreign relations.
Politically too the previous regime was leaning towards China, much to the chagrin of the West and also the island’s closest and giant neighbour India, against which the world’s second largest economy fought a bitter, border war in 1962.
The sum total of these acts of omission and commission was the island being ostracized by the international community. Their trump card was alleged human rights abuse by Sri Lanka and calls for an international investigation of the same.
The previous regime denied the EU of such an international investigation by refusing visas to an EU panel of investigators. The consequences of this denial were the loss of the GSP+ duty free exports to the EU, hitting garment exports, Sri Lanka’s largest merchandise export and even ‘smaller’ exports such as ceramic ware, fish and bicycles.
The economic ramifications caused to the country by the West, slowly, but surely tightening the noose round Sri Lanka’s neck would have been greater, if not for the 8 January 2015 regime change, followed by the ‘certification of such change’ by the victory of the West leaning UNFGG at last Monday’s general election.
The UN, which policies are decided to by the West, its biggest fundingagent, was to censure Sri Lanka in March 2015, but postponed it for next month due to the January 2015 regime change. And after last Monday’s general elections, results viewed as being favourable to both the West and India, the island may be assured that the international community would give it further grace till March 2016, when it once more meets after September 2015 at Geneva, to sort out its human rights tangle, domestically.