Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa’s Action Replay In UK – Analysis

By Col. R. Hariharan

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s key note speech at the Commonwealth Economic Forum organised by the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and the City of London today was called off by the organisers “due to pressure of pro-LTTE elements in London” as the Sri Lanka High Commission claimed. Though the Scotland Yard was ready to provide assured security, the CBC “decided it was not in their interest to stage the event” according to media reports. However, CBC website merely said: “After careful consideration, the morning sessions of the Forum… will not take place.”

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa

The President is visiting UK to attend the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The cancellation of his CBC speech is reminiscent of his disastrous December 2010 visit. On that occasion his address at the Oxford Union Debating Society was cancelled by the organisers in the last minute for security reasons in the face of mounting protest from Tamil Diaspora organisations and human rights activists. The protesters wanted international action against the President for alleged war crimes by Sri Lanka army during the final stage of Eelam War.

However, President Rajapaksa and Mrs Rajapaksa participated in a number of other events organised on the occasion; these included the thanks giving service at the St. Paul Cathedral in London, the welcome ceremony for heads of state organized in the Buckingham palace and a lunch for the Queen organised at the Commonwealth Secretariat. There were protesters as well as counter protesters outside the hotel where he was staying.

Before the President leaves UK on the next leg of his visit to Rome, Tamil campaign groups in the UK – Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and the Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) – appear determined to launch legal efforts to highlight the responsibility of the President in the alleged human rights excesses committed in Sri Lanka.

The GTF in a letter to the Home Secretary sought the withdrawal of visas of two police officers in the President’s retinue as it was planning to prosecute them under the convention against torture. On the other hand, the TAG has written to the Metropolitan Police making a formal complaint against the President for alleged involvement in war crimes and requesting an investigation. As the President enjoys absolute immunity from prosecution, the move was clearly to embarrass him.

Timed to cause maximum damage on the occasion was a story splashed in The Guardian that dramatically described the two-week ordeal of torture of a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker at the hands of Sri Lankan authorities after UK deported him last year. This story coincides with the forcible deportation of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers by British authorities which has been on the increase.

The continuing woes of President Rajapaksa in handling allegations of gross human rights violations remind me of the ending of Hollywood director Mark Robson’s 1956 classic ‘The Harder They Fall.’ This last movie of veteran actor Humphrey Bogart based on the sleazy world of rigged prize fighting, is said to have had two endings.

Sportswriter Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart), who abets crooked boxing promotion, is troubled by his conscience in the end and demands that boxing be banned altogether. In the other ending, Eddie merely insists that there be a federal investigation of the prize fighting business.

The video version is said to contain the “harder” ending, while many television prints ended with the “softer” option. In the case of Rajapaksa’s human rights woes, Tamil Diaspora and human rights INGOs appear to have opted for the “harder” ending – promoted by Channel 4 videos and want Rajapaksa and company to be hauled up before the International Criminal Court, no less.

On the other hand, the majority of countries who voted for the UNHRC resolution asking Sri Lanka to be more accountable for its conduct and investigate the human rights allegations, appear to have opted for the “softer” ending, leaving Sri Lanka the option to impartially investigate the allegations.

In the context of Rajapaksa’s dilemma, a memorable dialogue in the movie by Nick Benko –the crooked boxing promoter – comes to my mind. He tells: “The people, Eddie, the people! Don’t tell me about the people, Eddie. The people sit in front of their little TVs with their bellies full of beer and fall asleep. What do the people know, Eddie? Don’t tell me about the people, Eddie!”

Unfortunately for the President, the people seem to know what they are talking about. There is no alternative for thorough and impartial investigation of all allegations – whether they are home grown or international. That seems to be the only answer. Otherwise, the “soft” option could turn “hard” and Rajapaksa’s future visits to the UK – say for the Olympic Games may well end up in yet another action replay.

Rajapaksa’s reluctance to squarely face the allegations of human rights excesses and take follow up action is not understandable. He is required only to follow the advice he dished out at the UN Day of Vesak Celebrations in Bangkok on June 2. On the occasion he said the teachings of the Buddha are relevant today as they were twenty six centuries ago. If the leaders of our modern world are to embrace this advice, many of today’s conflicts, both domestic and international, could be resolved for the benefit of mankind.

He added: “Justice and the Rule of Law are not alien concepts for those of us who from our childhood are nurtured by the doctrine of Buddha. These are, therefore not concepts that need to be preached to the converted.” All the so-called detractors of Sri Lanka are asking for is justice and rule of law. So what is the problem?

Sri Lanka’s problems are not going to be solved by cosmetic action like deporting two Channel 4 journalists from Colombo or organising counter protests. More serious action is required as time for introspection seems to be running out.

Col. R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka 1987-90.He is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E- mail:[email protected] Website: www.colhariharan.org


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SATP

SATP

SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

16 thoughts on “Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa’s Action Replay In UK – Analysis

  • June 10, 2012 at 11:33 am
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    The Tamil diaspora were not only pro-LTTE,they were also anti-Tamil genocide that is successfully and will be carried out by SL goverment by not only eliminating Tamils but also by replacing historic Hindu Temples and Tamil Cultural significants with Sinhalese Buddhist Viharas and Sinhalese Buddhist culture thus greatly reducing the status of SriLankan Tamils as natives of the island nation.I agree with this article which calls for an independent investigations on Human Rights abuse in the country.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm
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    With much reluctance I type a few lines. Whether tamil mobs living outside Srilanka likes it or nor the Terror organization in the Island is gone for good.If London likes to be dictated by the rump of the remnents, then not even the queen can help!

    Reply
  • June 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm
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    Hariharan has opted to make a complex issue with many facets look simple and easy to resolve. It is not.

    Today’s world is complex, and various groups use methods that are designed to indirectly achieve unstated ulterior objectives.

    While not condoning injustices and atrocities committed by various parties to the Sri Lankan conflict, one must not allow vested interests to hijack sincere attempts at reconciliation for their own nefarious purposes.

    For too long, Sri Lanka has been naive in not recognising and responding appropriately to these power groups. A new way of thinking must accompany retrospective thought on occurences of the past three decades.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm
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    In 1983 when LTTE was killing 13 Army personnel by their very first land-mine which was the very first mass killing against the security forces experienced by the Sinhala people and they were shocked. Because of this mass killing some of the Sinhala people were reacted against Tamils. After said incident LTTE has recurrently done mass killings ie. more than 500 solders in single attack, innocent Sinhala people keeping bombs in the buses & trains, pilgrims in temples, 17 Buddhist monks in Aranthalawa, 2500 years old Tooth Relic temple ..etc but Sinhala people didn’t attack innocent Tamils like in 1983 because they were able to differentiate LTTE and others. As a result 1000s of Tamils who came from the Northern Province because of the war were staying in Colombo and other areas safely. I am 100% sure Sinhala people including Army didn’t have any requirement killing innocent Tamils instead of that they wanted only to sweep up LTTE from the country. In fact President had the strong ambition and the leadership to do so unlike previous leaders and he did it on behalf of Srilanakans (Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim ..etc).

    We know clearly (100% ) President didn’t tell our forces to kill innocent Tamils in the war. During his regime (2005~2009) just before last few days of the war nobody has complained as our Army killed innocent Tamils but they blamed at last few days of the 30 year war. If President and his team were having intention to kill innocent Tamils they would have done it even prior to last few days (after 2005) but they didn’t do so. In case if some civilians killed in the last 10 days, it didn’t do intentionally and it would have happened during the cross fire because LTTE was keeping them as human shield. Why the international organizations (INO) who are complaining the GovSL didn’t request from LTTE, to release civilians? But what INOs have done was, while knowing LTTE’s defeat they requested GovSL to stop the war to safeguard the LTTE. But the country who have suffered a lot and faced immense drawbacks because of LTTE and their ruthless activities; will they (GovSL) stop at the last stage?
    Can anybody expect killing LTTE leader according to international war guidelines? Did USA kill Alkida leader according to said guideline? Did USA capture him entering to Pakistan according to international law? This is the practical reality of the war whichever country who suffered from Terrorist. This is valid for SL as well. Further, blaming at SL Army for rape cases showing naked bodies of LTTE carders also incorrect because once they taken either male of female LTTE carder into the custody, they used to naked them for the reason that they need to confirm whether they worn suicide kit as underpants. This issue is not facing by western Army’s when they fight with their enemies hence for them it may be unwanted. As they naked if someone blames at SL army saying they raped, it is inappropriate and also at the last stage when they fight keeping their lives in danger who will get sexual feelings? This should understand by common sense.
    President had led his forces to bring the peace for all Srilanakans. As a results especially Tamil people who had suffered in the war region are happy now though Diaspora is crying while luxuriously living in abroad receiving all facilities free (Dole) thinking that they will loose them in the future. This reality should understand by other countries including asylum facilitators. Indeed President has faced very uncomfortable situation in UK unlike other leaders but he can happy because he faced that as he is the only leader who eradicated world No.1 ruthless terrorist.

    Reply
    • June 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm
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      @Kavan rathnayake – Rajapakse regime is a terrorist Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid regime and running away from facing Justice.

      When regime change in Delhi takes place dumping the corrupt and collaborator UPA regime under Italian Sonia Gandhi, the climax will change in the politics in Sri Lanka.

      Tamil Nadu is boiling and Selvi Jeyalalithaa, the Iron lady has already called and demanded the Centre to declare Rajapakse as a war criminal and take him to the ICC.

      Time will tell all of us the end results buddy! By denying human rights, rule of law, Justice and transparency and terrorizing people, don’t dream that you can live in peace!

      Reply
  • June 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm
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    Col. R Hariharan, has no moral authority to write about sri lankan etnic problem.. Hariharan was a military intelligence office under IKPF.
    IKPF : came to srilnaka and Killed many innocent Tamil Civilians.. just to make sure Rajiv Gandhi’s peace accord been implemented.. what is , and why This Peace accord… To control Sri lanka under Indian – Russian fellowship ( This was in early 70 s m when India was a Puppet of Russia.. ) JR was moving towards Capitalism..
    In other words. Poor and foolish Tamil people paid a Ransom by their LIFE .. for Geopolitics of “GREAT” India.. Hence Hariharan.. PL. stop talking Hypocrisy for the sake of human kind

    Reply
    • June 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm
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      @damith, Indirectly Col. Hariharan is telling that you all are Sinhala Modayas. Tamil Diaspora is strong and growing in strength day by day!

      Sri Lanka and the Sinhala racists will not be in peace after committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Gota, Basil and Mahinda can’t sleep at night in peace as the ghosts are hovering above them.

      No history that a criminal regime existed for long and Apartheid takes time to end. Apartheid ended in South Africa, but Rajapakse has re-invested it in Sri Lanka. It will end and the Sinhalese may too suffer as this regime will turn against the Sinhalese who demand for Justice, Rule of Law, Transparency, Human Rights and democracy. When you or your family members are affected, you will know the value of the loss or sufferings!

      Reply
  • June 11, 2012 at 12:46 am
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    It is impossible that UK fail to hold such a meeting because of a few members of terrorist group protest. When western leaders travel Afganistan, even whole country against it , the meeting and public speeches goes ahead. So, this is not the reason for this called of. Security is not genuine reason for this. This imperialists support terrorist groups against Sri Lanka. They humiliate world leaders when they visiting their countries. It is understandable that why any terrorist group can lead protest in UK. Because these groups against the countries that UK wants to destabilize.Why Al queeda can not group and protest there? Why other countries can not follow Uk? Why other countries can not help Al quida to do anything openly like LTTE do in UK?

    Reply
    • June 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm
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      If the UK government wants they would have had the Rajapakse speech. There is democracy and rule of law in the UK and the Tamils can’t do anything.

      But the British government wants to slap in the face of the alleged war criminal Rajapakse and humiliate him in front of the global audience. That’s why it was called off and Rajapakse was running like a rat and hiding.

      Reply
  • June 11, 2012 at 9:12 am
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    Doesn’t hariharan realize these protests make rajapakse more popular at home , in fact he might organize more trips and speeches in London during election time. I am surprise he didn’t do a price increase like 33percent increase in fuel prices after the Geneva vote and still managed to remain popular.

    Reply
    • June 11, 2012 at 10:21 am
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      Is he really popular? Or is it the Bro G who is now hijacking the show. He need to be watchful.

      Reply
    • June 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm
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      @shandy – The purpose of anti- Rajapakse media and protests are to make him angry and make more mistakes and wrongdoings that will lead to a full scale attack on him and his regime.

      Rajapakse cannot visit UK privately as he may face arrest for war crimes and the Law permits it in the UK. Rajapakse is a criminal and evading from Justice and if the Sinhalese are behind and support a war criminal, they are only tarnishing their race and the world is watching it carefully.

      Reply
  • June 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm
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    Without protesting and blocking the president from speaking why don’t the active Tamil diaspora come to Sri Lanka and help the so called suffering Tamils with the funds collected in the UK. I gather the Tamil diaspora have collected something like 5 billion pounds. It is time they faced up to things happening in their birth country and come and help genuinely without organising protests when they are a proscribed terrorist organisation banned in UK and in the major countries all over the world. Are they angry that the war was stopped by the president – is that their grouse?

    Reply
    • June 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm
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      @sonia, why Rajapakse is running from facing the Law for alleged war crimes and human rights abuses?

      Why the Rajapakse regime is attacking the independent media and journalists?

      Why the regime deny independent international investigation of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka?

      It is only one answer: This is a criminal regime that has been committing war crimes, deny democratic values, principles and laws, committing war crimes.

      Reply
  • June 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm
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    I am utterly shocked that the British government is encouraging a proscribed terrorist group to organise protests in the UK. Why didn’t the UK government come forward during the past 30 years to stop the war crimes? Why now? The question arises why was the LTTE proscribed and banned all over the world in the first instance? High time the Tamil diaspora grew up and genuinely return to Sri Lanka and see for themselves and help their fellow countrymen. It is easy to shout and protest when they are not in their mother country. Come back and use the money collected to help your folks. The war and suffering is over now. Do they want to recreate another war? It is better to show love and mercy than resurrect old wounds. Move forwards and help your country as ONE NATION.

    Reply
  • June 30, 2012 at 10:35 am
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    The British and the Western nations proscribed ANC and branded Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and supported the Apartheid regime until it was ended in South Africa.

    Similarly IRA was branded as a terrorist organization by the British while they occupied Northern Ireland against the will of the people and the US was supporting the IRA.

    LTTE was a product of Sinhala Apartheid racism, state terrorism and Sinhala Buddhist hooliganism and it was supported and trained by the Indians under Mrs. Indra Gandhi, MGR and Rajiv Gandhi.

    LTTE Leader is recognized as a hero and a freedom fighter by the many Tamils all over the world including in Tamil Nadu. Sinhala leaders have failed to respect and treat Tamils’ rights, dignity, human rights, rule of law, freedom and there will never be a ONE NATION solution acceptable. Can you live with the mass murderers, serial killers, rapists and brutal torturers.

    Sinhalese must demand for an independent International investigation of crimes committed in Sri Lanka by all sides to bring the truth to all. There is no reconciliation without accountability and Justice!

    Reply

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