It’s war crimes stupid
Posted on June 9th, 2010

Editorial Island News Paper 10th June 2010

One day a father cleaned an infected jab-wound on his son’s left arm and was about to dress it when the latter requested that his right arm be bandaged instead. A puzzled father faulted the son for being so eccentric: “What do you know about wound-dressing?” he demanded to know. “Dad, what do you know about the brats in my class?” the boy asked. “The wound will be safe under my shirt sleeve but the dressing will only reveal where it is and the boys won’t do anything in school but poke it.” Father got the point and bandaged the wrong hand!The Rajapaksa government should learn from that clever child how to handle its adversaries without getting hit where it hurts most. The LTTE rump, hostile members of the international community, the anti-Sri Lankan INGOs and western media outfits know how to unsettle the ‘Colombo government’ and put it in a flutter. All they have to do to cause it to make a spectacle of itself is to repeat ‘war crimes’ charges and the latter behaves the way a bull reacts to a red rag.

BBC has done just that. It used former Army Chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s utterances about alleged war crimes and provoked the plain-spoken Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, known for his volatile temper, in an interview with HARDtalk and extracted what could be described as a juicy quote to discredit him and the country.

It is high time the government stopped overreacting to war crimes allegations as they are based on mere hearsay and concocted stories which only LTTE backers want to believe. One year has lapsed since the war ended but those who accuse Sri Lanka of war crimes have yet to furnish any credible evidence. If they had possessed any, they would have had a war crimes tribunal set up by now. What has prevented them from doing so is lack of evidence.

Gen. Fonseka’s equivocal statements on war crimes and his offer to testify before an independent war crimes tribunal should not be taken seriously. Initially, he claimed that he had heard through a journalist that the Defence Secretary ordered a ground commander to kill all LTTE leaders who had come out carrying white flags to surrender in the Vanni. Later, he denied having said so. Now, he is blowing hot and cold on the issue. It was he who boasted in Ambalangoda immediately after the end of war that some LTTE cadres who offered to surrender had been shot dead. With such claims he endeared himself to the masses in this part of the country to the extent of being invited to be the Opposition’s presidential candidate. Then he cooked his goose by trying to implicate his bƒÆ’†’ªte noire, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the alleged war crimes. Thereafter, when he realized his tactics had backfired, he said that he took the full responsibility for everything that the army had done under him while insisting that no war crimes had been committed!

Thus, there would be no need for anyone to hang Gen. Fonseka, if a war crimes probe were to be launched and he volunteered to testify before it; he would be putting the hangman’s noose around his neck himself. For, what he has been saying over the past several months including his famous speech in Ambalangoda and subsequent statements that he took the responsibility for all actions of the army under his command are well documented and could be used against him.

We bet our bottom dollar that the US and the EU will not go the whole hog to set up a war crimes tribunal to try Sri Lankan leaders, for two main reasons. Firstly, they do not have any evidence, though they are making a song and dance about cock-and-bull press reports and doctored videos. Secondly, they do not want to set a precedent as they themselves are the worst culprits where war crimes are concerned. Their armed forces have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan alone and those who must be tried for war crimes first of all are Presidents George Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and several other EU leaders responsible for the killing spree in those two countries.

3 Responses to “It’s war crimes stupid”

  1. PRIYAN WIJEYERATNE Says:

    Gotabaya is a straight talking patriot of the Nation. However, losing temper and talking his heart would not help Sri Lanka’s image. A better way to handle the situation is through an interpreter who can speak good English with perhaps with English accent. Professor Rajiva’s name comes to my mind. Both Mr. Gotabaya and Professor Rajiva should together face the culprits like BBC and C4. I think then the result would be much better.

  2. Rishard Says:

    I agree with the writer of this article. There are no war crimes committed in Sri Lanka. if at all the UN and some big mouths claim there have been war crimes committed they should first go to Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and investigate the ‘millions’ killed there before talking about Sri Lanka. UN should have only one standard for war crimes, not two, not three, not many. This is the civilized way.

  3. cassandra Says:

    Well said. Yes, it does seem that the government has over reacted to these shouts of war crimes – at least to those from some quarters – and too readily ‘risen to the bait’. Looking back on his interview with BBC 4, the Defence Secretary may feel he allowed himself to say things he might prudently have left unsaid. Of course, in the first place, there was no need to agree to be interviewed. It is his prerogative to agree to or decline to be interviewed; no reasons need be given. This sort of thing happens all the time in other countries and all that the TV station can do is to state that the person concerned declined to be interviewed. The viewers may not form a favourable impression of the person concerned but in most cases this approach ensures that the story ends there.

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