Many want me to run for President – Gota
Posted on June 14th, 2016

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan Courtesy Ceylon Today

Former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, speaks his heart out about his commitment towards the war heroes and stated they need to be protected from being investigated by the international community on alleged war crimes.
Gotabaya, who is anticipating that Donald Trump will win the US presidential election later this year said, it has been suggested to him by many Sri Lankans to contest the next presidential election.
Following are excerpts:
?: You recently inaugurated the national campaign for protecting the forces, (Ranaviru Surakeeme Jaathika Vyaparaya) held at Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Centre Auditorium on 6 June. What made you take part in that?
A: I was invited to attend the function. It is an organization that started in the 1980s. I attended for the first time as an invitee.

?: In your speech there, you had said that you can be the No. 1 if you wanted to. What does that imply?
A: Prior to my speech, everybody was asking me whether I was going to be the second-in-command in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) after hearing some media reports. Then I said, if I wanted to, I could be the No.1. What I meant was, not the number one position or number two position, but I am concerned about certain policies I believe in; unitary state, security and upholding the sovereignty of this country; not to ruin the victory after 30 years of war and protecting the soldiers. I said I would support anyone who would protect those policies.

 

?: Should that protection come through a political setup?
A: I will put my weight behind those who endorse those principles. But, when people heard the news that I am going to enter politics, many people asked me and it was discussed at the group meetings.

?: Your statement that you could be the No.1 could also be interpreted as you can be the next President of this country. Is that the thinking you have?
A: No. But people living here and outside the country always say come forward.

 

?: What does it mean, come forward?
A: Suggesting me to run for presidency.

?: Are you contemplating on that?
A: No. Not decided as yet.

?: Given a chance, and looking at the current situation about which you are not happy, why won’t you?
A: I have not decided yet, but it will depend on the situation and the circumstances. I just cannot plan now. I am not a politician.

?: Are you being groomed for it?
A: People are suggesting to me about taking up the leadership next time. That’s all.

?: In what context are they suggesting this?
A: Because there is no leadership in this country. That’s what many believe. This is not my idea, but their idea. They say there is no one today to lead the people. They say they don’t know what is happening to this country.

?: Taking up the leadership means you have to wait another four years or more. You have plenty of time to work on it, isn’t it?
A: May be, but this is what I was suggested.

?: Some have suggested that you should take over the second position of the SLFP. Will you take it up if offered?
A: No. That was only a suggestion. It was said by someone else. It should come from the Chairman of the Party. It has not gone to that level.

?: What are the challenges the armed forces are facing? You have been vocal about them.
A: As far as I see, the biggest challenge is that the war crimes investigation on them. In my point of view, it is very unfair to do any type of investigations, because today the people are enjoying this freedom irrespective of their ethnicity. This is because of the military, who were able to end terrorism. They sacrificed so much. It is misunderstood now. The war started in the late 70s. The first soldier was killed in 1980. The war went on under many leaderships of this country and the military served all of them. But, the LTTE was defeated under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s leadership. All those leaders of the past were also blamed for human rights violations from various sections of the international community. But the blame came only on the Rajapaksas.

 

 

?: All that information is known. But now the point is a few military personnel were identified to have committed war crimes and not the entire Sri Lankan military is blamed. Why do you talk about the entire military?
A: This is misunderstood. Look at the discrimination going on. When there are scholarships coming from the USA for military training programmes for the Forces, they don’t give it to a specific regiment. They name the regiment and the commandos. They name the Army Division. If you have served in the 58 division, you are not offered the scholarships. These things were not known to the people.

?: But the UNHRC is supposed to have named a couple of alleged perpetrators, hasn’t it?
A: No, you are wrong. For a few people, the entire Army has been punished.

?: Then what about the list of names that were to be revealed by the UNHRC and later removed at the request of the President, as he claims to have done?
A: That is the UN war crimes claims and they are going through the whole military regiment. That is the mistake. Who gave these evidences? It was the LTTE members. If you know what happened in Afghanistan, what happened in Sri Lanka is comparatively nothing. But where are the war crimes allegations against them? In Afghanistan, the US bombed a wedding ceremony where 58 people died. Where are the investigations for those crimes?

 

?: Did the US deny that incident ever took place?
A: No they did not deny.

?: But here the government denied alleged bombings on civilians, systematic killings and abductions?
A: Denials and accepting of crimes are two different issues. This incident in Afghanistan is a factual incident. However, the blame on the Sri Lankan Army comes from the LTTE cadres.

?: Don’t you think victims’ families have given evidence of alleged human rights violations?
A: Whom do you call victims? They are terrorists who gave such evidence against the army.

?: How can you call those victims terrorists?
A: So you don’t accept there were terrorists in Sri Lanka?

?: I accept that. But how can you call those people who gave evidences as terrorists?
A: Tell me how can you believe they were victims’ families? On what basis you believe they were ordinary people? Read the book by Thamilini. She was the head of the education of the LTTE. If she had been killed, do you think it was wrong? Many said it was wrong to kill Thamilsevlam, who was the LTTE’s chief of the political wing. They were combatants, but to the world Thamilini and Thamiselvam were not LTTE cadres, but political education wing leaders.

 
?: But, how can you say all of them who gave evidences were LTTEers?
A: How can you say those are credible evidences, is my question.

?: To ascertain whether they were human rights violators or those providing credible evidence, one needs to conduct an investigation?
A: Why no one is probing what is happening in Afghanistan? Why are they after Sri Lanka only?

?: The matter is on the agenda of the UNHRC and there is an ongoing review.
A: It is true and the government will have to face it, but I am personally against it.

?: So what you say is that no solider should be investigated?
A: No. Why should he? Can you tell me any of the presidents we had before could go to Jaffna and address the people there? We paved the way for that.

?: All that is true, but this is just an allegation and it has been taken up seriously. What should Sri Lanka do about it?
A: If they are allegations, why should the soldiers who fought the war go through such a process?
?: The UNHRC earlier wanted to reveal the names of those who were identified as alleged perpetrators, but President Sirisena said he got those names removed from the resolution and saved the country. Do you know who was mentioned in the UNHRC list?
A: I don’t know. Most of them in Geneva don’t know what was going on in the battlefield. They are sitting in air-conditioned offices and they don’t know what a solider goes through in the battlefield. Anywhere in the world for that matter it’s the same. Without knowing the situation they are blaming these soldiers for crimes.

?: But now they have found evidence of some crimes committed against the civilians that is now asked to be probed locally?
A: What sort of evidence is that? If someone says my son is missing, is that evidence to be probed?

?: But, if someone lodges a complaint with the police that her son is missing, the police begin an investigation, won’t they? Similarly, it has to be investigated to see if that is true or false, isn’t it?
A: Then why do you need the international community to handle it?

?: Then what is the alternative if there is a complaint lodged about someone being abducted and killed and they don’t trust the local legal process?
A: These claims were made during the war. Then what about the LTTE’s atrocities?

?: Does not the resolution say to probe the LTTE crimes too?
A: The LTTE is spread the world over. Then they should be named and probed too.

?: So you mean that not one civilian has given evidence to the United Nations Human Rights Office?
A: No. All of them are LTTEers. Take it from me. That is my view, and you may have a different view. I don’t accept any of these allegations coming from people and the international community.

?: You are not in power now, but still you talk like the Secretary to the MoD. How do you make out this difference?
A: The main difference is that during my period I managed to win the war.

?: Are you going to hold on to that war winning claim always?
A: Yes, it made a huge difference.

?: So are you powerful still?
A: No, but I am proud.

?: Is this why you want to do politics after being a public servant?
A: My whole family produced politicians but as far as I am concerned, I have not given a thought to it now.

?: With all the glorious status you have, still your family is alleged to be corrupt. What is your comment?
A: My family entered politics in 1936. Continuously we did politics for 80 years. Our ancestral homes were mortgaged to help the people of Hambantota. This is how we served the country. That is why people elected us for three generations and today there are nine family members in politics. But, for the purpose of defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa they called him a rogue (hora). Ousting him was definitely planned with the international body along with the then opposition party.

?: Do you mean gathering evidence against your family by the government is a joke?
A: I am summoned for inquiries all the time, but I am unaware why they do so.

?: They say they are probing corruption charges against you?
A: Those probes are leading to nothing, I must state.

?: Are you sure you will not be found guilty?
A: If I had earned money, do I eat dollars for breakfast and dinner? Do you mean I eat dollars every day? Then where are those dollar notes which they claim I earned illegally? I still live in my mother-in-law’s house. Of course, I served in the military and also worked in the US and earned a living.

?: Do you have a huge house in the US?
A: I don’t have any houses. I was a Secretary to the Ministry of Defence since 2005. I have not added wealth after I became the Secretary Defence. During this period, I did not gather money; I did not buy properties nor had company shares. I did not even have a foreign bank account.

Q Then why were you summoned to the FCID?
A: It’s political harassment and nothing else.

?: Were you not shown documents detailing your accounts etc, to prove that you have done backdoor dealings?
A: Anyone can show documents, but if I have not done anything wrong, what can I do? I don’t have any proof. If I own a hotel or too many houses or properties then one may suspect I had money. In that case, I should have eaten all the dollars I earned illegally. Don’t you think?

?: If you become the President of this country, what is the first thing you would do?
A: Of course there are lots of things to do. It’s not simple. But, I will put this whole mess on the right track. We are going reverse. Look at the economy and the development. Everything is at a standstill.

?: During your regime there was no freedom to do what people wanted to do. But now, you are allowed to hold meetings anywhere you want, talk about the ruling party. Aren’t you enjoying doing politics in this manner?
A: How come? There is a difference between Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. The UNP, then the main opposition, held so many protests. Do you know during our time, there were 35 protests held in a day? This was reported to us.

?: There are widespread allegations that the Prime Minister has cut a deal with you and is protecting you from being arrested on various charges. What do you have to say about it?
A: No. I have got a Supreme Court order not to arrest me. So, no one is protecting me. Anyway, why should I be arrested?

?: There are allegations against you, aren’t there?
A: You mean if there are allegations one should be arrested?

?: Isn’t the FCID summoning you to question you on these allegations?
A: So why am I being daily questioned by the FCID and by the Bribery Commission? I was called by the CID too.

?: Isn’t it because someone has complained against you?
A: So, does it mean I should be arrested over someone’s complaints against me? I have served this country. I am responsible for bringing peace to the country. The international community may not believe it because they are full of agendas.

?: Will you challenge the international community if you have the power?
A: Why should I challenge? India is the only country which could have stopped the military campaign. But, we had a good relationship with India. Also, many Muslim countries in the world voted for us. China too favoured us while Japan, which abstained from voting, invested in Sri Lanka. Pakistan helped us to fight against terrorism. We managed to destroy LTTE ships with the US support. This is how we got assistance from the countries. Just shaking hands with leaders around the world posing with them for photos does not mean we are maintaining a good relationship with other countries. What you get for the country in terms of development, fighting terrorism etc is what is called a good relationship. However, we had some issues later on.

?: The ‘issues’ that came later on have now turned out to be a big issue, hasn’t it?
A: Yes. We had different perspectives on many issues the international community applied to us. We did not agree to their calls.

?: Do you think the US has let you down?
A: No. That is their policy. We did not believe in their policy, that’s all.

?: But that issue has tarnished your family name?
A: Yes. That is a different issue, however. But what is important is, we serve the country.

?: What should the government do with the LTTE suspects who are in prison without any charges?
A: Who released the most of the prisoners? It was us. Who released 13,000 LTTE cadres after rehabilitating them? It was us. There were 5,000 detainees in the detention camps. They were arrested before Rajapaksa’s time. When we retired from the leadership, there were only 74 persons. Who released Thamilini? It was us. There are 206 LTTE suspects in prison. These ones should be tried in courts. That is what we wanted to do.

?: But why didn’t you do that?
A: There were delays in the court hearing. You know how court hearings are. There must be evidences and the process delayed.

?: What about Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP), the LTTE weapons dealer? He was not tried nor in the prison with the rest of the suspects?
A: Why don’t you talk about the 13,000 persons who were rehabilitated?

?: Why wasn’t KP rehabilitated or put in prison?
A: KP was rehabilitated.

?: For how many years?
A: About three to four years.

?: Why is he not allowed to move about freely?
A: He wanted to do something of his own and he is reintegrated into the society.

?: That is not true. We met him in Kilinochchi running his school but he is under army custody. They did not let us talk to him or take a photograph. He was warned over the phone not to entertain journalists. Why such protection for him?
A: He is a special case. May be you were there during the time he was being rehabilitated.

?: No. We met him at the school he runs even now. He was surrounded by military personnel. You know that for sure.
A: Other allegations may have popped up after he was released. These are military strategies I cannot divulge now. Why don’t you talk about the 13,000 rehabilitated ones?

?: We have interviewed many of those who were rehabilitated. But, we were curious to know why KP was given special treatment?
A: Why didn’t you contact me before meeting KP?
?: You just said he was rehabilitated and reintegrated to the society. Then we don’t need permission, do we?
A: Who stopped you? I don’t know but anyone is free to meet him.

?: But I was not allowed to talk to him. He could not speak as the military was watching him. Why was that?
A: Many had interviewed him. I have allowed many to interview him. I am not sure why they did not allow you.

?: That means he is under custody. Shouldn’t KP be tried like the rest of the prisoners?
A: He is rehabilitated.

?: There were nearly 35 bodyguards around him and he was taken to school and picked up from school by the military, I was told. What is the secret there?
A: That you must ask the army. Not me.

?: The JVP leader also wanted KP to be tried. The matter is with the Attorney General, isn’t it?
A: I don’t know. Ask the Department of Military Intelligence (DMI).

?: The rumour is that KP has the LTTE funds and the government took it and gave him a lease of life. Is that true?
A: I don’t know. In that case this government can probe that too.

?: Many say the government destroyed the culture of the North and made them dependent and a weak community. What is your response?
A: It was Prabhakaran who destroyed the culture. Who created child soldiers? Who put cyanide capsule around their necks? What about the suicide cadres? Who changed that horrible culture? It was Mahinda Rajapaksa who defeated him and today these child soldiers are going to school. He created the peaceful environment.

?: What is your solution to the burning Tamil problem?
A: I don’t think there is a burning question. It’s the Tamil politicians who claim so. We brought peace, gave security and freedom to the people. During the 30 years of war, people in the North were brainwashed. It will take some time to get those LTTE doctrines off their minds. What should be done is to create an environment for everyone to live as citizens of Sri Lanka with dignity. That is what is required. That is what is necessary for the North and East. Because of the politicians, countries are divided all over the world. With politicians who want to divide the country there will be no normalcy prevailing. Can you bring reconciliation by bringing various divisions among people of one country?

?: The Tamils were having an issue for the last 60 years and you say they don’t have an issue?
A: That is why we had a war. We should create an environment for all to live as Sri Lankans and not divide the country and that is the political solution.

?: Local media reports about military intimidation in the North creating fear psychosis. Even the UN experts who came here had said the same thing. International human rights activists also confirm it. Don’t you think everybody in the country should also change their mindset? Even the government claimed that the peace and reconciliation should come from the South?
A: There are politicians to take care of those small issues. The Chief Minister is there in the North who fights for such cases. They are always alert there. When there is a threat, the military and the police have to do certain duties. When that factor is still prevailing, they should take precautions with minimum disturbance to the population. You cannot just accept that everything is normal there. So we must create that environment and that is the political solution without dividing the country.

?: They say the South too needs to come forward for reconciliation. Don’t you see the importance of the South to be on the same line?
A: How many Tamil surgeons we have in this country? They have the freedom to enter the medical college and become a doctor. Similarly, how many government servants working in the Sinhala areas and how many working in the Tamil areas? We have accepted all those.

?: So there is no problem in Sri Lanka whatsoever?
A: We don’t have a problem.

?: What do you think about a federal solution that is now being put forward by the Northerners?
A: I am dead against that. Why do you need that? That will lead to a separate state. Federal state will lead to a separate state. This is a small country and must live as one country is my opinion. We have a system and we have a Constitution. Prabhakaran wanted the provincial council and he was happy with a PC system. They wanted the 13 A. Now they want federalism and the next they will ask for a separate state.

?: Anyhow, are you of the opinion that there is no issue between the Tamils and the Sinhalese?
A: There will be no end to these claims. At the end of the day, the Tamils keep asking for more and more. Even if you create a separate state there will be no end to it. We may have to fight over the borders similar to the ongoing battle between India and Pakistan.

?: There is militarization in the North. They say why do we need a huge number of military personnel when peace is prevailing?
A; The most number of military camps is in the Anuradhapura District and not in the North. Most of the people are ignorant of this.

?: The government is now ready to issue certificates of absence to the families of missing persons. Is that a good move?
A: Yes. We were also planning to issue such certificates. Who appointed the committee for the disappearance? It was us.

?: What about the issuance of a death certificate for Prabhakaran? Should that be issued too, as requested by India?
A: I don’t know. I don’t want to respond to that.

?: Some say he did not die but escaped?
A: Those are useless argument. I don’t want to answer anymore if you are going to dig into those old topics.

?: What happened to Pottu Amman, did he die? A widespread view is that his body was not found.
A: We believe he died. We did not find the bodies of most of the LTTEers.

?: Do you assume Pottu Amman was killed?
A: Yes, we assume that he was killed.

?: Now they are trying to appoint a new office for the missing persons. We don’t know how far the Paranagma report will be used. Do you know anything about it?
A: Paranagama mission was to find out about the missing persons. The report is not meant to be re done. His report does not have the power to do anything beyond that, but to report on the number of missing.

?: Mr. Paranagama told us there are some names in the list that need to be probed. These names were mentioned by the victims’ families. So there is legality involved in ascertaining the truth. He said a legal team needs to work on that list of names who will be asked to testify. Is that right?
A: This process is useless. I told
Mr. Paranagama it’s wrong to give names and suggest anything to be done with the names. If someone says this person committed a crime, you cannot believe it. It’s a one-sided story. What about the other side whether that incident actually occurred or not.
Mr. Paranagama accepted it was wrong. He said he had no time to investigate the claims of the people.

?: That means the report is null and void?
A: You may ask him. He told me he could not do a proper investigation on the claims by the victims. He took the one-sided story and made a report.

?: But, this report is accepted by the President and it was revealed to the UNHRC that the report is being done on the missing persons. So what now?
A: Yes. But he could not complete the findings accurately. I gave evidence there. I explained it’s useless to take down someone’s complaints and give a report based on that. That is wrong. It must be investigated whether it really happened or not.

?: In that case, nothing can be probed in Sri Lanka. No report can be made. All attempts are futile?
A: Exactly. That is why I said under the war situation, these reports are unnecessary. It’s a useless exercise. There was terrorism. It has ended now. If you keep going on digging the past you will never bring reconciliation. You will create more vengeance and nothing else.
?: But without seeing a solution to the past issues, how can we move forward? It’s about human lives?
A: In that case, why probe atrocities only in Sri Lanka? Why there is no resolution against the US for their war crimes? There were issues while JRJ, CBK were in power. There were killings too at that time. Why is it only Mahinda Rajapaksa? He is held responsible because he won the war and they are taking revenge. A few countries want to brand him. That is because of the LTTE Tamil diaspora. They are pushing for it. Diaspora can politically influence those countries. Now it’s the time to forget about the past. The LTTE killed and massacred so many Sinhalese. In that case, all that is needed to be probed and there will be no end to this topic.
?: The war crime issues are highly criticized by the Sinhalese too. They too claim violation against humanity has been committed.
A: The media is making them talk like that. What about the Kebithigollewa killings? Find who did that.

?: You were in power when that occurred. Why did you not find out who did that? Karuna Amman was one of the top politicians in your government. He could have answered that question?
A: It’s unnecessary to keep harping on this. Under the war situation all these happened. Sinhalese will agitate if the soldiers are tested. This government is not going to be in power always. The next government will take revenge. Trying to investigate all those alleged atrocities is a waste of time. Let’s put a stop to that era and move forward, is my view. You remember, we released 13,000 LTTEers.

?: No one thinks that the entire army should be blamed. Do you fear at the end, it will point at you? Is that what you fear?
A: Not only me, but a whole lot of people. That will happen and that will create unnecessary problems. They fought a war and then taking them for inquiries is not fair.

?: So the military should not be investigated at all?
A: No. it’s unnecessary. Think of the military’s mindset. We should not treat the war heroes like that.

?: Is this your message to all?
A: This is the view of the Sinhala people.

7 Responses to “Many want me to run for President – Gota”

  1. Christie Says:

    We defeated the Indian terrorist arm. India is still standing, that is the problem.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    I agree with and support Gota’s answers completely.

    No reconciliation with UNREPENTANT MURDEROUS SEPARATISTS is necessary. If anyone should REPENT and ask for FORGIVENESS it is the Tamil Terrorists and their supporters.

    This is like allowing the NAZIS, who murdered millions of innocents in WWII, to hound the victorious ALLIES on war crimes! Have the ALLIES EVER “Reconciled” with the Nazis the way the Sinhalet and the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka are being asked to do now?

    We, the PEOPLE of Sri Lanka were the VICTIM of the TAMIL TERRORISTS! We REFUSE to “Reconcile” with those who killed our innocent people! WE REFUSE TOTALLY!

  3. charithsls Says:

    A good omen will be if Donald Trump wins in the US.Please do come forward for the Presidential election. You will win.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Donald Trump has a good chance of being elected President, especially if Billary Clinton is charged for having violated national security by having a personal email server for classified documents.

    BTW, Trump’s candidacy has created a major opportunity for an enterprising entrepreneur to quickly make billions of dollars by making and selling DONALD TRUMP HAIR WIGS! Wow …. Billions!

  5. Dilrook Says:

    The interviewer seems to be influenced by Tamil racist nonsense going by the assumptions made. The interviewer asks a totally idiotic question “So there is no problem in Sri Lanka whatsoever?” after Gotabhaya correctly refutes the nonsensical ethnic problem. This proves some Tamil people think ethnic problem is the only problem of Sri Lanka! They obviously have got confused between Tamil Nadu (Tamil homeland) and Sri Lanka.

    1.Ethnic problem. There is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka has an ethnic problem, Malaysia, Canada, etc. should also have an ethnic problem. But they don’t which means there is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.

    2.Militarisation. Having military camps is not militarisation. If having military camps is militarisation, USA, India, Singapore and all democratic countries should have the problem of militarisation. This is yet another Tamil racist nonsense because the military is mostly Sinhala.

    Going by these racist Tamil assumptions, “ethnic problem” can be defined as “anything that counters Tamil racism is ethnic problem”.

    Similarly, militarisation can be defined as “anything that proactively or reactively counters racist Tamil terrorism is militarisation”.

    I don’t agree with all the answers given by Gotabhaya but agree with crucial ones. For instance, KP and 13,000 Tamil terrorists should have been allowed to succumb to the conflict than attempt to “rehabilitate” them. Terrorists cannot be rehabilitated. I also disagree with Trump. Due to his foul mouth, he may not win. He can easily defeat disastrous Hillary. However, if he keeps ruining his own chances among women and Latinos, he has no chance in winning.

  6. Kumari Says:

    I love to see Hilarious Clinton defeated. She is a war criminal just like Blaire and Bush (the Baghdad Buthers). If this murderous woman gets the power you can be rest assured the War Industry will have a field day.

  7. Sooriarachi Says:

    For the benefit of Ramaih Mohan, I wish to remind him of how other countries value their defence forces and protect them from International scrutiny.
    We all know that USA would not have bar of their soldiers or politicians being investigated by any International body, even though it is said that many US judges are political appointments, and too biased to hear their own cases.
    Even in the UK, quite recently David Cameron openly mentioned that the UK is grateful to their soldiers fighting overseas to protect their interests, and therefore, no international body would be permitted to investigate them, for alleged illegal actions overseas.
    In fact one of Britain’s Leading Human Rights law firms, Leigh Day, which took up cases against British soldiers for alleged war crimes in Iraq, is now on the verge of being prosecuted apparently by the British Government for alleged professional misconduct for failing to hand over evidence.
    This is what the Sri Lankan Govt also should do to protect the saviours of our nation, now being hounded by all and sundry, who shamelessly ignore the war crimes being committed by foreign nations as we speak.

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