Getting a bang out of Ban Ki Moon’s visit?
Posted on September 14th, 2016

By Rohana R. Wasala Courtesy The Island

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s impromptu remarks in the course of a lecture at Colombo Hilton on the eve of his departure from Sri Lanka after an official visit (September 2, 2016) comparing the Sri Lankan civil war to the genocidal conflicts in Rwanda and Srebrenica (in 1994 and 1995 respectively) exposed, for the umpteenth time during his two terms in the post, his petty  self-interest driven personal hypocrisy as an agent of western imperialism; the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe regime’s deliberate failure to demand of him an explanation of the utterly incongruent comparison shows its uncalled for servility to the West. The UNSG’s false comment and the government’s pusillanimous silence over it are prompted, not by any interest in promoting public good (which for us means Sri Lanka’s national interest), but by the selfishness of those characterless individuals. For international civil servants and leaders of sovereign nations to act in denial of the truth or to distort it for personal survival or the selfish desire to please the powers that be, is as inimical to the  whole of humanity as it is to individual nations.

Exposing of evil, whether done intentionally or involuntarily, should be seen as a positive thing, though. That is what we are witnessing here. Ban Ki Moon’s  blunder (probably a deliberate diplomatic ‘faux pas’ of some communicative value) and the Sri Lankan government’s unuttered, unnecessary mea culpa should be recognized for what they are: they are the obverse and the reverse of the same coin, which is the feigned attempt to bring reconciliation and peace to a country where there already is reconciliation and peace in the wake of the successful ending of the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009. This sham display put up by Western interventionists through the subservient puppet regime they helped install after electorally engineering the ouster of the popular well performing Rajapaksa administration on false grounds of corruption and misgovernment is doomed to just failure, because, in the process, they are only wrecking the peaceful coexistence that communities have always enjoyed in the country so far. Americans have always used this strategy to topple independent patriotic leaders of sovereign states who refuse to subordinate their own national interest to America’s geopolitical, and global economic, agendas. International (usually, western) media also support Americans up to the hilt in this. Foreign intervention is serving to revive the Tamil separatist terrorism that was decisively defeated seven years ago.

Deputy foreign minister Dr Harsha de Silva is reported to have said that Ban Ki Moon’s off the cuff remark  that the Sri Lankan civil war was similar to the genocides that happened in Rwanda and Srebrenica improved Sri Lanka’s image abroad. De Silva’s is an amazingly illogical conclusion, I am afraid. This inappropriate and totally erroneous comparison is not the only unacceptable thing Ban Ki Moon so confidently asserted on the occasion. He made frequent explanatory/incidental comments taking his eyes off the script on the lectern during his brief lecture of half an hour’s duration. He was quite clear about everything he wanted to say. He faulted (insincerely, no doubt) the conduct of the UN staff in Colombo in the last days of the conflict. He opined that many civilian lives could have been saved, had they acted in the proper way. At the same time, he stressed with equal vehemence that Sri Lankans also ‘made problems’. Ban’s questionable analogy was not accidental. He was only repeating a widely disseminated misconception about Sri Lanka’s culpability for war crimes and human rights violations. This reminded me of something I wrote in an article in The Island newspaper on April 22, 2011 entitled The 2011 TIME 100 Poll Results and Ban Ki Moon’s Big Bang”, that shows that Ban’s damning comparison of the Lankan situation to infinitely worse situations elsewhere was not new or unintentional:

The Channel 04 website on Saturday 16th April 2011 said: ‘A leaked United Nations report indicates “credible allegations” of Sri Lanka war crimes. Video first broadcast by Channel 4 News, showing alleged Tamil executions, formed a key part of the evidence’. In an interview on the same channel, Yoland Foster of Amnesty International, made a cogent appeal for “action”. What action is not clear. Other similar videos aired with talk about “Sri Lanka’s Srebrenica moment” with allusions to a massacre in the Bosnian War (1992-95) might hint at a worst case scenario”.

In his carefully scripted speech, he said, referring to the Sri Lankan civil war: ‘In the conflict’s decisive final stages, tens of thousands of civilians perished. The war was ended – an unquestionable good for Sri Lanka, the region and the world. But we also know that even in its ending, the price was high’. He had to say this in order to justify his reference to the Rwandan massacres, where he said more than one million people died (This was an exaggeration; the real number was estimated at 500,000 – 1,000,000, according to the Wikipedia, which is heinous enough, of course.) Then he asserted that ‘Sri Lankans are deeply engaged in a process of reckoning and reconciliation. The United Nations has also engaged in self-scrutiny. Reports by expert, independent panels that I appointed found serious systemic (the speaker said ‘systematic’, which was an obvious slip of the tongue) problems on the part of member states and the secretariat alike. It seemed clear that the fog of war had obscured the centrality of human rights’. (The few instances of bold type emphasis above are mine.)  Regarding our case, the panel report he has in mind is the damning Darusman report, which we know was not independent, and which was based mostly on misinformation provided by alleged victims. We also know that our own Paranagama investigative panel put the number of civilians dead at around 7000 as I remember (but this must be checked: what I want to say is that ‘tens of thousands’ is an unreasonable claim that grossly exaggerates the number of civilians dead). The ‘systemic problems’ allegation implicitly raised against Sri Lanka in Ban’s speech is a serious one, which means that the government of Sri Lanka deliberately, or as a matter of policy, allowed human rights violations to take place.

Ban further said that the UN learned many lessons from Sri Lanka, which implies that our country provided a powerful evil example of what to avoid in order to safeguard human rights around the world! He has effectively demonized Sri Lanka. He was completely oblivious to the war crimes and human rights violations that have been committed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and many other crisis points where American involvement is a causative factor of conflict. After learning from Sri Lanka, he ‘launched the Human Rights Up Front initiative, which aims to focus early attention on violations, before they escalate to reach a point of no return. This work often faces opposition, from repressive governments to individual hatreds. But we are determined to ensure that human rights are where they belong: at the centre of our decision making………….The watchwords for the path you have chosen are inclusivity, transparency and accountability’.

Contrary to the UNSG’s baseless prejudgments, Sri Lanka’s handling of its long drawn internal problem can by no means be regarded as a typification of human rights violations. The government that succeeded in defeating terrorism started infrastructure development in the conflict affected north and east well before the end of the war. Reconstruction began as soon as the government could address the problem. Resettlement of the displaced took time because the areas that had been heavily mined by the LTTE had to be demined and made safe for civilians. My friends who visited Jaffna just two years after the end of the separatist war told me that they couldn’t believe that there had been a war there! The transformation that the previous government had brought about in the former war-torn area was so swift. This despite the remaining terror sympathizers’ reluctance to acknowledge it. The progress that Ban Ki Moon saw, and thanked the current regime for, is actually the work of the previous government. The majority of Sri Lankans know that 2009 saw the beginning of a new era for a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka.

What spoilt it all was the element of foreign intervention that Ban Ki Moon demonstrated yet again on his visit. We are able to resolve our domestic problems peacefully if we are left alone to do so. The founding purpose of The United Nations, which is ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war……and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.., etc’ is being defeated today by the UN itself through its actual or attempted interference in the internal affairs of weaker member countries in order to promote the geopolitical objectives of the powerful western imperialist members of the organization. Ban Ki Moon himself said that UN’s slogan ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.. may sometimes ring hollow’ when we witness conflicts in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic and elsewhere ( where it is a known fact that the UN role of keeping the peace is obstructed or manipulated by superpower involvement).

Regarding Sri Lanka, the UNSG exceeded the remit of his official brief when he insisted on a constitutional reform process, and when he talked about ‘centrality of political will’ to ensure pluralism, reconciliation, sustainable peace, and a transitional justice agenda’ (the first three we already have, but the last is seen by the majority of us as an unnecessary imposition). Why should the UNSG comment on the importance of ‘the symbolic step you have taken of singing the national anthem in Sinhala and Tamil’? His insouciance towards us as an independent sovereign nation is exasperating when he says: ‘I urge you to return of (sic) lands to their owners; in parallel, the size of the military force in the north and east could be reduced’. The security forces are stationed where they are needed to ensure the country’s security. It doesn’t occupy civilian land just to spite the civilians. Besides, we know that over 77% of the land requisitioned by the security forces in the Jaffna peninsula during the trouble period (i.e., 21,134 out of a total of 27,259 acres) has already been returned to original owners in 11 phases since 2010, as Jaffna Security Forces Commander Maj. General Mahesh Senanayake revealed to a national newspaper, The Island (September 12, 2016). Ban Ki Moon did not stop at this. He demanded that ‘all four elements of post-conflict resolution: truth telling, accountability, reparation, and institutional reform’ (my emphasis) must be fulfilled. There is no problem about the first two. But what about the other two? Doesn’t reparation mean that the government is required to pay compensation even for terrorists who killed many innocent unarmed civilians and destroyed property and committed various atrocities, but who managed to escape justice, and yet are falsely reported to have been subjected to enforced or involuntary disappearances, or are alleged to have been abused in some other way? And what does Ban mean by ‘institutional reform’? Doesn’t it surely refer, among probably other things, to the defence forces? Which self-respecting nation will allow outsiders to dictate terms to it about the maintenance of its internal and external security?

We can understand that Dr Harsha de Silva does not have any idea about Ban Ki Moon’s crafty diplomacy. If he does, he won’t have said that the latter’s words have improved Sri Lanka’s image. This is a very disappointing observation one has to make about the deputy foreign minister of a sovereign nation. Just as de Silva is deriving some pleasure from being closely associated with the Ban Ki Moon visit (which he imagines has done so much to enhance Sri Lanka’s image), he seems to be deriving even more excitement out of the ‘free’ ambulance service that India has gifted to Sri Lanka through his alleged instrumentality. As can be expected of him, he is blind to the possible (nay, probable) scheming behind this project that is harmful to our country. Any three-wheeler driver may be consulted on the scheming part (Please ignore the conflict of interest aspect). If de Silva read local newspapers over the last two weeks, he won’t have missed two news items from India that bear on this topic. One was about a poor peasant who  carried home his wife’s dead body from the hospital mortuary like a log of wood on his emaciated shoulder; the second story was accompanied by the picture of a villager walking with his young son’s corpse drooping over his shoulder; the boy, who had been seriously ill, had just died on his father’s shoulder (probably, on his way to or from hospital, I can’t remember clearly). Can you imagine such a country providing a free ambulance service to Sri Lanka (where conditions in rural areas are not so desperate as in the philanthropist’s country) for nothing?

Dr de Silva cut an embarrassingly poor figure at the so-called ‘Occupy the Independence Square’ demonstration by some young people on the 5th or 6th of March this year. I need not comment on the incident. Interested readers may google for  a couple of videos of the incident that are available on the internet. To my mind, his conduct shows him to be too schematic a thinker.

My purpose here is not to insult or laugh at a responsible person like Dr Harsha de Silva, who is an educated young politician just beginning his career. Probably, he habitually wears his heart on his sleeve. Honest, educated politicians are a rare asset. It is our duty as older citizens to save them and the country from what I’d euphemistically call naivety.


3 Responses to “Getting a bang out of Ban Ki Moon’s visit?”

  1. AnuD Says:

    govt should have arranged TNA to meet the Ban Ki moon first. Then the govt can respond. Instead, they allowed TNA to meet last and TNA told worst negatives to moon.

    Who is wrong ?

  2. plumblossom Says:

    The UNSG Ban Ki Moon’s Outrageous, Total and Utter Lies With no Proof Whatsoever Regarding the Sri Lankan Conflict during His Speech in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is Insulting to the People of Sri Lanka

    The UNSG Ban Ki Moon’s statement that ‘thousands of civilians died in the last stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka’ at a speech Ban Ki Moon gave in Colombo, Sri Lanka on the 2nd September, 2016 is a total and utter lie, is outrageously wrong and an extreme insult to all the victims of the brutal terrorist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). If Ban Ki Moon makes such outrageous statements, it is better he has any proof whatsoever to show for it. His utter lie is totally deplorable, is condemnable and an insult to the people of Sri Lanka and the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka has had 26 years of conflict from 1983-2009. In this period (inclusive of the first, the middle and the last stages of the war), it is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist group who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members and also civilians.

    The LTTE massacred over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members over 6000-7000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians, 1,253 Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) members, over 2,000 Tamil Armed Group members who supported the Government of Sri Lanka and who were against the LTTE, around 3,000 Tamil civilians and all this add upto 47,000. Around 35,000 LTTE terrorists are estimated to have perished too. In all around 84,000 in total have perished in total in the war.

    As you can see it is the brutal LTTE terrorists who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members, Civil Defense Force members in over 26 years of war. Over 23,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are today both temporarily and permanently disabled due to the war. Over 13,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are permanently disabled due to the war. Over 156,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members have been injured due to the war. Over 6,000-7,000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians have been massacred by the LTTE terrorists in the war of over 26 years. Ban Ki Moon is insulting all these civilians who perished at the hands of the LTTE terrorists. Ban Ki Moon is also insulting all the over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members who perished at the hands of the LTTE terrorists.

    If Ban Ki Moon can prove the above statistics wrong, please do so. Otherwise please do not insult the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka and the thousands of Sri Lankan citizens who were massacred by the LTTE terrorists for over 26 years. Thankfully the Sri Lankan civil war is at an end.

    Regarding Ban Ki Moon’s deplorable statement further, the UN did absolutely nothing while the LTTE terrorist group recruited over 20,000 child soldiers, all Tamil youth, as attested by UNICEF itself which stated in 2007 that perhaps the LTTE has recruited over 20,000 young persons under the age of 18 years into its cadre between 1983-2007 inclusive.

    The LTTE terrorist group also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala and Muslim population of the Northern Province, of over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 Muslim people of the Northern Province in the 1980s and the 1990s. The LTTE also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala population of the Batticaloa District in the East of over 25,000 Sinhala people. The UN did absolutely nothing then too.

    Today, the Sinhala people and their descendants of over 135,000 are yet to be resettled in the North and in the Batticaloa District and Muslims of over 115,000 are yet to be resettled in the North. Uptil 2012, of the above number, around 32,000 Sinhala people and around 32,000 Muslims has been resettled in the North.

    The LTTE was notorious for its horrific terror tactics such as large scale bomb attacks and the use of suicide bombers in carrying out hundreds of attacks against mainly Sinhala civilians and the country’s leadership, horrific attacks against Sinhala civilians using IED devices, claymore mines and bombs, the massacre of Sinhala villagers in their villages in the North Central, Eastern, Northern and North Western Provinces, the coerced recruitment or abduction of Tamil youth and children for recruitment as child soldiers, forced money collection from Tamils with threats to life in case of non-compliance, attacks on Sri Lanka’s economic infrastructure such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka’s the then only international airport, oil storage facilities, hotels, planes, buses, trains etc. ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese and Muslims from the North and East of Sri Lanka, the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the systematic assassination of over 120 noteworthy Sri Lankan politicians, civil servants, senior military and police officers, prelates, activists, academics, journalists and other professionals who were assassinated by the LTTE who were but a few of the hundreds of assassinations carried out by the LTTE, including the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

    My plea to Ban Ki Moon is to leave Sri Lanka alone and for the UN to stop supporting once and for all, the brutal terrorists group the LTTE at least now. The UN has continuously supported the brutal terrorist group the LTTE while it massacred over 47,000 as shown above for over 26 years.

  3. plumblossom Says:

    The UN stated in May 2009 that around 7000 persons meaning almost all combatants (meaning LTTE terrorists) during previous year or so perished. These are not civilians as mentioned in the article. This is a totally wrong statement. Also during the same period over 5900 of our Sri Lankan Forces were also killed, apart from Sri Lankan Police Force members. So who killed over 5900 Sri Lankan Forces except LTTE terrorists? My guess is around a similar number of LTTE terrorists perished too i.e. around 5900 and not 7000 as suggested by the UN at that time. When writing articles it is best that facts are checked prior to writing such articles. In order for over 5900 Sri Lankan Forces to perish and additionally Sri Lankan Police Force members too, there was a large LTTE terrorist force along with the LTTE possessing a large number of weapons. So is it not totally logical that a similar number of LTTE terrorists perished too as I have shown? The LTTE terrorists are combatants are they not?

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