Aborting the hard won peace to placate the implacable – III
Posted on November 7th, 2016

By Rohana R. Wasala

Continued from Saturday November 5th, 2016

Touching on the economic aspect of the current Sri Lankan problems, Draper quotes prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe as saying: It’s a history of missed opportunities”. We are told that here Wickremasinghe was referring to the unfulfilled economic potential of the country” during the Rajapaksa administration. He has told Draper that Rajapaksa’s agriculture-based model purported to be populist, but wasn’t really giving anything to the people, and was really meant to consolidate family rule”. Such assertions are contrary to available evidence. Economic growth which recorded a high 6-7% during the Rajapaksa administration has fallen to around 5-4% over the past twenty-one months.

Draper falsely maintains that Rajapaksa escalated the war against the Tigers. The truth is that like all his predecessors, he exhausted all peaceful approaches to come to a settlement with the Tigers. But they remained intransigent. So, Rajapaksa did what any responsible ruler would do to overcome rebellion against the state. Had Draper been better informed about Sri Lanka’s internal conflict, he won’t have made the following irresponsible comment about how the Sri Lanka army ended the war:

By mid-May 2009 they had slaughtered the last remnants of the Tamil Tigers along with trapped civilians. The war was over. In the end as many as 100,000 people have been killed”.

Isn’t this statement meant to have incriminatory implications against the Sri Lanka army, as required by the West and the Tamil diaspora, which are hell-bent on wreaking vengeance on the patriotic Sri Lankan leaders who defeated terrorism? To assert that that the army ‘slaughtered’ the remaining ‘Tamil Tigers along with trapped civilians’ is an utter falsehood. Those Tigers died in face-to-face combat. The unambiguous implication of the sentence ‘As many as 100,000 people have been killed’ is that the number refers to ‘the last remnants of the Tamil Tigers’ and the ‘trapped civilians’. (The allegation implicit here calls to mind Ban Ki Moon’s unwarranted comparison of the situation in Sri Lanka to the Rwandan and Sebrenica genocides.)There is a deliberate mix-up here, which only the very few sufficiently well informed among the target readers can be expected to correctly sort out. (Actually, 100,000 was the estimated total number of people killed over the 30 year long conflict, including civilians killed in LTTE bombings and massacres, and other terrorist attacks, and security personnel killed in action.) Why should the army kill the ‘trapped’ civilians? What benefit did they achieve by doing that? The army actually rescued 295,000 Tamil civilians held hostage by the LTTE as human shields, accommodated them as soon as possible, under the then prevailing difficult conditions, in livable camps, and looked after them until they could be resettled in their own lands. As much as 90% of the land acquired for security purposes was returned to the original owners by the previous government. Most of the demining of the land heavily mined by the LTTE (495,000 anti-personnel mines, 4900 landmines) was done by the army, leaving only a smaller portion of the job to be done by foreign NGO demining crews (contrary to what Draper implies). About 12,000 surrendered and captured young LTTE cadres were rehabilitated and returned to their parents; there were 530 LTTE child conscripts among them. Only about 200 hardcore cadres, charged with criminal offences including mass murders, burnings, abductions, etc are being held in prison until due legal processes deal with them. Draper’s claim that the government held ‘Tamil political activists’ indefinitely without charges is another big lie. There are no political prisoners (people held on the grounds of their political views) among them.

This is how Draper tries to justify Western intervention in our internal affairs:

Rajapaksa’s tyranny-of-the-majority vision for Sri Lanka was not sitting well with the international community. In 2010 the European Union halted the country’s benefits from certain sustainable-development and good-governance incentives on human rights grounds. Dissatisfied with the Rajapaksa Administration’s halfhearted war crimes investigation, the UN Human Rights Council commissioned one of its own in 2014. Under a withering spotlight, Sri Lanka seemed on the brink of yet another disappearing act”.

There has never been  any tyranny of the majority in this country. By the time the armed separatist terrorism was defeated, naturally, Rajapaksa had emerged as the most popular national political leader of the country who provided the most acceptable leadership to all the communities. Though this was good for the country, it was not looked upon with favour by the so-called ‘international community’. Correspondingly, for local politicians of rival political ideologies, Rajapaksa became a most hated figure because he represented a huge roadblock to their personal political ambitions. No wonder, Rajapaksa became a common target of these two camps.

Draper sees continued  army presence in the North at a reasonable level ( which is an absolute necessity in view of the still precarious security situation there) as ‘occupation’. If we apply his logic, we can’t station the army anywhere in the country without having it ‘occupy’ the land! But Draper’s skewed logic is apparent in the following completely untrue comment:

But the military—which until the 2015 election was headed by Rajapaksa’s brother Gotabaya—has been slow to respond to the new administration and continues to occupy some of the roughly 12,000 acres that it confiscated during the war”.

He advertises a similarly biased view of the constructive way the army was used under the earlier administration for kick-starting long disrupted development in the region (as a temporary measure) as done in the south as well (e.g., for urban development). In this connection, he shares the ignorant unreasonable attitude of the 46-year-old woman quoted in the following passage:

We have no confidence that we’ll get our land back,” said a 46-year-old Tamil woman who has lived in a squalid camp since the army seized her land in 1990. They’ve built a hotel on my property. They’re earning revenue there. Are you telling me they’ll just hand it back over to us?”

Draper is careful to connect the absurd ‘White Van’ abductions story (which used to be prevalent in  the south as well) to the missing persons issue by quoting another Tamil woman:

I lost my husband eight years ago. He was abducted in a white van.”

The writer completes his story (meant, no doubt, to be illustrative regarding the missing persons problem) about the 34 year unnamed Tamil woman by saying that she did not find her husband in the prison where she was hopeful she’d find him.

Draper refers to the extremely biased September 2015 UN document about (uncommitted, as we Sri Lankans know) war crimes document which, he says, cites ‘years of denials and cover-ups” on the part of the Rajapaksa regime.’ In the same context, he refers to what most rational Sri Lankans condemn as thoughtless betrayal of the country by the yahapalana regime: By not protesting the findings, the new government implicitly signaled it was ready to confront the truth”.

He says that Ranil Wickremasinghe told him, We will get a second chance – we’re already working on it”.  The PM acknowledged (to Draper) that it was crucial that an earnest attempt to make Tamils feel like part of a new Sri Lanka. They just want to lead a normal life like everyone else” according to Draper. No one would dispute these sentiments. Contrary to what Draper probably implies here (i.e., that Ranil’s words embody a revelation of something not appreciated before by others), that is what every Sri Lankan leader at the helm from the formidable D.S. Senanayake first premier of independent Ceylon (Sri Lanka)  down to the current incumbent Ranil-Maithri duo.

Since this article has become more than twice as long as I intended it to be, I don’t want even to  touch on the other fallacious arguments (about such things as alleged majoritarian tyranny, Buddhist fundamentalist extremism, etc.) that Draper advances in support of the ‘international’ persecution of my long suffering country or the ruining of the national peace achieved, at the cost of so much blood and tears, in 2009 with the defeat of armed terrorism. But the conclusion of his article which wraps up his grand theme must needs be attended to. A few days before meeting with the prime minister, Draper says, he had seen the fisherman’s wife in Jaffna. She had a photograph of 168 Tamil prisoners at a penitentiary somewhere near Colombo (all of them looked like men from Mannar to her) published in a newspaper; the men had their eyes blacked out, but she was able to spot her husband in that photograph. But when she located the prison and looked for her husband, he was not there, nor were there any of the men from Mannar she had seen in the photograph. (I am deeply suspicious of the authenticity of this story, for reasons that any careful reader of Draper could see; it sounds like a convenient fiction. But, be that as it may be.)

When he subsequently met with the PM, he asked the latter if the men were being held in secret detention in sites guarded by the military”. The PM replied that he had been told by the military that there are no such places.

Meaning …” (?)

They’re all dead,” he said.

Robert Draper concludes his essay with these words:

In June the Sri Lankan government acknowledged that more than 65,000 people have been reported missing since 1994. It also announced plans to create an office to investigate the disappearances and to issue certificates of absence” to families of the missing so they can collect benefits and, hopefully, move on with their lives. Assuming it does so, perhaps Sri Lanka will also move forward—consigning its ghosts to memory.”

I need not comment on this, because its implications are clear to my informed readers. Incidentally, before concluding, I think I should make a passing reference to the remarks of UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Rita Izsak Ndiaye, who was in Sri Lanka recently on a 10-day visit. Like journalist Robert Draper in the National Geographic, she also made certain egregious comments on Sri Lanka’s alleged ethnic problem, betraying her abysmal ignorance about our country’s history, culture, and current politics. She has suggested that a fully empowered independent commission for minority issues be included in the (proposed) constitutional reforms to implement mandates and foster relations between communities (as if there is a serious ethnic problem in the country – RRW). More shockingly, she identifies alleged ‘Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarian leadership as the main cause of minority grievances and the country’s civil war, and referred to the primacy given to Buddhism in the constitution ‘could lead to further suppression of and discrimination against minority religions and communities’! But there is absolutely no  religious or racial discrimination in our country which would justify such a censorious judgment against it. For the ‘international community’ to get poor Sri Lanka harangued and harassed by the Drapers and the Ndiayes of the world is adding insult to injury.


4 Responses to “Aborting the hard won peace to placate the implacable – III”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    People who write falsehoods and state untruths against the true situation about the conflict with the LTTE should be sued, taken to Courts and exposed for the whole world to see.

    A few wins in Courts where the false statements folk are exposed ought to stop the scourge of paid/hired journalists who live off falsehoods – most likely hired by the Tamil Diaspora that funded the LTTE for war against the State of Lanka.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    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 on both sides 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.

    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.

    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 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 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.

  3. plumblossom Says:

    The countries out to destabilize Sri Lanka and create an Eelam are the US, EU, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India alongside the TNA, other separatists and the LTTE terrorists. It has been extremely obvious this has been the case for the past almost two and a half decades not just now. Therefore it is quite good for all Sri Lankans to be informed about this fact and be very vary of this fact.

  4. plumblossom Says:

    The National Geographic Article about Sri Lanka ‘Can Sri Lanka Hold On to Its Fragile Peace?’ by Robert Draper in its November, 2016 issue is full of outrageous, total and utter lies about Sri Lanka and is extremely insulting to all Sinhala Buddhists and all the people of Sri Lanka. We hope that the Western media stop persecuting the Sinhala Buddhists by spreading such lies about Sinhala Buddhists for the sake of sanity.

    The article says that in 2015 that the present Sri Lankan Government has admitted that since 1994, over 65,000 persons (the reader is made to think that all of these are LTTE terrorists) have disappeared as admitted by the present Sri Lankan Government. However this is a total and utter lie. Actually in 1994, the Sri Lankan Government at the time said that around 40,000 perished during the totally Sinhala Maoist leftist JVP insurgency or uprising of 1987-1989 which was a totally Sinhala Maoist leftist JVP insurgency which was located in the South of the island and had nothing whatsoever to do with the LTTE terrorist conflict in the North.

    Of the rest of the 25,000 (65,000 – 40,000), the previous Sri Lankan Government appointed Paranagama Commission received around 24,000 complaints. However of this 24,000, 4,000 were duplicate complaints so it was only actually 20,000 complaints. Of this 20,000 over 5.000-5,800 were complaints about ‘missing in action’ Sri Lankan Security Forces members. Over 12,000 were complaints against the LTTE terrorists themselves recruiting young persons using coercion. Therefore 20,000 – 5,000 – 12,000 leaves 3,000 (as a maximum) outstanding complaints and even these must be those who were recruited by the LTTE terrorists and who then died in the war.

    How did 3,000 (as a maximum) become 65,000? It is a total lie! What the present Sri Lankan Government said was that in the country as a total there were 65,000 missing as a whole (meaning 40,000 from the totally Sinhala Maoist leftist JVP insurgency or uprising which was located in the South of the island which was a totally Sinhala Maoist, leftist JVP uprising and which had nothing whatsoever to do with the LTTE terrorist conflict in the North and this 24,000 from LTTE terrorism in the North). However the 24,000 as I said is 4,000 duplicates which were discarded, 5,000-5,800 Sri Lankan Security Forces who are ‘missing in action’ and 12,000 complaints against the LTTE terrorists themselves.

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