Sri Lanka celebrating independence in chains of its own making
Posted on February 9th, 2018

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First of 2 parts 
Bangkok: Sri Lanka is celebrating” this month 70 years of independence from British colonial rule, yet at no time since gaining independence in 1948 has Sri Lanka’s sovereignty stood threatened as it is today. One could say that Sri Lanka is celebrating independence in chains.

The strategically placed Indian Ocean island is an important lynchpin in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which Western powers—especially the United States and Britain—are keen to sabotage as its success would end their hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

How it started
Sri Lanka’s predicament started in early 2009 when the country’s armed forces were about to crush one of the most ruthless terror groups in the world – the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In April 2009, British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner made a beeline for Colombo and met the then President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brother Gotabaya Rajapakse to call for a ceasefire under the pretext of saving civilians which the LTTE had taken as human shields. Rajapakses told them in no uncertain terms that it was not on and Sri Lanka would crush terrorism once and for all.

Sri Lankan forces had already opened a safe route” for civilians to escape and it was the LTTE that was not allowing them to do so. On May 19, 2009, Sri Lankan forces finally crushed the LTTE, killing their entire military leadership in the battlefield. It was no doubt a bitter bloody end to the conflict, but, many civilians were able to escape to the safety of the military, thousands more were killed in the final battle as well as an estimated 4,000 Sri Lankan soldiers. The formidable LTTE propaganda machine of the Tamil diaspora in Western capitals such as Toronto, London, Oslo and Washington were left unscathed, and with an estimated war chest of $300 million, they immediately went into action claiming war crimes with 40,000 civilian deaths, which many Western media reported uncritically (fake news” as President Trump would describe it).

Milliband and Kouchner who went back like humiliated bullies, were quick to pounce on this propaganda with some of their own, to mobilize the international community” that included many of the Western media and also international human rights organization and even the United Nations that included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) head Navi Pillay (an ethnic Tamil from South Africa). They used arguments of accountability, though conveniently ignoring the fact that none of them have accounted for war crimes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. They embarked on a campaign to destabilize the Rajapakse regime, which was enjoying tremendous support within the country for ending a 30-year-old civil war.

Geopolitical factor
There was another factor—geopolitical issues arising from Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the middle of important shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean. When the West refused to sell arms to Sri Lanka, threatened to cut aid and take the issue to the UN Security Council (that would have forced a ceasefire and saved the LTTE), it was China that came to Sri Lanka’s aid. If Sri Lanka was allowed to get away with it, this would have encouraged many other developing countries to take the same path, ignoring Western pressure. With tacit support from neighboring India—which was worried about China’s incursions into the island such as building a port and an airport—the West mobilized its media, human rights organization and the UN, with Ban Ki-moon and Navi Pillay happy to join the bandwagon.

The Western media ignored the frantic rebuilding efforts of the Rajapakse regime where soldiers—without their guns—were working with Tamil civilians to rebuild their homes, roads and bridges destroyed during the war. This effort was mainly aided by Asian countries such as China and India. The Western media kept on harping about accountability for alleged war crimes. Britain’s Channel 4, for example, regularly broadcast unauthenticated video clips shot on mobile phones, provided presumably by the LTTE diaspora, claiming evidence of war crimes by Sri Lankan forces.

Having accused Sri Lankan armed forces of indiscriminate killing, Ban Ki-moon appointed a UNSG panel of experts (POE) in 2011 led by former Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darussman to submit to him a report. The Sri Lankan government refused to cooperate. The New York-based POE collected information by calling for submissions on their UN-based website. Failing to attract much interest, they subcontracted a Toronto-based so-called independent, non-partisan, human rights organization Center for War Victims and Human Rights (CWVHR) which provided sample letters and canvassed the Tamil diaspora to submit these to the POE. When it produced the report claiming to endorse the 40,000 figure, the Sri Lankan government questioned its credibility. But the UNHRC used the report to mount an accountability campaign against Sri Lanka leading to a UNHRC resolution in March 2012.

This campaign put enormous pressure on the Rajapakse government with threats of Western economic sanctions. At the same time, the West funded many NGOs within the country to mount a pro-democracy and anti-corruption campaign against the regime, especially the Rajapakse family. This succeeded in unseating the Rajapakse regime in January 2015, when the president unwisely called an early election. Many young voters were swayed by this NGO propaganda.

Asian version of ‘Arab Spring’
This was an Asian version of the Arab Spring,” which the West was able to successfully implement to the disbelief of many Sri Lankans. President Maitripala Sirisena, who defected from the Rajapakse government, was elected on a yahapalanaya (good governance) platform to rid the nation of endemic political corruption. But, what has followed is a cunning manipulation of the political system to serve the needs of Western powers. The divisive issue of framing and adopting a new constitution has taken over from rebuilding the nation. There are attempts to retrain” the military to serve US needs in the Indian Ocean. And the worse of all, the government has been entangled in the worst financial scandal in the country’s history perpetuated by the Governor of the Central Bank who was personally appointed by Sirisena’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. The latter is currently doing his best to cover up the scandal.

This scandal, which has been widely reported and debated in Sri Lanka has been hardly covered by the Western media. This multi-billion rupee bond scam has drained the treasury leading to the government doing a deal with China to pay off debts by granting a 99-year lease of the China-built and -financed Hambantota harbor last year. The government is believed to be negotiating a similar deal with India for the adjoining China-built airport.

While we cannot expect the Western media to question the credibility of a government that is subservient to the West, the tragedy is that the Asian media has not picked up on this story. If the West succeeds in recolonizing” Sri Lanka, next in line will be countries like Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia that are also strategically important for China’s BRI. (To be continued tomorrow)

2 Responses to “Sri Lanka celebrating independence in chains of its own making”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Good analytical article here by Kalinga Senevirate, for which we thank him.
    Kalinga, we like to add INDIA to the list of “next in line” countries !

    ———-

    A very pertinent question to ask is : Why do Tamil Leaders of Sri Lanka want a Separate State for themselves only and this approach started way back in the 1920s whilst Lanka was still under British Rule ?

    Lesson Learnt is : Never allow serious ‘divide & rule’ Systems to operate in Lanka ?

    Most of Lanka’s troubles come from nearly 500 yrs of Colonisation, Cold Wars & Tamil CASTE Wars, and the strategic Location of Lanka in the Indian Ocean and proximity to INDIA, and the earlier break away Sub-state of Tamil Nadu area (now contained through PM Nehru’s Anti-Secessionist Law of 1963).

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    Well, this is the big picture that I have always been trying to hammer into idiots in Sri Lanka. This is a continuation of Arab Spring in Asia by other means. If they succeed in Sri Lanka there are other dominos lined up ready to fall. We just have to tell the Western Christians that Asia is not Middle East!

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