Challenging Gotabaya’s Citizenship Hypocrisy of Democracy Promoters
Posted on October 6th, 2019

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The civil lawsuit against the Pohottuwa presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa exposes the hypocrisy of democracy promoters. GR, from an American citizen, became a dual citizen in 2005 – almost 15 years ago. To question its integrity in court at this juncture is questionable to say the least.

 Unlike the last two presidential elections, this time there are 32 candidates (discounting Chamal Rajapaksa, whose name was forwarded as a mere precaution).


The strategy might have changed from common candidate to individual candidates – some from political parties never even heard before, but they all have the same common goal; to obstruct GR’s path or at the very least bag some of the floating votes that may flow towards GR.


Former Sri Lanka Army Commander General Mahesh Senanayake is the latest entrant to the upcoming presidential election.

 He, who is contesting from the National People’s Movement, is causing waves in the social media by annoyed SLPP loyalists. Interestingly, those who protested over General Shavendra Silva’s appointment as the Sri Lanka Army Commander are silent over this development.


Both Generals fought in the same war and if one is unacceptable for having played a role in the war, then the other should also be unacceptable. 

The fact General Senanayaka is running for presidency should have raised protests from Alaina Teplitz and her followers. They certainly cannot object afterwards. Yet, we see the same double standards we saw when General Sarath Fonseka became the 2010 presidential candidate.


Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who is contesting from the JVP is hardly making a ripple. Dr. Ajantha Perera and Nagananda Kodithuwakku occasionally beam down on the passing traffic from electronic billboards, but otherwise maintain a very low profile in both mainstream and social media.

 The major battle with the UNP leadership is over for Sajith Premadasa, during which time he never allowed an opportunity to take a shot against the Rajapaksas go waste despite his fight being with the UNP leadership.


Concerns


When Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his candidacy, there were concerns that the SLPP campaign started too early. Indeed, maintaining the momentum of a campaign for three months is not an easy task. However, the organisers need not have worried as the Opposition is working overtime to keep him in news.


The whole of last week, the headlines of mainstream and social media were of the latest controversy GR’s opponents had cooked up, which was over his citizenship. 

The courts took three days to argue over a mere technicality. Not knowing which way the legal pendulum was about to swing was a matter of grave concern for all his supporters.


If the civil rights groups that have been fighting for democracy are true to their cause, they should take exception over the timing. Yet, we hear only absolute silence from these numerous groups.

 At the very least, we do not hear even a sound from any of the other candidates. They, if not anyone else, should be demanding a fair race for anything else would be a show of cowardliness.


In 2010 and then again in 2015, all the political parties in the Opposition ganged up against the then incumbent Administration and fielded a common candidate. 

This was a good strategy to take on a powerful and popular Government. Though the first time they failed with General Fonseka, they were successful the second time with Maithripala Sirisena.


However, it is very curious that in the 2019 presidential election Tamil Progressive Alliance, SLMC and ACMC have again got together with the UNP. 

Only the JVP has opted to field their own candidate, who, as mentioned above, is not being taken seriously enough even to warrant a regular FaceBook post. For the JVP, the game is up and they have been exposed as being in cahoots with the UNP. 

Though fielding Dissanayake, their marked strategy is to promote the second option. As that option, they are asking their vote base to select any candidate who is not a Rajapaksa. They are clearly hoping that second vote would be for Sajith Premadasa.


Unusual


While it is logical for the Opposition parties to combine efforts to defeat the incumbent Government, it is most unusual for the Opposition to get together with the Government to try and protect it. Yet, this is what we see in this election. 

Indeed, throughout this Government’s short life, we have seen this protectiveness from the political parties who are insisting that they are in the Opposition. 

In that same pattern, we see that all these parties, who are contesting as part of the Government’s alliance or as individual parties are set to allow this Yahapalana Government to continue to its second term. 

Obviously, their common enemy is not the Yahapalana Government but the emergence of Gotabaya Rajapaksa via the youngest political party in Sri Lanka – the SLPP.


The anti-GR propaganda campaign is to portray GR as an evil man who will take away our rights.

 In reality, though these rights – may it be media freedom or abductions from white vans to control freedom of expression – are not experiences that were introduced during the Rajapaksa Administration.

 These have been part and parcel successive governments. In fact, even during this Government we experienced entire weeks of media blackout and our right to social media clamped.


White van phenomenon reached its peak during the late ’80s with the efforts to eradicate the JVP menace.

 It was not only the State-sponsored terror we witnessed then, but also the horror unleashed by the JVP. While the South was thus getting washed in a bloodbath, the North and East was going through its own nightmare with IPKF and the LTTE clashing. 

These two were also equally ruthless and many innocents were killed in cold blood.


Bogus peace


When the Rajapaksa Administration came to power in 2005, the country was enjoying a bogus peace. The Cease Fire Agreement brokered by the Norwegians in 2002 ensured that the military was confined to barracks. 

The LTTE on the other hand flagrantly violated the conditions, which all were afraid to confront. 

Hence, our military intelligence units were razed by the LTTE killer squads. When the Rajapaksa Administration came to end in 2015, the country was in a very different place with these human and humanitarian violations already fading from memory.


In this context, it is very interesting how it was possible to narrow the focus of a nation that had witnessed absolute depravity to few isolated incidents. 

Recently, when MP Udaya Gammanpila questioned as to how many had been reported as been enforced to disappear since the end of the war in 2009, the Yahapalana Government had to admit zero as the answer. Yet, the anti-GR camp still has an audience and that audience ardently believes him to be a murderer.


Though the Opposition chant the same mantra about GR, they are composed of a variety of political parties and civil groups. Left to themselves, they will not see eye-to-eye with each other. Therefore, it is obvious they are all brought to the same platform by one dedicated force. 

That force, whatever it may be, is dictating one main narrative and that is, the Rajapaksa Administration committed war crimes and violated the human rights of minorities. Even during the height of the war, this narrative never wavered from its course.


Despite the hardships the ordinary Tamil citizen in the North and the East had to undergo at the hands of the LTTE, these groups maintained a disproportionate sympathy towards the LTTE. 

In fact, Gamini Viyangoda, one of the petitioners against GR’s citizenship was of the view that the LTTE should be recognised as legitimate rulers of the Northern and Eastern Provinces for ten years.


They completely ignored the brutal manner the LTTE abducted small children to be made use of as cannon fodder

. Fathers and school principals who tried to intervene were killed for protesting. Up to date, none of these civil rights groups or political entities have taken up this matter to at least quantify the number of such murders or abductions.


Today, those who endorsed the LTTE and thereby their atrocities have formed a front against GR and are portraying him as an evil man. The question is, what do they stand to lose if GR comes to power on the will of the people.

One Response to “Challenging Gotabaya’s Citizenship Hypocrisy of Democracy Promoters”

  1. Randeniyage Says:

    Challenging his Sri Lanka citizenship is extreme betrayal , but challenging him to show denouncing of US citizenship is a duty of all citizens.

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