Wimal, LTTE Hunger Striker and ‘$10 million Big Mac’ !
Posted on July 16th, 2010

Dr.P.A.Samaraweera, Australia

Jehan Perera in an article to an english daily on 13th July titled, “The value of face saving measures” says, “…the acts of confrontation against the UN Office failed to win favour of any country …. Government failed to get even the non-aligned movement to give support… President Rajapakse’s appearance was a face saving way for him (Wimal) to come out of his predicament… “

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Demonstrations and fast unto deaths are a right of the people in a democracy. Wimal and others protested against the War Crimes Panel appointed by Ban Ki-moon and because the UN office in Colombo had ‘tended favours’ to the LTTE during the war and before. It was not against the UN and not to win favour from any country.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It is obvious to the people that even if a bus load of people from Wimal’s supporters had come and made the supreme sacrifice, UNSG Ban Ki-moon, the EU, and the western powers backing the Panel would not change their stance. During the Vietnam war buddhist monks committed self-immolation but it did not make any difference to the bombing spree of innocent people by the US.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Since the fast, so much had been written about it, for and against. Some ridiculed it saying that it was a script for a drama, others called it a con while some others called patriotism.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In this connection, we may recall that during Eelam war 1V there was a fast unto death by Parameswaran Subramaniam, a LTTE supporter and this as well was given wide publicity. He laid in a tent outside the UK Parliament for days surrounded by his wellwishers. Off and on his supporters made statements that he was ‘critically ill’ but offered to carry on the struggle. Wimal was on hunger strike only for 3 days and the doctors warned that he will have only 12 more hours .

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Protesters gathered at the LTTE hunger strikers site daily. On top of this there were long-running demonstrations and road blocks mounted near the Parliament to support him. All this became a headache to the British government. Also the deployment of additional Police, overtime for them etc., were extra cost.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ After the unsuccessful visit by David Milliband to Sri Lanka he was able to convince Subramanian to give up. So Milliband’s appearance was a face saving measure for Subramaniam.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A few weeks after the LTTE hunger striker’s episode, Stephen Wright of the Daily Mail, UK, published a news item about a startling revelation by Scotland Yard, putting the hunger striker back on spotlight. During his fast, Scotland Yard surveillance teams using specialist monitoring equipment had watched in disbelief as the hunger striker eased his ordeal by eating McDonalds Burgers!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This had been brought to the notice of top British politicians who ruled out the decision by Scotland Yard, to drag the bogus striker out and put an end to it, as it would inflame the situation.

The hunger strike and the demonstration which followed cost the UK tax payer about US $10 million. So Scotland Yard had remarked, ‘this was the most expensive Big Mac ever’ !

The interesting thing in this case is that there was no hue and cry about it from anyone. But what if something similar came to light during Wimal’s fast?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ban Ki-moon, the EU, countries supporting the panel, some western media, the opposition, Channel 4 UK, Peace Councils, human rights and so on would be jumping up and down! But the LTTE and their supporters are immune to all these.

2 Responses to “Wimal, LTTE Hunger Striker and ‘$10 million Big Mac’ !”

  1. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    It would be interesting to know the opinion of Jehan Perera and Frederica Janze on the $10 million (or is it Pounds) Big Mac “hunger strike” by Subramaniam. Someone also suggested the London cops did not mind the stunt as the cops were getting record overtime pay.

  2. cassandra Says:

    The point of Jehan Perera’s statement, which you have quoted, is the ultimate futility of Wimal Weeranwansa’s fast – the fact that it achieved nothing, and how the Presidential intervention provided a face saving (and life saving!) way to bring it to an end.

    The fast unto death as a weapon of political protest has been much used and much abused and one might say, if one might be forgiven the pun, done to death, so that many no longer take it seriously. You have cited the example of the ‘Subramaniam fast’ in London where it now seems the man was sustained by McDonald’s burgers during his ‘fast’. Now, there is a case in point of how the fast has been devalued and turned it into a farce. We also remember that towards the end of the war against the LTTE, we had Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu going through another charade – he started what was ostensibly a fast unto death only to call it off within hours, on the strength of some undisclosed assurances he received from the authorities in Delhi.

    Wimal Weerawansa was of course well within his democratic rights to undertake his fast. Whether it was a prudent thing to have done is a different matter. And one cannot but wonder whether as a cabinet minister his action was helpful to the government or in fact served to add to its problems.

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