Tamara Kunanayakam slams Western Intervention in Lanka’s Political Order…. and evokes Egyptian Comparisons
Posted on October 31st, 2018

Tamara Kunanayakam: her Eliya Briefing: entitled On the current political crisis in Sri Lanka” Colombo,  30 October 2018

I will express myself on the international aspects of the political crisis in which the country finds itself today and their far-reaching consequences for the country’s sovereignty and independence, which must be taken into account in all its dimensions if an appropriate response is to be formulated.  We are facing blatant external interference in a domestic political process, an act inadmissible to any sovereign state. A climate of insecurity is being created artificially by the defeated allies of the West whose objective may be to provoke a violent situation that will provide justification for external intervention to restore them to power, if necessary, by force.

‘Special Meeting’

It is unacceptable that an ousted Prime Minister defies a decision by the President and holds a special meeting with a selected group of mostly Western envoys. It is unprecedented that the day after the President removed him and a new Prime Minister was sworn in, foreign envoys took a collective decision to meet formally and jointly with an ousted Prime Minister in an Office that was no longer his.

If an explanation were sought, the normal channel of communication would have been the Foreign Secretary. Had circumstances warranted a meeting at a higher level, they had the choice between the President and the new Prime Minister. Instead, they met with an ousted Prime Minister and together retained a common narrative of events, which they then repeated in a coordinated manner in statements, including joint statements, made by their governments, their allies, international institutions they control, their NGOs, and globally relayed via their mainstream media.

The form and upshot of the ‘special meeting’ shows the effort was deliberate and concerted, its purpose to agree on a narrative that helps legitimise external intervention, adding to and reinforcing arguments underlying Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 and application of the controversial norm, the ‘Responsibility to Protect.’

‘Kangaroo Court’ – the Western narrative

A ‘Kangaroo Court’ has determined that the President they once backed, but who had become an obstacle to their neoliberal re-engineering of the Sri Lankan State on behalf of Western capital, is responsible. The President is deemed to have violated the constitution and created a deadly” situation by removing the Prime Minister, replacing him with the former President whom they accuse of war crimes” and a China ally,” and proroguing parliament. The situation is grossly distorted in the international media in particular, through misrepresentation of facts or outright lies. For instance, the killing of a Ceylon Petroleum Corporation employee and injuring of other trade unionists were blamed on Mahinda Rajapaksa, and not on the security officer of the former Minister who tried to enter the premises. Trade unions and government workers supporting the President’s decisions are referred to as ‘mobs.’

Given the coercive Human Rights Council resolution hanging above our heads as a Damocles sword, it is outrageous to present an economic, social and political crisis as an ‘anti-democratic coup’ with the sole objective of internationalising the crisis. It is this internationalisation that is ‘anti-democratic,’ taking as it does decision-making beyond the reach of the people.

In reality, it is popular pressure that caused a partner to the National Unity Government to withdraw, causing its collapse. At its origin is the massive rejection of the anti-popular anti-national policies of the Government on behalf of Western capital, the deprival of their democratic right to express their political will through timely elections, their massive support for Mahinda Rajapaksa and his party as shown in the local government elections and mass demonstrations, the multiplication of social struggles – of railway workers, nurses, students, professionals, plantation workers, etc., etc.

The Western narrative of events, their expressions of concern for human rights and democracy, is not only false, but also hypocritical. How else would you interpret the sudden warmth displayed toward Sri Lanka’s constitutional provisions and processes” by rabid partisans of a new Constitution? How else would you explain their silence when, in January 2015, the same President appointed a Prime Minister whose United National Front had only 60 seats in Parliament, 46 for UNP, and forced the departure of Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, whose UPFA had 144 seats?

  ‘Accords’ in 2015

How would you explain the solemn undertaking given prior to the August 2015 parliamentary elections that Mahinda Rajapaksa would not be appointed Prime Minister, even in case of a UFPA victory and even if he had the confidence of a majority? What is the explanation for the West’s silence on the postponement of local government elections for some 3 years, and delays in holding Provincial Council elections, all under the Premiership of Ranil Wickramasinghe?

How do you explain that the same indignation was missing when Germany was unable to form a government for 5 months, when Belgium had no government for almost 2 years (541 days), and Northern Ireland was without government for even longer?

What is the explanation for the West’s silence on the Central Bank-Perpetual Treasuries bond scams under Ranil Wickramasinghe’s Premiership when he was Minister in charge of the Central Bank and for which his close ally, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, has been held responsible and is evading arrest? The bond scams have been described as the biggest ever corruption scandal and biggest-ever cover-up in the history of Sri Lanka.

Why has there been no call for credible investigations by the West on information of a plot to assassinate the President and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a plot in which a Cabinet Minister is allegedly involved?

The ‘special meeting’ between the ousted Prime Minister and the selected group of diplomats was not only a violation of the established rules for foreign envoys for communication with the host country. The meeting as well as subsequent declarations can be construed as a concerted and deliberate act against the Head of State, openly challenging the authority vested in the President by the people, interfering in internal political processes, and violating Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

The next step

The attitude displayed by the mostly Western envoys toward the people of Sri Lanka and their leadership is a reflection of the extent to which, under the previous regime, the country has become dependent on the West, submissive and docile toward the very same governments that led a resolution against it. It is of note that instead of seeking the support of his own people when removed as Premier, Ranil Wickramasinghe turned to his mostly Western friends and allies.

The hegemonic interests of Washington and its Western allies clearly stand opposed to the needs and aspirations of the Sri Lankan people and the interests of the nation. Given Washington’s logic of confrontation with China and Russia, it will be profoundly concerned by the loss of a newfound ally in the region. Under the circumstances, it is essential that we anticipate their strategy.  They did not leave us alone before 2015, they did not leave us alone after 2015, and they will not leave us alone now. An alleged anti-democratic coup” will be waved as additional evidence of Sri Lanka’s inability and unwillingness” to prevent future violations from occurring, and will serve to justify moving to the ‘next stage’ in external intervention.

The Canadian High Commissioner, David McKinnon, made a direct link to the Human Rights Council resolution. Sri Lanka, he said, must take concrete steps to meet its commitments to the international community with respect to accountability, transitional justice and ending impunity.”

Similarly, a statement by Human Rights Watch, an organisation massively funded among others by George Soros, the apostle of ‘colour revolutions’ and close ally of Ranil Wickramasinghe, gives a taste of things to come. An article published yesterday in The Island, titled Sri Lanka: New Prime Minister Puts Rights at Grave Risk – HRW : Failure to Address Past Abuses Underlies Political Turmoil, quotes its Asia Director calling on the West to act to ensure that the gains” of the regime change they helped bring about in 2015[1] are not lost.” According to him, Rajapaksa’s appointment has raised fears about a return to past abusive practices … chilling concerns for human rights … and reopens the door for past abusers to return to their terrible practices” Meanwhile, an important French newspaper warned today of an impending ‘blood bath’ in Sri Lanka.

Crisis as opportunity

Crises are not without risks, but they also provide opportunities. In October 2015, the government chose to break with its natural allies and submitted its people and nation to the humiliation of a coercive resolution demanding radical and all encompassing changes to the state, its institutions, to its very foundation, in favour of Western hegemonic interests. Today, we have been provided with the opportunity to make a different choice, in favour of the people and nation, in favour of the domestic economy upon which the majority of people depend for their livelihood, to respond to expectations of the people that have been ignored by a regime implementing policies conceived by neoliberal ideologues.

Today, Sri Lanka is isolated internationally and viewed with suspicion by its natural allies for having identified itself with Washington’s hegemonic interests, for having abdicated sovereignty and declaring as obsolete the principle upon which the multilateral system is founded. If Sri Lanka is to restore its sovereignty and independence, it must urgently restore the credibility lost by reaffirming, in principle and in practice, its commitment to those multilateral principles – sovereign equality of States, and respect for sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, non-intervention, and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. The new situation provides us with such an opportunity to rebuild relationships with the like-minded in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and with emerging powers, to join together in a common struggle and establish a just and equitable international order which respects and guarantees the rights of all peoples to determine their own destiny.

Tamara Kunanayakam

Economist and Expert on international affairs, …. Former Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN at Geneva ….…. Former Chairperson/Rapporteur of the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development

11 Responses to “Tamara Kunanayakam slams Western Intervention in Lanka’s Political Order…. and evokes Egyptian Comparisons”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Parliament must be reconvened ASAP. Then this crisis will be over. Why fear the parliament?

    The new Cabinet has no known patriot (except Mahinda). Nothing good can come out of it for the nation. Most of them were also in the Yamapalana Cabinet!

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    Who on this earth with a very little brain could approve purposeful delaying of the parliament ?

    We cannot blame international community like stupid idiots when president does that. Everything can be constitutional, yet closing of parliament is not, which gives UNP to organize blood bath and also foreign intervention.

    How and the main betrayer of motherland Sirisena become the biggest patriot in 1 day ? How can a bunch of other thieves also became heroes in 1 day ?

    I ask you to give me single example whether real patriots won democracy doing this kind of underworld deals to come to power which includes Namals thuggery to catch all media.

    We cannot expect any good for the country for this bunch of thugs and betrayers. This is a dissaster.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Agree with Randeniyage.

    People’s soverignty in terms of legislative power is exercised by the parliament and people’s executive power is exercised by the Cabinet of ministers made up of some MPs and the president). Both these are disrupted by proroguing parliament.

    It is not an international community’s demand (though they too demand it). It is a demand of Sri Lanka’s soverignty. Sirisena must respect Sri Lanka’s soverignty which is owned by the people and exercised by the three branches of governance.

    TNA was very much part of the Yamapalanaya regime. If TNA has changed its support not to support Ranil (pro-separatist), that only indicates a deal with Mahinda beneficial to TNA’s objectives. Otherwise there is no way TNA would not support the darling of the LTTE Diaspora.

  4. Vaisrawana Says:

    By now the President has assured the Speaker that change of premiership has been done in accordance with the provisions in the constitution, that parliament has been prorogued only for 11 days (Nov. 5-16), and that it will be reconvened on Nov. 16. Ranil is reported to be in the process of leaving the TT.

  5. Vaisrawana Says:

    As ever, Tamara Kunanayakam is defending our motherland most convincingly.

  6. aloy Says:

    Make no mistake, the premiership will never go back to RW. The prez will ensure that. RW will now think of retaining his position in his party.
    Who is speaker to go against his decision to prorogue parliament by 11 days?. It has been done before. And what is the indecent hurry?. We can see that prez has been made a prisoner by the 19A and he had been waiting for a chance to take a decisive action. The assassination attempt is the straw that broke the camelback. He did not have trusted friends unlike in the case of Mrs. B or someone to defend him with a strong hand to wield the power (the sword) and he chose quite rightly MR for that. So, let MR do what ever that is needed to steady the ship both economically and politically.

  7. aloy Says:

    I think we should look at the big picture instead of taking little things here and there. If MR had the third term he would have been a dictator. People say he had brought the economy forward and developed the infrastructure. At the same time he did a lot of blunders like handing over Sri Lanka Airlines to his brother in law who was just an eight grader without any experience. Now because of 19A the prez has some control and what happened to RW can happen to MR also if he tries to do diametrically opposite things like the appointment of his bill. So, the best thing for MR is to revisit all those agreements RW’s government signed with other countries and make necessary amendments to retain our sovereignty, ensure the citizens right to their land and protect our heritage.
    All in all, he should be a bit like Trump, relying on his people, curbing imports and most of all increase production without increasing the number of state employees.

  8. Hiranthe Says:

    Thank you Tamara for being in the front in defending Mother lanka always.

    I totally agree with Aloy.

    Also, if possible reverse the Hambanthota Harbour agreement too. I think Chinese will agree with MR as he will gain more popularity by doing that.

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    “Who on this earth with a very little brain could approve purposeful delaying of the parliament ?”

    Forgive me, but as a person with somewhat more than a very little brain, I would purposefully delay the Parliament, if WINNING the INEVITABLE NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION/VOTE COUNT by the UNP threatens what has been achieved by the REMOVAL of RW from the PM post.

    Dilrook and Randeniyage are WRONG! The OVERARCHING purpose here is to DEFEND our Motherland against a RETURN of the Yamapalanaya not to PANDER to the Foreigners who instaalled this PARA-GATHI PUPPET in the PMs Post.

    The New Govt has COMPELLING REASONS to POSTPONE the RECONVENING of the Parliament, or even DISSOLVING IT if NECESSARY that they need not disclose to world.

    I AGREE with Aloy.

  10. Dilrook Says:

    Dissolving parliament is OK, when it can be done. Delaying its sitting when the PM has been changed is not OK. It has never happened before in any country. Proroguing without change of PM has no problem. It has happened before.

    Don’t place too much trust on Sirisena. He’s right in removing Ranil. But he will not allow Mahinda get a working majority in parliament after a possible parliamentary election. That threatens his position. He is happy this way as he is in control. Mahinda totally depends on him to delay parliament, prorogue again if his PM post is under threat.

    Since most Lankans have very short term memory, they must be reminded that exactly 4 years ago Sirisena said the same thing about Mahinda!

  11. Henry Says:

    It seems that Dilrook and Randeniyage have not read Ms. Kunanayakam’s letter. It clearly defines the Western treatment of countries like Sri Lanka. It reminds me of what Henry Kissinger once said when discussing a problem the West had with a South American country’s decision that country had made about its future: “These decisions cannot be left for them to make.” What arrogance! Similar to the recent statement made by the UK, and other western powers on the present “crisis.”
    I am with a lot of people who considered the post 2015 actions of the President unconstitutional, to say the least. Neither am I fawning on MR when I say that this was one of the few redeeming acts of the President considering the will of the Sri Lankan people. Parliament has been prorogued for a couple of weeks, for goodness sake! What’s the big deal? And like Tamara has pointed out, countries like Germany and Italy ran for longer periods without a government, and the great political thinkers of the west did not bat an eyelid!
    Whatever the outcome when Parliament is summoned on November 16, this is one act that the President cannot be faulted for. The UK, especially, and its decision makers, ‘all honorable men’ (pardon me Shakespeare!), who have the purest intentions for Sri Lankan democracy, should let the Sri Lankans work things out. More than anything else, don’t get on your moral high horses, and preach old sermons from the pulpit. All of you have your own moral dilemmas to work out!

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