The Ban Panel — to Ban or Not?
There’s been a lot of discussion and drama around the UN Secretary General’s advisory panel on Sri Lanka, it’s validity, necessity, and legality. These have ranged from newspaper editorials to street farce. Rather than adding my own narrative to this, I thought I’d reproduce some of the conversations that have been taking place online. This particular one emerged in the comment thread of one of Indi’s posts on the matter, and amongst other things, discusses Star Trek. The debate can be seen in whole on that blog, but I’ve just selected a portion of it that I think highlights some of the viewpoints, as well as a lot of the fallacies. It often gets off the topic, but in order to avoid being accused of manipulation, I haven’t edited any of the comments.
Mahinda: This whole mess was created by our dearly beloved Mahinda & Co. in the run up to the Presidential Elections.
Our General (who has a bit of a bad habit of speaking his mind sometimes, even when it may not be appropriate) mentioned to Indi’s boss, the Jansz woman, that he had information that our friend Gota issued a silly order to a certain Major General to “shoot any LTTE personnel, even if they were trying to surrender waving white flags”. The General went on to add that no such thing occurred on the ground, and that he himself took responsibility for actions of the Sri Lankan Army during the final stages of the war, as the serving Commander of the Army. I think the General was just getting involved in a spot of character assassination here, and to try and show the public what sort of man our Gota is, in his opinion. Our Frederica immediately got extremely wet, sensing an opportunity to flog a few more copies of her rag with a controversial exclusive. She wrote and published her infamous story, presumably omitting bits she felt would have lessened the impact of the controversy. The General and his media team, understandably upset, issued a correction, stressing that the General was certain, as a Commander who had direct contact and control with and over troops on the ground, that no acts in contravention of the Geneva Convention were committed by the SL Army. Frederica made some noises to the effect that she had a tape recording of the interview and that he actually said war crimes had been committed, but seeing as she has failed to produce the said tape, I suppose we can write this off as a little white lie.
Philip Alston also got wind of the Jansz woman’s controversial article, and was obliged to contact the Sri Lanka Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights regarding the article. The Secretary of the said Ministry at the time, (who was, unusually for a Secretary to a Sri Lankan Ministry, an Oxbridge educated, presumably intelligent man) promptly replied to Alston saying that the article was erroneously published and that the General had issued a correction claiming that no one waving a white flag trying to surrender was shot by SL Army troops.
However, Team Mahinda & Co. had other ideas-they retracted the reaction of the Secretary to the Ministry of Human Rights and Disaster Management (which would have solved the whole problem) and turned the issue into a political drama to dupe the easily fooled masses. They even went as far to publish full page ad’s of a noose with the caption “don’t vote in the man who will send our brave soldiers to the gallows”. And lo and behold, the highest ranked serving Officer in the history of the SL Army, the man credited with ending the war, became a traitor who betrayed the country (this was similar to the process by which Ranil, the man who convinced Karuna to defect along with his eastern LTTE types, which weakened and lead to the defeat of the LTTE, became a “deshadrohiya”).
I never tire of asking fools who claim SF “betrayed the country” to explain their position. Let’s just think of this “betrayal of the country”… Please clarify. Do you mean to say that if a soldier had committed a war crime during the final phases of the war, we should just shut up and protect him “because he’s a hero”? Further, if we were to investigate any allegations of war crimes against a soldier, find proof of the alleged crime, and prosecute and punish the said soldier, would constitute a “betrayal of the country”? Because that is effectively what you’re saying, isn’t it? You may perhaps feel a bit different if you were a Tamil and your daughter was raped and killed by a SL Army soldier in the final phases of the war – you’d want justice, you’d want closure as a part of any process of “reconciliation”.
It’s funny we shout about Akon having some chick dancing around a Buddha Statue, but when someone asks for justice in the form of unbiased investigations into a killing we forget that we are Buddhists. Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhists. what a bunch of hypocrites we are. We say Pansil nicely at temples. But our politicians are liars. We are liars. Everyone’s a alcoholic, it would seem. “bar ekkak dagaththa nang, goda. business withrai” “barima thana kasippu perapang”. Reports of incestuous rape of minors is rampant. Balana thana Gon Spot thiyanawa. But we shout about Akon. and now facebook.
Another little detail – GSP+… If we had simply agreed to look into any wrongdoings and mete out punishment where applicable, we wouldn’t have lost it, would we? Also, all this refusal to independently investigate alleged war crimes sort of seems to suggest we are guilty doesn’t it?
And finally our bearded sahodaraya who Indi seems to like so much – “he looks like he’s leading the revolution”… This guy is the worst sort of politician in Sri Lanka – all about play acting to dupe the masses. But the masses love it. They can only blame themselves for their fate then, I guess….
The Way of the Dodo: Why do you think an international investigation is necessary? What we had was a civil, and as such there is no need for an international investigation. unless, the GOSL has failed to hold a credible investigation. But it seems that you and your ilk have already decided that the government is incapable of holding such an investigation.
Mahinda: The way of the dodo… what does that mean anyway? That you’re going the way of the dodo? Going extinct? Curious handle you use…
So Dodo, can you please point out where exactly in my comment I have indicated that I believe a international investigation is necessary? Even so, why get all hot and bothered about an international investigation?
General Fonseka is not worried… He is a man who can and will be held directly accountable in the event of any war crimes allegations being proved to be true. You’re just some random dude. Why the hell are you so worked up? Why is that Wimal Weeranwansa worked up. Do you honestly believe that wonderful man would lose one wink of sleep if some soldier was hauled up before an international war crimes tribunal (not that that is ever likely to happen). No. He’s just generating spin to decieve the public and con more imbeciles into saying “sha! look at this brave wimal… He was ready to die to protect Sri Lanka no…” They don’t question why he appeared to be so frail and unable to speak after just one day of fasting. They don’t seem to want to take a step back and look at the big picture and ask themselves which is a greater crime – to let a (hypothetical) war crime against a Sri Lankan National go unpunished (LTTE soldiers were after all, Sri Lanka Nationals) or to bring anyone who exceeded their authority and appointed themselves judge, jury and executioner. And to consider the precedent that would set.
The Geneva Convention exists for reason. As far as I know, all soldiers are familiarized with the rules of engagement prior to being sent to a combat situation. Or they should be. If they violate this, they should be tried by their own Commanders. It’s no use pointing out incidents where the US Army has blatantly covered up incidents involving their troops committing war crimes. Two wrongs don’t make a right. And if you look at the Abu Gharaib incident, the US does prosecute its own for violation of the Geneva Convention. And this brings me back to our Sinhala Buddhist holier-than-thou approach to sex alcohol etc… On local TV channels, scenes depicting people smoking, drinking (or even holding glasses) or god forbid, kissing are blurred out. This seems to infer that we are a really pious people. We all know how hypocritical that is. So if we are so pious, we should always seek the truth and correct those who are on the wrong path, right? As Buddhists? We shouldn’t actively seek to cover up wrongs committed, even by our own people, right? As Budddhists?
I seriously wonder how these people reconcile these two conflicting outlooks on things. Look at Mervin for instance. Very few would say that this guy is not a thug. But the other day he was on TV, telling the Malwatte Hamuduruwo why it was a bad idea to open the road outside the dalada maligawa to traffic. Seriously. I have never seen Mervin as a exemplary buddhist, who lives his life by Buddhist principles. Yet he has no difficulty going on record showing what an ardent defender of the Buddhist faith he is.
Anyway, Mr. Dodo, what do you think? Do you think our government will have an impartial, credible investigation? I certainly doubt it. This government is not about truth and transparency, it’s about how best to dupe the masses and achieve their own ends.
Which brings me to the point of my earlier comment – this whole “war crimes” issue is not real. It’s just a part of the whole smoke and mirrors ploy used so effectively by the Government. If they let the Secretary’s (to The Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights) reply to Philip Alston stand, this would not have grown to become the controversial incident everyone is talking about right now. But then again, if they did that, they would not have been able to get the fickle, stupid general public to think SF was somehow a traitor. And if not for the whole 2 day fast unto death etc., wouldn’t people be more concerned and outraged about the budget?
Roj: “And if you look at the Abu Gharaib incident, the US does prosecute its own for violation of the Geneva Convention. ”
LMAO. Only because it reached the media and there was such publicity about it the US couldn’t afford to ignore it. You really are naive if you believe the US actually goes out of its way to prosecute its own for “violations of the geneva convention”
Mahinda: “LMAO. Only because it reached the media and there was such publicity about it the US couldn’t afford to ignore it.”
You’re unwittingly highlighting an important point here, roj – the US Media did in fact release footage of the mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Gharaib, which lead to public outcry in the US at the conduct of these soldiers and the subsequent prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators. Regardless of the fact that they were US Army soldiers and that US Forces Personnel are generally held in high esteem in the US.
Now imagine if this was Sri Lanka… Once the media released incriminating evidence against Forces Personnel, the license of the of the media institution would have been immediately canceled and the relevant reporter would have been sorted out by the white van squad.
People like you, roj, would then point fingers all over the place to show that this sort of thing happened everywhere, and for the UN to look into a situation where our troops were involved is completely and utterly unfair. I can just picture you… “but but… i mean… the hutu’s and tutsi’s did this all the time… why didn’t Ban Ki Moon appoint a 3 member panel to advise him about them?” You wouldn’t stop for one second to think “hmmm… these soldiers were wrong. If they were ordered to by their officers, the officers would also be wrong (although this does not constitute a defense – if you carry out an order you know to be wrong, you too become liable). You would not think for a second about the precedent that would set to other soldiers in operational areas (this is a hypothetical situation, of course) – they would be like “machang it’s fine – we can do whatever we want to these people – our people will support us”. Then there would be a massive cover up, Wimal would begin a fast unto death about the size and shape of cumulus clouds and everything would be forgotten. Yes. Sri Lanka. Budunge Deshaya. You gotta love this place.
Roj: The only reason the US media went to town about it was because media in other parts of the world went to town about it first. The US media is pretty biased:
You think the American media is unbiased, free and fair? Your naivity shows yet again. Why hasn’t the US signed up to the ICC if it was so concerned about human rights and alleged human rights abuses carried out by its security forces? Illegally invading another soverign country based on a deliberate lie (weapons of mass destruction) and killing more than 600 000 civilians in the process is something to be celebrated and cheered on I suppose?
I guess you don’t see the double standards here?
Mahinda: Yes roj you’re right.These guys do it so this allows us to do as we please and screw things like the Geneva Conventions, Rules of Engagement and International Law etc. Hey I’ve got an idea! This should please you no end – let’s just chuck all these bit of paper in the bin and go back to the Law of the Jungle! Brilliant idea, eh? I mean let’shttps://blacklightarrow.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1386&action=edit&message=10 get rid of all the hollow posturing – lets show our true colours – we are basically animals after all right? Then the American’s wouldn’t have had to cook up the whole weapons of mass destruction story – they could have been honest. “Iraq. You’ve got more than 10%of the worlds remaining crude oil reserves. We like Oil. We’re coming to get it.” No one would have even noticed when they decided Sri Lanka was in a relatively useful position strategically and had a nice Natural Harbour and decided they’d quite like to own it. Yes roj. That’s the way forward. The Law of the Jungle. Biggest is best and screw the little guys. That would really work for Sri Lanka, right?
Anyway. Enough of the banter. What you fail to realize is that you’re off on a random tangent and fail to see the bigger picture. You’re like a little kid that sees the big boys smoking and doing drugs and goes “me too! me too! if its good for the goose its good for the gander! me too, me too!”
What do you think held Sri Lanka back all these years? I mean everyone likes to bang on about how Sri Lanka used to be better than Singapore and now look at the two countries. This internal conflict, which started out with the deliberate, state sponsored discrimination against Tamil people is basically responsible, isn’t it?
Now Mahinda aiya has appointed the grandly titled LLRC (complete with an ex-tiger) and what good will it do to hide the truth here? How can you “learn lessons” if you’re not being completely honest about what happened? How will that make the Tamils feel? How can “reconciliation” be achieved if the Tamils feel that all wrongdoings of the Sinhalese/Sri Lankan Army were simply covered up and forgotten?
Do yourself a favour. Quit your posturing and take a step back to look at the big picture.
Roj: You are trying to justify what America is doing and has done? Yet want to target SL? Nice value system you’ve got there. Your shrill cries aren’t doing a good job of hiding your hypocrisy. Once again, why hasn’t the US signed up to the ICC if it was so concerned about human rights and alleged human rights abuses carried out by its security forces?
“deliberate, state sponsored discrimination against Tamil people ” – care to elaborate?
You must be one naive bunny if you think a the UN’s panel is going to do anything for reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Mahinda: I’ve never tried to justify what the US has done/is doing. But to be fair by the US/UK etc., at least they make some sort of pretense at playing by the rules. If they don’t and get caught with their pants down, there is more of a chance of their being a free and fair investigation into the matter. I cite Bill Clinton quite literally getting caught with his pants down as a humourous example. Also Abu Graib.
Why? because their politicians do have a marked degree of accountability to their people. What accountability does our President have to us??! He can do as he pleases and no one says a damn thing.
Hypocrisy. Let’s talk about hypocrisy for a bit. Please tell me. What did you do about the US/UK coalition invading Iraq? What have you done about the 600,000 civilians killed as a result of this invasion? Were you out there protesting and shouting and trying to ensure justice was done? I seriously doubt it. But now you seem almost happy it occurred, just so you could cite this as an example why we shouldn’t be investigated.
Naive. You’ve used this word repeatedly so I’m assuming this is your sesame street word of the week. You’re naive if you believe that Tamils have always been treated equally and fairly by post independence governments of our country. And this discrimination was state sponsored. It was started in 1956 by swrd by changing the national language to Sinhalese. If you want to know more about this, can I suggest you contact another regular visitor to this site, Myil Selvan. He’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Now instead of going round in circles, just answer a straight question, roj. What are your specific complaints about a advisory panel being appointed by the UN Secretary General? Are you afraid that we actually did commit war crimes and will be exposed? Or are you just complaining for the sake of complaining because you’re bored because schools out and the other kids won’t let you join them?
David Blacker: Mahinda, the problem is that you seem unwilling to admit that it’s not a level playing field. The entire narrative is hypocritical and skewed towards the bigger, powerful — responsible, if you like, stable if you don’t like — nations. Why was a nuclear nonproliferation treaty made up only after all the powerful countries had ‘em? Why is it OK for some nations to have nukes, but illegal for others to? And don’t tell me if you don’t like it, don’t sign it, ‘cos we all know what happens when you don’t sign. Why is it OK for the US to threaten Iran over nukes, but not North Korea, when we all know who’s more likely to use the weapons — but wait, that IS the reason, isn’t it. Why is it OK for the US to refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol and the Hague Convention, but most of the Third World is forced to? Why is it that the veto right at the Security Council is only for the permanent members — why ARE there permanent members picked by Roosevelt in 1949? I could go on — why is the EU calling on us to release — under pain of trade sanctions — lists of those held on suspicion of terrorism, but not cutting trade ties with the US which holds hundreds of anonymous “non-status” prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, some of whom were captured in EU territory with the help of EU security services?
And yet you say that allowing the GoSL to get away with something will set a precedent. The thing is that it is the US and other big boys who are setting that precedent that the GoSL is trying to follow. “If it’s OK for the US, Israel and China to get away with it, why can’t we?” they ask. Why must only the weak be brought to justice? Is it OK that we bust small-time crooks while the Mervin Silvas getaway? No it’s not, but the UN says yeah that’s cool. We can’t go after the big boys ‘cos they’ll laugh in our faces, so we’ll come after you and teach you never to grow up to be like them.
The point is that the rules are set by the narrative, and lesser nations must play by these rules or suffer. Eg: you say that the US punished those who were guilty at Abu Ghraib. That’s rubbish. They punished the guys — and gals — who were caught on tape and film. The lowest rankers. Absolutely nothing was done to the guys who commanded the prison or the civilian contractors who set the rules of interrogation. And it’s not an anomaly of the Bush administration — it goes all the way back to Vietnam. Lt Calley and some of his NCO’s were charged and court-martialled for the My Lai massacre, but Capt Medina, the company commander who allegedly set the context for the atrocity wasn’t even brought to trial. And in reality, Calley — the only man found guilty — never served a day in prison; his term was set as house arrest, and once the media spotlight moved on, he was quietly pardoned by Nixon. The US and the UN don’t play by the rules, they play by THEIR rules. The GoSL is now trying to play by its own rules instead of the UN rules, and is getting hammered for it by the western media who set the narrative.
So first, Mahinda, get off your high horse and stop batting on about justice and fairplay and admit this is just another way for the world establishment to maintain the status quo and show us all who’s who in the food chain.
Personally, I don’t think the GoSL has handled the Ban panel too well. It failed to prevent it being set up, and then chose the wrong way to fight it — in the limelight. I know you’ll now ask me what I’m scared of, and I’ll tell you. The fact is, atrocities were committed in this war, as they have been committed in every war in human history. The proof is probably there, just as it is in Iraq, Vietnam, Palestine, Afghanistan, Ireland, Jammu & Kashmir, and so many other places. An investigation WILL reveal atrocities as will an investigation into ANY war you care to pick. My fear is that Sri Lanka alone will be punished.
Mahinda: Hello David Blacker. Good reply. Well put together. I like it.
I have never for one second doubted that it’s not a level playing field. I know what you’re saying is right – the US does play by it’s own rules. The US/UK coalition invaded Iraq (in the Telic Ops – the second Gulf War) against the wishes of the majority, if not all the other members of the security council.
So does that make it ok for everyone to act in a similar manner? They could just go “well, the big boys do it so why can’t we”. Then why even bother with the UN/International Law/The Geneva Conventions/the ICC etc? We could just let all the Governments in the world (whether elected democratically or not) deal with their conflicts (whether internal of inter-state) as they thought fit – a giant free-for-all, with the biggest, best-armed states coming out on top. Wouldn’t it be preferable for us to try and ensure all allegations of war crimes (or any crimes for that matter) were properly and impartially investigated where possible? Now at this point I must stress that I believe these allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka are false – with the exceptions of isolated incidents where our troops may have taken the law into their own hands, I am confident that no war crimes were committed by our troops as a part of an official strategy. General Fonseka says no war crimes were committed and I have no reason whatsoever to doubt this remarkable man. I also think that this whole issue is being played up by our own politicians as a means of focusing our people on an “international conspiracy” or an external enemy, which would increase the support for them over here – to con people into believing that we somehow need to rally round and support our “king” in order t0 defeat these “international conspiracies”.
If we were to bow to international pressure now and allowed the advisory panel appointed by Ban Ki Moon to go about their business and establish the truth as it were, would that not consolidate our position in the international country as a democratic country where justice prevailed (and increase our eligibility for further international aid and concessions like GSP+) and also allow us to put pressure on the US (or any other powerful country) to submit to a similar independent international investigation, if such a situation arose in the future?
Sure, that last bit is a bit idealistic – we can’t fix the world. But we can try. We can, however (and should) try and fix our country. Should we not seek truth and justice as the noble Buddhists we profess to be? Should we not just DO THE RIGHT THING? After all, if someone committed a crime, they should (after a fair trial) do the time, right?
Also, the “precedent” I was talking about is not “allowing the GoSL to get away with something”. It’s the precedent we set at home – that actions by Sinhalese against Tamils will be condoned by the Sinhalese and the GoSL. Because that is the root cause of all our problems.
Looking forward to your reply.
David Blacker: Mahinda, I am not saying that because the US/UK/EU/etc commit war crimes, it’s OK for us to do it, nor am I suggesting that we should do away with the Geneva and Hague Conventions. What I AM asking is why is it wrong for us to not cooperate with an UN investigation, when nations such as the US, China, and the UK are not subjected to such investigations. Ie: why must only WE be punished? As for the conventions, my question is why aren’t they implemented against the above-mentioned nations.
As for whether the UN laws prevent bigger nations coming out on top and bullying smaller nations, we both know they don’t. As you pointed out, the US- and UK-led coalition invaded Iraq without a shred of proof, occupied it, and refuse to leave. China simply annexed Tibet and got away with it. India invaded East Pakistan and no one stopped it. The USSR invaded Afghanistan, murdered its president, set up a quisling, and the UN scratched its head. The only reason the USSR left was ‘cos an even bigger bully sneaked in and kicked them out. Let’s not even talk about internal conflict — Tiananmen Square, Guantanamo Bay, Chechnya, Georgia, and on and on. The UN and its conventions are completely impotent. The only power they have — and that only when the big boys on the Security Council allow it — is to strong-arm small Third World countries when they misbehave. Sort of like keeping the kids in line while the adults smoke coke.
YES, it is better if all allegations of war crimes are investigated, and yes, we should strive to ensure that is done, but since there’s no light at the end of that tunnel, shouldn’t we meantime, make sure that we ourselves are not preyed upon to salve the conscience of a largely impotent Secretary General? If justice is arbitiary, it’s bad, but understandable — blindness can lead to randomness, but if justice is myopic and can only focus on smaller things placed under its nose, that is not justice.
Yes, I agree that this is being played up by the GoSL to distract the people. I think we should have let the panel in and quietly obstructed them like Saddam Hussein did. After awhile Ban and the media would’ve got bored and moved on. No, I don’t think UN investigators should be allowed to carry out a thorough investigation because they have an agenda and, as I said before, they WILL find evidence of atrocities, as they will find if they investigated the US, China, the UK, or any other warring nation. Once this happens, pressure will then be brought on the UN and the Hague to initiate prosecutions, and if we fight that, we’ll really have sanctions to deal with as Serbia did. And no, I don’t think cooperation will allow us to one day put pressure on the US — you call that hope overly idealistic, but I suggest it’s pure fantasy. The narrative will not allow it. The narrative KNOWS that all Third World nations are corrupt, unstable, and undemocratic, while the west is GOOD & JUST.
And YES, we should try to fix our country, noble Buddhists or otherwise. WE should. Not the UN. And if we’re left alone to do it, I think we eventually will. Eventually. But if it is forced on us before we’re ready, it’ll be resisted, and never seen to be fair by the Sinhalese. It will be seen to be a victory of the diaspora Tamils, an act of vengeance that will only sow the seeds of even more racial conflict. If you’re interested, read DBS Jeyaraj’s column — he’s telling the diaspora Tamils the same thing, more or less.
Doing the right thing IS important, and yes, the guilty must be punished. But as you yourself say, it’s unlikely that genocide or large scale war crimes were carried out by GoSL policy, and if soldiers took the law into their own hands or were excessive in their treatment of civilians and POWs, the UN investigation isn’t going to pick ‘em up, only we can. The UN is far more likely to see the GoSL’s callous disregard for civilian casualties as policy and read it as a war crime, which theoretically it may be, but in practice is no more nor less than the US’ policies in Iraq.
Finally, if you want the Tamils to see that they are not helpless, and that the Sinhalese and the GoSL will in fact protect them and punish criminals, then this MUST be done by the GoSL itself, and not forced by the UN. All that’ll do is tell the Tamils that if they want to be protected they need the UN, and it’ll tell the Sinhalese extremists that they shouldn’t get caught by the UN. WE must convince our government that they need to do the right thing.
Mahinda: Again, good comment.
You agree that this issue is being played up by the GoSL in order to distract the people. I would also like to reiterate (I’ve previously stated this in one of my comments above) that this whole situation was exacerbated by the GoSL (the UPFA) during the Presidential Elections 2010 – by misquoting General Fonseka – for pure political gain. They highlighted this issue in order to falsely discredit and turn the fickle public against General Fonseka, with no regards whatsoever to the possible consequences of their actions.
Now the GoSL is using this issue to create an illusion that foreign powers “are jealous that we defeated terrorism and are taking action against our brave soldiers” in order to fool, distract and win favour with the general public. Again they do not seem to care one bit as to the negative consequences of their actions.
I think it will be very hard to defend this government from the allegation that their policy aims only to benefit the ruling family and party, with no regard to the fact that their actions are detrimental to Sri Lanka in the long term.
Now do you honestly think this government will hold a credible investigation into anything? I would like to suggest that THIS is a true fantasy.
Lets also consider our people, The good Sinhala people of Sri Lanka, who voted in this Government (although I’ve also heard something about a lady called Jill with a computer who apparently had a major role to play in this matter, but then I wouldn’t know anything about that). You (or was it DBS Jeyaraj?) made a very correct and insightful comment to the effect that any foreign trial of SL Army soldiers for war crimes (regardless of how despicable the crimes were) would never be seen as fair by the Sinhalese. “It will be seen to be a victory of the diaspora Tamils, an act of vengeance that will only sow the seeds of even more racial conflict”. That doesn’t say a lot about us, does it? It basically shows that we don’t regard crimes against Tamil people to be crimes at all. That doesn’t really set the stage for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence does it?
I also find it amusing that a lot of Sinhalese people are lamenting the fact that the rain in Galle will probably prevent their hero, Murali of reaching the magic 800 test wickets… Murali… A Sri Lankan Tamil of Indian descent. His grandfather was from Tamil Nadu.
Anyway – you seem convinced that any international investigation will definitely turn up irrefutable evidence of war crimes and lead to the subsequent trial of SL Army soldiers. Personally, I don’t share your fears – after all, if General Fonseka (a man who can and will be held responsible if the war crimes allegations are proved to be is not worried, why the hell should we be worried? What do you know that he doesn’t??!
Along similar lines, you also suggest that we should have let the UN panel in and quietly obstructed them like Saddam Hussein did. So how did that work out for Saddam? Not too well, say the history books. Now what would have happened if Saddam agreed to cooperate fully with Mr. Hans Blix of the IAEA? Mr. Blix would have visited all manner of sites throughout Iraq, turned up nothing and Bush and Blair would not have been able to launch “Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Telic 1″.
So why didn’t good old Saddam want to cooperate with the UN/IAEA even though he had actually nothing to hide? It must have been because he didn’t want to lose face and be perceived as weak by his people, among other items on his personal agenda and… oh… I just thought of another fat, mustachioed leader of a country who is trying to go against the UN due to his own personal agenda…
Anyway. gtg. Suba Anagathayak!
David Blacker: I don’t know if the MR administration will ever hold a fair investigation, or if it will take another government to do it. The British government took forty YEARS to release a fair and unbiased report on the Bloody Sunday massacre. So why the rush to make us investigate immediately?
The USA didn’t become a properly functioning democratic nation until the late 1960s, about fifty years ago. How then can that nation’s democratic values — which they themselves ignored for the centuries between independence and the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement — be imposed on a nation with its own timelines? It’s ludicrous if you stop to think about it.
Mahinda, you’re still talking in absolutes. You expect the Sinhalese to be absolutely fair, and to all want justice and fairplay. You expect that justice is an absolute. But we aren’t discussing dry absolutes; we are talking about society, and there’s nothing absolute there.
You condemn the Sinhalese as being unjust and racist if they resist UN investigations into crimes against Tamils, but that’s a universal feeling. Let me ask you a question. What do you think would have happened if the UN tried to intervene in the conflict between the Civil Rights Movement and white America? Do you think the concessions ultimately given, and the federal laws eventually passed, would ever have come into being if they had been imposed from outside? The American majority would have resisted it, and you would have asked them if they then thought crimes against blacks were not crimes. Instead the liberal whites were able to enforce their way of thinking on the conservatives. The same goes for Sri Lanka; we need to find our own just and civil society. On our own. From within ourselves.
As for the war crimes, as I told you, every war will turn up its own atrocities, and SL is no different. You seem convinced there weren’t many here, and in relation to other wars, you’re right. But there’ll be at least as many as there’ve been in Iraq (relative to scale) or Afghanistan. And often what’s defined a war crime is subjective. I’ve seen this war very close up, and I’ve seen what happens. However, I didn’t say that investigations will lead to prosecution of SL soldiers, in fact I pointed out that it will not. What it will lead to is possible — emphasis POSSIBLE — prosecution of the leadership — Fonseka and his brigade and divisional commanders, and the Rajapaksas, perhaps the SLAF commander. And that will impact SL — especially if we don’t give them up.
As for your comparison between what happened to Saddam Hussein and what could happen to MR, I think that’s an analogy gone too far. The US was hellbent on securing Iraq’s oil, and deposing Saddam to do it. Even if he had cooperated, they’d have found a way to push him to the point where he couldn’t be pushed anymore. SL doesn’t have that value.
Mahinda: Hello again, David Blacker,
So you think there is a possibility that an international investigation will lead to the prosecution of the Rajapakse’s, Fonseka and SLA Brigade/Divisional Commanders and the SLAF Commander?If they did something wrong, then by all means they should be prosecuted, right?
Or do you oppose their prosecution under any circumstance because they did what they did in the interests of our country and people? Because their actions effectively “rid Sri Lanka of Terrorism” and therefore deserve our loyalty, and we should try and protect them no matter what, out of gratitude?
You also state that “I’ve seen this war very close up, and I’ve seen what happens”. Does this mean you know a lot about what went on within the Army? You must know a thing or two about General Sarath Fonseka then… Since you know so much, you will know that this man never sought to make one cent in commissions out of his position. He said he would not leave this job for another army commander to complete and he meant business. A strict disciplinarian, he rid the Army of corruption wherever he found it. He changed the Army structure – promotions were given on performance – not seniority – he even commissioned Corporals who he deemed worthy. He was one of the only officers speaking out in the interest of the Army during the ceasefire period. He was the one who pushed for a military end to the conflict when our king was still talking peace and settlement.
He got the job done. But you know all this, right? Because “I’ve seen this war very close up, and I’ve seen what happens”?
Now he’s locked up, falsely accused of making commissions on procurements, engaging in politics whilst in uniform (of course this is not an offense if you’re Yoshitha Rajapakse) and plotting a coup (this is ridiculous – if he wanted to grab power by force, it would have been very simple for him when he was the Commander of the Army). So if you’re so protective of our leaders and commanders and feel the need to protect them, why aren’t you protesting against the treatment of this man? This hero of Sri Lanka? This man who was instrumental in the ending of the war, to whom we owe so much?
You also suggest that reconciliation cannot be rushed and cite some examples where an apology took 40 years to be made. Right. So we sit and wait till we’re ready to apologize and reconcile, and expect the Tamils to be patient. But what if some young charismatic Tamil, full of hate and vengeance, decides to incite other young Tamils, also full of hate and vengeance, to rise up against the Sinhalese? We fight for another 30 years?
About the invasion of Iraq. Yes – we in Sri Lanka probably don’t need to be overly worried about a US Invasion force – as long as the Oil Fields of Mannar don’t suddenly turn out to be significant! However, if Saddam had fully cooperated with the IAEA and UN, all justification for the invasion would have been removed. You may remember that the only reason they could press ahead against overwhelming opposition from within their own countries was because they claimed there was credible evidence that Iraq had WMD’s which could be mobilized against the UK within 45 minutes. If that evidence was refuted by the IAEA, then there would have been little or no chance of the invasion taking place.
David Blacker: Sorry, Mahinda, I was under the impression I was in a discussion with a knowledgeable — if overly idealistic — person, not a naive schoolboy. Please, do disabuse me of this notion before this all gets very boring.
First of all, I do not oppose any prosecutions. Did you somehow skip through my last comment and just pick out the interesting bits? I oppose selective justice. I oppose ONLY Sri Lankan military officers and civilian leaders being prosecuted. If Fonseka, and Gotabhaya, and Shavendra Silva are suspected (with evidence) of war crimes, they must be prosecuted, but I also want to see Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice, and Norman Schwarzkopf, and James Mattis, and Mike Jackson up there in the dock with ‘em. Is this simple and absolute enough for you to comprehend?
Thank you for the heart warming little defence counsel summary on Fonseka, but if you reread my comment you’ll see that I didn’t at any point accuse him of anything, so take a chill pill. To reiterate (since you kinda fell asleep while reading my last comment), I don’t see the need to protect anyone in the military or civilian leadership. I only want justice to be fair. Fonseka, and Gotabhaya, and all the others did no more nor less than anyone in the US/Israeli/British leadership have done in their recent years, so if our guys our guilty, then so are suspect, then so are the above, and all should be treated alike.
But in your haste, Mahinda, your slip has shown. Methinks you reason for demanding cooperation with the UN is so that Fonseka’s name would be cleared (hopefully) in an investigation. FYI, I think Fonseka is a great hero, but he’s a crap politician, and that unfortunately has landed him in a cell. Also, contrary to popular belief, it would have been no simple matter for him to seize power while Army commander. It is for this very same reason that a coup theory is equally absurd.
And yes, the Tamils must be patient. They lost the war, and when you lose, you also lose the right to demand anything. Ask the Germans and Japanese, ask the Iraqis and Afghans. The Irish waited forty years, the Palestinians have waited sixty, and are still waiting. The Sinhalese dead of the two insurrections will have to wait too. What makes the Tamils so special?
And no, we won’t wait thirty years to kill the next Prabhakharan. He won’t last thirty days.
And lastly, about Saddam and Iraq, are you truly so naive as to believe that Bush, Cheney & Co would have said “Oh yes, he’s a good boy now that we know he hasn’t any nukes, let’s all go down to Texas and shoot us some Messicans”? If it wasn’t WMDs, it would have been Osama and Al Qaeda. If it wasn’t that it would have been Kurdish freedom. If it wasn’t that it would have been freeing Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Or finding the Ark of the Covenant. They’d have got Saddam in the end ‘cos as George W said “He done tried to kill ma daddy”.
Grow up, machang.
Mahinda: Hello again, David Blacker. Interesting comment again – made me laugh!
You seem quite concerned as to what sort of a person I am… Well that is one of the problems with this newfangled interweb thingy, isn’t it? You never can be sure exactly who you’re dealing with… Anyway – enough of the banter.
Right let me deal with your comment in detail, without missing anything out (I wouldn’t want to get you all hot and bothered again, would I?).
So you don’t like selective justice. Fair enough. You say “if Fonny/Gota/that Shavendra fellow are to be prosecuted (with evidence) that’s fine, but I want to see Powell, Rice, H. Norman and Mike Jackson (the General/Sir type, not the late plastic surgery fanatic, I assume?) up there in the dock with ‘em”. You basically want to change the way the world works. You want to see the big boys being treated the same as the little boys. Let me know how you get on with that.
Now although you take issue with selective justice at a global level, you don’t seem overly concerned with the blatant selective justice meted out by the Government/Police/Judiciary at home…
Wimal and his boys are allowed to protest and beat cops up but priests/students/Golden Key depositors are beaten up/arrested if they stage peaceful protests.
Karuna and Pillayan are given senior administrative roles and military protection, KP gives guided tours to members of the Tamil Diaspora but General Fonseka languishes in Military Custody.
If you could please explain to this naive schoolboy how these are not examples of selective justice and why they are not of more concern to us, seeing as they occur on our shores, I would be much obliged to you, O Knowledgeable David Blacker.
You were also concerned that Fonny, Gota et al would be hauled up before a war crimes tribunal, but as you said, what they did is no better and no worse than what US/UK troops did in Iraq/Afghan. As such, do you honestly think they would A. be hauled up before a tribunal and B. be declared guilty by the said tribunal? Imagine the precedent that would set – the anti war protesters would go to town and demand that UK/US troops be tried as well. In some cases, they would have video footage (complete with an incriminating soundtrack), to be used as evidence – far more credible evidence than evidence any investigative panel on Sri Lanka would be able to come up with. So its not likely, is it? It is a bit difficult to compare any of the Sri Lankan ‘leaders’ you mention to the likes of Radovan Karadzic, isn’t it? However, with regards to our friend Karuna, last seen dancing at a wedding without a care in the world, its quite a bit easier to equate him with the likes of good old Radovan – as much as I dislike Sri Lankan cops, getting them to dig their own graves and then mowing them down with automatic fire isn’t really recommended in Debrett’s Guide to Etiquette is it? I understand Debrett’s Guide also takes a similar dim view of the massacre of innocent Buddhist priests…
However in the UPFA guide to Sri Lankan Etiquette, appointing such an individual to Deputy Leadership of the Party is quite acceptable conduct.
Sri Lanka. Where justice isn’t selective at all. Being such a shining beacon of freedom and justice, we find ourselves at liberty to pick faults with the conduct of foreign countries and international organizations.
With respect to good old Fonny, yes – you didn’t accuse him of anything, but then seeing as you oppose injustices and you let on that “you’ve seen this war very close up, and you’ve seen what happens” you didn’t seem to be standing up for Fonny either. I found that upsetting. I like and respect General Fonseka very much, you see.
You also say he’s a great leader but a crap politician. Good point. Fonny really needs to look at Mahinda, Wimal and Paba, to learn a thing or two… In Sri Lanka, the truth , intelligence and actual ability count for nothing. It’s all about the bs, the cheap political stunts and learning to kiss the correct ass at the correct time. If SF can land a decent tele-drama role (or take part in Sirasa Dancing Star), this should help no end as well. After all, it doesn’t matter if you were born in, say, Kuwait or someplace and know absolutely nothing about the constitution (and go on Derana 360 to prove that fact) – being in a tele-drama and performing on Sirasa Dancing Star is a tried and tested method of extracting votes from the Sri Lankan public.
You also state that “contrary to popular belief, it would have been no simple matter for him to seize power while Army commander. It is for this very same reason that a coup theory is equally absurd.”
Actually, Fonseka had more control over the Army than any previous commander before him. This was partly due to the influence of Good Old Gota, who having served together with him, knew the caliber of the man, knew he was the man for the job and allowed him all sorts of freedom, despite the reservations of his more powerful aiya. If Fonseka wanted to grab power by force, it would not have been that difficult – a lot of senior officers and commanders were extremely loyal to him (although all these Fonseka loyalists were immediately transferred or sent overseas during the run up to the presidential elections, to be replaced by Fonny haters (like Maj. Gen Manawaduge) who were quite plentiful due to Fonny being the strict disciplinarian and working “to get a job done – not to win friends” ). Fonseka would have never considered such a course of action, but if he had wanted to, it would have been possible. The idea that Fonseka was planning a coup/presidential assassination together with his wife, daughters and a few retired, unarmed soldiers (I think there were only 9 soldiers who carried only small arms with him) using the Cinnamon Lakeside as a base, is however, completely absurd and laughable. How you see the two situations as similar leads me to question your purported intelligence and knowledge.
My respect and adoration of Fonny aside, I also think that we need true peace with the Tamil people in order for Sri Lanka to move forwards – this war has held us back for over 30 years and the war and the reasons behind the war were created by us. You’re clearly not a Tamil and my NIC has a very Sinhalese name on it as well, so it’s a bit difficult for us to appreciate what the Tamils went through. SWRD made the official language of the country Sinhalese and it was all downhill from there.
Allegedly intelligent and knowledgeable people like you don’t help either – I quote “And yes, the Tamils must be patient. They lost the war, and when you lose, you also lose the right to demand anything.” Oh right. so the war was with the Tamil people after all… and here I was, the naive schoolboy, thinking that the war was against the LTTE… I didn’t realize that the LTTE and the Tamil people were one and the same thing, and now they’ve lost, and the Sinhala have won, and Tamils can’t demand anything – even though they constitute close to 20% of our population.
You confidence that the “next prabhakaran” will only last 30 days is admirable, but I’m just afraid that you underestimate the resolve of desperate young people (possibly very intelligent, educated and well financed) filled with hate and righteous indignation.
Finally, about Iraq, I am slightly more inclined to agree with you. Although I have to point out that the anti-war sentiment ran deep in countries like the UK and if Saddam announced a U turn at the last moment and decided to let the IAEA inspectors in, they would have found nothing and given much more credibility to the anti war protesters who insisted the intelligence was flawed (possibly deliberately) and made a subsequent full on invasion of Iraq based on Osama and Al Qaeda, Kurdish freedom, freeing Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves or finding the Ark of the Covenant considerably more difficult.
Have a good day, my Knowledgeable friend.
David Blacker: Lol, Mahinda, interesting rant, but sadly you discuss everything you can think of, except the point — which is the Ban panel, and why it’s unjust. Let me try to cut through your smoke and bring a bit of sense to it.
“You want to see the big boys being treated the same as the little boys.”
No, I don’t, and if you had read my comment and tried to understand the context, you might have grasped it. I want the little boys to be treated the same as the big boys. Too nuanced for you? Go back and reread my comments, perhaps it’ll be easier second time around.
“You basically want to change the way the world works.”
Of course. Don’t you? Or do you prefer a status quo where the powerful have a licence to run rough shod over the weak? But wait, I thought that’s what you wanted to do in SL — change the way it works. Or is it that you just want SL to change and the world to go on as it is? Sounds very fair and just that.
“Now although you take issue with selective justice at a global level, you don’t seem overly concerned with the blatant selective justice meted out by the Government/Police/Judiciary at home… ”
Really, how did you deduce that, Sherlock? I am very concerned about injustices at home, but as you say, “that is one of the problems with this newfangled interweb thingy, isn’t it? You never can be sure exactly who you’re dealing with…” But that doesn’t mean that my concern for injustices at home makes me welcome further injustices from afar.
Your comments on Wimal, Karuna, et al are all valid and I agree that those are things that this country must rectify, but what has that do with the Ban panel?
Your suggestion that the SL leadership being hauled up before a Hague tribunal is unlikely because of the precedent it would set is pretty hilarious. Did you see anti-war protestors thronging the streets demanding that the US/UK go home when Milosovic was brought to trial? Or when the Rwandans were? Get a grip, man, you’re grasping at straws. And why would the Hague give monkey’s about anti-American protests when they have been trying to get the Yanks to sign the Hague Convention for years? As for whether our leadership can be compared to Karadzic, no they can’t be, but ask the Tamil diaspora protesting in London and Toronto and Sydney last year, comparing MR to Hitler, and you’ll understand that objectivity counts for nothing in the narrative, and as I told you before, the narrative dictates that Third World leaders are racist, corrupt, and tyrannical. But since you don’t want me to change the way the world works, you should be pretty happy with that narrative.
“Sri Lanka. Where justice isn’t selective at all. Being such a shining beacon of freedom and justice, we find ourselves at liberty to pick faults with the conduct of foreign countries and international organizations. ”
Oh, but I’m not trying to do that. It’s the foreign countries that are trying to pick faults with SL. I’m merely pointing out that before they try to get the chip out of our eye, they should get the plank out of theirs.
“you didn’t seem to be standing up for Fonny either. I found that upsetting. I like and respect General Fonseka very much, you see. ”
Yes, I’m sure he loves you too, and I’m very sorry that you’re so upset, but I’m sure the general can manage without my help. If he does, however, tell him to give me a call and I’ll pop over and stand up for him.
As for your rather nonsensical analysis of Fonseka’s ability to seize power while Army commander, let me explain why you’re wrong. It’s nothing to do with my intelligence — purported or otherwise — but it is to do with knowledge; something with regard to the SL Armed Forces, you seem to woefully lack. Don’t take offense, but you’re no more ignorant about the Army than the average civilian. You say that many Army officers were loyal to Fonseka — and they were and are — but just as many were far more loyal to the state and — more importantly — to their regiments. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that a sizeable number of officers were loyal to the general, loyal enough to commit treason, loyal enough to cut their regimental ties — something which is frankly inconceivable in the SL Army (you can see its effect all the way up to Fonseka and Gotabhaya, both of whom still remain tied to the Sinha Rifles and the Gajabas with cords of steel), but we’re being hypothetical, so why not? — loyal enough to risk their careers and their lives for him. Now, and again here, I know that you don’t really understand the regimental system, and probably see the Army as this vast green machine, but let’s say that these loyal officers were able to then cut through the whole system and convince junior officers from units as diverse as the Special Forces and the Gemunu Watch and the Armoured Corps and the Medical Corps to all band together and make an attempt at seizing power. They would have to do this without the help of the SL Navy and the SLAF who, as we both know, hate Fonseka’s guts. So the Army — or whichever elements that were willing to revolt — would now have to move their fighting battalions down from the Northeast by road (since they can’t fly without the SLAF or sail without the Navy), using vehicles run on petrol and diesel from stockpiles that both the latter services could destroy in hours. All the while, they would have to get through Kfir airstrikes and Hind gunships, traveling along narrow two-lane highways. Sounds pretty simple, right? Good luck with that, Rommel.
But before we get there, let me clue you in about the SL Army. The regimental structure created by the Brits was done precisely to prevent coups. It is in its very essence a system of division. Every fighting regiment in the SL Army religiously believes it is better than every single other regiment. The only thing that holds it together and allows a Light Infantry colonel to take orders from a Vijayabahu brigadier is their oath to the state. Take it away and replace it with a Fonseka, and it all falls apart. The only things that have ever been able to supersede the regimental loyalty is religion, as we’ve seen in Muslim Pakistan. Now if you believe that Fonseka could have garnered the loyalty that a religion can, you’re free to do so, but I doubt it. If he held that kind of loyalty, I think we’d have seen more rumble in the jungle when he was arrested. The transfer of his more loyal officers would not have been sufficient to hold the Army in place. What held it is its iron discipline and unswerving loyalty to its individual families — the regiments. To say that Fonseka could have overthrown the government with the SL Army is pure fantasy — Fonseka himself knew it, and even if the idea had crossed his mind, it would have prevented him from acting on it. Fonseka is Sinha Rifles through and through, and no fool. If you had ever served in this Army, you would not require this lengthy explanation.
My comment about the Tamils having lost the war and not being in a position to demand anything should have been taken in the context of your comment (“So we sit and wait till we’re ready to apologize and reconcile, and expect the Tamils to be patient”)to which I was responding. Yes, the Tamils must be patient. This war WAS against the LTTE, just as the invasion of Germany by the Allies was against the Nazis, but it was still the German people who lost the war. And yes, it was the Tamils who lost this one, as a people. Don’t take my word for it, read DBS Jeyaraj, one of the most articulate Tamil voices for reason to emerge out of this conflict. I’m sorry if that’s too politically incorrect for you to grasp, but that is the reality. I pointed out earlier that you were only comfortable dealing with absolutes, and again that discomfort with reality is evidenced here.
“I’m just afraid that you underestimate the resolve of desperate young people (possibly very intelligent, educated and well financed) filled with hate and righteous indignation.”
We have faced many such young people — in 1971, in 1987, and for thirty years in the Northeast — and against all odds, we have won every time. You underestimate the will of a paranoid race, believing itself to be besieged on all sides, and with its back to the sea, who have nowhere to call home but this island.
Finally, on Iraq, you remain amusingly naive. Do you really think that there would be a day and a time when the IAEA would’ve said “job done”? It would’ve gone on for years, while the US intelligence services fed in false reports, brought in the Iraqi opposition, the Kurdish factions, dug up perceived dirt on Al Qaeda in Iraq, connections to other terror groups, etc. The US had decided Saddam had to go, and go he did. It was inevitable.
Mahinda: Oh look. David Blacker’s back. Now he’s gone and read a book about the SL Army and has become THE subject matter expert on all issues concerning the SL Army. I’ll add few more thoughts on his newfound knowledge later, let’s first address his issues with the Ban Panel.
I do apologize for my mistake, O Great David Blacker – so you want the little boys to be treated the same as the big boys as opposed to wanting the big boys to be treated the same as the little boys.
Surely that shows questionable morals? If your letter to Santa had asked for the big boys to be treated the same as the little boys this Christmas, it would mean that you were interested in justice. That you were a nice guy. Fighting for what’s right. That you opposed prisoners being mistreated and tortured, and that you opposed soldiers engaging and destroying civilian targets – unarmed men, women and children – while sitting in a relative comfort of a helicopter gunship. That you opposed the Israeli army shooting little kids. That you would like Ban to set up a panel to advise him on these events as well.
But no. you’ve asked Santa to make sure the little boys are treated the same as the big boys. Assuming of course that the big boys we are talking about here are the likes of the biggest bully in the yard, America, you want the rest of the world to be treated the same way. Take the recent leaking of the video of a US Helicopter engaging civilian targets, including women and children (if you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, go to youtube and search for “collateral murder”). No Ban Panel on that (or the multitude of similar incidents involving the US) is there?
So you want the UN to take a similar “look the other way and miss it” approach to all incidents involving little boys (Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Bosnia/Serbia/Yugoslavia), right?
So when you say you want to change the world, you seem to want to change it to a lousier place than it already is… Care to clarify your position?
Now you’re only going to come back with some protracted reaction about me taking your comments out of context, and to be fair by you, you have previously have stated “I oppose ONLY Sri Lankan military officers and civilian leaders being prosecuted. If Fonseka, and Gotabhaya, and Shavendra Silva are suspected (with evidence) of war crimes, they must be prosecuted, but I also want to see Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice, and Norman Schwarzkopf, and James Mattis, and Mike Jackson up there in the dock with ‘em”.
So, Great, Knowledgeable David Blacker, once you have enlightened us mere mortals as to what sort of a place you’d like to change the world to, please share your plans of action – how you hope to set about achieving your lofty ambitions of changing the world. After all, that book you read on the SL Army would have definitely covered the decision making process taught to KDA and Sandhurst Officer Cadets as well Camberly Staff College Commanders Course material, which would (aside for making you the master of all knowledge pertaining to the SL Army) ideally equip you to take all relevant factors into consideration, conduct your estimate, decide on your course of action and ‘prepare your orders’, right?
Further, with regards to your subject of expertise, the SL Army, someone with such an intimate knowledge of the intricacies of the SL Army would, as I’ve previously suggested, know a lot about its most successful commander, who also holds the distinction of being the highest ranked serving Officer in it’s history. I would also like to add that all this talk of how likely a coup was is strictly hypothetical, seeing as he would have never considered such a course of action. He was very loyal to the president as the Commander of the Army, only becoming disillusioned with the leadership of the country after the end of the war.
Anyway, David Blacker, Master of all Matters Pertaining to the SL Army, I’m sure you know to what degree General Fonseka controlled the operations up north – he always had live satellite/aerial images of the operational areas (even on the rare occasion where he was overseas) and would control the situation, even down to section level. You could say this is micro management but this guy was effectively everywhere. Knew everything. He was in control.
This was nicely summed up by Brig. Shavendra Silva, once upon a time – at a military function just after the end of the war, Brig. Silva was congratulated by General Fonseka’s elder daughter, to which he replied “we just did what your father told us to”. Brig. (now Maj General) Silva has subsequently changed his tune but then there you go…
So do you honestly think that, had General Fonseka’s ultimate ambition been to secure power using his position as Commander of the Army (I stress that this is not the case – he isn’t really the type to commit treason), he would not have achieved this? This is not a man you’d do well to bet against in a Military Situation.
Your (also hypothetical) vision of having Sinha Regiment troops trundling down the A9 (after having publicly announced “we’re staging a coup now, ok?”) fighting off Gajaba troops, MI 24′s, Kfirs and MIG’s in scenes worthy of a hollywood blockbuster is, well, ridiculous. Any self professed military expert would know that speed, surprise, and secrecy would be the hallmarks of such an operation.
But again. All hypothetical. General Fonseka loves his country and the SL Army. To stage a coup would be to go against the principles of a Soldier. I don’t think he would have ever done this, despite any convictions that he needed to save our country from it’s corrupt leaders… Which is not the same as saying he couldn’t have done it.
I also think Sarath Fonseka would have made a great president. Sure he’s a bit strong for some people’s taste, but he would have been the change we needed.
Now on to my comment “I’m just afraid that you underestimate the resolve of desperate young people (possibly very intelligent, educated and well financed) filled with hate and righteous indignation.” and your reaction “We have faced many such young people — in 1971, in 1987, and for thirty years in the Northeast — and against all odds, we have won every time. You underestimate the will of a paranoid race, believing itself to be besieged on all sides, and with its back to the sea, who have nowhere to call home but this island”.
Yes. Well done us, the Sinhala people. We successfully killed lots of our own in the JVP uprisings and also killed tens of thousand of our own countrymen. And we’re rearing to go, ready to do it all over again. We’re not into examining the reasons behind these uprisings/conflicts and taking credible steps to ensure that history didn’t repeat itself. I also like the latter part of your comment very much – “nowhere to call home but this Island” – you must mean that Tamils do in fact have someplace other than to this island to call home… So you must be one of the “if you don’t like it, fuck off to Tamil Nadu” brigade… I also admire the fact that you’re not worried into the slightest about another possible uprising, or even isolated incidents designed to “send out a message” by causing the maximum amount of carnage possible, by using small, isolated “cells” – I understand al-qaeda is quite fond of this MO.
Anyway, back to us, the brave Sinhala people, unafraid of anything that comes our way… We’re definitely not interested in taking a step back in trying to examine our status as a country which recently gained independence from the British and extrapolating the development and progression of our nation (if its was not plagued with uprisings and civil war) and comparing it with our status today.
Even if we did, we wouldn’t conclude that the discrepancy is primarily due to the repercussions of the war, which was in turn due to the step motherly treatment of (as well as blatant discrimination against) the Tamils, and realize that it is in our best interest, as a nation, to ensure that such a situation was not allowed to arise ever again… We’d just blame the discrepancy on the “kari demallu” and that would be it. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would come up with a phrase like “Sinhalaya Modaya”
David Blacker: Lol, this gets funnier with each retreat you make from reality, Mahinda. I mean, come on, you start of discussing the Ban panel, but now more than half of each of your comments is dedicated to shoving your tongue up Fonseka’s backside. Why don’t you set up a blog and FB group to canonize the man while you’re about it? Ha ha. Anyway, on to the actual subject, the Ban panel. I can only find one paragraph in your ramble that is even remotely connected to it.
You question my morals because I want SL to be treated like the US, and since you feel that the US, Israel, etc are a horrible bunch, that I want the world to be a horrible place. This assumption is not surprising, given that a lot of your theories are based on assumption. But let me ask you this. If the SL military fought this war largely in a clean manner (as you yourself claim), comparable say to the US or UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, shouldn’t we then be treated the same way as the US and UK? It’s not a question of morals, but one of fairness and justice.
“So you want the UN to take a similar “look the other way and miss it” approach to all incidents involving little boys”
No, I don’t. Whatever gave you that idea? What I do want, which I have repeated several times in my comments (but which seem beyond your grasp), is for the UN to have a fixed point of reference (say the Hague and Geneva Conventions) regardless of whether they’re looking at SL, the USA, or whoever, and for this point of reference to be implemented equally, regardless of the country. If you find that to be immoral, if you think that’ll make the world a lousier place, then so be it. I think it’s fair.
“Further, with regards to your subject of expertise, the SL Army, someone with such an intimate knowledge of the intricacies of the SL Army would, as I’ve previously suggested, know a lot about its most successful commander, who also holds the distinction of being the highest ranked serving Officer in it’s history”
This is what I mean about you being ignorant. Fonseka wasn’t the highest-ranking officer to serve in the SL Army. He was the highest-ranking officer to hold the post of Army Commander. Gen Hamilton Wanasinghe was promoted from lieutenant general (his rank while Army commander) to general when he took over command of the Joint Operations Command in the mid-’90s. That’s why most of your fanciful ideas of a military coup are ludicrous — they aren’t based in reality, but in the pages of some Tom Clancy novel.
“Any self professed military expert would know that speed, surprise, and secrecy would be the hallmarks of such an operation. ”
Oh right, so tell me oh self-professed Fonseka expert how this speedy, surprising, and secret operation would have been carried out. Was he going to beam the Armoured Corps up to the USS Enterprise and then teleport them down to Temple Trees with their phasers set on stun? Great moons of Saturn, Jim, why didn’t I think of that?
“To stage a coup would be to go against the principles of a Soldier.”
And there you have it, Watson. Fonseka isn’t the only soldier with that set of values, and I doubt he could garner the loyalty that would make the SL Army (or even a few loyal officers) ignore that principle. Which is what I told you before I set up the scenario. Once more, you missed that most important bit, while trying to find holes in the sandbox exercise.
“Yes. Well done us, the Sinhala people. We successfully killed lots of our own in the JVP uprisings and also killed tens of thousand of our own countrymen. And we’re rearing to go, ready to do it all over again. We’re not into examining the reasons behind these uprisings/conflicts and taking credible steps to ensure that history didn’t repeat itself.”
Oh, I think we should examine the reasons behind these issues and take sincere steps to prevent them happening again. Whether your hero Sarath”Minorities Shouldn’t Ask for Undue Things” Fonseka would allow this is another question, but we should. However, trying to impose such an examination from outside, will be counterproductive. I’ve explained why, and given you examples of similar scenarios very early in this conversation, so rather than repeat myself, I’d urge you to scroll up and reread and perhaps try to understand this time. But my response was to your other hypothesis that we might face a fresh revolt by the Tamils.
“I also like the latter part of your comment very much – “nowhere to call home but this Island” – you must mean that Tamils do in fact have someplace other than to this island to call home… So you must be one of the “if you don’t like it, fuck off to Tamil Nadu” brigade…””
Even if that was what I meant, which it wasn’t, I’d pretty much be saying what your mango friend Fonseka said, no? — “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people.” LIKE our people, Mahinda, but not OUR people. I also note that you quote only the parts of my sentences that you find easy to argue with. What I said was, “You underestimate the will of a paranoid race, believing itself to be besieged on all sides, and with its back to the sea, who have nowhere to call home but this island.” I didn’t say it was what I believe.
“I also admire the fact that you’re not worried into the slightest about another possible uprising, or even isolated incidents designed to “send out a message” by causing the maximum amount of carnage possible, by using small, isolated “cells” – I understand al-qaeda is quite fond of this MO.”
Not only AQ, but the JVP too, and look what happened to them — from blood-thirsty commie guerrillas to eating Lemon Puff outside the UN gates. Again, you would be ignorant of course of attempts by isolated LTTE pockets to restart fighting in the East in the last six months of 2009, using caches of hidden weapons. They were hunted down and exterminated by special operations units. I don’t dismiss the danger of another separatist uprising in the future, and I have written many times that we must prevent it by winning over the Tamils, but imposing an external UN-sponsored investigation will not do it. You cannot force someone to be nice; polite, yes, nice, no. They just have to become nice.
“We’re definitely not interested in taking a step back in trying to examine our status as a country which recently gained independence from the British”
To step back, Mahinda, we need space. The LTTE-supportive elements of the diaspora are not interested in that, and in fact exult in every perceived new or continued persecution of the Tamils (read the comments on Transcurrents). The Ban investigation is counterproductive. Give us the time to find our own path to becoming a true democratic nation, just as the USA did fifty years ago when it finally became a true democracy that abided by its constitution. And if you think our independence was recent, you should look at the end of the war in that same timeframe; which would put May 19th 2009 at about five minutes ago. So as I asked before, what’s the hurry?
“I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would come up with a phrase like “Sinhalaya Modaya””
Not sure myself, since I’m not Sinhalese, but why don’t you ask Fonseka — he’s Sinhalese, I hear.
Now that we’ve discussed my morality, military coups, Fonseka’s saintliness, and so many other diverse subjects, do you have anything further to say about the Ban panel?
You can join in the conversation by commenting here or back on the original thread.