Lessons from a TV interview on the state of political resistance in Sri Lanka

These are revolutionary days, days of resistance. Especially in Egypt. Not in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the situation is different; the general practice, nowadays, is to hold placards with ‘SHAME’ written on them. Seeing such placards, however, cause confusion in our minds; because ‘SHAME’ seems to be encapsulating one of the principal feelings that runs through us when we think of the Government, and of those holding the placards as well. Therein lies the problem.

A Killing  

The brutal assassination of Baratha Lakshman Premachandra was a most unfortunate incident. The manner in which the relevant authorities initially handled the investigation was deplorable. His daughter, Hirunika Premachandra, has led the campaign which is aimed at raising greater awareness of her father’s brutal killing, exposing the politician who is alleged to be involved in the planning and execution of the killing. One sincerely hopes that Hirunika’s desire of seeing the law being properly enforced is realized, especially so after watching her interview with Sirasa-TV’s Kingsley Ratnayaka.

Support

She deserves support. She deserves encouragement. Just like any other movement or party which is genuinely interested in improving the situation within the country. But the question is: what sort of support? Surely, it’s not the kind of support which exaggerates the impact of what has been said or done. The effort should be recognized, acknowledged. But exaggeration or celebration should be avoided: not only because it exposes our own sad state, but also because such support doesn’t do good to those who are being supported. And it needs to be borne in mind that these are not personal issues, they are of national significance as well. If then, far more seriousness in the matter of acknowledgment is demanded.

An interview and the reaction

Let’s take the Hirunika-interview as an example.

That Hirunika felt the need to address a larger audience is understandable, and is indeed appreciated. Yet, given the nature of the killing, given the accusations that had been leveled against many people and politicians concerning the killing and given the wider implications of that dastardly act which has a grave impact, not only on our political culture but also the law and order situation within the country, and given the statements she had made to the press ever since her father’s killing, it was somewhat unsurprising to see Hirunika taking the extra step of addressing a larger audience. It was not the first time one saw her, nor the first time one heard about what she had to say.

But in addition to that, what is interesting here is not what was said by Hirunika during the interview. Rather, what has been most interesting, even entertaining, is the reaction and the manner in which the interview was received by the audience.

So what do observers, commentators and well-wishers say about this interview? Some say it was an interview which exposed the true character of Lankan society and/or its law and order situation under the Rajapaksa-regime; i.e., it exposed the real faces behind the killing, their nefarious background. They say that a most influential part of this political system consists of the corrupt, drug-dealing, murderous elements, etc. Some say that it was this interview which pushed the judiciary into issuing an arrest warrant against MP Duminda Silva. Some others say Hirunika’s was a damning critique of Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary, as there was a pointed and critical reference made to the latter during the course of the interview. An interview, in short, which deserves applause and celebration.

Hirunika, undoubtedly, reflected the anger of some elements of the youth population within the country. It is an anger which has been growing for quite some time (or so, we like to think). Also, her decision to come before the media did represent, to some extent, the courage and determination, that passion, of the youth for forthright, critical, engagement. Furthermore, there’s no problem in applauding and celebrating. But we are dealing with an issue of national significance. A bit more seriousness in our assessment is expected.

Nothing new

Sadly, and contrary to (perhaps) popular perception, the interview did not tell us anything that we did not know. Nothing at all (except for the fact that Hirunika still has trust in MP Basil Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the Chief Justice).

Firstly, the interview did nothing new in terms of exposing the true state of the law and order situation in the country – since what Hirunika said was understood and well known for quite a long time (in fact, it was she who pointed out during the interview that her father’s killing was not the first such political killing or that it wasn’t the first time that a case had not been properly investigated). Secondly, it is rather sad if we are to seriously think that the interview had a significant impact on what happened in Court, for a number of reasons: on the one hand, it is amusing to imagine that a judge woke up from his slumber one fine day, watched the interview, realized what was happening, and decided to issue an arrest warrant; on the other hand, if we are to believe such a scenario, it tells us much about the pathetic level to which our law and order situation in the country has dropped (Note: this is not to say that the warrant is unimportant. Issuing the warrant was a most welcome development. But let’s consider the seriousness of the deeper problem we fail to acknowledge when attempting to argue that the warrant came about as a consequence of the interview).

Thirdly, while it initially appears that a pointed and critical reference to the Defence Secretary amounts to a bold and damning critique, what was said about the Defence Secretary was not what many may have wanted (and expected) Hirunika to say. Her complaint concerned the Defence Secretary’s statement about the necessity of getting the support of politicians irrespective of the politician’s background. Rather, what many people perhaps expected from Hirunika, but that which was not stated by her, was this: that the Defence Secretary was clearly involved in protecting Duminda Silva! Now, that would have been a damning critique. Whether she believes that to be the case, one does not know. Whether she has evidence to substantiate such an argument, we do not know. But the fact remains that the criticism made by Hirunika was not something which the regime would consider as overtly threatening or damning.

Lessons

If then, what does Hirunika’s interview tell us?

In the final analysis, it did not reveal much. Rather, it was the reaction to the interview (almost jubilant in certain quarters) which revealed that even the re-stating of the obvious, as Hirunika did, is considered to be an act of great resistance in the mind of Sri Lankans in particular. Why? Because the kind of resistance coming from the political parties seems hopelessly inadequate and puerile. Where one hopes to see hope there is hopelessness. Where one expects to see some certainty there is uncertainty. Intra-party bickering and squabbling continue unabated. Looking at all this, we, the poor and helpless, leap, embrace and celebrate as resistance and critique that which merely highlights and reaffirms what is known and what is understood.

Does this mean that Hirunika’s recent intervention is insignificant? Not necessarily, but one might need to hasten to add that in the larger scheme of things, it is most likely to end up as something insignificant – or as an event which was not as significant as one would have liked it to be. Why: because time passes, and things are in a constant flux. Like the following:

Firstly, no sooner the interview gained popularity, there came the news that a warrant was issued against MP Silva. We imagined that it was the interview that did it, but we never imagined that this could have been what the Government was secretly expecting. And if we think that the warrant seriously hampers the return of Silva, we need to think a bit more on the following lines: that it is precisely this arrest warrant that enables the Government (which might, by now, consider Silva to be a political burden) to put the blame on the judiciary, if in case Silva complains (confidentially) about his inability to return. What happens in the future is to be seen, but at present, all parties seem to have won. What seems to be the case at the moment is this: the judiciary appears independent, the Premachandra family is somewhat satisfied, the Government has got rid of Silva, and Silva is, for the moment, safe in Singapore.

Secondly, where does the Hirunika-interview stand in the context of what happened in Parliament a few days ago, in front of the President’s own eyes? Would an interview condemning the action of the MPs of the ruling party simply do the trick? The Hirunika-interview pales into insignificance when compared with the broader lawlessness that the legislators seem to be exhibiting before the President as well as what needs to be done to prevent our confidence in the legislature from taking a serious nose-dive (that is only if it has not happened, already).

What sort of resistance?

There is then a broader question too: What sort of ‘resistance’ would have any impact? The answer is unclear. The Opposition (the UNP and the JVP in particular), for instance, talks constantly about the Tahrir Square (where revolution strikes twice), but cannot get a few thousands to Sri Lanka’s own Lipton Square. And what is far more serious is this: for a fleeting moment, we seemed to have thought that the Hirunika-interview was of greater impact than the entire Opposition put together. While later developments showed this was not so, that very thought tells us what we consider to be resistance today, and there’s nothing much these political parties can do about it (and it is perhaps well to remember here, that the only significant impact in terms of resistance came in recent times not from Hirunika or any other individual, but perhaps from the University teachers).

The point is quite simple here. If one is not serious about it, one can and should avoid the language of resistance. If one is serious, then let there be a serious discussion about what those forms of resistance are, or ought to be. And that obsession about regime-change should be put to rest a bit, too; especially because any movement or party needs to be honest about its abilities too.

For the moment, there is some helplessness. Little acts of resistance, let there be no doubt, are important. But celebrating little acts of resistance does not further the cause of political resistance and critical engagement at a national level, especially under current circumstances. It only causes amusement. That’s what our own reaction to the Hirunika-interview should teach us before long.

  • surendra

    the above article discusses Hirunika’s interview from so may angles, it is not clear what the main point is. The point seems to be that, while the interview registers courage and is important, by itself it will fade into insignificance. That it has had no impact on the Supreme Court decision to issue a warrant on MP Duminda, and that the whole thing has played into the hands of the regime to find the way to dump the liability that the MP has now become. Further, it implies that the interview did not present anything new.

    The main point of the interview is not any of the above, which the author fails to acknowledge. The regime has survived so far through the policy of impunity, through which it has not only covered up its crimes, but also encouraged them. Indeed, the shocking killing of Lakshman Bharatha Premachandra would indeed fade into insignificance, would been covered up, if not for the interview given by Hirunika. Hirunika’s interview served to assualt public conscience about the pathetic state of politics and of the law and order situation prevailing in the country, a state of social conscience that had been numbed just by the continuous recurrence of such crimes and atrocities. The interview brought out the organic connection between the regime and the underworld, which was given stark testimony by the reference to the statement by the Defense Secretary. The author would say, ” So what? Nothing new! Yet, the truth is that the truth has to be hammered through untill it penetrates false and deluded consciousness, untill it is grasped and acted upon by the masses.
    It is crucial that the lamp of freedom be kept aflame when darkness shrouds the landscape, and hope seems to be dying out. That is the enduring significance of Hirunika’s interview. She did not confine the tribunal of conscience only to the killing of her father and others, but also to the tragedies embodied, symbolized and concentrated in the case of Lasantha and Prageeth.
    The author’s anaysis would seek to deprive the depth of significance in awakening public consciousness and in convening the tribunal of conscience at this the darkest hour. The courage exemplified in daring to speak the truth against powerful evil forces is to be upheld- and not be diluted by transcending, overarching intellectual analyses. A single spark can start a prarie fire, and Hirunika has added to that spark.

    • joker

      The supreme court has not issued an arrest warrant on MP Duminda Silva. The supreme court has no jurisdiction to do so.

      It was the magistrate who made the order to arrest the MP. He did not issue a warrant.

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      Looking forward to Yapa, Wijeyapala, Blacker et al trying to douse the spark via groundviews.

      • yapa

        Dear PresiDunce Bean;

        We are fire engines! In case of emergency just give a ring.

        Thanks!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    ‘Vishnugupta’, writing in the Lanka Standard, has an interesting evaluation of Hirunika’s intervention, which is significantly different from Kalana’s.

    http://www.lankastandard.com/2011/11/is-hirunika-premachandra-sri-lanka%e2%80%99s-cindy-sheehan/

    • Burning_Issue

      Another spin to neutralise the impact of the article!

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      @ Dr.Dayarn

      Read the link you provided. What have you got to say about this paragraph that appears in the article? (given below)
      ” But Mahinda went not one but many steps further: He took his rival into custody, filed many plaints against him; instituted court marshal proceedings and found him guilty and incarcerated the General who risked his life many times for the sake of winning the war against the LTTE. Many more court actions are yet pending. In fairness to Bush, he did not do any of those things, for USA is not Sri Lanka, where accountability and transparency are not mere words but solid principles enshrined and entrenched in the system and the constituency more educated and alert.”

      …waiting with bated breath for an answer.

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Dunce, it’ll take someone lots smarter than you to trip me up. My answer was clear in what I wrote at the time, in the article entitled A Perfect Blunder ( Feb 15, 2010).

        I think that Sumanasiri Liyanage and Vishnugupta have made valuable observations on the Hirunika interview.

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Kalana and others debating this should try figuring why the Sri Lankan public interventions that resonated most, this year, were by two educated, articulate, mediagenic youngsters,one a man, the other a woman: Kumar Sangakkara and Hirunika Premachandra. Though there was a variation in their discourses, taken together they were saying something interesting different from the dominant discourses both status quoist and opposition/INGO/NGO ‘dissident’. They were also saying it differently. As importantly, they were also not identified with the usual anti-war, anti-MR, NGO-ish, Diaspora driven jazz. Their stances and critiques were different. That gave them mainstream ( or in the Gramscian sense, ‘national popular’) appeal.

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        @Dr.Da yarn,

        He…he…don’t want to trip anybody up. Since Herr Docktor is the one who posted the link http://www.lankastandard.com/2011/11/is-hirunika-premachandra-sri-lanka%e2%80%99s-cindy-sheehan/

        …I was wondering if Herr Docktor agreed or disagreed with the paragraph taken from ‘Vishnuguptas’ article appearing in the Lanka Standard.

  • Kalana Senaratne

    Surendra,

    My intention was not to “deprive”, as you say, “the depth of significance in awakening public consciousness and in convening the tribunal of conscience at this the darkest hour.” How could I even imagine to do such a thing to something so great as “public consciousness” or the “tribunal of conscience”! Also, how and why should I attempt to do that when I agree with much of what H said during her interview? In addition to that, why did I write that she deserves support and encouragement?

    Rather, my intention was to critically question the kind of “depth of significance” this interview symbolizes or represents – taking into account the political activity going on in the country. So, let me clarify: I am not accusing H for saying what we already knew by that time, about the investigation or the legal system in the country.

    And I considered a critical inquiry was necessary very simply because H is emerging, in the eyes of many, as someone who represents the dreams and aspirations of the youth, and H has made it quite clear that she has political ambitions. All the more reason why there should be critical inquiry of what’s being said by her, or in this case, about the way in which the public understands, and reacts to, such media interventions. And if the above kind of critique (which I consider to be somewhat mild) is construed as an attempt to “deprive” or “dilute” the “courage exemplified” by H: firstly, I am sorry for giving that impression; and secondly, may ‘God’ bless H and her fans/supporters!

    One final point: you said many nice things about the “lamp of freedom”, about “darkness” that “shrouds the landscape”, about the “spark” and the “prairie fire.” This is all nice Surendra. But I hope you wouldn’t miss appreciating the seriousness of the challenge that is before the people in general, and H in particular. I hope you wouldn’t forget that what H seeks to achieve is what even the Sunday Leader could not adequately achieve after Lasantha’s killing. After Lasantha’s killing, there were a lot of “sparks” and many thought there would be that “prairie fire” too. What do we have now? Where is the “spark” that prevented a former AG (and now an advisor to the Cabinet) from (reportedly) uttering the kind of unbelievable thing he did recently, about Ekneligoda and Weliamuna? Where is the “spark” that prevented another 18th Amendment kind of thing happening as it did with regard to the ‘Expropriation’ Bill? Where is that “spark” which prevented some thuggish MPs beating MPs of the Opposition in front of the President? So while I wish H all the very best, I am too much of a skeptic to think in terms of “sparks.” All this is not to demoralize, though. It is to do the exact opposite.

    • Gamarala

      Dear Kalana,

      I hope you see this criticism as constructive, but I must say that in contrast to your usual, clear and cogent style of argumentation, this article meanders about aimlessly to come to a rather obscured conclusion.

      I really didn’t understand what you were trying to say and would appreciate it if you can clarify. On the one hand you say Hirunika’s act of resistance is admirable. The you say it’s pointless. So if the act was pointless, is there anything really admirable about it?

      Secondly, in your reply, you caution against igniting sparks. I can also understand your rationale, given the overwhelming concentration of power in the government and the potentially violent backlash. But what alternative do you offer?

      As I evaluate the Rajapakse regime at present, I see certain good things. For example, infrastructure building projects are going on apace. We have our first proper highway etc. Excellent!

      But this lack of law and order, the concentration of thugs and goons in the govt., a culture of impunity and this feudal system of governance, worries me. It may be suitable for those who prefer such feudal sycophancy, but I certainly cannot see how an educated human being, with some measure of one’s own dignity, could find such a throwback to the primitive past, appealing.

      I personally do not care whether the govt. is toppled or not – I’m not a political animal who has anything to gain from it. What I do want to see is the latter set of problems fixed. What is your prescription for it? Are you suggesting that the best thing to do now is to lie low? Also, I didn’t understand why you thought Hirunika’s defiance was amusing? Can you clarify that too?

      • Kalana Senaratne

        Dear Gamarala,

        Thanks a lot for that comment. You have raised a number of important issues.

        Firstly, about the aimless meandering and obscure conclusion. Yes, I agree (I am far more critical of my own writing than you imagine, so I appreciate your point!). One reason is because there are a number of issues to be addressed, and there is no single, coherent, party/movement which can help here. The next reason concerns your related query: Is Hirunika’s act of resistance admirable or pointless? In principle, I don’t think in terms of something being either admirable or pointless. An act of resistance can have the appearance of being either admirable or pointless (two very strong words) – but over time, that which appeared admirable can turn out to be pointless, and vice versa. In most cases, the answer hovers in between. So I do admit, the arguments I raise are not invulnerable.

        The point is this: there are many questions that can be raised here. For eg, is it admirable enough if you, at the end of the interview, sign off by saying that you still trust both MP Basil Rajapaksa and President Rajapaksa? One can ask: so what is wrong in doing that? But another will ask: well, if you trust them, then what’s the whole point? (and after the recent incident in Parliament, can you?) Another eg.: is it admirable for you to say that you have nothing to lose, and then issue statements from ‘undisclosed locations’? Now, one would say: but does it mean that she should make herself a moving target? Another would say: so, if going overseas to avoid being a moving target is admirable, how much more admirable are those who are already moving targets but carry on with their work within the country? Under this latter example, you would notice that it’s not that Hirunika is not admirable or brave; rather, there could be far more admirable/brave people we have failed to recognize. Such arguments and counter-arguments can always be raised. Given all this, I’m reluctant to think the way you might do.

        And here, I seriously need to point out the following: No, I did not consider Hirunika to be amusing. That’s a horrible thing to do. What I said (in my final para) was that it’s our reaction that is amusing. We suddenly imagine that a young girl (well I sound like a senior citizen here, I am not!) has just exposed Sri Lanka’s Government and is leading us from darkness to light. It’s that kind of reaction – which reveals how helpless we are – that causes amusement.

        Your final point was about whether there are alternatives and suggestions to fix problems. No: there are no easy solutions. Now, one would say that the whole purpose ought to be to provide truly practical solutions so that problems can be fixed. My response is: well, that would be nice, but perhaps we might need to ask difficult questions before that.

        You would very well know that this search for certainty has always been a serious philosophical problem (and where people don’t find certainty they could well go mad looking for certainty). This is a problem we find in the discipline of law, and I believe in many other disciplines too, philosophy, mathematics, etc (and this is why in the legal sphere, the followers of the Critical Legal Studies, the Marxist/Leftist and/or Postmodernist schools are at times considered to be an absolute nuisance by those within the mainstream!). I admire liberal optimism, but I am (sadly) not a liberal optimist (and am much closer to the above mentioned schools). We generally want grand theories, meta-narratives, neat solutions, to help us put an end to all the misery surrounding us, to give us certainty and a sense of purpose in life. But instead of certainty, uncertainty strikes us. What do we do? We can only go on searching and when we find solutions we can apply them; but for that, we need to do some questioning too. And if we are to seriously think that a magistrate issued an order to arrest Duminda due to the impact of an interview – we are in some serious mess here!

        Finally, two minor points. Firstly, about ‘sparks’ – I was just trying to point out to Surendra that his language is indeed nice, but that I fail to see where the ‘spark’ is. Perhaps we need to wait more to see the ‘spark’ in Hirunika. Secondly, about the roads – yes, I too appreciate the work being done; but on a lighter note, is travelling to Galle exciting anymore? Sounds easier traveling to Galle now than travelling from, say, Pettah to Nugegoda at around 5.30pm! But yes, infrastructure development is absolutely essential, and that kind of work will always be appreciated by the people.

    • surendra

      Kelana,

      Thanks for the clarifications. Your point is now taken. I think it is that; “Don’t make too much of the H interview, since it might cloud assessment regarding the enormity of the task involved in getting rid of the prevaling dictatorship and instituting freedom and democracy”. This main point is important and constructive. Let us not get swayed emotionally and replace sober analysis and evaluation with inspired subjective fantasy. I agree. Yet, I believe that the interveiw does contain yet another spark of defiance and resistance. By itself- not much significance or dramatic impact. Could be effectively coopted and subsumed by the regime, also given that she does not target the regime but embraces Basil and Mahinda. These types of selective ( tactical)compromises does take the igniting power out of the spark. But, yet, it is a spark and taken with other forms of spontenous resistance can accumulate and concentrate the ignitive power. Consider for example, the resistance of the people in Navaranthurai, Kinnya and elsewhere against the designed terror of the ‘grease devils’, the resistance in Katunayake, the righteous wrath against the police in Dompe, and you might feel the rising tide of anger, bitterness and frustration building up. The regime appears to be in absolute command, but nothing is ever absolute. We should grasp every act of resistance breaking out from every nook and cranny of the system and build on them- as Lenin said.
      I am not interested in some of the idle points raised in response to your important article, such as where was Hirunika- and Premachandra- when Lasantha was killed and Prageeth abducted, or whether the whole interview was calculated to advance Hirunika’s political career. Such comments are surely aimed at dousing the spark.

      • Kalana Senaratne

        Surendra,

        Thanks. That’s precisely the point.

        Yes, Kinniya, etc. showed that there is some palpable resistence, but just when that happens, one is swept away by an ‘Expropriation Bill’ about which very little can be done. Here the Govt is seen introducing a ‘human rights action plan’, but elsewhere, a former AG tells that according to reliable reports Ekneligoda is alive! So as you’ve noted, this is the seriousness, and in a sense the absurdity we are faced with today.

        You also raise the valuable point about Lenin. I am however reminded of what Trotsky reportedly said in June 1921:’… We told ourselves back in 1919 that it was a question of months, but now we say that it is perhaps a question of several years.’ Without a clear and strong political front, I am not sure whether many would end up repeating Trotsky’s statement! Whatever the case may be, one seriously hopes that this Govt would not, in time, push the people into believing that armed resistence is an option.

  • Dayan Silva

    Good luck Hirunika. You speaks your mind, and the truth about the corrupt state of law and order in the country. In my opinion the buck stops at the Top. If he does not act impartially to uphold the law, and dispense justice in fairness, then God help Mother Lanka

  • Pandukabaya de Silva

    It is not one ‘spark’ but many ‘sparks’ that will light a fire.

    What hapened over Bharatha’s death and the stir caused by his photogenic daughter (interesting to speculate that if she had been less visually appealing, how the public reaction would have been!)is just one of these.

    We may have’intellectual’ discussions about the significence or the absence of the same in re reactions to the interview but ultimately all these belong in theory and are nice scribblings, nothing more. There are many more such scribblings, some written by people who have the leisure and the free time to do so from foreign climes or enjoying the perks of diplomatic office while trying furiously to wash some of the mud of this government off their faces!

  • Migara

    Well i personally dont see much importance in this interview. She (Hirunika) apeaks about Lasantha Wickremetunga, Prageeth Eknelligoda; but the question here is why she raises her voice now ! Did her father or hirunika ever show the slightest sign of resistance against these acts then, when lasantha was murdered in 2009 and prageeth in 2010 NO it is only now thatb they have woken from the sleep; when the oppressive regime they backed had boomeranged back to them. Martin Niemoller’s words are the only ones that i can say of this interview, hirunika and Bharatha;

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    • Lakshan

      Hey Migara

      I always thought that you were a nationalist !
      or is this another Migara ?

      • http://n/a HolmungP

        nationalist, as in those who brand anyone against corruption and nepotism as ‘traitors’ !?!

      • Lakshan

        yeah!

  • Sadun

    I feel sorry for Hirunika, but in the big picture, the marketing of the tamil diaspora as ever present devil trying to split up the country, the inept opposition, which instead of taking the inadquacies and wrong doings of the govt to the general public, is figthing their own battles to get to the leadership, the stupid statements of Ranil Wickremasinghe getting elaborated, illustrated and dissected to the living rooms of the homes in rural villages in the country by state tv channels, people will not feel that this is such an issue to abandon the govt and my guess is that they wouldnt feel anything after a litle while say a month or two.

    The other thing is that her father had been a part of the same govt for so long and they enjoyed their fruits until this happened while the rest of the citizenry were and is fighting for their daily bread. People would say that they are from the same group (“egollangema kattiyane”) and nothing to do with them. People know that the govt politicos have weapons and do what they want, bottom line, what govt politicos are doing is the law for the citizens. These things have been happenning before the murder of her father and people know that it will continue to happen again and they would also say that there is a saying that Avi gaththo aviyenma nasithi. For the people it is hard to imagine a govt politico without a weapon and a politico who is a saint, meaning has not done anything wrong.

    People would be happy if some justice get done but my guess is that they would not think that this is an issue to topple the govt. The terrorism has been eradicated just over two years ago, so before embarking on changing govts people want to live their lives, enjoy the peaceful ride to colombo, for some more years to come. It has been a hell of a hard ride till May 2009, apart from the hardships the people had to encounter fear of their loved ones not returning home. Give them some more time.

  • Sena

    It seems like Hirunika is split between the justice for her father and her political carreer. She is compelled to make a comment against the unjust commited. her inner emotions are compelling her to make these comment, and on the other side she has to think about her political career and safety of her family. Is She
    1. Genuinely concerned ( I think she is)?
    2. trying to kill two birds with one stone?
    3. trying to keep the both ”Rewula” and ”Kenda”

    She condemns killing of Lasantha, Ekneligoda etc. and the common concept is that the government is responsible. Then why is she trying to accommodate president and minister Basil into her confidance? 1.Is she suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? 2.Or are there parallel governments running within the goverment?
    3.Planning her political career?
    4.scared about the regime?

    As the in the article, all the main actors in this drama has won, including Hirunika. I think all the other decent thinking srilankan citizens are the losers.
    But the legislators has forgotten something. They are creating this unjust society for their children and grand children to live. Ultimately when winners become losers, they have to live in the same unjust society wich they have created. For the suffering masses, I cannot see any future.

  • Palawatta from Kandy

    The murder Hirunika’s father is one incident of many which clearly shows there is no law and order in this country.

    This is a very common factor you can do anything and get a away with it if you are close to Rajapakse family. :(

    Law and justice should be equal to all the citizens irrespective of wealth , power and relationships.

    WE ALL WAITING FOR THAT DAY !!!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    “For eg, is it admirable enough if you, at the end of the interview, sign off by saying that you still trust both MP Basil Rajapaksa and President Rajapaksa?”

    So, is it admirable — or not — if you bowl like Muralidharan instead of Lasith Malinga or Chaminda Vaas?

    • Kalana Senaratne

      Debatable, isn’t it? Murali has his off-days too – and on such days, bowling even to Umar Gul can be deadly!

  • Kalana Senaratne

    @ Dr. Jayatilleka,

    While the article by ‘Vishnugupta’ was interesting, the author’s main intention seems to be to gain maximum political advantage by using Hirunika. Reference is made to Ranil Wickremasinghe as being a politician who seems utterly unable to do so. Now, that honest admission is something that I admire (because that’s what political parties would attempt to do and the author has done it on behalf of the parties). But herein lies Hirunika’s dilemma: on the one hand she would need to tie up with some political party to gain greater political clout or advantage, but on the hand, if she joins Ranil at this moment, she will not end up as Lanka’s Cindy Sheehan, but will surely end up as Lanka’s youngest political joke. Take that, together with the photos which are being carried by colombotelegraph and lankstandard, and I am not sure whether Gramsci would have liked to call it the right kind of ‘national popular’ appeal that is necessary, or whether Hirunika would have “the power to awaken the young people in Sri Lanka from their deep slumber…” (as Prof. Liyanage put it) – to do politics. On this latter point, promoters of Hirunika might very soon turn her into Sri Lanka’s next Paba.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Kalana, given the respective TV performances of Paba and Hirunika, I am quite certain that no one can turn the latter into an airhead like the former.

      By the way, I see nothing ‘unGramscian’ or non-‘national popular’ about the photos. In fact they seem exactly the opposite. You must not confuse ‘national-popular’ with ‘home grown’ :)

  • Opatha DISSANAYAKE

    HIRUNIKA,you are the Jean d’Arc of Sri Lanka more so Viharamahadevi. Sri Lanka very badly needs brave and honest people like you. Gen. Fonseka’s mandate was also very fraudulently taken away by the rogues through fraud which you may too be aware of and you should get together with Gen; .Fonseka, Hon. Kumar Sangakkara, UNP, JVP, SLMC, TNA and especially the pure SLFP stalwarts and with all the like-minded people and form a very formidable ALLIANCE and then send these rogues to their proper places. Take some lead and you will definitely succeed. All the Very Best and we are with you.

    Opatha DISSANAYAKE

  • kadphises

    In summary, what this affair demonstrates amply, yet again, is that if you are a Rajapakse or a friend of the Rajapakses you can litteraly get away with murder. If you are not, and criticise the Rajapakses you stand to lose your life violently without ever an investigation to apprehend the murderer.

    We can therefore with pride and confidence go on to celebrate the 2600 Swarnajayanthi in this most hallowed of all punya bhoomis!

  • justitia

    “The opposition (the UNP and JVP in particular)for instance,constantly talks about the Tahrir Square but cannot get a few thousands to Lanka’s Lipton Square……………..”
    All know what happened when FTZ workers protested peacefully against the proposed ‘private workers’ Pension Bill.
    One was shot dead and many injured.
    Unless many are willing to die, as what happened/and is happening in Libya,Egypt,Syria,Bahrain,Kuwait & Yemen, this will not happen.

    “Little Acts of Resistence” will be eradicated by the infamous White Van and/or attacks by ‘unknown’ persons – as happened To Dr. Nonis, Registrar of Sri Lanka Medical Council.

    In UK, when thousands of students protested violently against increase in tuition fees,even damaging the car in which Royalty was travelling in London,unarmed police defused the situation.
    Same happened when hooligans looted and damaged private and public property – unarmed police controlled the situation, and hundreds were arrested and produced in court.
    When our police begin to ‘defuse’ protests similarly,we would have reached the level of democracy which is often spoken about, but never practised.
    The present law enforcement situation will not allow it.

    Hirunika’s interview was frank and truthful.
    I wish that justice will take its course in this murder of B.L.Premachandra and three others.Hirunika says he had 48( I think ) bullets in his body.So far, the postmortem report is unavailable.
    In the old days,the court(murder)case always commences with the PM Report being read out in court by the JMO and he is cross examined regarding same by the prosecution and the defence.This establishes the cause,time & manner of death.The case prceeds from there.
    This does not happen now.

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      @justitia

      Sadly this is not the old days. We now live in the age of “Neo Paternalism” (that is according to Dr.Dayarn in one of his earlier articles to groundviews). :D

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Dunce, that’s ‘neo-patrimonialism’, not ‘new paternalism’…? :))

    • PitastharaPuthraya

      Dear Justitia,

      Please correct me if I am wrong.

      The objectives of a Magistrate’s ‘Inquest’ into the the death of a suspected homicide is to find the answers to the questions who, when and how. Then he/she has to record the findings of his ‘inquest’ and report to the ‘Attorney General’. This need to be done only if he/she thinks that there is ‘prima facie’ case of homicide isn’t it?

      Meanwhile the police have to conduct their investigations, make necessary arrests and report to the Magistrate. Does the magistrate have a power to investigate or instruct the police how to do their job? I do not think so. The magistrae has no other option but to work according to the police instructions.

      Therefore, if Duminda Silva was not arrested it is the fault of the police. They had not instructed the Magistrate correctly.

      For the purpose of the ‘inquest’ JMO’s report is more than enough. Since it is not a ‘trial’ they do not have to waste their time in the magistrate court.

  • Kalu

    Hirunika

    Few days ago Rajapaksa uttered that Sri Lanka will punish the murderer of your father ….

    And as always it was another lie :(

    How long will Sri Lanka bear the scars and hypocrisies of this family rule ?

    [Edited out.]

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Hirunika has waken up from her slumber as her father was killed by his own party’s thugs. If he was not killed where would she have been today? Still enjoying her life studying law planning to be the SLFP organizer of Kolonnawa after her father’s retirment.

    Morever, her political naivete or opportunism is amply demonstraed by her adoration of MR and Basil R. In other words she is trying to show that everything is due to the influence of Gotabaya R. She is trying to show that he is the de facto leader of Sri Lanka. (However, I also beleive that he is!)

    She should understand that her father is also responsible for the appalling situation of our poltical culture which our country ‘enjoys’ today. She also accepted by implication that her father had also thuggery to get things done. (She said those were when he tried to get things done for the poor.) She should understand that thuggery in whatever sense is not democratic.

    If she is not going to denounce the whole system including her father’s conduct she should not be taken genuine. She would be another political opportunist, who is looking for cheap popularity by feeding on the public sympathy.

    Another ‘flash in the pan’. MR and his henchmen know better than most of us. That’s why they do not seem to have bothered about it. Look at the Doctor DJ’s response.

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Doctor DJ,

    Your dislike of anti-war and anti-MR stand whether they are NGO/INGOish or Diaspora driven Jazz or Blues is well known.

    Kumar Sanga, Hirunika and others talk differently from the Anti-war and Anti-war minority becasue they are still dependent on MR for their ivelihood. Kumar has to play cricket for years to come. Possibly he is aiming for some position in the SL Cricket or ICC or somewhere. Hirunika knows that abondoning MR is suicidal at this moment of time. That’s why she still praises and tries to evoke senimentality by reminding MR about his friendship with her father. The other people around MR, politicians, academics, artists etc still do not see the reality (more correctly do not like to see the reality) becasue they are scared of lossing the perks and privileges that they enjoy by praising MR.

    The reality is Doctor DJ, all the people who praise MR gets something. They get posts in various government institutions, are offered lucrative government contracts, gets diplomatic posting, gets birthday greetings from the HE, are visited by the HE if hospitalized, gets presidential pardon for crimes committed etc.

    What do the others, who are anti-war and anti-MR get for their activities? They get murder, torture, disappearances, harrassment, night calls from thugs, etc. (Forget about diaspora or NGO/INGO activists who works for money)

    We know why you do not see the reality.

    Therefore, if someone thinks about any sort of furture in SL (This is valid for Kumar, Hirunika and other such men and women) they have to praise MR and imply that the problem does not lie with the most powerful man in Sri Lanka but somewhere else.

    You do not have to be a Doctor in Political science to understand this simple truth.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Pitisara Puthraya, Dunce et al,

      Why don’t you learn something from a 24 year old girl whose father has been shot dead, and have the guts to use your own names instead of hiding behind pseudonyms even in cyberspace?

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        @Dr.Dayarn

        Go tell that to Pradeep Eknaligoda’s family. If Pradeep had written under a pseudonym he would probably still be alive. If this was America most of us would have used their real names to comment on groundviews and elsewhere. Could you be good enough to let us know how many American journalists have been killed by the Bush and Obama administrations for criticizing how they governed and conducted the “Humanitarian Operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan?

        ps. Rajapaksa’s style of governance is a mix of paternalism and patrimonialism.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paternalism

      • Sarath Fernando

        Dear Dayan,

        If you sincerely cannot understand why many Tamils and even Sinhalese opt not to write under their own names and feel that using a pen-name is unfair for any reason, why don’t you request Ground Views to establish the rule that only responses by identifiable authors will be published? Would you like the author contact details as well? – if so please make that request too.

        GV is not a fly-by-night operation, targeting underhanded/illicit discussions. GV is a very reputable, established and respected forum that provides a great service and strives for a fair and open platform – as such, I am confident GV will enlighten you with convincing reasons that seem to escape your “intellect,” not surprisingly.

        Frankly, let me go one step further. Since you have raised this point repeatedly, and in a rather chauvinistic fashion, let me challenge you in a comparable manner – Hey Dayan, do you have the guts (or should I say, the temerity) to make that request of Ground Views?

        I am making this call as I am convinced your avoidance will expose your bogus pretense that you truly don’t understand the legitimate fear and reservations many have, if not for their own safety, for the safety of their loved ones. And, those reservations arise from nothing other than the history of the regime many have accused you as singing hosannas for, for the mere crumbs they are willing to strew in your direction.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Duncie, don’t despoil that man’s name by comparing yourself to him (especially when you don’t even have the wherewithal to spell his name correctly!). Killing you would be a waste of a bullet, so don’t flatter yourself.

      • PitastharaPuthraya

        Dear Dr. DJ,

        When you want us to reveal our real names a shiver went through my spine.

        I do not think that you do not know why people ‘hide’ behind pseudo-names when criticizin MR and his government.

        C’mon Doctor you should know better than that!

        I fully agree with Dunce and I do not like to repeat his point.

        I should also confess that I am not so brave as Ekaneligoda or people in his calibre. And journalism is not my profession. I am just a simple person who is concerned with the future of our country. I do not want to be killed, disappeared, harassed, receive calls from thugs in the night, be tortured, put my family in danger, to be branded as a ‘traitor’, etc.

        So, I am happy to be where I am today.

        So my dear Doctor, let us stay where we are. If you do not like to take us seriously it is your choice.

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        @ Blacker

        Instead of going Blah…blah…blah Blacker and trying to nit pick…just answer the question I posed.
        Just let us know how many American journalists have been killed by the Bush and Obama administrations for criticizing how they governed and conducted the “Humanitarian Operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan?
        Also read Sarath Fernandos reply to Dr.Dayarn on the using of pseudonyms.

        [Edited out.]

      • Shehan

        You are quite correct David
        Our Bean here lives in a world of fantasy
        He wants to believe that he is a first rate political analyst. His political analysis is limited to calling Rajapakses with vilest names possible and mocking them thru freakish caricatures with the help of Photoshop (if you go thru his blog).
        And according to him all the people who support present regime are idiots. Let’s just pay him some attention,the poor soul.
        Advice to Bean: Why don’t you use your real name Mr.Bean and we know it’s NOT Rowan Atkinson . Right ? :)

      • PitastharaPuthraya

        Dear Dr. DJ,

        What is there to learn from Hirunika’s loss?

        Of course, I am sad about her loss and I understand the pain she feels. However, we have to face the reality of the day. It is not sweet (at least for some!).

        This dilapidation of our society has been a process started many years ago. The killing of Hirunika’s father was a one single mile post on this road. There will be many more killings like this for years to come as there has been many in the past, most of which did not get the attention Hirunika’s father’s death received. That was the only difference.

        Unlike most of the other daughters, whose father had been killed by the government goons, Hirunka has the family support to come forward. And moreover, his father was not a ‘traitor’. Instead he was a staunch supporter of the everything done by the MR and his brothers. Therefore, MR would not be able to find any ‘bad patch’ in the political life or otherwise of Hirunika’s father to justify his death. Hirunika and her family know this very well. That’s why they are so bold in their approch.

        Did the other victims of MR’s regiem have that ‘edge’? No. That was one of the reasons why their dughters were unable to come forward like irunika.

        What I do not understand is how our good doctor and his ilk, who talks about humanism in international fora quoting the Buddha (May all living beings be happy!) support what MR and his clique is doing to our country.

        Just tell me doctor, what lessons did you learn from Hirunika’s loss? And how are you going use those lessons to correct the mess that we are in?

      • Against Fraud

        Is there truly no end to the obfuscation, mendacity and pomposity of Dayan Jayatilleka?
        His comments, those of one supping at the table of Rajapaksa Largesse, on the subject of the need for the use of pseudonyms by those even vaguely critical of this lot is (almost) beyond words!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hey Dunce, why should I be asked whether or not I agree with something written much later, when I had made my views on it quite explicit at the time the episode in question happened? So, since you are asking the question, do your homework and find the answer in my article ‘A Perfect Blunder’, Feb 15, 2010 ( which appeared under a differnt cption on this website too).

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      @Dr Dayarn,

      Here are a few more “Perfect Blunders.”

      1. The Government of Rajapaksa shouting out to the world about “Humanitarian Operations” and “Zero Casualties” and being exposed by satellite images, The Channel 4 video and the recent revelations by wikileaks where Basil and Gotabaya admit to the war not been totally clean.
      http://groundviews.org/2011/05/11/from-draft-to-official-text-wikileaks-reveals-the-us-response-to-the-end-of-war-in-sri-lanka/
      http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/11/13/wikileaks-%E2%80%98i-am-not-saying-we-are-clean%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-basil-to-us-senate-foreign-relations-staff/

      2.The Government of Rajapaksa imprisoning the General who won them the war while letting terrorist like Karuna, KP, Pillayan, George Master and Daya Master run scot free.

      3.The Government of Rajapaksa letting their attack dogs and drug kingpins like Duminda and Mervin run riot in civil society while doing zilch to find out the killers of Lasantha, Baharatha and Eknaligoda.

      And finally in http://colombotelegraph.com/2011/11/18/ambassador-jayatilleka-challenges-unesco-to-imagine-a-socio-economic-system-which-permits-all-living-beings-to-be-happy/ you challenge UNESCO to imagine a socio-economic system which permits “all living beings to be happy.” All freedom loving Sri Lankans would be much obliged if you could find the time in your busy schedule to challenge “The Government of Rajapaksa” to imagine a country where all living,imprisoned and rehabilitated beings who do not support the Rajapaksa Family Government, living happy, intimidation free lives in this country?

      • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com Mango

        Dear Presidunce Bean,
        You should avoid using the US as a touchstone for any kind of human rights based action. Have you been asleep for the last decade?

        The US makes unemployable its own journalists who are critical of its wars. When Eason Jordan (CNN) spoke of the demonstrable truth that US soldiers deliberately killed journalists. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January ’05, Jordan made the mistake of telling his fellow elite what was really happening in Iraq: American forces were “out to get journalists, and some were deliberately targeting journalists.”

        Within two weeks, the longtime CNN man was sacked. His resignation came complete with a Stalin-esque confession: “After 23 years at CNN, I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq. I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise.”

        Bush & Blair discussed bombing Al-Jazeera offices as they considered the outfit to be ‘aiding the enemy’ and its Kabul offices (locations already sent to US/NATO forces) were duly bombed. Al-Jazeera cameraman Tarek Ayyoub was killed when two bombs dropped during a US air raid hit the TV station’s Baghdad offices. Al-Jazeera had earlier sent its location co-ordinates to the Pentagon. Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi hack for Knight Ridder was shot by an American sniper in 2005. At the time, he was gathering material for an investigative piece about how the US was training (Wolf Brigades) death squads manned by ex-Saddam Special Forces operators. Duh. The motivations are clear. If they (NATO forces) think they can get away with it, they will.

  • Malith Rathnayaka

    Hirunika is right. Very brave and deserve our respect. Wish my best.

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      @Mango

      Duh!My question was “How many American journalists were killed by the Bush and Obama administrations for writing against the Humanitarian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan!”

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        @Mango,Blacker and Dr.Dayarn

        I know this link will not interest the three of you. But with such a situation in the country (read the link), do you’ll still want people to comment online and elsewhere about the despotism and the nepotism of the Rajapaksas’without using a pseudonym? People like you need not worry writing under your real names due to obvious reasons. Have fun sucking upto Big Brother and his family while it lasts…but don’t forget what happened to Papa Doc and Baby Doc of Haiti, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, and the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Don’t underestimate the Sri Lankan worm…it will turn one day.

        http://colombotelegraph.com/2011/11/28/sri-lanka-has-the-second-highest-unresolved-cases-of-disappearances-amnesty-international/

      • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com Mango

        Dear Dunce,
        Please read what I wrote above. The US doesn’t murder its own journalists, but freely kills foreign journalists covering its own ‘Humanitarian Operations’ in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Duh, indeed. A murdered journalist is still a hideous crime regardless of who does it or to whom it happens.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hey Dunce, no war is ‘perfectly clean’. The issue is whether civilians were intentionally targeted or, on the contrary, whether due care was taken to avoid or minimise civilian casualties. There is now, independent confirmation that the latter was indeed the case.

    A Wikileaks cable republished on the website Colombo Telegraph reveals that Ambassador Pat Butenis reported to her bosses in Washington DC that ‘ many objective observers ‘ confirm that the Sri Lankan armed forces could have finished off the LTTE and the war ‘far more quickly’ if it had not been for the concern over Tamil civilian casualties! Please see below:
    http://colombotelegraph.com/2011/11/15/wikileaks-outside-neutral-observers-agree-gsl-could-have-finished-off-ltte-more-quickly-butenis/

    WikiLeaks: Outside neutral observers agree GSL could have finished off LTTE more quickly – Butenis
    Posted by Colombo Telegraph ? November 15, 2011 ? 7 Comments
    Filed Under Democracy, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Human Rights, Patricia A. Butenis, Sri Lankans in WikiLeaks, State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents, US embassy cables on Sri Lanka, War Crimes, War crimes LTTE
    By Colombo Telegraph –

    “Most outside, neutral observers privately agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties.” the US Ambassador to Colombo wrote to Washington.

    A leaked US unclassified diplomatic cable discussed the post-war challenges in Sri Lanka. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on October 30, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.

    Many believed the Government of Sri Lanka could have minimized those casualties had it allowed for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had surrounded remaining LTTE fighters
    Under the subject of “Sri Lanka Scenesetter” the Ambassador Butenis wrote “ Final months of the war were brutal, inflicting heavy damage on all sides, both military and civilian. Estimates of the number of dead and wounded vary widely, but outside observers agree that the civilian toll was high. Many believed the Government of Sri Lanka could have minimized those casualties had it allowed for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had surrounded remaining LTTE fighters. It is not clear, however, whether greater effort in that direction by GSL would have been successful.” “The LTTE seemed intent on holding out very end, forcibly recruiting civilians as young as 12 to continue the fight, and using their own civilians as human shields even when it appeared defeat was inevitable. In the last days and weeks of the conflict, it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between civilians and LTTE combatants. Most outside, neutral observers privately agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties. The State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents during the final stage of the war makes clear that significant numbers of civilian dead and wounded were caused by both sides in the final months of the war.” she further wrote.

    Related news – WikiLeaks: Don’t push Sri Lanka towards Burma-like isolation – American Ambassador Butenis

    Below we give the relevant part of the cable.

    VZCZCXRO4345
    PP RUEHBI
    DE RUEHLM #0999/01 3030802
    ZNR UUUUU ZZH
    P 300802Z OCT 09
    FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
    TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0700
    INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1995
    RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9031
    RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7269
    RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5192
    RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3419
    RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 5144
    RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0679
    RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4255
    RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9594
    RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 6888
    RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 1353
    RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
    RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3802
    RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
    RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
    RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
    UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 000999

    SIPDIS

    DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB; H (pass to SFRC staff)

    E.O. 12958: N/A
    TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
    SUBJECT: Sri Lanka Scenesetter

    ¶1. (SBU) Sri Lanka stands at a pivotal point in its modern history.
    The end of the long secessionist war with the LTTE opens up
    opportunities for national reconciliation, political reform,
    economic renewal, and international re-engagement. The question is
    whether the Sri Lankan leadership has the vision, determination, and
    courage to seize the opportunity. The Sri Lankans value their
    realtions with the United States. Our challenge is strongly to
    encourage the Sri Lankan government to embrace reconciliation,
    accountability, and respect for human rights, while trying not to
    push the country towards Burma-like isolation from the West.

    Aftermath of the Conflict
    ————————-

    ¶2. (SBU) The final months of the war were brutal, inflicting heavy
    damage on all sides, both military and civilian. Estimates of the
    number of dead and wounded vary widely, but outside observers agree
    that the civilian toll was high. Many believed the Government of
    Sri Lanka (GSL) could have minimized those casualties had it allowed
    for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had
    surrounded remaining LTTE fighters. It is not clear, however,
    whether greater effort in that direction by the GSL would have been
    successful. The LTTE seemed intent on holding out to the very end,
    forcibly recruiting civilians as young as 12 to continue the fight,
    and using their own civilians as human shields even when it appeared
    defeat was inevitable. In the last days and weeks of the conflict,
    it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between civilians
    and LTTE combatants. Most outside, neutral observers privately
    agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if
    they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties.
    The State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents
    during the final stage of the war makes clear that significant
    numbers of civilian dead and wounded were caused by both sides in
    the final months of the war.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    By the way, guys, remember that implicit criticism to the effect of what’s the big deal in Hirunika giving the interview and then leaving the country? Doesn’t seem to be much of a point, going by the front page of the Daily Mirror online, currently.

    “President’s Counsel Thirantha Walaliyadda is seen talking to the daughter of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, Hirunika and her mother after the inquiry before the Colombo Chief Magistrates Court today. Pix by Nisal Baduge”

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    When I read what our good doctor DJ wrote quoting leaked US cables to show that they are right it reminds me of the pithy Sinhala saying ‘ kanna ona unama kabaragoyath thalagoya wenawa’ (when you want to eat the indigestible water monitor it will change in to a edible iguana).

    When he wants to prove a point, Americans are right and all others should accept that. When Americans say things not palatable to DJ they talk nonesense.

    I do not know what Karl Max, Althuser, Gramasci, Che, Castro, Hagel etc have told about people like Dr. DJ.

    Knowledge without wisdom is a very dangerous thing. When the proud peacock displays his train it does not know that his back side is exposed.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Pitasthara Puthraya, you are really pathetic! Obviously you do not know that Karl Marx made copious use of British ( imperlialst) government material in his Das Kapital! While I have been a critic of US foreign policy, where and when have I trashed US sourced material simply because it was US sourced material? Indeed I once wrote a piece on Butenis entitled ‘Pat Butenis is NOT the Enemy’, which was excoriated by Malinda Seneviratne.

      And by the way, who is ‘Hagel’ anyway? :))

      • PitastharaPuthraya

        My Dear Doctor DJ,

        You haven’t answered my questions.

        What is the lesson we should learn from Hirunika’s loss?

        What do you plan to do to improve the situation after learning that lesson?

      • PitastharaPuthraya

        To the Intellectuals Supporting MR and his Brothers,

        By Reading Marxist litrature and memorizing them by heart does not make a man complete. Even an illiterate man,who is able to understand the pain of the fellow human beings (Buddhists call this particular quality ‘muditha’ (empathy))is more an assest to humanity at large than 100 of cold-blooded so-called intellectuals.

        What is the point of learning if one can not understand the plight of helpless poor souls in the midest of a reactionary, ruthless, war?

        The Marxist jargon and quotations from Marxists thinkers have been used for ages by the half-boiled pseudo-intellectuls with no iota of wisdom to denigrate opponents and for pompous display of their purported intellectualism.

        What is pathetic is that however much they tried to emulate, they are not capable of coming nowhere close to their idols who they claim to worship. One would say that they do a much more disservice to their idols by using their names and ideas to justify the all sorts of disgusting acts of their master than the people who philosphically and intellectually oppose them on principle.

        Their masters are much more intelligent than these pseudo-intellectuals parrots. They use them as they use people like Duminda Silva and Mervin Silva. They can never influence their ideology. They are never allowed in to the centre where the real power is. What these people can do is to justify the decisions taken by the MR and his brothers. For that they are given few crumbs fallen from their table. Have they ever been consulted before any importan decision is taken?

        They kill each other, organize white vans to kidnap opponents, kill journaists, influence and bribe the judiciary, pardon the criminals, waste millions of public money whenever they want, threaten the journalists and other on the public media, assult opposition MPs in the parliament in front of president, took over the private enterprizes of their opponents, gradually branch out the family tree to all the aspect of government machinary, alleged to have killed thousands of innocent tamils, …………………

        While they are enganged in these deeds what do our so called intellecutals do? They make theories to justify their masters’ actions.

        How pathetic their situation is.

        [Edited out.]

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com Mango

    @ Dear President Bean,
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. MR & Co’s hubris will result in nemesis; of that I have no doubt.

    Torture and disappearance is an unequivocal evil, is wrong and must be stopped and regular exposes like this are good. On the ‘disappeared’ numbers game, the total figure for Sri Lanka is 12,230 from 1980 to 2010. So, this includes JVP-II and Eelam Wars 1-4. Perhaps MR should ask RW for figures from his time in government, no?

    As for AI, it’s just another regular whine. Yolanda Foster (another SL ‘expert’) was last seen holding hands near Kings Cross with a drone from the British Tamil Forum (an LTTE front) publicising the C4 documentary! :) http://tinyurl.com/cmtw854

    AI can keep banging on about a non-event, the ‘independent international investigation’ for as long as they like. It’s not gonna happen. The reason for their anger’s obvious.

    “An independent international investigation is crucial for two reasons: firstly, to protect the global principle of accountability for international crimes, and prevent the establishment of a negative precedent for other states that may emulate Sri Lanka’s attempt to flout international law so egregiously; and secondly, to help the process of reconciliation inside Sri Lanka through findings issued by a neutral outside body free of perceptions of bias, that can establish the truth and provide justice for the crimes committed by all sides to the conflict, including the LTTE, government forces and their affiliates.’

    Hmmm.. I’d argue, Sri Lanka’s only following the lead given by the humanitarian West. And good luck with finding a “neutral outside body free of perceptions of bias”. I vote for the La Leche League Luxembourg.

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Mango,

    The truth is the ‘west’, ‘east’ and all the other governments were with MR in this game. MR won the war with the explicit and implicit approval of the governemnts of the west and east. The intelligence to win the war was supplied by the US and India. The hardware was supplied by the Pakistan and others with the approval of the US.

    It was a war LTTE fought with literally the rest of the world. If they had a single powerful ally in the west or east it would have been totally different. What MR and his brothers did was to exploit the situation to the maximum. The same way they now exploit the patritism of the Sinhalese Buddhists for their own advantage they use the fears and desperation of the west and east to their advantage.

    If west wanted to stop the war they could have done with a single bomb dropped in Colombo.

    If somebody thinks that these western democratic government really want to see MR and his clique before a international tribunal it is our misunderstanding of the work of international capital.

    The west is serving lip service in this regard to appease their civil society, who is much more concerned with these issues than their governments.

    We should understand that Sri Lanka is not Iran, North Korea, Libiya or Syria. It is still a democratic country with a market economy an no ideological deviations from the accepted western liberalism. Why should the west shoot down a poetential ally in the Indian Ocean?

    Therefore, it is my understanding that the opposing camps in this game are national interests of the west (represented by their governments) Vs their purported role of protectors of human rights in the world (represented by the civil society, AI, HW, etc.), pro-western governemtns in the stragically situated areas of the thrid world Vs. their minorities and liberal capitalism Vs. alternative ideologies.

    In this reading Sinhalese in Sri Lanka as represented by MR is in a very good position and all these talks about war crimes are waste of time. On the ohter hand Tamils have to endure their greivences for many more years to come.

    Therefore, it is high that we had stopped talking about war crimes, accountability, UN Report, etc. It is completely a waste of time!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Pitashthara Puthraya wants to know what I intend to do to improve the situation. Well, I think everybody should understand the situation, its causes and its remedies as objectively analysed in the Norwegian( NORAD) report. (Of course I had been saying pretty much the same thing on the record for 15 years).

    The NORAD report names the Sri Lankan political situation as one of uni-polarity. This provides a welcome opportunity from moving away from the usual categories and bringing to bear a systemic analysis on the Lankan condition. Such an analysis means understanding the whole, as a system, in which the parts behave according to the logic driving the system. Thus a certain political personality would behave differently if the system was differently configured, while a different political personality would behave similarly if the systemic configuration remained unchanged. The key determinant is the uni-polar character of the system, which as the Norwegian study shows, was not always the case. It is a result, a product of the ‘lack of a credible alternative’, deriving from the ‘leadership crisis’ of the UNP, which itself has two sources, the ‘legitimacy crisis of the UNP leadership ‘because of its pro-western orientation and its neo-liberal economic policy and ‘the refusal of Wickremesinghe to step down despite successive defeats’. The uni-polarity is consequence of this causation and its by product is the possibility of electoral victory purely by appeal to Sinhala voters and further resultant is the marginalisation and lack of leverage of democratic minority stakeholders.

    Thus, the preference and support for Wickremesinghe on the part of certain social layers, local and foreign, undergird the uni-polar character of the ‘game’, and undermines the stated liberal policy goal of ethnic reconciliation through reform.

  • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean
  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Dear Doctor DJ,

    Thanks for the analysis of the situation.

    Basically what you say is (based on the NORAD analysis)that the underlying cause for the current situation in Sri Lanka is lack of a credible opposition.

    The reason for that is debatable.

    However, my qeustion is, what do you intend to do to remedy the situation?

    Is it to support the MR blindly in whatever he does? or to show him the correct way to do the things?

    I know it is not easy for some, especially those who have been appointed to various posts based on their ideological support for the regime, to oppose him and continue to serve his government. Because it is a well known fact that those who are in powerful positions only like to hear ‘postive’ things from their so-called advisers. Therefore, the adivisers also like to says ‘everything is fine your excellency’ to appease him. It was only a child who had the courage to pronounce in public when he saw the naked King ‘why is the king naked?’. This was becasue the child did not have anything to loose or more correctly he did not know whether he had anything to loose or he did not know that by saying truth one would loose anything.

    Our MR-supporting-intellectuals have lost their childhhood innoncence long time ago (and in fact it died when they turned a blind eye to the suffering of humanity in Nandikadal). Therefore, there is no possibility of them pointing towards MR’s ‘political nakedness’ in the near future.

    If somebody beleives that this NORAD’s objective analysis is correct what should they do?

    If they think about the country first they should work hard to strengthen the opposition. How should they do that? Either they can join the UNP and work within the rank and file to improve its standing among the general public or work outside party politics to strengthen the opposition and weaken the government by exposing the government misdeeds.

    Therefore, I am sure that Dr. Dayan Jayathilake would agree with me that justifying the misdeeds of Rajapaksha Brothers and their henchmen is not the way to improve the lots of the Sri Lankan public.

    Crimes can be committed either by commission or ommission. Therefore, there is no difference between openly engaging and supporting the Rajapaksha brothers and their henchmen in thier activities and looking away from their activities with a blind eye in spite of enjoying the priviledges and perks bestowed on them. Both can be considered crimes committed against the Sri Lankan public.

    Therefore, my question again is what does Dr. Dayan Jayathilake, potlitical scientist and analyst, diplomat, Marxist intellectual, university academic, writer etc intend to do to correct the wrongs identified by the NORAD analysis which he seems to have endorsed?