Colombo, Human Rights, Human Security, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke, 1795

As I sit on the steps leading down to the garden from the verandah, its night in Pelawatte. Darkness in the tropics descends fast and lies very like a thick blanket. The heat and humidity making it feel more so. The night is still and black.  Intermittent houses and lack of streetlights add to the feeling of absolute darkness. The house lights are low to extenuate the earthy feeling from the dark yellow coloured cement floor, the terracotta tiles on the verandah, antique furniture all add to the stillness of the night. Behind me I hear the murmur of the people at the party. Green sleeves plays softly on the old Pioneer stereo with 60HPM speakers I owned since childhood. I am bored but politeness is a must with the eclectic mix of people at the party. All from United Nations agencies, different races and religions, all in one topic of conversation, various versions and adaptations. The end of the battle for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and the country’s future. It’s a close-knit community; but thoughts and true feelings are not expressed openly. I am finding it hard to keep my big mouth shut; a little drunk from what is now my fourth large Jameson on the rocks. I venture out to sit on the steps in the verandah both for cool relief to my bottom from the terracotta tiles and a much need smoke break. As popularly believed a smoke immediately brings down the level of drunkenness. Or believed to.

Despite the heat, the sweat down my neck and the clammy feeling all over my body, I am feeling almost euphoric. Purely brought on by the fact that I am visiting the motherland, amongst good company, good booze and I know the food will be fantastic as I liaised with the caterers and organised the menu. Freewheeling in my standard when on holiday colourful Barefoot sarong I adjust my bits and sit down. The white Gap t-shirt clings to my back. I fish out a smoke, light up and inhale gratefully. I hear silent footsteps behind me as one of the UN agency Scandinavian girls plops down beside me with the question ‘mind if I join you?’ She then proceeds to bum a smoke off me and leans in to light up. A whiff of perfume, showered skin and mild soap. Her loose linen blouse and Abercrombie shorts with the showered scent makes one know that this is seasoned tropics person. Prior to Sri Lanka, she served in Afghanistan and Cambodia. She is actually someone who believes in the goodness of people, so I am polite. The two dobes slink out from the subdued garden lighting to us, I request her to be cool and the dobes pissed as they are non-participants at the party, flop down beside within convenient distance of my hand in case I want to pet them with no threat to her.

It’s a beautiful clear night and we see the moon silhouetted in the night sky. The girl and I chat, as usual about the war. Suddenly I want to speak, really talk about what’s on my mind. My thoughts are with the 100,000 Sri Lankan IDP’s in the north of my Paradise Isle. They did not want this war, it was forced on them. Most do not wear footwear nor have even seen a hundred-rupee note, let alone a thousand or two thousand. This is not their war; this is the war of the politicians, the war of the Diasporas scattered through out the western world that were attacked and fled the country in 1983 or those who conveniently used the war as an excuse to seek asylum and sanctuary in the west. The war of the warmongers, the war of those who made riches in arms deals, weapons procurement in liberated USSR countries, the war of those who fly in east European prostitutes to Colombo’s five star hotels, Hilton residencies and the local residents. The war of the casino owners, the war of the Rajapakse sanctioned underworld. The war of the Rajapakse’s, their immediate and extended family and their most trusted friends. The war that brought the poor families in rural Sri Lanka money to build a house, but at the cost of a father, son or daughter who gave their lives to serve in the armed forces. Who gave their lives for their families to have a better life, and all of us. YES, US.

The UN agency girls face grows dark despite the white skin, the eyes grow frightened. I am mentioning the unmentionable. She knows the drill, if one bums a smoke, one must hang around until it’s finished. I talk about the fact that the few times I have been in a position to overhear bad men and women conspiring to do evil deeds, they had been pretty much idiots. Those who choose to live criminal lives are not the brightest amongst us. My level of intelligence I profess not to be of the highest standards, but I have many times to my detriment believe in standing by what I believe and what I little I know. But I know that evil geniuses are rare. But why do so many bad people get away with so many crimes against their fellow citizens and, WHEN THEY BECOME LEADERS OF NATIONS, AGAINST HUMANITY?

Edmund Burke provided the answer in 1795: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I believe that I am a good man, and therefore I finally come out of my closet. I may say many things in my posts, but all along I watch for hope, with hope I hope only for progress, and deep in my heart I know that there is no hope for my Paradise Isle, my motherland. It is silly of us to think that the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and battles won is the end of our war against terrorism. When did our country of peace loving people suddenly think that what is happening in the North of our country, to our own people is all right? When did all the politicians become so corrupt? Is our country so drained of principals that govern humanity that we all stand and watch this happen? When did our opposition become so weak? Why do we make excuses for a leadership as evil as this? Tamil, Sinhala, Muslim or of whatever race? So speak the truth I must. As soon as I post this my chances of return to my motherland may be lost, so be it, may the white vans come, but one good man has spoken.


For those of you who know the opposition political hierarchy, this is what you can do, now, today.

The election of Barrack Obama as the US President is a good example of how an educated, articulate man was propelled to one of the top positions in the world through a proper marcomms campaign. I just saw a news item yesterday of a campaign promoting the youth of India to vote. It was sponsored by brands; in Sri Lanka’s case it must be sponsored by the opposition and must seek all of Sri Lanka to vote. Come out of your air-conditioned offices, brave the hot or wet weather, the CTB, private buses, but all of Sri Lanka please exercise your right to vote. Any dissent is dissent, and the current SLGov must know that there are people who oppose their way of government. The best way to do this is vote and a proper campaign will bring the opposition some much-needed credibility.

Be humble in victory. The end of this battle will be celebrated. Let the opposition now remember every leader of any ethnicity, all the armed forces, innocent Sri Lankan’s who lost life or limb to the war. We can a win a battle, being human is remembering and respecting all those who were lost to the violence.

Bring together all leaders and people of every community and walk for peace on our streets. Invite the foreign media to Colombo. The United Nations. Let them see for their own. One man can be kidnapped from his home in white man, not thousands. Allow the media in Sri Lanka to rise again; they must know that there are those of us who support them.

These are but my few ideas, I am sure many of you will have many more, better ones.

I pour my fifth Jameson after releasing my now sweating and agitated companion. It’s the tropics, and I am in heaven. Tomorrow wake late, relieve hangover with loads of ice tea and a spicy Koluu late lunch at Barefoot, back home, shower again and off to Kataragama my favourite place on this earth. Front seat kicked back and sleeping as Bandu drives. Dinner at Lighthouse hotel and take over driving the night shift, as I just love the drive. Two full days in Kataragama doing my religious thing. Then onwards to Uda Walawe for Elephant watching, camera opportunities and the wild boar, venison and string hopper meals at the junction kade. Detour to jungle in Buttala and back to Colombo. Shower, get pretty and off to Sugar. One last wild night, Bandu drops me off at airport. Dozens of black coffee before boarding, sleep all the way to London. Arrive refreshed to face the 9 to 5.

I ponder my fate as many of you will say it’s easy for me to talk, I go back to England, I live in England. A few of you however will know how much I sacrifice, how much I love my motherland, my Paradise Isle, and how hard it will be for me to stay away from it. All I do now is pray. Pray for deliverance of Sri Lanka. Pray for the peace we all crave for.

An honest man has spoken. So must you.