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Updated: March 25, 2012 17:36 IST

Rajapaksa balances rhetoric with realities

R. K. Radhakrishnan
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Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa
AP Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa

In his first comments after a resolution against Sri Lanka was adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, President Mahinda Rajapaksa balanced the need to play to the gallery with the compulsions of on-the-ground realities. While asserting that Sri Lanka would not tolerate any arbitrary interference, he refrained from singling out countries that had supported the resolution.

It was abundantly clear that Mr. Rajapaksa had taken a considered view of the whole issue of the Indian support to the resolution, bearing in mind that India had got the clause on frequent reporting to the UNHRC deleted, apart from amending the Trojan clause on technical assistance. While thanking the countries that voted against the resolution or abstained, Mr. Rajapaksa refused to make oblique references to India, as his Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris had done soon after the vote in Geneva.

In a speech that was aimed at making clear where his party, the SLFP and the government stood, Mr. Rajapaksa caught on to the nebulous, all encompassing concept of people's welfare constituting the heart of his government's policies. “The government's policy in respect of all matters will continue to be guided by the vital interests and well being of the people,” the Daily News newspaper quoted him as saying at a function on Friday.

Contending that the vote in Geneva “would please the LTTE proxies and the diaspora but not the people of Sri Lanka” he said people had sought, when his government came to power in 2005, the establishment of freedom and honourable peace. And, the government had delivered on that promise. Reports reaching Colombo did not have details if the President mentioned that the people re-imposed their faith in him in the elections soon after the victory against the Tamil Tigers in May 2009.

Claiming that the government had done a lot “in a very short span without succumbing to pressure or influences,” he contended that “some elements were blind to this impressive progress in all sectors as their eyes were clouded by jealousy, hatred and petty interest.” In an oblique reference to the Human Rights activists who had campaigned in Geneva, he asked: “To whom are they trying to send this message and for whose benefit are they working at such a crucial time for the country?”

While insisting that Sri Lanka would continue to seek domestic remedies for its issues, he did not elaborate if this meant that he would hasten the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Report, a home-grown solution for the problems faced by Tamils of the North. “Whatever the challenges we would not allow the ugly head of terrorism to re-surface,” he said.

Minister Champika Ramawaka, belonging to the Jathika Hela Urumaya, criticised India for the vote. He wanted the government not to give any economic or other concessions to India. A few other Ministers expressed their anguish over India voting with the U.S., especially when Bangladesh and Maldives voted with Sri Lanka. “The policy of SAARC countries is to support the members when an international problem arises. India's stance over Sri Lanka at this critical juncture was in contravention of this longstanding policy,” Dullas Alahapperuma, Youth Affairs Minister, was quoted as saying in the Daily News.

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[in what remains the worst case of crimes against humanity] Nobody who lives in a nuclear-armed country that is prepared to participate in a war that would wipe out half a billion human beings is in a position to throw this stone, my not tremendously well informed friend. [thus nuclear polluting mother Earth for the first time.] This is a slightly embarrassing way of putting it, considering recent events at Fukushima, and India's blind eagerness to get in on the same action. As for polluting Mother Earth, well, take a walk down to the river side, and heal thyself, physician. [The Americans and the British enslaved people, which is another crime against humanity.] Where do the British come into this? Oh yeah, they're white too. As for slavery, it wasn't exactly invented by them, now, was it? It wasn't the Britishers, for example, who hauled thousands of enslaved Hindus over the Hindu Kush to wait tables and shovel dung in Kabul. Learn something.

from:  Ashu
Posted on: Mar 26, 2012 at 11:13 IST

Ronald: [Japan has always assured Sri Lanka that it considers the issue an internal matter and that it respects Sri Lanka sovereignty.] That's a nice gesture from a former imperialist bully once hated by all its neighbours, who rejoiced when America nuked it. [Perhaps Japan understands the double standards that it suffered at the hands of the US] One could be ungenerous and say that perhaps what Japan understands is the situation of an ethnic majority resident in an island that they stole from a now oppressed aboriginal population, but since the Ainu of Japan were crushed to harmlessness many centuries ago, it's more likely that the Japanese are just thinking of their own geopolitical interests -- yes, just like big bad America and even moral superpower India.

from:  Ashu
Posted on: Mar 26, 2012 at 11:11 IST

As a Srilankan I am indeed happy at least the adoption of this resolution will put some brake in to the Rajapaksa's dictatorial regime. Direct intervention in to the affairs of Police Judiciary has demonstrated well the path he wants tread .Human right violation take place almost every day in the country with impunity. Culprits are often the politicians of the ruling party. Law enforcement authorities looked the other way giving the culprit of its tacit approval for these acts. A week ago a goon squad operated by the government was caught red handed and handed over to the police but as usual they were released by the police on the orders from the top. So this is the sad story of Srilanka. the passing of the resolution will be really a blessing for the Srilankan who wants to see good governance in this country. International community should not misunderstand that all srilankan are against this resolution. Only people who don’t know what this is all about will go with the government which has fooled them in to belief that the resolution is against the sovereignty of Srilanka.

from:  Lion
Posted on: Mar 26, 2012 at 06:47 IST

The President's history is nothing in terms of historical perspective. Well,LTTE has been crushed,if u call it an achievement u r on the wrong side of history.I am no supporter of LTTE.But the reluctance to share any power with Tamils and sinhalisation program of the government has not helped bridge the alienation between the two ethnic groups.Here is the failure of the President.In five years time if the trend persists there is a likelihood of the LTTE proxies to raise their head with added vigour and whatever little the President had gained will evaporate in history.The day is not far off when the people of SL will be accusing Rajapakshe with complicating the ethnic strife.

from:  S.CHANDER
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 15:58 IST

India's vote is a reflection of India's inability to solve the issues
in Indian subcontinent and its a blow to the Indian influence in the
regional affairs of the subcontinent. The plight of Tamil diaspora in Srilanka is undoubtedly India's concern but India should have been able to resolve this issue bilaterally.But India has again succumbed to western pressure and vote in favor of resolution annoying Srilanka. Though India managed to change some of the text of the resolution to make it less harsh but its not the question of annoying or pacifying Srilanka, its about India's ability to manage affairs in India's sphere of influence. Undoubtedly coalition compulsion has again forced the Govt. India should have firstly tried its best to win the confidence of the Tamil parties then it should have demonstrated to the world that it could manage the affairs in Indian subcontinent by making sure Srilanka fulfills its commitment towards reconciliation process and brings war criminals to book.

from:  jeewan
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 07:48 IST

Rajapaksa's speech is an eyewash, considering both Sinhalese and Tamil populations are being targeted by his regime as Amnesty International clearly says. I think it is clear from the comments here how much care and support the Tamil people can expect from Indians.

from:  Eric Selvaraj
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 04:23 IST

The fact that Hillary had meetings with Jayalalitha and that countries like Kuwait,Saudi Arabia and smaller nations in Africa and Latin America (who depend on US aid, and thus can be manipulated), is proof that the vote was won by political manipulation rather than by world opinion. In terms of regional politics within the SARC, what is of significance is that only India singled itself out and aligned itself with the West. In Asia, Malaysia, which has a substantial Tamil population, abstained. Japan has always assured Sri Lanka that it considers the issue an internal matter and that it respects Sri Lanka sovereignty. Perhaps Japan understands the double standards that it suffered at the hands of the US, in what remains the worst case of crimes against humanity when them suffered a nuclear bomb attack by the USA, thus nuclear polluting mother Earth for the first time. The Americans and the British enslaved people, which is another crime against humanity.

from:  ronald
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 04:18 IST

For Rajapakse Regime, there's a great disconnections between what they proclaim and they do in real life. Before the war they said, this WAR is against terrorism and ultimately bring a solution with the hep of the International Community. It has been more than three years now, not a single inch they had moved. The disappointing LLRC report that they themself prepared to decieve the International community is now a evident. Why there is a such a fuss to implement there own report?

from:  Padmavathi
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 02:25 IST

It is indeed India which has again helped the SL govt. Good work done by amending the clauses in the resolution. If not for India SL would be in deep trouble.

from:  Perumal
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 00:41 IST

President Rajapaksa has to be congratulated for a sensible, pragmatic approach. Sri Lanka needs to avoid an emotional and knee jerk response. All have to appreciate India's position. It is different from other asian countries because of the Dravidian lobby and its rivalries in Tamilnadu. It is unfair to blame Sri Lanka for the perceived slow progress in reconciliation when the TNA, still an LTTE proxy, is unwilling to meet halfway. If the TNA is really serious it has to disavow the LTTE agenda and express loyalty to Sri Lanka before talking any further. Otherwise it is just doing a disservice to all the peoples of Sri Lanka and indeed the whole region.

from:  mahendra
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 00:24 IST

Do not harp on the LTTE and the LTTE proxies for the failures of the Government.The LTTE is finished. Let the Government do the right thing towards the Tamils in the North and East without partisan atttitude. The expressions made by the government politicians after the vote in Geneva, itself is a proof that the government is not interested in reconcilliation.First and formost demiliitarise North and allow the people to go to their homes. If the government differentiates between communittees, the only way for the Tamils is to seek seperation.

from:  Sellam
Posted on: Mar 25, 2012 at 00:24 IST

If Sri Lanka starts to knuckle under to these resolutions, there would be no end to these resolutions. I hope the Sri Lankan people realize that they are at cross-roads, they have to decide if they as a nation need West's approval above all else. They also need to know that to have West's approval you also need India's approval.

Sri Lanka's strong economy has been irking many parties for a long time and the West is interested in projecting other countries as economic power houses. After enduring a brutal civil war, Sri Lanka's economy remains a close second to Maldive's among South Asian nations. Incidentally Maldives is also in turmoil.

You can't please the West just a little, it is all (Bangladesh) or nothing (Iran). A Persian saying goes; if you don't want a cat in your home, kick it the first day it shows up.

from:  Tipu Qaimkhani
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 23:58 IST

The Sri Lankan Goverment has recieved all kinds of helf from the West, US and EU help to defeat the LTTE. Now it is time to get help and advice from the same powers, who say to respect the human rights, deliver a lasting solution to the tamil question and accountability matters in the last stage of the war.

If there were't help from the West, US, EU and India, GOSL could'nt defeat the LTTE. Now it is duty bond these powers, specially India, to oversee the implemetation of the recommendations of the LLRC. GOSL must accept it.

from:  Mueller
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 22:49 IST

Its true that the SL government should keep a check on the activities of the LTTE,at the same time the government should be held responsible for the war crimes committed against the Tamil community in the name of wiping out LTTE and the way it has executed and raped so many LTTE cadres.

from:  Prabhakaran
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 21:37 IST

Hon MR, we are behind u 100%. Keep it going, we have a 2500 yr history. We need a home grown solution.

from:  maya
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 21:15 IST

Very well put Mr.Jyoti - it is absolutely no rocket science theory to figure out why Hillary landed in TN to meet Jayalalitha- who has a notorious record. Delhi acted purely to save their government from collapse - this vote had nothing to do with the draft resolution.

from:  Priyantha Brito
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 20:35 IST

When the SL president said that the vote in Geneva would please the LTTE proxies and the diaspora but not the people of Sri Lanka I think he hit it right on the nail. It was truly sad to see India giving support to these LTTE proxies who are today being used by the West to chart its own agenda in South Asia. There are already troubling signs that the LTTE is active, once again, in Tamilnadu. Now add to that concern, when one asks the question why of all the states in India did Hilory Clinton go to Tamilnadu to specifically meet with the CM there? it does not take rocket science to realize something insidious seems to be cooking. Sadly our so called "leadership" in New Delhi is too inept to realize this.

from:  D. Jyoti
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 19:36 IST

Shri Mahinda Rajapaksa's assertion that whatever the challanges they would not allow the ugly head of terrorism to re-surface shows his determination to be firm in managing his affairs vis-a vis LTTE.India has failed to send the correct message to the now extinct terrorist outfit in categorical terms by voting in support of the resolution thanks to the dravidan parties in tamilnadu.

from:  manoharan
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 17:58 IST

Dear Hindu, Sri Lanka is FOR THE SRILANKANS. Not for Americans, Brits, the West in general and their lackey countries to meddle with. The destiny of the Sri Lankan people lies in their hands. The Bharath has been a very important neighbour and a close relation of of both the sinhala and tamil people of Sri Lanka. India needs to assert its global position not by running after the Americans but by acting like a genuine big brother concerned about the welfare of its neighbouring Asian nations. This is how it will earn the respect within the region. The action it has recently taken leaves much to be desired.

from:  Ajit
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 17:57 IST

The government of Sri Lanka under Rajapakshe has got it's own agenda to implement in the entire island. First and foremost is to colonise the former Tamil areas with Sinhala security forces and Sinhala civilians. Secondly to make sure the Tamils in the North and East are economically weak and politically suppressed with iron fist. Any Tamils that object to the Sinhala army activities will be tortured or murdered. The GoSL has become very adept at denying the above activities. They have mastered the ART to hoodwink the rest of the world. It is time to reduce the defence budget and utilise the money wisely to develop the parts of the country that has been ignored for long i.e. Tamil areas. There should be an independent foreign body that monitor the activities in Sri Lanka.

from:  Jogan
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 17:42 IST

India is trying to be an Angel, whereas it's a wolf in sheep clothing. IF India thinks that Sri Lanka should do more than what has already been done and promised, what about India when Nehru promised UNO that a plebiscite would be held for Kashmiris in they required Independence or not. What about Gujarat where minorities were masacared and still no justice and Odisha the list goes on and on. Is it not a fact the Sri Lanka problems was enlarged by Indira Gandhi who gave weapons training and others due local political considerations and to teach Jayarwadena a lesson. Why has the problem of Minorities of the North in Sri Lanka has not been addressed by India where LTTE on the pain of Death frog marched them about 100,000 men, women and children with only their clothes on chased them from the North to the South who are still living as refugees in the South. They were once a thriving community in the Vorth and now living on goverment handouts. Isnt this ethinic cleansing at it's worst.

from:  Ramzie Sanoon
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 17:25 IST

However humble and dignified the speech may be, the head of a government is judged by his actions. And Mr. Rajapaksa's actions even 3 years after final Eelam War is disappointing.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 16:54 IST

How long the Sri Lankans Rajapakshe Govt will fools the world especially the Indians and how foolish is to expect that India will always support blindly.India have done lot of injustice to the Sri Lankan Tamils by not supporting them when they have been hunted by their own Govt in the name fighting LTTE. India is duty bound to see the Sri Lankan Tamils who have escaped from the brutal killings are properly settled in their places and to live with dignity like their Sinhale brothers and sisters in a united Sri Lanka.

from:  V.Shanmuganathan
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 16:38 IST

India should be ashamed of such stands. We are unable to get rid of naxals here but at least when Sri Lanka has achieved it we should not pull there legs.

from:  Mohit
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 14:51 IST

India's standing towards its neighboring countries have been as a pendulum at the best. India's foreign policy towards its tiny neighbors have been like a fulcrum, without a base. Our decisions are based on external compulsion based re-active one rather it should have been guided by its long term interest. Ironically, we garner power status, a dream to act as a regional player, but we drastically fail to balance our act towards the nations of SAARC. That resulted into our south Asean neighboring countries are slipping fast awy from India's traditional cultural grip to theresurgent China's economic and political might. The condition in Nepal is palpably clear, India is finding it hard to get the PM of their own choice, as China has been doing their play. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and ofcourse Pakistan all have witnessed huge Chinese constructions and several projects having strategic bearing over India's long term security calculation in the Indian Ocean region. Hope better sense prevail!

from:  Anand Jha
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 14:46 IST
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