Gota responds to ‘a brother out of control’ assertion
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday expressed concern over The Hindu unfailingly targeting him on the basis of a recent interview he did with Indian TV channel, Headlines Today, in Colombo.
Addressing a symposium on post-war challenges at the BMICH, to coincide with the launch of www.outofwar.com, by former Supreme Court judge Raja Wanasundara, on behalf of the Federation of National Organizations, the Defence Secretary said that The Hindu editorial of Aug. 16, 2011 went to the extent of advising his brother President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ‘distance himself swiftly from his brother’s stream-of-consciousness on sensitive issues that are not his business.’
A smiling Defence Secretary said that he was surprised that the editor of The Hindu N. Ram, in spite of knowing him personally, had lashed out at him over the interview conducted on the sidelines of the recent launch of ‘Humanitarian Operation-Factual Analysis’ and a video at the Hilton Colombo in response to war crimes allegations.
“I didn’t want to be interviewed by the correspondent for Headlines Today television, though I agreed reluctantly. See where it had landed me. The Hindu now wanted my brother to get away from me,” Rajapaksa said. “In fact, the Indian journalist assured me of ‘a good coverage’ and promised to build my image. At the end of the day, Headlines Today television did a lot of damage,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that particular editorial, which called for punitive action against him for making sexist comments regarding a UK citizen of Tamil origin is, captioned ‘A brother out of control.’ The outspoken official said that the Indian media had taken him on for speaking on three issues, namely post-war devolution of power, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s position on the North-East issue and alleged rape of Tamil speaking women.
The top defence official said that though he didn’t want to comment particularly on the issue of devolution, he finally did so when the journalist said he would be satisfied with his personal opinion. The Defence Secretary said that he believed now that the LTTE had been eradicated the situation had changed.
Commenting on TN Chief Minister’s frequent calls for relief for the northern Tamils, the Defence Secretary said that if she was really concerned she would take tangible action to stop poaching by her countrymen in our northern waters. The TN fishing community had deprived the northern Tamils of their livelihood by large scale poaching and employing destructive methods such as bottom trawling.
Rajapaksa said it would be ridiculous to blame Sri Lankan troops for rape as a pretty UK national who had been in the custody of the military at the end of the war in May 2009 wasn’t touched. “I stand by what I said. There is no question over that.”
The Indian channel quoted Rajapaksa as having said because a Tamil woman, an LTTE cadre who was a British national, interviewed on the Channel 4 News documentary, was so attractive but had been neither raped nor killed by Sri Lankan soldiers, the allegation of sexual assault by soldiers could not be true.
The Hindu declared that for this statement alone, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa must be taken to task.
Rajapaksa said that a section of the international community was hell-bent on subverting the country as part of its overall strategy to facilitate regime change. An irate Defence Chief said that whatever the government’s response to war crimes allegations, “it seemed fresh charges would be levelled as soon as we responded to existing allegations”.