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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Double Game: Rajapaksas Going to Geneva

Those backing a return of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa into active politics it appears is hitting all round the wicket to borrow from cricketing parlance. The highly choreographed political rallies, the spate of unruly demonstrations, the nocturnal ‘farce” in Parliament has now given way to the bizarre. We use the term bizarre in a relative sense to demonstrate the lengths to which the MR acolytes will go to, to make themselves heard, in the process throwing overboard all the principles they and their leader held fast to, not to mention the abject come down from their hitherto held stand that the West represented all that was inimical to Sri- Lanka, On Saturday MP Bandula Gunawardena a frontliner in the ‘Bring back Mahinda” campaign addressing a media briefing said that they were planning to go to the UN in Geneva to petition the World Body about the “Police state” that Sri Lanka was gradually being transformed into.

One cannot but be intrigued. During the past ten years of the Mahinda Rajapaksa rule one was given the impression that the UN was specifically set up to penalise Sri Lanka and haul it before the coals for alleged human rights violations and war crimes. The defeat of Sri Lanka at successive UN Human Rights Council sessions was attributed to the grudge harboured against Mahinda Rajapaksa for defeating the LTTE. It was also being painted as a body working at the behest of the Tamil diaspora by the likes of Wimal Weerawansa who too was a co-host at the press briefing.

Now to hear Bandula Gunwardena speak in this vein one cannot but be forced into believing that the former stalwarts of the Rajapaksa regime had undergone a dramatic metamorphosis in their thinking and attitudes and the UN is not the demon which it was once thought to be. Perhaps the MP would have been harking back to the days when his former boss made a beeline to the UN during the bloodletting in the late eighties with evidence of atrocities committed by the Lankan armed forces which nevertheless he later hailed as saviours of the nation.

The Pro- Rajapaksa MPs were also planning to take the Central Bank Bond Issue to the western embassies in Colombo according to Gunawardena. The MP certainly can’t be serious. Is the memory of Bandula Gunawardena and his ilk so short as to forget how the Rajapaksa Government in which the former was a Minister lambasted the then opposition for “running” to Western Embassies with its grievances? Was the MP hit by a serious bout of amnesia as not to recall how his comrade in arms Wimal Weerawansa staged a “farce” opposite the UN Embassy in Colombo to demonstrate his opposition to a UN appointed inquiry panel against Sri Lanka, until the arrival of his master on the platform to kneel before the dying man and rescue him with a sip of water.

Rajapaksa led May day Rally 2011
Rajapaksa led May day Rally 2011

Hasn’t the MP forgotten how the Government May Day celebration in 2011 was converted into one huge Ban ki Moon bashing exercise with all Government institutions forced to carry placards caricaturing the UN Secretary General. How receptive the MP imagines, the UN will be to a petition proffered by members of a Government who did not miss an opportunity to castigate the world body as an organisation doing the bidding of the US and the Western powers. With what gumption do these pro Rajapaksa MPs deign to go to the Western embassies in Colombo which were accused not so long ago of engineering the defeat of their former boss? And wasn’t the then opposition who took cases of human rights, corruption, Governance issues to the Western Embassies described as traitors and weren’t some of these Western Embassies accused of being pro LTTE and working towards regime change ?

It is indeed a supreme irony that Ambassadors of Western Embassies who were routinely summoned before the Foreign Ministry for alleged indiscretions on their part very soon having to receive a delegation led by the former Foreign Minister himself who at one time took exception to “interference” in the country’s affairs by Western Embassies and for entertaining opposition grievances.

Sri Lanka today has succeeded to a great extent in clearing all such past misgivings and suspicions. Foreign relations are certainly on a high at present as demonstrated by the reception accorded to President Maithripala Sirisena on his recent visit to Britain and also our Asian neghbours including China. Last week’s visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to the country too is a clear indication that the country’s hitherto strained relations with the West is on the mend. With the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime having already burnt its boat with the West in a relationship that was characterised by name calling it is very much doubtful if the Pro- Rajapaksa group will get to first base with its alleged grievances to the UN body or the local embassies. It certainly is a question of credibility –

editorial . CDN


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