I am not, and never was an admirer/supporter of the synthetic `doctor’ Mervyn Silva and never thought the occasion would ever arise for me to say a good word about him or any of his acts, however, that occasion has now arisen.
Amid the welter of voices expressing various views about or relating to Pillay, the one which appealed to me most was that of our synthetic `doctor’, making that which appears to have been a rather unconventional proposal of marriage to her. However, conventional or otherwise, that proposal proved the degree of self-sacrifice that synthetic `doctor’ was purportedly prepared to make for the sake of justice. What would the plight of our synthetic `doctor’ have been if Pillay accepted the proposal and he was compelled to marry her? Though the expression “a fate worse than death” is well known, a far more horrible fate would, to my mind, await any one who married Pillay. What of the fate of Pillay if she had accepted the proposal and was compelled to live a life of wedded `bliss’ with that synthetic `doctor’? Indeed this bizarre proposal of marriage brings to mind the Sinhalese saying “JADIYATA MOODIYA” in that it is my most sincere belief that such acceptance and marriage would indisputably serve each of them right!
Since writing this Article, I found in today’s papers, an article saying that Minister Alahapperuma had apologised for that proposal. What right Alahapperuma, who never apologised to the Samurdhi official whom Silva tied to a tree or any other Sri Lankan victim of any of Silva’s antics had, to apologise for Silva’s conduct is difficult to see. Alahapperuma is like Silva, just another one of an unsavoury multitude of `Ministers’. He was not Silva’s superior or responsible for his conduct in any way. Thus, to my mind, his apology only constitutes further proof of the colonial mentality that makes so many of our compatriots in high positions venerate and seek to curry favour with the foreigner, particularly if such a foreigner had the blessings of our theoretically `former’ colonial master and its `boss’, the USA.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is reported to have accused the United Nations Organisation (UNO) of being biased against Sri Lanka. While I am in wholehearted agreement with this opinion, the question that, to my mind, admits of no rational answer is – why then did the government invite Pillay to visit Sri Lanka? The opinion that the UN was biased against us could not have been conceived the `other day’. Surely, this bias would have been patently apparent to the President in his interactions with Ban ki-Moon – particularly when he had the impertinence to make an overt attempt to save the LTTE from certain defeat and annihilation as a fighting force by `requesting’ a ceasefire when we were on the verge of defeating those vermin. Surely, this bias would have been evident when the de facto `controller’ of the UN, the USA moved a Resolution against little Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and canvassed hard to have it passed by an overwhelming majority, and our government organized and promoted the holding in Sri Lanka, of a number of demonstrations against them which were patently sterile exercises in respect of the international field. Why then did the Government invite Pillay to visit Sri Lanka on a fact-finding tour instead of letting her come, if she wished, on a tourist visa?
The answer given to this question by many who approved of the invitation extended to Pillay was that Sri Lanka had nothing to hide, and that once Pillay saw for herself the conditions prevalent in Sri Lanka instead of relying on second and third hand accounts, she would see the errors in her previous reports and those on Sri Lanka would be less damaging to us. This is as stupid as the cry raised by some in positions of authority [both within and outside the Government] that we should have welcomed an impartial international investigation into the allegations of `war crimes’ levelled against us because we have nothing to hide.
These views spring from a hopelessly erroneous and equally optimistic assumption that Pillay on the one hand and a bunch of foreigners [most likely from the West] constituting an alleged independent international war crimes tribunal on the other, would be honest, impartial and objective in their deliberations and conclusions.
We, who have had horrific experiences with the so called International Community should have known better. When India armed, trained and equipped some young Tamil thugs to murder our people and destroy our property on our soil, the foreigners did nothing. When India invaded our airspace and intimidated us into ceasing operations against the LTTE when we were on the point of defeating them in 1987, all the world, except China and Pakistan ignored those acts and said and did nothing even in the name of peace, the comity of nations and/or human rights.
The palpable bias of the so-called International Independent Group of Eminent Persons [IIGEP] selected and appointed by Mahinda Rajapaksa himself to observe and make suggestions to the government about the conduct of inquiries by the Nissanka Udalagama Commission, and of the committee of so-called experts appointed unilaterally by Moon, who purported to make a report on our conduct of military operations against the LTTE without setting foot on our soil, could not possibly have left any `thinking’ person with any comforting illusions about the independence or impartiality of Pillay and/or such an international tribunal.
Any illusions any person may have had about the independence, impartiality or probity of Pillay would necessary have vanished upon seeing her parting statement when she really bared her fangs at Sri Lanka. Even a cursory glance at that statement would show after a few patronising observations thanking the government for its hospitality and arrangements made for her to visit various parts of the country etc. and some observations about the development work being carried out in the North and the East, she proceeds to seek to give ‘advice’ or ‘directions’ to the government about how it should rule our country. The fact that the Government of this country is elected by the people and that Pillay was never appointed to discharge that function appears to have been totally lost on Pillay who, to my mind acted on the basis of what I might term the Ozymandias concept of “I am the monarch of all I survey”.
Time and space does not permit me to comment in detail about that statement. Accordingly I will only deal with two aspects of it which illustrates in ample measure the lack of concern that Pillay has for human rights and the freedom of expression.
It would be observed that one of the matters in respect of which she patronisingly praised and/or expressed satisfaction about the acts of the government was the total violation of the human rights of several police officers mainly from the Special Task Force in respect of the murders of five youth in Trincomalee.
I refer to this case despite my being Senior Counsel for the accused therein and although I do not usually, as a matter of practice make public statements about the cases in which I appear, I do so now because it is necessary for the public to be apprised of the facts. The murders of the five youth in Trincomalee were a horrific crime in respect of which there was no evidence to identify its perpetrators.
This is nothing new in Sri Lanka. So many murders more ghastly and more grisly than that of those five youth have been committed in Sri Lanka with nobody being identified as a perpetrator. A few examples of these are the mass murders of Buddhist monks at Aranthalawa, of villagers at Gonagala, the murders of Gamini Dissanayake, Gamini Wijesekara, Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi and Ossie Abeygunasekera at Thotalanga, the mass murders of devotees at the Sacred Bo Tree Anuradhapura etc.
Twelve personnel of the Special Task Force and one from the regular Police force who were on duty at a check point near the clock tower in Trincomalee town about 750 to 1000 metres away from the scene of the incident were arrested, not because any of them were identified but because they happened to be the first uniformed persons or the first members of the security forces on the scene. They were not charged, but detained on detention orders until they were released on the instructions of the Attorney General who expressed the written opinion that there was insufficient evidence to hold them in custody any longer. Since their release from custody about seven years ago these patriotic men resumed active duty and were engaged largely in combatting the LTTE. We, today, are some of the beneficiaries of their services. One of them was injured in such operations and his leg was amputated. This to my mind was a greater sacrifice made for the sake of the country than any (if any) made by any Minister, politician or human rights `businessman’. However, on or about July 4 of this year they were suddenly produced in court and remanded.
They remain incarcerated today more than two months after they were taken into custody. The anguish of these men whose only `crime’ was serving the country at the risk of their lives and the anguish of their families could better be imagined than described. One thing is certain and that is that these patriots are being crucified on the altar of political expediency so as to be able to tell Pillay and the foreigners who attend the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) due to be held in November this year that action was being taken to prosecute members of the security forces in respect of the murders of five youth in Trincomalee.
The question of evidence against them is conveniently forgotten, and even Pillay whose concern should have been the human rights of all citizens, not merely of Tamils, but of all citizens, be they of the security forces or otherwise, has not bothered to consider what evidence there was against them. It is a fact that not one report filed in court by the Police disclosed any evidence that any of these patriots committed any crime in this regard. Thus, the only concern of Pillay and no doubt those whom she serves, appears to have been that somebody whomsoever from the security forces should be charged for those murders, the injustice done to them by being charged without evidence and being locked up without evidence and having their entire lives ruined by this exercise having been completely lost on them.
Pillay has also been sufficiently bold or impertinent to make some observations critical of the government with regard to its alleged handling of journalists. However at the same time Pillay herself complained to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (and presumably the President) about three Ministers and the media who she alleges attacked her. Thus evidently, the beliefs of Pillay with regard to the freedom of expression do not include the freedom to criticise herself!
Though she presents herself as a champion of human rights and freedom of expression Pillay has not, to-date, as far as I am aware, made any comments critical of the United States for their disgraceful treatment and harassment of those such as Pfc. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. It would be observed that United States of America does not deny the truth of matters disclosed by Manning and by Snowden. Their limitless fury at, Manning and Snowden have nothing to do with the truth of the allegations published by them which they do not deny, but about the fact that they have exposed the guilty secrets of the United States. Of course the United States have not used the word ‘guilty’ – that word was used by me for good reason, for clearly Obama and his minions had no objection to Snowden or Manning disclosing to the world any purported good deed done by the United States but only castigated them for leaking its guilty secrets. The question of why any country must have ‘guilty’ secrets has not been posed by anybody.
Beyond these matters it is evident that Pillay has steered clear of making any kind of attack on, or criticism of India for the massive part played by it in creating our IDP crisis, for arming and training terrorists to commit murder and mayhem on our soil, for invading our country with combat aircraft and preventing us from defeating the Tigers 22 years before they were defeated and being therefore responsible for all the death, destruction and suffering that this country underwent in those 22 years, for the atrocities committed by the Indian Army Of Occupation, euphemistically called the “Indian Peace Keeping Force” and the Indian government-backed theft of our fish by Indian fishermen.
Thus, Pillay has proved herself to be a fraud and a craven coward who is intent on only pleasing the powerful.
It may be said that these are matters of history and that what matters now is what action the government must take. I agree to an extent. There is clearly no purpose in merely harking back to the past. However, past mistakes are useful to the extent that there are so many lessons that we could learn from them. One lesson we could learn from our experiences with Pillay are that we must not put our faith in foreigners and indiscriminately invite them to come to our country. Had Pillay wanted to come and see things in our country for herself, there was nothing to prevent her from coming with a tourist visa and going sightseeing as many do.
Secondly, the government must take to heart those criticisms levelled against it which are true, whether they were levelled by Pillay or any one else. One of them is that the government is becoming increasingly authoritarian. That regrettably is an ugly phenomenon that we have seen for over 43 years, particularly since Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike obtained a 2/3 majority in Parliament in 1970 and Sri Lanka descended into the abyss of a dictatorship. It would be good but unlikely that Mahinda Rajapaksa and the powers that be in his government (if there are any but he therein) take these matters to heart and bring back to our country the ‘standards’ which are now as extinct as a dinosaur.