The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which ended on Sunday without a hitch was a remarkable feat for Sri Lanka considering the massive forces of the Tamil diaspora and International NGOs doing their damnedest to sabotage the event, nationally and internationally. They were aided and abetted by the mighty forces of Britain and India, along with Canada and Mauritius, which, at their worst, created some negative headlines. Prime Minister David Cameron’s megaphone diplomacy struck a strident and menacing note. He came with the sole intention of playing to the Tamil gallery in UK. He was the least concerned about Commonwealth affairs. He was not even concerned about human rights per se. He came to get Sri Lanka.
It was in essence a pathetic display of politicising CHOGM to promote his personal agenda. If David Cameron was genuinely concerned about human rights violations he should have begun not from January 2009 to May 2009 but from 1818 - the time his ancestors raided and tortured and massacred unarmed Sinhalese villagers, including pregnant mothers and babies, and burnt every leaf and branch to deprive them of their basic livelihood for opposing their colonial regime.
" His visit to Jaffna with British media circus on his tail, his stunt of posing in front of cameras with Tamil women in tears, his pompous claim of being the first head of state to visit Jaffna since independence were all orchestrated craftily as pure political theatre to please the Tamil gallery in UK "
After nearly two centuries he hasn’t addressed the colonial war crimes and crimes against humanity but he had no compunction in giving a deadline of four months for Sri Lanka to address the issues he has raised. It is the likes of David Cameron that give human rights a bad name. Globally the cynical manipulations of human rights by big powers, acting with impunity to protect their core interests, are casting a long shadow over the validity of raising human rights to judge those on the other side of the fence. This not only degrades the value of the UN Charter as a guide for global peace but also rubs salt on the wounds of the victims of violence unleashed in the name of human rights. For instance, the entire cause of human rights in Sri Lanka is distorted by diverting attention away from the main perpetrators (including India, particularly that of the IPKF in Jaffna) and focusing only on selective segments of recent history that suits the agenda of those bent on demonising Sri Lanka.
Take, for instance, the case of limiting the UNHRC concerns only to the last five months of a 33-year-old war, starting from the declaration of war in the Vaddukoddai Resolution in 1976. The proposition that a 33-year-old war should be judged ONLY on the actions of the last five months goes beyond all reasoning into the realm of the absurd. Ms. Navi Pillay, who adheres to this absurdity, is yet to explain why she thinks that human rights were violated only in the last five months and not before. She has also to explain how she slammed Sri Lanka in her very first UNHRC speech prepared, according to her own admission, on May 25, 2009 without any credible or substantial evidence/report/study on the war that ended on May 19, 2009.
It was a just war which ended by rescuing 300,000 Tamil civilians held as human shield to protect the Tamil Pol Pot, Velupillai Prabhakaran. On May 25, 2009 when Ms. Pillay slammed Sri Lanka at UNHRC she had only the EU Resolution moved against Sri Lanka. Not surprisingly, her speech to the UNHRC ran on parallel lines with the EU Resolution. If she had no valid or credible evidence at hand before she slammed Sri Lanka was she defending human rights or was she running along obediently with the EU Resolution? Can human rights be protected by going along with big power politics?
UK was a part of this partisan resolution which was, of course, defeated on the floor of the UNHRC. David Cameron’s mission at the CHOGM was to revive, reinforce and continue this failed power play. It is pathetic – nay hilarious – to see him trying to capture the moral high moral ground when he has more blood on his hands than Lady Macbeth’s and Prabhakaran’s put together.
His visit to Jaffna with British media circus on his tail, his stunt of posing in front of cameras with Tamil women in tears, his pompous claim of being the first head of state to visit Jaffna since independence were all orchestrated craftily as pure political theatre to please the Tamil gallery in UK. Human rights and Commonwealth affairs hardly received the due attention they deserved at the 23rd gathering of CHOGM. Whenever he raised these issues it was to emphasize his role as the postman delivering the vote-catching sound bites to impress the Tamil vote base in UK. He was out to impress that he has not failed to bat on behalf of the Tamils in Colombo.
The only time he really batted in the field Murali told him blandly that he is on the wrong foot playing the wrong strokes. The choice for him now is between Murali and his Tamil constituency in UK. There are no prizes for guessing which path he will take. He would stick with the Tamil myths and ignore the realities pointed out by Murali. All of which points to the fact that Cameron came not because he is a committed lover of human rights or even the Tamils but because he loves his prime ministerial seat more.
The fact that he came to use CHOGM as his megaphone was clear when he ran away soon after meeting President Rajapaksa. At the press conference he tried to play down the question as to why his face looked so sour when he came out of the meeting. Still smarting under his failure to twist the arm of President Rajapaksa he threatened to mobilize his forces in March 2014 at the UNHRC – the same deadline used by Ms. Navi Pillay. The reaction of the Government was predictable and commendable. However, President Rajapaksa was privately discussing with the President of S. Africa, Jacob Zuma, the feasibility of introducing a Truth Commission based on S. African road to reconciliation. His line that those in glass houses should not throw stones was a clear six that went over the ropes. The British, who took 20 years to release their report on Bloody Sunday, is not in a position to demand solutions within the next four months.
The most telling point in the CHOGM saga came from George Alagiah, the Sri Lankan-born BBC correspondent. Alagiah summed up the reality which should make the anti-Sri Lankan political pundits cringe in shame. He said: “UK Prime Minister David Cameron says he will do it (the attack on Sri Lanka) privately; many other will shout it out loud. All of it will come to nothing. Sri Lanka has enough friends around the world to survive the onslaught.” (BBC – November 15, 2013)
So what have the local NGOs nutters who shouted themselves hoarse achieved? They are now crowing that it is a PR disaster. So what? As stated by Alagiah, “(All of it will come to nothing.” Tomorrow’s headlines will shift to Syria, Lebanon etc. End of story. The end of the CHOGM was not the end of Sri Lanka. The NGOs were hoping that the negative headlines would result in a massive boycott. They were expecting a regime change. They were aiming to isolate Sri Lanka as a pariah. But the day after the CHOGM the sun shone as bright as ever over Sri Lanka. Holding CHOGM in Colombo was a test of Sri Lanka’s standing in the international community. The NGO braggarts who assumed that they could determine the global agenda by whipping up anti-Sri Lanka propaganda were in for a rude shock. They have come out as farcical figures tilting at windmills. These politically primitive pygmies posing as prophetic pundits should go back to basics and learn that the world does not run according to the figments of their fetid imagination. President Mahinda Rajapakse has faced the worst once again and won. There is a moral to this: negative headlines do not necessarily determine the progress of history.