By S. V. Kirubaharan
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of American President Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.” The majority of today’s international media speaks about Libya – some talk about coalition air raids and civilian casualities; some talk about rebels recapturing cities and the subsequent celebrations; others say NATO forces in Libya intend to enforce a UN resolution to protect civilians.
The Sri Lankan President and his ministers say that “Protection of the civilian population in Libya remains a concern for Sri Lanka” and government media say that “Air strikes on Libya unacceptable,” well and good — fair point.
On the other hand a Minister from the breakaway JVP group is staging his periodical fast and demonstration to satisfy the President. Other JVP members who went to Jaffna shed crocodile tears. All these political dramas are staged once more to take the people of North and East for a ride.
Is what happens today in Libya worse than what happened in Mullivaghzal in 2009? Is what the President of Libya says any different to what was said by the President of Sri Lanka?
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, responding to questions with regard to attacks on Libya by the coalition, said on March 28, “I always believe that the people are right, but no one should harm innocent citizens... We are not with anyone killing civilians and cannot accept the violation of the sovereignty of any country.” (Excerpt from the official website of the Government of Sri Lanka:
The Sri Lankan President, who criticised the Western Coalition’s air attacks on Libya, should realise that the coalition forces went into Libya with a UN resolution to protect civilians. Whereas he had an illegal coalition to kill the civilians in Mullivaghzal
The President does not realise that his lies, bogus promises and duping of the international community in the past can be considered the reason for today’s quick response to Libya by the international community! The way Sri Lanka took the international community for a ride during the final days of the war in 2009, primed the international community into neither listening nor trusting the Libyan President.
During the peak hours of the war in Mullivaghzhal, when the Foreign Ministers of France and United Kingdom travelled to Sri Lanka with the aim of bringing about a cease-fire to prevent civilians casualties, the Sri Lankan government told utter lies that there were only 40-60,000 civilians in Mullivaghzhal, but claimed at the end of the war that there were 300,000 civilians.
The Sri Lankan President also gave a lecture about “sovereignty and integrity” to the visiting Foreign Ministers and told them not to interfere in internal affairs.
Today the Libyan President Col. Gaddafi is saying the same thing that the Sri Lankan President said in 2009. In an interview to a French newspaper released on March 6, 2011, Col. Gaddafi said, “I am surprised that nobody understands that this is a fight against terrorism, our security services cooperate. We have helped you a lot these past few years. So why is it that when we are in a fight against terrorism here in Libya, no one helps us in return?” (Excerpts from Col. Gaddafi interview to Journal du Dimanche)
Here we can clearly see the double standards of international justice and the hypocrisy of the Sri Lankan government.
On the one hand the United Nations and powerful states were maintaining a policy of non interference with regard to Sri Lanka and on the other hand some countries were directly involved in helping the final stages of the war.
During the final days of Mullivaghzhal, neither the majority of the local human rights activists nor the political parties protested against the killing of civilians. They were silently watching and some were even enjoying the cold-blooded killings of civilians.
Can the international community, the United Nations, powerful states, Sri Lankan government and some members of civil society explain why they maintained a deafening silence while the people of the North and East, especially civilians in the Mullivaghzhal were being killed in aerial bombing and artillery fire?
Sri Lanka should not forget that if today’s stand of the international community had been applied in Sri Lanka in 2009, by now the 193rd member state in the United Nations would have been born.
The most shameful thing is that as usual some local NGOs have once again started to use the suffering of the people in the North and East for their own financial benefits. These NGOs believe that development is more important to the people of the North and East than accountability and proper reconciliation. These NGOs want democracy to be restored without realising that since independence, the island has never enjoyed democracy, other than periodically voting in elections.