by Gamini Weerakoon
World Cup hysteria is over and now the Moon hysteria is in full swing in our resplendent isle. The mass media is letting go its full throated cry against the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon who handed over to our government the report of the three member panel appointed by him on alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lanka’s armed forces on civilians during the final phases of the war against LTTE terrorism.
People do not seem to be as intensively provoked as our politicians and the mass media — both state controlled and privately owned. Hysteria is being whipped up not only against the docile moon-faced Secretary General but also against the United Nations and Western leaders like President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy. The climax is being plotted to reach a frenzy on May Day at a massive rally where ‘patriotic’ Sri Lankans are expected to gather in massive numbers and give vent to their anger and patriotism.
Many phases of Moon
Certainly a great majority of Sri Lankans are justifiably furious with Ban Ki Moon and most Western leaders at the partisan manner in which they conducted themselves on vital occasions during the three decade period of terrorism.
But will our collective fury help us to clear the name of our country from the ignominious accusations heaped upon us? As claimed by the protestors even the sovereignty of the nation is being called into question.
What is our immediate objective in continuing with this hysteria? It is very unlikely that neither Ban Ki Moon nor the world leaders supporting him will be made to shelve the report of this panel on alleged abuses.
The recommendations made by this three member panel have grave implications.
Two of the main recommendations are:
* The Government of Sri Lanka immediately commences investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights committed by both sides involved in the armed conflict.
* Secretary General establishes an independent international mechanism, which will have a mandate to monitor and assess the extent to which Sri Lanka is carrying out an effective domestic accountability process including genuine investigations of the alleged violations and inform the Secretary General of its findings.
There are many other recommendations which would make Sri Lanka appear to be a client state with the Secretary General and his cohorts directing how this country should govern itself. The challenge is to get ourselves out of this mess without having the UN and its bureaucrats to be our overlords.
A primary challenge for Sri Lankans is to rid themselves of the newly acquired Sri Lanka centric mentality. In recent years we have been coming round to the view that the universe revolves around Sri Lanka, more particularly around the celestial abode, Temple Trees. The hard fact must be conceded that we are a part of a global system where international laws as well as domestic laws of civilized states have to be followed.
Even though President Mahinda Rajapaksa says ‘we are not small’ and wants us to think ‘big’ we are still a dot on planet Earth and are treated along with countries of similar size and power as Fiji, Rwanda, Dominican Republic, El Salvador. Thus, when the UN Secretary General wants the violation of human rights here investigated it is most likely to happen even though we once successfully met the challenge at Geneva. Our only hope is that Russia and China exercise their veto powers against Western sponsored moves for reasons of their own.
But the thinking on the streets of Colombo is that we are a mighty power. The other day we heard a radio blasting away: ‘Sri Lankawa puduma ratak. Api thrasthawadaya thaniyama sunn kala. Samahara loka balawathunta ewa karanda thawamath baa (Sri Lanka is a unique country. We defeated terrorism on our own. Some world powers are still unable to do so). A man on the street added: Ban Ki Moon ova danne nehe wage (As if Ban Ki Moon doesn’t know such things).
But what the Pavement Gemunus are unaware is that, when Moon first wanted to appoint a panel of inquiry, our Lankan greats told him to go jump off the topmost floor of the UN tower, but later sent a secret delegation to negotiate with him on the panel. Having accepted the appointment of the panel in an official way by meeting them in secret, can Sri Lanka, however ‘great’ it thinks it is, now reject the panel’s recommendations if they are accepted by Moon?
It has been argued that the appointment of the panel in question is invalid because it has not been sanctioned by the Security Council, the General Assembly nor the UN Human Rights Commission. We are not UN experts but we are told that that issue should have been sorted out at the very beginning and not after the panel has submitted its report.
However as the old adage goes, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’. Cynics say ‘every coffin too has a silver lining’. The silver lining of this Ban Ki Moon hysteria is that all other crises that have peaked in the country now are forgotten much to the benefit of the Rajapaksa clique: Be it the Rs. 3 hike in bread or the right royal mess in the cricket. And every citizen has been told that it is his patriotic duty to oppose the imposition of human rights panel on Sri Lanka and stand by the Rajapaksa government. Some local government elections are due soon, according to sources.
But what of the recommendations of the human rights panel of Ban Ki Moon?
Will they disappear over the Galle Face horizon after the May Day rally?
Or will Sri Lanka’s diplomatic guerillas like Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawaka stage fasts unto death opposite the UN headquarters?
In the alternative will Sri Lanka resort to old fashioned diplomacy by using respected personalities in the UN such as former Under Secretary General Jayantha Dhanapala and Justice C.G. Weeramantry?
COURTESY:THE SUNDAY LEADER