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1. Why was Sri Lanka unable to defeat the resolution brought against it at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) last Thursday? Was it because India turned against Sri Lanka due to domestic compulsions or were there other factors at play?

The Indian decision to vote against us, and also to indicate early that this might happen, was crucial, but I think we were facing an uphill battle anyway, given the pressures the UN and the EU together were bringing on other countries. We could have done more earlier on to work with those countries on other issues, to strengthen relations.

  1. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) views the resolution as the first step in the pursuit of justice and accountability; and Amnesty International (AI) says that it represents a positive step forward for Sri Lanka and an opportunity to end “long-standing immunity for human rights violations.” Your reaction?

I think it could be used as an opportunity if we realize that we have to do better both on making clear what we are already doing with regard to the reconciliation process, which is not simply about accountability in terms of retribution as some elements are suggesting; and also on moving more quickly on all elements of the Reconciliation process, as laid out in the LLRC as well as in our draft Reconciliation Policy, which refers to restoration and empowerment as well as restitution.

  1. There is criticism that the Sri Lankan delegation, despite its strength in numbers, was not adequately prepared for the 19th session. Do you agree?

I think the people who went did their best, but I think they too realized that preparation has to begin much earlier, and be based on a coherent long term policy, that takes into consideration their concerns too, which was how Dayan Jayatilleka did so well in 2009. The policy we must work towards now should include restoring the mutual confidence we had with India a couple of years back, and also strengthening our ties with members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

  1. Now that the resolution has been adopted, what are its practical implications?

Since, unusually for the UN system, a country specific resolution that goes into the past has been passed, we need to make sure first that it is not used for unwarranted and disruptive interference, and secondly that it is not used as an excuse for a harsher resolution in the future, that would excuse more active interference. Read the rest of this entry »

Address of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha Chair, Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats at the Opening Session of the CALD General Assembly 2012, on the theme The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy.

I must begin by thanking the Secretariat of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats for putting together an excellent concept paper, which presents us with a very balanced view of the topic of our general assembly this year. It is all too easy to think of populism in negative terms, and indeed the list of what are seen as populist leaders of recent times with which the paper begins is one that many liberals would abhor. But the fact remains that the individuals on that list have in almost all cases been the leading choice of the people in their own countries, and we cannot dismiss them readily without trying to understand what makes them popular.

One name on that list however is an exception, and I think it makes clear to us the difference between populism that must be respected, even if it cannot be approved of, and what must from our point of view at least be rejected. I refer to Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, who was never chosen by a majority of the people of his country to be its leader. I would suggest that shows the limits of populism that is based on pure negativity, an appeal to people that necessarily means rejection of other people. Wilders did strike a chord with the people of the Netherlands and did comparatively well, but he did not have a majority, unlike Chavez and Morales in Latin America, Shinawatra and Estrada in Asia, and Berlusconi in Europe.

Interestingly enough, the first four appealed to people on the basis of their poverty, which demanded alleviation. Berlusconi seemed rather to appeal on the basis of wealth which demanded protection. I think that suggests another dimension to populism that will become increasingly important in the years to come, as the privileged use the media with increasing skill to hold onto their privileges. Indeed I would suggest in this regard that perhaps Ronald Reagan was the first populist President on that pattern, using his cinematic skills to win people to a partisan agenda that, like Berlusconi’s, was based on the suggestion that the state had been too indulgent to its less affluent segments. I still recall John Kenneth Galbraith claiming that Reagan’s philosophy was that the poor were not working hard enough because they had too much money, and the rich were not working hard enough because they had too little. The consequences of that type of populism are I believe still with us, in the rhetoric that dominates American primaries and which therefore finds its way into government policy too.

In Asia, though, it is to the deprived that populists generally appeal, and it is for that reason that, though we may worry about the policies they advance, that seem to us to be unsustainable, we must worry too about the sense of deprivation to which they appeal, and which demands alleviation. The Democrats in Thailand, and the Liberals in the Philippines, have both realized that they must overcome the image they project amongst many of the underprivileged, that they are an elite that does not understand the day to day problems of the peasantry and the urban poor. The need then to first develop policies that take those problems into consideration, and second to explain more clearly and convincingly the benefits of measures that may seem harsh initially, is better understood now because of the success of a more simplistic approach to poverty alleviation on the part of less responsible forces.

In the Sri Lankan context, I believe we too must recognize that some policies which seemed populist, in catering to the deprived without concern for wider interests, cannot be condemned out of hand. The shift in language policy that occurred in the fifties, the takeover of schools in the sixties, the takeover of lands in the seventies, the introduction of quotas for university education during that time, are all seen now as shortsighted, and certainly they were implemented with a lack of sensitivity and careful planning that has cost us dear. But we must also realize that they sprang from very real needs, and it was only the haste with which they were imposed, rather than being implemented after careful consideration of all options, that caused problems.

The manner in which Sinhalese was made the sole Official Language of the country provides an instructive example. The original proposal was based on the fact that government functioned largely in English, and this was not a language that was understood by the vast majority of our people. Mr Bandaranaike, whose party was largely based in Sinhalese areas, proposed to replace English with Sinhala. The then UNP government, which was more Westernized in its approach, realized however that change was necessary, and adopted the same policy, but its leader, then Prime Minister John Kotelawala, declared in Jaffna that Tamil too would have parity of status.

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OHCHR:

Bigger representation urged for developing nations

by Manjula Fernando

A resolution calling for enhanced geographical representation in the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), to ensure fair treatment for developing states, was passed at the UN Human Rights Council last week.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha a member of the Sri Lankan delegation to the 19th session of the UNHCR, commenting on this positive development said, “The resolution about the staff of the OHCHR, which was passed by an overwhelming majority, is of immense importance to all developing countries”.

He said at present OHCHR is dominated by personnel from developed countries, who are not concerned with the Economic and Social and Cultural Rights of developing nations, in particular the Right to Development, which are of crucial importance to countries like Sri Lanka.

The resolution introduced by Cuba last week was adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 12 against and two abstentions.

The US which spoke against the resolution voted it down saying the UN Human Rights Council was not competent to make recommendations on the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Hungary speaking on behalf of EU expressed similar sentiments and it too voted against the resolution with the US.

Prof. Wijesinha said “for many years now there has been great concern about the imbalance in the OHCHR.”

There has been debate that the composition was not just a question of Western domination in UN bodies, but also a problem that many of the recent recruits came from NGO backgrounds and they may work to the priorities of those NGOs, especially those that lived by advocacy critical of particular countries.

He said there were instances where junior UN staff flouted UN rules, and countermanded the statements of their seniors, by collecting and publicizing information adverse to Sri Lanka, often without checking of evidence and sources.

Sri Lanka raised this issue of composition in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on many previous occasions and blamed this ‘flaw’ for the lack of objectivity it has shown in dealing with Sri Lanka.

He said, “When the UN system is dominated by a particular set of attitudes, sometimes encouraged by countries that want to play power politics through the system, the dice are loaded against poorer countries.”

He said most countries have realised this flaw and the voting on the Resolution made it clear.

“When the problem is compounded by Western domination of the media, and the easy transformation of NGO activists in poorer countries into anti-governmental propagandists, the stage is set for Western agendas to find easy fulfilment. “

He said Sri Lanka needs to work together with like-minded countries to ensure that this Resolution finds fulfilment.

He emphasised that Sri Lanka must work with other SAARC countries to develop better programs in Developmental Administration and in International Relations for government officials, to provide the knowledge and the negotiating skills that will strengthen SAARC members in dealing with a rapidly changing world order.

I was first asked by the Foreign Ministry to go to Geneva, after a lapse of a couple of years, the night the US tabled its resolution. The reason, I believe, was the work I had done in Reconciliation, since the impression the United States and its friends were trying to create was that Sri Lanka would do nothing unless it was under pressure.

This is nonsense, given the massive amounts we have done in resettlement,rehabilitation and reconstruction, but sadly we have not been giving out the message, or detailed information, in any coherent fashion. We have also failed to emphasize the improving situation with regard to Human Rights, and in particular the actions taken with regard to some of the interim recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, actions that had commenced long before that Commission was appointed.

With regard to Reconciliation, I believe my office has done a lot, even though it receives no resources and has only one executive level member of staff, who has still not been paid. Despite all this, I was encouraged, I should gratefully note, by the Secretary of Defence, to go ahead with my plans, and indeed he arranged accommodation for me on early visits, though now I have to meet such expenses myself. I did tell him I could not act quite as swiftly as he did, since I had no executive authority, but I am glad I went ahead, and I have had nothing but sympathetic cooperation from all officials from the Governor to the District and Divisional Secretaries in the North, and also from Civil Society. In Colombo too Civil Society has been most helpful, including the small group of Partners for Reconciliation I set up, and the religious educationists in Religion, Education And Pluralism who in any case have been doing much excellent work themselves, even before the conflict ended.

The draft National Policy on Reconciliation we had produced was I believe useful in Geneva in making it clear not only that we had done much ourselves within the country, but also that we were able to conceptualize and work within a comprehensive framework, that encompassed restoration and empowerment as well as restitution. Indicating the much wider range of activities required than the formulae those with political agendas repeat (accountability meaning retribution, and devolution meaning more power to provincial councils regardless of the aim of such power, which is empowerment) was illuminating, and we were able to invite and answer questions in a relatively positive atmosphere.

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While suppressing the evidence it had commissioned from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Amnesty produced yet another report to denigrate Sri Lanka during the sessions of the Human Rights Council, and has been actively canvassing against us in Geneva. Its normally urbane representative, Peter Splinter, has been scurrying around like a headless chicken, and using language that he would not normally stoop to.

I met him as I went to the Palais on the 14th, and he did not stop to speak, understandably so for he had a meeting with the Sri Lankan delegates led by Dr Saravanamuttu of the Centre for Policy Alternatives who have been in the forefront of the campaign against Sri Lanka. Interestingly, when most people in Sri Lanka were positive about the LLRC report, it was CPA which followed the American line of criticism, which sadly the TNA also took up. While Peter was deeply upset about what he claimed was characterization of his friends as terrorists, and this of course is nonsense, the congruence of their agenda with that of the LTTE rump that has now come to the Palais in increasing numbers is truly worrying.

Peter engaged in his own insults when he described the session at which Jeevan Thiagarajah and Javid Yusuf and I spoke about taking Reconciliation forward as a Dog and Pony show. I do not think he intended any particular insult to Mr Yusuf, but it is this type of cultural insensitivity that Amnesty would have been careful about in the old days when people committed to Human Rights without a political agenda, such as Anne Ranasinghe and Javid himself worked for it.

The political agenda is clear in the latest report issued by Amnesty, with its claim that unlawful detention practices continue. In the past I used to think Amnesty was genuine in its commitment to human rights, and I have no objection to it drawing attention to practices it sees as illegal or improper. What I object to is its use of particular instances to engage in generalizations that shore up the impression it seeks to propagate, of Sri Lanka being a militarized state where abuses are the norm. I am sure Amnesty is aware of the vast number of deaths in police custody in Britain in recent years, and I am sure that it will draw attention to these, albeit less dramatically than it does to problems in countries it dislikes – but I do not see it claiming that such abuses in Britain are endemic and indicative of state policy.

The particular instances Amnesty draws attention to in its current assault are largely taken from the past. All case studies as far as I could see were of people arrested in 2009 or earlier, and several of them had been released. While I have no doubt that, like any country under threat from terrorism, arrests sometimes erred on the side of caution, several of the studies indicate that there was good reason for the arrest, ranging from the foreign national who came out to work in an orphanage, as he claimed, and was then recruited by the LTTE (whether forcibly or not is not indicated) to the cadre who had lied under interrogation about his work for the LTTE though he has readily admitted it to whoever interviewed him for Amnesty.

Amnesty also ignores the fact that, whereas we did have large numbers in detention in 2009, those have been significantly reduced. While at the Ministry of Human Rights we would urge that cases be expedited, we could understand that while LTTE terrorism was still an active threat in Sri Lanka, we had to be cautious. Shortly after the war ended however the President appointed a Committee which I chaired to ensure that cases were dealt with, and I had complete cooperation from the prison authorities, the police and the Attorney General’s Department. Though we would complain that this last was slow in dealing with files entrusted to it, the number was halved by the time the Committee ceased to function with the election of 2010.

Since then the Attorney General worked expeditiously to reduce the numbers, and the figure of 2000 cited by Ambassador Godage, cited in the Amnesty Report from the LLRC hearings, is now down to a few hundreds. It should be noted too that ICRC has been visiting such detainees since 2007. I remembered that we used to get reports when I was at the Ministry, but I checked again and ICRC has confirmed that its visits have continued throughout.
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Let me deal first with what they have presented as their most damning evidence, the pictures of the dead body of Prabhakaran’s son. The killing of a child is always shocking and, unlike the celebrated Elie Wiesel, who excused the killing of members of Osama bin Laden’s family on the grounds that ‘it was bin Laden himself who placed them in harm’s way’, I do not think that is in any sense an excuse. We must investigate what happened, and take action if this was execution.

However the manner in which Channel 4 drums up evidence suggests that they are more concerned with vindictiveness towards their enemies than justice. In their anxiety to declare that the boy was tortured, they claim that they have been told this by a Sri Lankan army officer. However, in the transcript they show, it appears that, when they asked this officer how the boy had been treated, he simply responded ‘I got to know at the latter stages that they found out where Prabhakaran is through his son’.

Then there is a description from a pathologist about how he had been killed, a description that uses the word ‘likely’ three times. This uncertainty is compounded in the response to the question Channel 4 posed about torture, having declared that ‘clearly’ whoever killed him was trying to get information.

On January 15th, 2010, U.S. soldiers in Bravo Company stationed near Kandahar executed an unarmed Afghan boy named Gul Mudin in the village of La Mohammad Kalay. He was 15 yrs old.

The answer is categorical that ‘There is no evidence on the body of physical torture’. However, the obliging expert then claims that ‘if we can imagine the situation he was in’, since there were five others ‘who may well have been killed before he was killed’, and (this is now definite in what we can imagine), he was shot ‘by someone standing in front of him with the end of the gun within a few feet of his body, that would be a psychological torture in itself’. In this extraordinarily tentative world in which the Channel 4 expert lives, the alleged torture being characterized by a bizarre indefinite article too, this is enough to claim that President Rajapaksa is guilty. The sequence ends with the claim that, after several hypothetical steps, ‘the legal difficulties of linking the top to the bottom are largely eliminated’.

I should add that this video does not seem, at first sight, to contain many of the flaws of the previous video Channel 4 showed, which was initially dated wrongly (with no explanation given when we showed that the metadata indicated something else), with no editing of fragments in the wrong order with the inclusion of one fragment filmed at a different time and perhaps even a different place according to the reports the UN commissioned, with no purportedly dead figure putting down his legs which led one apparently eccentric expert to declare that is was possible he was drunk or sleeping or playing dead while others were being shot through the head around him. The video of Balachandran’s body – not  actual killing which was shown in the other video, which is bizarrely now connected to this through claims of a pattern – does not seem tampered with, which is why I believe the incident should be investigated. In the other case, it is obviously the video that should be investigated first, and for this we or the UN needs to have the original videos Channel 4 showed, not a copy as happened with the first video, when Channel 4 refused to give what they showed to us or to the UN.

Channel 4 claimed to have received the initial video from a body called Journalists for Democracy, which is the same body that supplied the UN with another copy of that video, but one that differed in salient particulars that we had pointed out. And this time round, to strengthen their case against the Sri Lankan government, it is of course a representative of Journalists for Democracy who is trotted out. Those who do not know the involvement of this group in making the film in the first place would naturally be fooled, but it is sad that governments also refer to Channel 4 approvingly, without bothering to study the sleight of hand that is used. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome Address of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha Chair, Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats at the Opening Session of the CALD General Assembly 2012, on the theme The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy.

Hon Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Justice, colleagues from the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats and from the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka, distinguished guests and friends, I am honoured to welcome all of you to the CALD General Assembly, on the theme The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy. This event is taking place in Sri Lanka after a gap of only two years. While we are glad to be able to host it, I am sorry about the circumstances that have caused this unusual repeat performance.

Both my predecessor and my successor as Chair of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats come from countries where there are actual threats to the democratic process, and harsh measures to muzzle the opposition. My predecessor was Dr Chee Son Juan of the Singapore Democrat Party, my successor will be Sam Rainsy of the Cambodian Sam Rainsy Party. My predecessor is not permitted to leave Singapore, my successor cannot enter Cambodia.

The first was convicted repeatedly in courts which sadly do not draw criticism from Western democracies that profess concern for justice and the rule of law. Unfortunately economic and political affinities count more than principle, and except for the Liberal International, which last year awarded Dr Chee its Prize for Freedom, institutions purportedly devoted to freedom allow the Singapore government a blank cheque. Laws that do not conform to basic principles of justice or democracy are not allowed to take away from its well touted status as a remarkably free country on various indices.

The Cambodian situation is even more peculiar. There the Leader of the Opposition following the last election, my colleague and successor Sam Rainsy, had his Parliamentary immunity taken away, and would face incarceration were he to return to Cambodia. This is unfortunately nothing new, for it happened to him a few years back too. This time round, it has now been established that the offence which first led to charges was not an offence at all. But political victimization does not require rationality or consistency. More remarkable I believe is the manner in which countries that should know better continue to fall over themselves to provide assistance to Cambodia. But I suppose this is not surprising, given the opportunities not just for investment, but for exploitation that a complacent regime offers.

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The strange case of Peter Mackay

Perhaps the most telling perversions in the latest Channel 4 film come with regard to what is termed its first case study. This ‘begins on the 23rd of January when UN personnel from the last overland food convoy into the war zone became trapped in the fighting’. This is actually not quite correct, because most of Convoy 11 had gone back, but a few people chose to stay behind, contrary to what had been agreed with government, in order to try, it was claimed, to persuade the LTTE to allow UN workers who had been in the Wanni to leave.

The account relies heavily on a man called Peter Mackay, who was subsequently asked to leave Sri Lanka shortly after two individuals who worked for UNOPS, the agency by which he was employed, were arrested for transport of weapons. It should be noted that UNOPS had another employee too who engaged in show and tell, a man called Benjamin Dix who was featured in the first Channel 4 film. He had been doing the rounds attacking Sri Lanka under the aegis of Amnesty International in September 2008, until we complained, whereupon the UN system stopped him in terms of his contract, and the UNOPS head in Sri Lanka actually came into our Ministry to apologize and assure us that the incident would not be repeated. Unfortunately, when it was repeated, with the first Channel 4 film, we do not seem to have taken the matter up, and I suspect we will do nothing now, to make it clear to the UN that characters like Dix and Peter Mackay and Gordon Weiss are abusing the trust the UN placed in them.

Mackay is even more mysterious than the rest, since his name does not appear on the manifest of those who went into the Vanni in Convoy 11. The job description under which he was granted a visa states that he was supposed to ‘support the implementation of the UNOPS reconstruction portfolio in th current and future operational locations of Sri Lanka’. He seems however, according to an article in the Guardian that appeared after he was asked to leave, to have ‘collected high resolution satellite images’ and been part of the network of informants first publicized in the Darusman report which Chris du Toit, the Head of UN Security in Sri Lanka, and a former adviser to the terrorist Jonas Savimbi, had built up. Again, I am astonished and also very sad that the existence of this network was not taken up with the UN, whose senior officials were I believe as much in the dark about such shadowy networks and what they were actually doing as we were.

Mackay, like Gordon Weiss, implies that the remnants of the UN convoy faced great danger from the start. Weiss gives a starting date of January 22nd, Mackay of January 23rd. This is belied by what du Toit wrote to SF Headquarters on the 24th, that ‘I would like to thank you and your staff for excellent support to all the UN movements to date’. After the remnants of the convoy finally left, on January 29th, getting through with an ICRC convoy, du Toit wrote, on the 30th, ‘Many thanks for the close cooperation that my team experience with your staff’.

He did in that letter draw attention to possible danger to the local staff who had been compelled to stay behind, and wrote ‘Reports have been received of artillery fire as close as 100 meters from the hospital’. This is a far cry from Mackay’s sworn statement that ‘Now the closest shells landed a 100 meters from us indicating that they could control the fire if they wanted to’. Mackay thus implies that previously the fire fell even closer, but was adjusted when details of the convoy were conveyed, whereas on the 30th du Toit implies that 100 meters is an aberration that was unusual.

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The American creation of opposites

Over the last couple of weeks Sri Lanka has had to face a number of attacks and critiques, most obviously the latest film from Channel 4, but also reports from both Amnesty International and the International Crisis Group. These focus, often directly, on the resolution about Sri Lanka that has been proposed by the United States of America, and is being lobbied for by that country and some of its allies in an intensive fashion all over the world, in a manner that few countries have had to face.

Why is this? Why did the American Permanent Representative here tell ours last September that, whether or not the LLRC Report was a good one, they would get us this time round? Perhaps she spoke in the heat of frustrated persuasiveness, perhaps she was misunderstood, but this intensity is strange, and seems immensely at odds with what the resolution is presented as, namely a way of supporting Sri Lanka in its efforts at Reconciliation after several decades of brutal conflict.

The actual wording of the resolution however belies that claim, as Sri Lanka’s most accomplished student of foreign policy, as well as one of its best diplomats, Dayan Jayatilleka, made clear in his recent deconstruction of the resolution. It not only asserts that the Report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is inadequate, it flouts all principles of the United Nations and the principles of this Council in trying to impose external mechanisms on a country that is simply suspected of not doing all that others want it to do.

The absurdity of the allegations now being advanced is strengthened by the way in which goalposts have shifted over the years. Whenever one query is satisfied, another is produced in its place. Those who were at the Human Rights Council in May 2009 will remember the allegations being made at the time that several European countries had demanded a special session because they were worried about the fate of the Tamils of the Wanni who had been displaced by the conflict, and about the future of former LTTE cadres. This concern was belied by the assertion in the House of Commons by the then British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, that the special session was meant to be about war crimes, a startlingly hyocritical statement from a government that had cooked up evidence about Weapons of Mass Destruction and driven a brave scientist to suicide, if that indeed is how he died, when he tried to expose the deceit.

We have now resettled all the displaced, more quickly than in any similar situation elsewhere in the world, and rehabilitated nearly all former cadres, but the persecution continues. Later we were told that the LLRC could not be trusted because it had been appointed by government and included individuals whom some elements in the international community thought untrustworthy. Then, when the LLRC produced a sharp and potentially very productive report, which was welcomed with few reservations by almost all countries except the United States, we are told that we will not implement it.

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"Whether the LLRC report is good or not, we will get you in March" – US representative to the UNHRC in Geneva Elieen Donahoe

I was shocked last evening to be told that this was what the US Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva had told her Sri Lankan counterpart last in September 2011. The occasion was when she was trying to persuade the latter to accept an Interactive Dialogue on Sri Lanka, which I believe the Canadians were advancing at the time.

I suppose I should not have been surprised. The United States has been pursuing an extraordinary campaign against us, which has saddened me, because I remember the very positive approach that US officials evinced in the period in which others were resentful of us for having got rid of the LTTE from the East. The US Aid Director Rebecca Cohn, the Public Affairs Officer Jeff Anderson, led a team under then Ambassador Bob Blake which helped us considerably in rebuilding efforts.

In 2009 however something changed. Bob was supposed to have told a former American State Dept employee that the reason was he served a different government, but I suspect things went deeper. A clue was provided when, in August, Rebecca did something she should not have done, which she later told me she thought was unwise, but which her superiors had wanted.

This was to write on her own to Basil Rajapaksa, to say the same thing I had indicated, at a meeting with regard to the Displaced that was held at Minister Rishard Bathiudeen’s office. I thought, given what seemed to us delays, that I should suggest to Mr Rajapaksa that we needed to move more quickly on returning the displaced, and I did so the following morning.

I was called almost immediately by Mr Rajapaksa, who was uncharacteristically harsh and asked me what made me think he would not live up to his commitment. He said he had promised to return a large number of the displaced in six months, and he would do so, though it might take a couple of months longer. Six months did not mean half in three months, he said, noting what he had accomplished in the East, and that I should tell this to my friends.

I did not know what he meant by this last point, and asked, and he said he had received a similar letter from Rebecca. Naturally he had assumed we were acting in concert. I was shocked, and made it clear to him that I was quite capable of thinking and acting on my own, though I suspect that to this day he has a lingering doubt that I am influenced by external forces. When I called up Rebecca and reprimanded her, she was suitably contrite, but I realized then that not only does the United States want certain results that most of us would want, it requires desperately to take the credit for this. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

March 2012
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