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bookBook Review
By Enid Wirekoon

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha had a ringside seat at recent events that shaped and defined the political environment of Sri Lanka today.

In June 2007, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed Wijesinha to head his Secretariat for coordinating the Peace Process and he was in that position in May 2009 when the final military defeat of the LTTE took place.

Throughout the pages of his book, Triumph and Disaster: The Rajapaksa years, Wijesinha deals with events and people whose involvement in those events are commented on with an experienced and a critical eye that he brings to bear on the issues that confronted the army, politicians and the people. He begins his introduction by being critical of the failure of successive Governments to introduce simple reforms that may have assuaged resentments that festered and led to violence. He has no hesitation in concluding that politicians have failed the people with their own interest being put before all else in order to cling on to power. His stinging criticisms of the LTTE and its leadership are also set out in vivid detail.

The book highlights issues that are of contemporary concern by posing such questions as to how President Sirisena can keep in office such persons as the present Foreign Minister who on the 20th of September 2015 launched a savage attack on the armed forces of Sri Lanka who, he alleged in committing war crimes, were “following orders”. The author adds, “I did not expect the government under President Sirisena to thus attack our own armed forces”, and goes on to assert that he cannot believe that the President accepts, that large scale violation in terms of policy were carried out from above. The author’s observations in this regard are in fact coincide with the findings of the recent Paranagama Second Mandate Report which holds that there was no such overarching plan by the then Government to wantonly kill civilians.

With regard to the issue of child soldiers recruited by the LTTE, the author does not hesitate to pull his punches by saying that the Rajapaksa Government failed to deal with the problem robustly, and permitted the international community to gain the impression cultivated by the LTTE that this was all down to the Karuna faction. The NGO, Human Rights Watch does not escape the lash of the author’s condemnation with the remark that “Sri Lankan forces have been far more careful about civilians than many governments which HRW does not seem inclined to criticize with the same personal intensity”. He also alleges, that HRW worked abroad to rally opinion to stop the war against the LTTE and that “coincidentally”, their diatribes emerged just before Sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva which was the pattern to be followed later by Channel 4. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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