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We move now to the end of the war in this account of travel within Sri Lanka when I headed SCOPP. I mention the visit of Vijay Nambiar though I did not then know about the controversy surrounding the attempted surrender of some of the LTTE. But I do mention my worries about the communique the President issued with Ban ki Moon, whom I met at President’s House in Kandy before going to Geneva for the special session of the UN Human Rights Council which the West had finally set up. But that would not have been a problem had the President acted promptly which, obsessed by electoral considerations, his bane over the years, he failed to do.

The pictures are of Vijay Nambiar and Mark Gooding, though I have also included Vesak decorations from around that time, bucket lanterns on the tree outside the cottage I stayed in then and lanterns outside Kithsiri’s house.

22. The end of the war

That week I went to the Police Training College to inaugurate the workshop I had finally managed to get going, for ensuring human rights in police activities, with training on interrogation through simulations, given by Scott Richards. I had to deal over the rest of the week with the Danish Human Rights Ambassador, a Canadian Minister and a delegation of British MPs who were all fishing in troubled waters to gain electoral advantage at home; to talk to the Indian High Commissioner and his Deputy, both sympathetic but worried; the Tamil political parties twice with the President; two dinners for Asian ambassadors which the Minister arranged though I also persuaded him to have one sympathetic European at each; a CHAP Donor Appeal; and also monitoring of  the new Disaster Management Centre Building that was being constructed, as well as my own additions at the cottage.

But on Thursday night I got to the cottage, for Vesak the following day, for which Kithsiri’s small son Lohan had as usual put up lanterns for me. There was much to write and I also had an Al Jazeera interview on the Saturday, but it was wonderful to relax on my own.

But I had to get back on Sunday, for the Liberal Party Congress and to have Scott for lunch at home, and meet Jeevan and LC and face a BBC interview, before the Minister’s second ambassadorial dinner. And then the next day, after the opening of an English Teacher Training programme I had pushed for, and the CCHA at the Ministry of Defence, a press conference at the Presidential Secretariat and much else, I left again for Geneva for Dayan was worried about the West pushing for a Special Session on Sri Lanka to try to stop us concluding the war.

But that danger passed as I have noted in my account of visits to Geneva. So I was able to get back to Colombo on the 16th, my 55th birthday. I had the family and Nirmali and her daughter to the cottage for lunch, and stayed overnight. Next morning I got back for a lunch for Vijay Nambiar, Deputy Secretary General of the UN who was here for the end of the war and also, though I knew nothing about it at the time, the possible surrender of the leaders of the LTTE political wing. After a press conference at the Ministry that afternoon and seeing the President I had to also attend dinner for Nambiar at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Hectic work that week, including efforts to ensure psychosocial counselling for those who had suffered in the war, was interspersed with going to Parliament on the 19th to hear the President announce victory, Prabhakaran having been killed the previous day, and a meeting with the Deputy British High Commissioner Mark Gooding, a shrewd operator whom I rather liked, to upbraid him about the efforts of the British to punish us for defeating terrorism.

For the West did now get the required signatures for a Special Session about Sri Lanka, and I had to leave again for Geneva on the Saturday night, having gone up to Kandy that afternoon to attend the dinner the President gave there for Ban ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, who had also turned up to check on the situation after the war. That was the night the President and he signed a joint communique which I was the only one there to suggest might be dangerous. Dayan in Geneva understood the implications too, but instructions were to use the communique in our discussions, and we did so and in the end roundly defeated the Western effort to undermine us.

Rajiva Wijesinha

October 2020
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