Serious cultural – behavioral issues prevalent in Sri Lanka and not a conspiracy against the country

Dushy Ranetunge | Published on June 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

There is paranoia in Sri Lanka of an international conspiracy against it. What seems prevalent is not a conspiracy, but serious cultural/behavioral issuesThe Sri Lankan security forces are without doubt, one of the best fighting forces in the World. At the height of the conflict, an officer from a British security agency informed this writer, that the Sri Lankan security forces are far more efficient in fighting suicide terrorism, than their British or American colleagues.

This was before Rajapakse came into power.

But today, this proud and effective terrorist fighting machine has been brought into disrepute and shamed as “war criminals” that have engaged in the most despicable acts of inhumanity.

No one in the International community is criticising Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism.

Many members of the Sri Lankan security forces sacrificed their lives to bring peace to the streets of the republic and to enforce the writ of parliament from KKS to Dondra and from Colombo to Batticaloa. This is a legitimate right of Parliament and of the Republic, which no foreign state or foreign NGO has criticised.

Even the former spokesperson for the UN, Gorden Weiss (Australian) has earned the wrath of the LTTE mouth piece “Tamilnet” last week, by acknowledging in the recent Channel 4 interview this right of the Sri Lankan state by stating “The problem was not that the army of Sri Lanka had decided to regain its sovereign territory and to take on the Tamil Tigers, whose brutality was a matter of record, the problem was the manner in which they carried out the final phase of the war and the sheer number, the sheer proportion, of civilians who were killed during these final assaults”

The Sri Lankan state owes it to its security services to investigate this final phase of the war and clear their good reputation.

This investigation must unearth the warped mindset that misdirected certain units of the security machine to commit war crimes, that has brought the entire security services and the republic to such disrepute.

In a recent article titled “Killing Fields and the memory of that old barbarity in Anuradhapura”, Tisaranee Gunasekara has pointed out that, after a black Tiger assault on an Air force camp in Saliyapura, in 2007, the dead bodies of the Black tigers were paraded through the streets of Anuradhapura.

The bodies had been stripped naked, in a similar manner to scenes in the recent Channel 4 video and filmed by local TV stations.

The dead body of the LTTE leader Prabakaran was also stripped naked down to his underpants.

These acts are in breach of International laws governing wars, which require basic human dignity and respect to be shown to the dead as well as those who have surrendered.

Gunasekara’s article was not published in Sri Lanka, where there is self-censorship by editors, some of whom have been threatened by those who claim to love this country.

Before the final phase, there were reports of extra judicial executions of aid workers and some students on a Trincomalee beach. These investigations seem to have been frustrated and last week, a United States Federal Court had served summons on the Sri Lankan President to answer for these crimes.

Therefore, while the bulk of the security forces were risking their lives to defeat terrorism and restore the writ of parliament, it is clear that some other dark forces have been operating in the shadows, bringing disrepute to the armed forces and the republic.

The Sri Lankan state claims that it was following a strategy of Zero civilian casualties. It is important to examine the final phase and the “mind set” of Sri Lanka’s military leadership, to deduce if the claimed strategy of zero casualties has integrity.

Before Sarath Fonseka was appointed as army commander, he was in command in Jaffna, soon after the Elephant Pass debacle. During this command, he was responsible for a disastrous operation in Muhamalai, which resulted in significant casualties to the Sri Lankan military.

At a later date, this writer questioned Fonseka about the loss of life of Sri Lankan soldiers at Muhamalai. Fonseka responded by stating “ if you don’t want to take casualties, you should not fight a war”.

If this statement represents the level of the commander’s responsibility for the lives of his own soldiers, it is important to ascertain, what his perceived responsibility was towards Tamil civilians.

The Commander also gave an interview to Canadian media that Sri Lanka was a Sinhala country. In any other multi cultural democracy, the Commander would have been removed for making such a racist comment. But In Sri Lanka he was retained.

The question needs to be raised, if the army commander was of the view that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala country, does he have the integrity to pursue a strategy of Zero “Tamil” casualties?

The silence of the International community on Fonseka’s incarceration may be because they may suspect his part in war crimes. The Wikileaks comments by the American Ambassador add further credence to this angle as to who is responsible for war crimes.

The attitude of his immediate circle is of importance because of the many interviews the Defense Secretary gave Western media on the subject of attacking Hospitals and the legal implications of these statements and also for retaining the services of an army commander with such radical/racist views.

The Sri Lankan state should bear in mind the possibility that there is other evidence, which has not been made public as yet, in the possession of Western Security agencies that are advising their respective governments.

The misfortune, which has befallen Sri Lankan security forces, tarnishing its professionalism, is not restricted to the activities of some dark units of the army, but there has been a serious failure in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy.

Overall it is an issue of leadership failure, as highlighted previously by Palihakkara, leading to foreign prescriptions.

This month, Judge Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor for the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals stated, “It is my hope that the leaders of Sri Lanka and Syria will not be granted immunity for the crimes they are alleged to have committed against innocent civilians in their countries.”

After Rajapakse came to power, the word “traitor” has been used frequently to discredit democratic opposition. This behavior was reminiscent of the LTTE, who branded democratic Tamil politicians as “traitors” and executed them.

In today’s context, it could be argued, that “traitors” are those who have brought shame and disrepute to our security forces and the republic, by engaging in unlawful dark activities, resulting in our republic being hauled to the gates of a war crimes tribunal.

“Traitors” it could be argued, are those who have shamed our republic and discredited it, more than any other incident which has happened in its entire existence, failing to address issues responsibly as and when they arose, and failing to ensure that it conducted itself with dignity and in a manner expected of a sovereign state abiding by international laws to which it is a signatory.

The inability of foresee events, and prevent them from snowballing to this extent, points to failure of military and political leadership in Sri Lanka.

Those who keep putting the blame on the Tamil Diaspora, branding people “traitors” and keep talking of international conspiracies, should first take a good look at themselves in the mirror.

To win the war against terrorism, Sri Lanka predicted and exploited the intransigence of the LTTE to its benefit, in going the distance with peace talks and then moving in for the kill, with the military option on the grounds that the LTTE is intransigent.

The same strategy is in operation today, against the Sri Lankan state. It is predicted that the Sri Lankan state will be intransigent on the issue of investigating war crimes, and they are waiting for the LLRC report to come out with sweet nothings. Then, it could be pointed out to Sri Lanka’s dwindling list of allies, that every opportunity was given to Sri Lanka to redeem itself, resulting in failure, and what remains is action at the international level.

Just like the LTTE, the Sri Lankan state is walking the intransigent tightrope, towards a similar outcome.

A senior serving Sri Lankan Diplomat told this writer last week, “ I don’t agree with the UN advisory report and it has its own faults, but we must recognize that the problem is not going away, and deal with it at our comfort level. The best outcome would be for the LLRC to say the same thing as in the UN advisory report and then deal with it and get it out of the way.”

During the 1971 insurgency (terrorism?), the army in Kataragama arrested a local beauty queen, Premawathie Manamperi who was 22 years old at the time. She was accused of being a JVP activist/terrorist.

The army tortured her through the night, stripped her and paraded her naked in the streets of Kataragama and then shot and buried her alive. Despite torture, she did not confess to being a JVP activist/terrorist.

As she was being buried alive, she told the soldier who was burying her to give her small gold necklace to her mother.

The soldier alerted his superiors that the girl was still alive and her persecutors returned to execute her by shooting her in the head.

The soldier returned the necklace to Premawathie’s mother.

As a 10-year-old child I visited the Manamperi residence with my parents and we helped them.

Mrs. Bandaranayake’s government investigated these war crimes, and prosecuted the soldiers involved and imprisoned them.

Many years later at our home in London, a former British High Commissioner, David Gladstone informed this writer that he regards Mrs. Bandaranayake’s handling of the 1971 insurgency as a textbook example, as to how such conflicts should be managed.

There is paranoia in Sri Lanka of an international conspiracy against it. What seems prevalent is not a conspiracy, but serious cultural/behavioral issues.

In the West, when a mistake is made, one is expected to investigate, apologize, and take corrective action to prevent it from being repeated. This behavior is perceived as being responsible and progressive.

The standard Sri Lankan response to a mistake seems to be

……“it never happened”,….. I don’t know”, ……“I didn’t do it”, …….“Its not me”,..”Why don’t you ask him?” …”Before you prosecute this murderer, that murderer needs to be prosecuted”…”if he can do it, I can do it”…”who told you?”…”He is a traitor’’…”It’s a global conspiracy”…..”They are punishing us for defeating terrorism”….”It’s the Diaspora”…..”It’s those NGO’s”………”It’s the foreigners”……


3 Comments to “Serious cultural – behavioral issues prevalent in Sri Lanka and not a conspiracy against the country”

  • So give the govt some solutions then

  • We fear the press as much as we fear bad governance by elected regimes. The journalists are not elected by the people but are minions of newspaper moguls who are rich and have their own selfish agendas. Whether there is an an international conspiracy or not is a matter of opinion. Whether the Arab ‘Spring’ is a popular uprising or not, is again a matter of opinion. But there is overwhelming evidence that the west wants to control the world, and if we do not fall in line, they conspire to bend us to their will. Didn’t Obama say that the US and UK must give leadership to the what? civilised behaviour? WMD and all! So spare me the stories that you write, this article included.

  • What a piece of work! I never came across this wonderful website before! Keep it up to expose these culprits. One day, they will face the reality and this may be soon with the help of people like you!

Human Rights

Premawathie Manamperi

Serious cultural – behavioral issues prevalent in Sri Lanka and not a conspiracy against the country

There is paranoia in Sri Lanka of an international conspiracy against it. What seems prevalent is not a conspiracy, but serious cultural/behavioral issuesThe Sri Lankan ...