|Friends (after all) in Post-Coloniality|
A few days ago there was an uproar about a Swiss Embassy employee being abducted and questioned. Who did it and why are questions that are yet to be answered. If, as speedily assumed, the Government had a hand in it by way of security or other authorities using a political green light to bend or go around the law, it is indeed a serious matter.
If the ‘abductors’ happened to be in the law enforcement or security establishment and operated on their own volition, then it is still serious. It would amount to an act of thuggery which certainly gives a boost to the negative portrayals of the new President that have emanated from the Western and pro-West media and of course foreign governments disappointed in the election results because their darlings were routed. It is also possible that the incident had nothing to do with government agencies and that there was no political involvement whatsoever.
The truth has to be established. So far, despite a claim by the Swiss Embassy in Colombo that it had complained, there’s no record of such in the Police. The employee’s name is unknown. There are claims about people seeing it happen, but there are no witnesses. Of course, the claim can be made that people are scared to come forward. Understandable on account of the insane fear-mongering indulged in by the very same who are raising cries of horror over this matter. But then again, if that is the case, surely the Swiss Embassy could facilitate the investigation by arranging for the alleged victims and alleged witnesses to be interviewed by the Police in the precincts of the Embassy itself?
In any event, quick, comprehensive and conclusive investigation followed by action against perpetrators if perpetration is established will be to the advantage of the Government. Anything less will leave unanswered questions, make room for wild speculation and, going by past record, ululation by the usual suspects, the (I)NGOs, UN agencies and certain foreign missions. That’s something President Gotabaya Rajapaksa can do without right now.
Alright. Let’s look at the larger picture, which might help us understand the hue and cry better. The press, especially those that operate as though they are the mouthpieces of Washington, vilified Gotabaya Rajapaksa no end. ‘Democracy is under threat,’ some ‘analysts’ warned, never mind that it was an ELECTION they were talking about. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was portrayed as some kind of thug, never mind that he’s not been found guilty of any wrongdoing (note: allegations are a dime a dozen and ‘framing’ an age-old tool, just like treating charge as guilt).
And immediately after the results were announced, we had two major political parties in the United Kingdom trying to outdo each other in issuing warnings on Sri Lanka. Perhaps in their consciousness, Sri Lanka is still a colony, never mind the fact that for all intents and purposes the UK operates like a client state of the United States of America.
The Labor Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn said, ‘If the Sri Lankan government continues to reject key tenets of a UN Human Rights Council resolution on accountability then “clearly something has to be done in another direction.’ How that ‘resolution’ came into being, we all know. Arm-twisting plus happy compliant by a government which was corrupt, incompetent and absolutely servile to the USA and UK, sealed that deal. And what’s ‘clearly something has to be done in another direction’? Is that a threat or a is that a threat?
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson, said pretty much the same thing. The party’s manifesto promises ‘to support international initiatives to achieve reconciliation, stability and justice’ in Sri Lanka. It notes, ‘From helping to end the slave trade to tackling modern slavery, the UK has long been a beacon of freedom and human rights – and will continue to be so. We are proud of our peace-building and humanitarian efforts around the world, particularly in war-torn or divided societies, and of our record in helping to reduce global poverty.’
Well! These statements come from a leader and would-be leader of a country that enslaved peoples, robbed nation, wrecked stability, had no notion whatsoever of justice and cared not a hoot for freedom or human rights. Sorry, that should be in the present tense.
The manuals for interrogation of prisoners used by the British military still contain torture. Securing markets, plundering resources are of greater import that ensuring there are no rights abuses. They’ve bombed or supported bombing by the world’s most rabid terrorist state, the USA, but they do it in the name of ‘democracy,’ and ‘world peace’! Forget all that. How about the Chagos Islands?
Corbyn has said that a government he leads would return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. That’s left to be seen. Officially, the UK has spurned a determination in the ICJ ordering the return of the Chagos Islands, ruling that ‘detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a free and genuine expression of the people concerned. In fact Mauritius claims that the Chagos Islands constituted a price exacted for independence in 1965.
Prime Minsiter of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth has not denied a report that Boris Johnson, when he was Foreign Secretary had called him personally to pressure Mauritius to back down on its demand that the islands be returned after decades under UK control. He claims that Mauritius was threatened with retaliation on issues of trade and investment.
The British Foreign Office maintains the following: ‘we have repeatedly undertaken to cede it to Mauritius when no longer required for defence purposes, and we maintain that commitment.’ Cede? That’s almost like saying ‘we will gift it to you’ and not ‘we will return it to you.’ Why should Britain ‘cede’ the Chagos Island? As for ‘defence purposes,’ who can ever predict a time frame for ‘unnecessary’?
The Chagossians were evicted so the USA could set up a military base in Diego Garcia. Ah! The USA. Britain’s most trusted partner in multiple crimes such as plunder, destruction, assassination, genocide and ethnic cleansing! They have the worst track record when it comes to violation of human rights in the past 200 plus years. Shouldn’t we be talking about ‘doing something about these global thugs “in another direction”?’
What does the USA have to say about things that the likes of Corbyn and Johnson claim are almost articles of faith? Well, the US has threatened to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American (of the USA) who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said, ‘If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly.’ How about ‘another direction’ folks?
Reminds one of sauce, geese and ganders.
Hypocrisy is the order of the day. Sorry, order of their days. That said, it should not be the order of our days.
Sri Lanka hasn’t bombed nations into the middle ages, but our history, ancient and modern, is not without blemish. Equivalency is easiest game to play in countering allegations. We can say ‘Adey, you fellows don’t have the moral authority to pass judgment,’ but that’s a copout response.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has a responsibility to do things differently. He pledged a disciplined society. That discipline has to be articulated at every turn, by word and deed, by everyone in all state institutions. That alone will help obtain discipline by society at large.
Extra-judicial is NOT the way to go. During the previous regime dozens of prisoners died in police stations. Sure, the US and UK embassies didn’t utter a word, but we know why — darlings look the other way when darlings do the dirty. When Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother was president too, there was much hanky-panky of the same kind. Investigations were slow and never concluded. Of course the US and UK were horrified and we know why — they typically come down hard on those who don’t toe the line, those they love to hate.
US and UK preferences and machinations should not frame policy or implementation of policy. The people of this country want law and order. They want a better justice system. They want accountability. Sure, the Government can call out UK and US authorities for their humbuggery, but that’s just not enough.
They’ll do their thing, but we need to do our things right.