|After weeks of what seemed to be a lull in the
controversy, the now infamous Channel Four video
aired in Britain, which allegedly depicts Sri Lankan
troops killing unarmed Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) cadres at point-blank range, surfaced
this week again.
That was because the United
Nations (UN) Independent Special Rapporteur Philip
Alston claimed that the video was authentic,
contradicting the position of the Sri Lankan
government. Alston claimed that three independent
experts had certified that the video was not
doctored. Sri Lanka had earlier claimed that expert
evidence suggested the video was a fake.
The immediate fallout from this claim in Colombo
was not dramatic. In fact, UN Secretary General Ban
Ki Moon was to distance himself from Alston’s
allegations, saying, the latter acted independently,
and that the UN neither endorsed nor rejected his
What is intriguing, however, is the timing of
this particular statement. The controversy over the
video, when it was first aired, hit international
headlines, and there were concerns that it could
lead to allegations of war crimes against the armed
forces of this country.
Subsequently, however, the authenticity of the video
was questioned, and it appeared to not have stood
the test of scrutiny. Thereafter, the issue seemed
to die a natural death, until Alston chose to
resurrect it this week, with his new allegations.
Alston could not have been unaware that Sri Lanka
was in the midst of a presidential election. He also
could not have been unaware that the two main
contenders in that contest were the Commander in
Chief of the Armed Forces and the former Commander
of the Sri Lanka Army, both in a sense, being
parties to the allegations that Alston was making.
In that context, Alston’s attempt to re-ignite
the controversy, smacks of diplomatic opportunism,
and we must question his bona fides in trying to do
so at this particular moment in time. If his
intention was to embarrass Colombo in the eyes of
the international community, it didn’t work, because
the UN Secretary General virtually disowned the
Surely, it is high time that self-appointed
guardians of human rights, such as Alston and other
likeminded western nations and so-called
humanitarian organisations come to terms with the
fact that Sri Lanka has well and truly won the
battle against the LTTE. Yes, there may have been
some excesses in the final stages of the battle, but
then, one can hardly be expected to play by the
Queensberry rules when dealing with the most
ruthless terrorist organisation in the world.
We have repeatedly said in these columns that it
is high time that the international community and
the world at large acknowledge Sri Lanka’s signal
achievement in defeating terrorism, and work with
Colombo, instead of working against it, and only
then, can a fair deal for the country and all its
communities become a reality.
Sadly, with the likes of Philip Alston holding
responsible positions, which they can easily abuse,
such sentiments appear to be falling on deaf ears.
|The spectre of election violence has always
haunted recent elections in this country, and the
upcoming presidential election has proved to be no
exception. Regretfully, this unsavoury trend claimed
its first life this week, when a woman was killed in
the Hambantota district.
There have also been other incidents in Polonnaruwa
and Kolonnawa that portend an unfavourable run up to
Election Day: The complaints of election violence
are increasing, as is the intensity with which it is
being indulged in.
Elections are supposed to be an
exercise in democracy, where the free will of the
people is expressed. Preventing that negates the
very purpose of the poll, and invariably results in
a higher degree of resentment against the
We must also note that the Police, the law
enforcement authority that has been tasked with
ensuring law and order during the run up to the
election, have not performed up to expectations.
Theirs may be a difficult role, caught as they are
between two political forces hell bent on gaining
the upper hand, but that is no excuse to turning a
blind eye, or worse, acting in a partial manner.
Sri Lanka has witnessed some shameful incidents
of election violence and intimidation, the ‘gold
standard’ of which appears to be the infamous
‘Wayamba’ provincial council election during the
Chandrika Kumaratunga presidency.
Already, there are some indications that this
presidential election could descend to those dark
depths. If indeed that becomes a reality, it will
spawn a vicious cycle of violence that will be
difficult to control.
We can only hope that all stakeholders in the
electoral process realise this and act with
restraint. As a nation that has freed itself
remarkably from the clutches of terrorism, surely,
we are looking for an era of peace and stability,
not violence and anarchy.