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Ki-moon panel’s report and strippers it spawned

The most positive about the report drawn up by the panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to advise him on Sri Lanka is that it has helped a lot of arrogant, ill-informed (or partially or fully blind), doubled-tongue individuals to strip themselves in public. No surprises in terms of the identity of the strippers of course, not to those who are alert about these machinations.

First off, there’s PaikiasothySaravanamuttu, in clearly reduced circumstances these days courtesy funding dry-up and questions regarding inordinate amounts of money obtained from multiple sources for the same project with little to show by way of delivery or indeed who got what for what and when. Now it is no secret that most ‘experts’, whether commissioned or not by respectable or dubious organisation come fortified with pre-conceived notions about Sri Lanka and the conflict. It is no secret that one of their key informants is Saravanamuttu and that courtesy calls are duly made on arrival, notes compared, etc. So when misinformation with pernicious agenda that include(d) deliberate moves to downplay LTTE atrocities and grant that terrorist outfit parity of status vis-à-vis the Government of Sri Lanka hurrah the comments made by a recipient of hospitality and (mis)information-largess and says ‘see, see, even they are endorsing what I’ve said for a long time’, it is time to ask Charlie Chaplin to roll over.

Then there’s a woman called Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, saying ‘If India wanted to emerge a leader on the global political stage then the leadership would have to take a position on Sri Lanka’s war crimes’. This is in response to the above report. Cute. First of all, the panelists themselves aren’t sure whether such crimes were committed. The report talks of ‘allegations’, whose ‘credibility’ is of course predicated on the (un)reliability of their sources. Ganguly has deftly twisted allegation into fact. What’s funny is that Ganguly has not called on India (or anyone else) to take a stand on India’s crimes against humanity, for example in Kashmir. Neither has Ganguly made note of the fact that India funded, trained and armed the LTTE.

Ganguly wants India to ‘show intention of protecting the rights of people over Government’. This would require Dr. Manmohan Singh to engage in self-flagellation. Ganguly’s meanness is pretty naked when she says, ‘There are people in Tamil Nadu who also care about the issue’. So it is not about Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans, it is not about the victims of a war, it is not about the perpetrators of proven war crimes (the LTTE) as opposed to alleged transgressions (the allegations coming mainly from those associated with known terrorists). It is not about enhancing the dimensions of reconciliation or expanding the democratic space. It is about malice. It is perhaps even about revenge for preventing a preferred outcome.

Then we have former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss telling Jon Snow that the said report indicates a ‘Srebrenica Moment’ for Sri Lanka. This man was found guilty of leaking totally unsubstantiated information about the conflict to the international media, causing much damage to the country’s image. He quoted the so-called ‘doctors’ serving in LTTE-held areas. The UN later retracted all these statements, including a horror-mongering one about 20,000 people having been killed in a matter of a few weeks. As for the ‘doctors’, they all confessed later that they were forced to lie by the LTTE. Weiss and others did not, as reasonable, impartial people might do, adjust picture. Weiss went with the misinformation. Called it ‘fact’. Naturally, a set of panelists with dubious track records engaged in a pernicious witch hunt, found these cooked up numbers delicious. With no regard for the ethics pertaining to source-reliability, they took fiction as fact. And now we have Weiss saying (like Saravanamuttu), ‘see, see, even they are saying what I said two years ago!’
I am perturbed, though, that David Miliband hasn’t joined the clown-wagon yet. He has all the credentials to outstrip Saravanamuttu, Ganguly and Weiss.

Last but not least, we have the United National Party, not knowing whether to strip or dress. We had some initial statements condemning the report. This was followed by a novice parliamentarian saying that the party can’t reject the report for it would amount to rejecting the charges against the LTTE. Now that’s good for a thousand guffaws! It is clear that the ‘LTTE’ part of the story had to be thrust into the report for reasons of balance-cosmetics. What is most important for a responsible political party to do is to assess the credibility of the exercise in the first instance and then to examine whether or not the contents add up to stated mandate and relate a cogent story that is flavoured with fact and integrity.

This is no Srebrenica moment, folks. This is a Sri Lanka moment. As Sri Lankans we need to ask some questions from ourselves. Here goes:
Are we better off today than we were in April 2009? Are we happy or sad that the LTTE is out of the political equation? Was it possible to end the war in any other way? Do we want the affairs of our country to be run by a bunch of people who are clearly hand in glove with the LTTE rump overseas and others who entertain fantasies about dividing our country? Can we respond to the above-mentioned strippers in any better way than to live, breathe and act the truth that we are best when we are united?

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer who can be reached at msenevira@gmail.com