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A Lanka lost?

Neena Gopal | 23rd Mar 2013
Picture for representation only.

With India unequivocally backing a vote against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council resolution that reprimands the Mahinda Rajapakse government for war crimes against the Tamil mino-rity, 40,000 of whom were slaughtered in the final days of a 27-year-old Tamil Tiger insurgency, Delhi’s Lankan challenge has only just begun.

The UNHRC resolution may not be seen as eno­ugh of a rap on the knu­ckles by the two regional rivals, the DMK and the AIADMK using Parlia-ment to score points off each other. They are upset that a full-fledged UN-appointed human rights trial is not on the cards, and instead, Colombo is only being “encourag­ed” to conduct an “independent and credible investigation into violations of international human rights laws.” But for India, watered down or not, the resolution marks a turning point in Indo-Sri Lanka relations.

It breaks with the approach that Delhi has adopted thus far, running back channel talks between the Mahinda Ra­japakse government and moderate Tamil leaders like Tamil Na­tional Alliance leader R. Sampantham, called to Delhi only months ago for consultations. It’s a signal that as much as India was willing to look the other way, and perhaps even help Colombo in its decimation of the Tigers, it cannot condone the cold-blooded massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocents when documentary evidence points to their wilful killing by the Sri Lankan Army.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s soldi­e­rs, many of whom were only children caught bet­ween the Tigers and the Army, were in the act of surrendering wh­en they were butchered.
Most importantly, thr­ee years and 10 months after the war ended, and despite promises to the contrary, the Rajapakse government, riding a wave of chauvinistic Sin­hala nationalism and thumbing its nose at India, has been un­wi­lling to bring Tamils — not the Tigers — into the mainstream.

The flaw may lie in Prime Minister Man­mo­han Singh’s foreign policy focused more on creating overarching economic linkages across Southeast Asia rather than building one-on-one political bonds with leaders in the immediate neighbourhood. Sri Lanka is an early casualty. The IPKF misadventure has been neither forgotten nor forgiven.

The Jayawardene-Raj­iv relationship predic­ta­bly floundered, collapsing in a welter of suspicion and mistrust; as did the Manmohan-Chan­dr­i­ka link, doomed when the Tigers tried and failed to assassinate her when she was Sri Lanka’s President. The subsequent all-party talks with the Tigers, en­dor­sed by the United Nati­o­nal Party’s Ranil Wic­kremesinghe, also ran aground.
With Mahinda Raja­pa­k­se, India had a fresh op­portunity to start over. Instead, ties with Co­lo­mbo unravelled further.

That’s a shame. India could have found no greater well-wisher than the earthy Raja­pak­se, whose rise from relative obscurity to counter the blue-blooded Sinhala leadership of the Ban­da­ranaike-Kumaratungas has been spectacular, with the Rajapakse family clearly taking control of the levers of power, both in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party — once synonymous with the former first family — and in the military and government.

The recent impeachment and removal from office of former Chief Justice Shirani Ban­da­ra­nayake is part of the plan to remove nay-sayers from positions of power, as is the deliberate cutting down to size of war hero Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who mistakenly believed he could use his popularity to counter the President.

The Opposition UNP, led by Wickremesinghe, remains a bystander.
Rajapakse, who made one overture after another to Delhi after he made clear that he was more than willing to go after the Tigers, confided to Indian interlocutors that he could not understand Delhi’s lack of warmth thereafter.

Delhi now sees the sweet talk for what it is — classic Rajapakse doublespeak. It’s the method he employed to use India’s help to destroy the Tigers, knowing that once he had the LTTE out of the way, India would have no card left to play, no leverage to push for the 13th Amendment and the rehabilitation of the moderate Tamils, whom India want back in the political mainstream.

It’s the same method he employed to checkmate critics, as he stays focused on marking his own place in history. The recent opening of the Chinese-built Mat­ta­la Rajapakse In­terna­tio­nal Airport in his home town near Hambantota, illustrates the Presi­de­nt’s masterly understa­n­ding of geopolitics as he plays off India’s inadequacies against an ass­e­r­tive China, and parlays Sri Lanka’s strategic lo­cation, eyed both by the US and India as a vital outpost astride Indian Ocean sea-lanes, for his own gain.

India, which set up the Indian Oil Corporation at Trin­comalee on the east coast, could lose that too as Rajapakse shores up support from among Sinhala fringe groups like the Godu Bala Sena — the ironically named Buddhist Army — and steps up attacks on Muslim groups ambivalent over his leadership.

What’s clear is that India’s ability to influence the course of events in the island nation is negligible. Sources close to the powerful first family have told this writer that they see India as an “irritating gnat that can be smacked away at will”. Where does India go from here?

As Rajapakse whi­ps up the backlash aga­i­nst India and the US to perpetuate his dynastic politics, India must pu­sh for a human rights co­mmission that goes be­yond the empty Le­ss­ons Learnt and Re­con­cilia­tion Commission set up by Colombo.

It must en­sure the consolidation of moderate Tamil parties, vulnerable to the ruthless disappearances that have visited all critics of the government. It must strengthen the UNP, the only other political force on the island that shares India’s democratic values. Or better still bring Kumaratunga back into play.

And to the people of Sri Lanka, the vast majority of whom remain pro-India, it must be made clear that the UNHRC resolution is against the government, not the people of an island nation with whom India shares time-honoured bonds of ethnicity, culture and history.


Average: 3.9 (8 votes)


Charles.S.Perera's picture
by Charles.S.Perera (not verified) on
The People of Sri Lanka is the with the President and his Government of Sri Lanka. The people of Sri Lanka is not in Colombo, but in the out stations, provinces, and villages. They are not with India but with the Government I reiterate. These people of Sri Lanka which stands with the Government of Sri Lanka are Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and others. The people of Sri Lanka has lost its trust in India. Lanka was never lost, but if it was lost with ruthless terrorism, it has been refounded, loved and progressive. Neena Gopal is a bisased writer who has no inkling as to What Sri Lanka is and what its different people are.
Cholan's picture
by Cholan (not verified) on
The people of Srilanka is Sinhalese only. Tamils were never part of Srilanka. When Ceylon was renamed into Srilanka in 1972 constitution, which excluded all minorities. And Srilanka has become only for Sinhala Buddhists. Historically, Sinhala Buddhists never Pro Indian. They hate India most. Poor Neena Gopal don't even know this ground reality. Can Neena Gopal find a single neighboring country or people who are pro India?
Shivanathan's picture
by Shivanathan (not verified) on
who gives a toss about your constitution. it's not worth the paper it's written on. how come you call yurself a buddhist. buddha is a mongolian and he has nothing to do with your race. he doesn't look like one of you. mongolian buddha should be sent back to mongolia.
GeorgeDubai's picture
by GeorgeDubai (not verified) on
Neena Gopal, What are u on? Seriously?
Shivanathan's picture
by Shivanathan (not verified) on
modaya, don't blabber too much. you have been humiliated by the international community. sarong wallah rajapakasa doesn't know whether he is coming or going. order has come from the top with specific instructions. carry that out will you without indulging in brave talk.
Sean's picture
by Sean (not verified) on
Shivanathan, - Classy! :)) ooohhh MR is trouble ... they must be scared hahaha. What happened to your leader? Who's the real modaya? hahaha
Roger's picture
by Roger (not verified) on
"Yalpanam Thamulan". Sour grapes, isn't it?
P.Riyad's picture
by P.Riyad (not verified) on
Your last paragraph is hilarious. Since when did 'the vast majority of whom remain pro-India' ? There is a saying in Sri Lanka that the only good Indian is one hanging on a wall in a picture..and this proven this time too. The Indians are hated here, so don't live in a dream world.
Kaputa's picture
by Kaputa (not verified) on
Who is this stupid Indian. Sri Lanka is ruled by Sri Lankans, unlike your stupid hell-hole ruled by an Italian. Go fly a kite instead of writing something you do not know. Half of the population in India are illiterate and treated as animals because of their idiotic caste system. Every 20 minutes a woman get raped and killed. Why don't write about those issues. Kashmiri women are raped and killed by Indian forces and no action. Backward, stupid and cunning Indians should not be allowed to step into the Sri Lanka.
Piranha's picture
by Piranha (not verified) on
Is this how you thank India that helped you defeat the LTTE? Without India's covert and overt military and political support you didn't have a cat in hell's chance of beating the LTTE and don't you forget that. I agree Sonia and Manmohan were stupid enough to swallow the promises of Rajapaksa and supported him in the hope that he would implement the 13th amendment. As usual the Sinhalese have no gratitude and that's why Sri Lanka will never be in peace. The anti Muslim campaign underway now will rip Sri Lanka apart for another generation and all I will say is that you will deserve it and more.
Lanka Liar's picture
by Lanka Liar (not verified) on
Yes before Sri Lanka was ruled by Sri Lankans. Now it is ruled by an Indian family who has planted a Sri Lankan family to be their coordinators. The instructions continue and will continue to come from India. Please be patient and wait for the next instruction. Jay Hind.
Namal Perera's picture
by Namal Perera (not verified) on
If we had a Statesman as our head, after winning the war on terror, we would be on top of the World today. Unfortunately we had a power crazy lunatic, who was only concerned about himself, immediate and extended families and the criminals associated with the family. Instead of restoring democracy and providing relief to the masses, the Country was turned into a corrupt lawless Banana Republic and made himself the President for life. If the Presidential Election after winning the war was held free and fare and declared the real winner as the President, none of these would have happened. The turning point was the illegal arrest, fabricated charges and the use of Kangaroo Courts to jail the War hero and the Jokers of the corrupt Regime openly dancing and dinning with the LTTE Terrorists. The entire Nation is paying for the actions of one crazy family. God save former democratic Sri Lanka.
SAMUEL NYC's picture
by SAMUEL NYC (not verified) on
Ms.Gopal you must understand its not India that's brings people to power any where in the region. Its the people of that country that elect them. Are you trying to tell readers here that the Manmohan Singh Govt was installed by the US or was it voted in by the people of India. And "reprimand" what do think that Srilanka is in the LKG. All these so called resolutions can come and go but just like the UN, Nothing is going to come out of it. 40,000 slaughtered did you personally count them. Im not going to speculate but how and who gave or made these figures. For 30 years this war has been dragging on do you have the figures of how many perished during this period??? And where the hell was this powerful international community/India (UN) at that time. There was more than enough time for the professionals of how to fight a war!! to have educated the SriLankan govt/Forces as how to fight a war with out a single causality as it has has a proven track record!! aint it so. Even India knows it after all they have the Kashmirs & the Assams for ages and ages now with out a single "slaughter", I sometimes shudder to understand the repercussions of what may happen but do you? I do not think so. It sure would lead to anarchy if the majority people take to the streets... Kindly do the maths and figure what really should be done to heal the wounds than try open it with out a definite cure. Its like asking Chris Columbus what do you think of India after all that's where he thought he was!!!! Its the same thing with many current commentators , Im sorry to say
Rajivs's picture
by Rajivs (not verified) on
What baseless ill informed article.This so called journalist does not know the basics of her profession. Waist of my 2 minutes...lol
Dubdoc's picture
by Dubdoc (not verified) on
India always played a double game with Sri Lanka. Rather than trying to be a policeman of other sovereign countries Indian is better off trying to tackle human right violations in Kashmir and Mysore. Let Sri Lanka handle her own issues. India will learn a terrible lesson at some stage for interfering with Sri Lankan issues. Partition of Sri Lanka will be the catalyst of disintegration of India. It will be too late to understand it.India paid heavily for nurturing Tigers in Tamil Nadu. This anti Sri Lankan actions will push Sri Lanka more and more towards China and Pakistan. Final word, be careful with your new buddy USA, they are the most devious of all. They will use India for their gain. So do not be short sighted.
P.Riyad's picture
by P.Riyad (not verified) on
Another aspect India chooses to ignore is that at every opportunity, and at every turn, the western media takes the opportunity to ridicule India..be it over a rape incident, caste or religious conflict or even the behaviour of the legislators in your parliament. Did any of you see what CNN or the BBC had to say over such unfortunate incidents? Where there should be sympathy, it was scorn they showered on India. And India shamelessly still curries favour with them. As history as said on many occasions, 'some never will learn'. Shame on you.
New Sammy's picture
by New Sammy (not verified) on
Tamils have always been friends of India. Sinhalese distrust India always. Remember, Sri Lanka supported China during Indo-china war and Sri Lanka also supported Pakistan during Bangladesh war
shehan's picture
by shehan (not verified) on
India caught in US based trap. US used UNHRC as a laundry to wash it's dirty. they can't see a country without ethnic problems. Srilanka is the world first country eliminated terrorism thuraly. during LTTE actions US was very silent. that time no human right groups. Mongolia,Sudan,Iraq, Afganisthan,Syria all countries destroyed by US. where is human right violations on those countries.UN & EU licking yankee boots. this is a way to intefere another asian countries. later on India due to Kashmir issue. keep it in mind.
don2's picture
by don2 (not verified) on
what a cheap artical. indians talking about human rights??? what a joke...this is acounty where parents abort children if the gender is female, wemen are gang raped, children are BUTCHERED to remove internal organs.....and yet here we see stupid baseless articals from indian "journalist"
shehan's picture
by shehan (not verified) on
Neena Goplal have a look http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U...
KUMA's picture
by KUMA (not verified) on
yes, Sri lankan knowes who the hell are Indian, most of them are Road Shitters, they Shit All Over the Place, On the Beach, On the Road.....anywhere
Vel Tharma's picture
by Vel Tharma (not verified) on
In any article the last para is the most important one. In this article the last one is the most stupid one I ever read regarding Indo-Lanka relationship. Most of Sinhalese LOVE TO HATE INDIA. Tamils used to treat India as their "Fatherland" but after 1987 IPKF atrocity against innocent Tamils they to hate India.
Murugan's picture
by Murugan (not verified) on
Lankan was told off at the UNHCR and also given some home work by UNHCR chief,what else you need.
Palitha's picture
by Palitha (not verified) on
Like Gotabaya said recently , India is the God father of LTTE and should take resposibility for war crimes committed by LTTE, US and it's unholy allies has conveniently forgotten this.They have forgotten war crimes committed by their(India) so called peace keeping force.meglamaniac prabakaran used one of these gils to kill Rajive .(Rajive's killer was rape victim of IPKF).Indira Gandhi made the biggest blunder in traing blood thirst LTTE.Jayalailtha who said civillians do get killed in times of now singing a differenrt song power hungry corupted TN politicians.They shed crocodile tears for Sri Lanka Tamils and pay ignorant poor men to self immolate.Not a single Sri Lankan Tamil has self immolated so far.India should not harm Sri Lanka .India has no other friend in the region like Sri Lanka, don't forget when you point one finger to others you have four fingers pointed towards you.What goes arround comes arround.
Kaakaayan's picture
by Kaakaayan (not verified) on
Banana Republic of Lanka has been butchering its citizens of North and East to a) Claim their land b)Destroy their culture c)Settle the land with Sinhalese through military means. Kashmir has many protection like no Indian can settle there. The war is from neighbor sponsored terror. Banana republic settled by barbarians from Orissa and Bengal in Pre-Christian era claim they descended to own it.
Anti Terrorist Raja's picture
by Anti Terrorist Raja (not verified) on
Whoever, uses the Gordon Weiss manufactured figure of 40,000 killed, lacks credibility. Gordon Weiss though he had no acess to the conflict areas, had first stated 7000 dead, which was immediately rejected byhis UN office, and then increased to 40,000 when he had to leave hisColombo UN job, and finally reduced it to 10,000 at his book launch.Therefore, this article is flawed from the start.
Gerard's picture
by Gerard (not verified) on
India is being isolated in the region. Disliked by many. And the writer here (Ms.Gopal) seriously needs reality lessons!!
Ponarasi's picture
by Ponarasi (not verified) on
Good article. Rajapakse is slowly being encircled by the United States. China is overstretched to bail him out. The UNHRC resolution is just the beginning. Sri Lanka will eventually capitulate - in a several years as the issue becomes increasingly internationalized. The economy in Sri Lanka ain't good right now either. Lets see whether the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting takes place in Sri Lanka this November or not?
Lankan's picture
by Lankan (not verified) on
We don't trust India. How can we trust these terrorist trained country? They're still doing that.
Raja Rajan's picture
by Raja Rajan (not verified) on
A Tamil Prime Minister from Tamilnadu can solve the problem
Dr Do little's picture
by Dr Do little (not verified) on
Sinhala nation is a faild state. The cuntry need an invation and full clen up. Sinhalse don't know the meaning of justiuce. Crimes against hemanity is out of controll.


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