Hong Kong: The ‘Umbrella Revolution’

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | Posted in , , , ,

| by Nilantha Ilangamuwa

( September 30, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) The “Hong Kong Wall of Shame” is filling up with yellow ribbons which are giving a sharp tone to the true sound of freedom. The barrier is no longer a barrier, it has turned into a tool of expression and expectation of the future. Iron bars surrounding the legislative council, known as LegCo, has been renamed the “Hong Kong Wall of Shame” by the protestors.

Admiralty, Hong Kong, September 29, 2014 - Photograph © by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
The mass movement was unimaginably in Hong Kong and filled the major roads in this global economic hub. Most of the protestors are by young eager youth with smart phones, urging the government to accept their demand; the demand, for total democracy. In other words the right to vote and elect the ruler of their choice by democratic means, which, has been denied since the handover in 1997.

The protest is not an accident but rather a well-planned act of opposition to what the people in general don’t want. It is an act of civil disobedience in an hour of need.

Bob Kraft, who is sitting in front of the “Hong Kong Wall of Shame” and helping those are coming forward with their symbol of solidarity. Bob has lives in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) for over twenty years and is actively involved in the many political and social movements. Like most of the protestors he also using his smart phone to convince the people of the importance of the protest and urging more to join while spreading messages among social networks.

They, the protestors came into the streets as the central government maintained a hardline on what the majority of Hong Kong people have been dreaming about for years.

The students are not only protesting against the government. Hundreds of them are helping others while supplying essentials and cleaning the streets. They are taking care of their Motherland while urging for universal suffrage in 2017.

" Hong Kong Wall of Shame"  Admiralty, Hong Kong, September 29, 2014 - Photograph © by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
I walked inside the protest areas, along with two friends, and we were able to cover a large section of the protest in the three hours we were there. However, it was an impossible task to cover the entire protest as hundred thousand people gathered and non-violently engaged in this mass mission of what they hope will achieve, “total freedom” through the “Umbrella Revolution”.

Many who joined the protest are students. Most of them have an idea of why they were joined the protest and what made them to join. None of them are blindfolded.

It was hundred times more than what I experienced ( click here to read my previous article titled, Scholarism : Walking The Frontier )  in 2012, when the group of students raised their voices against what they called, “educational reforms” introduced by the central government.

But unfortunately most of student leaders, including Joshua Wong Chi Fung, a seventeen year old student, who was a driving force of organising students in 2012, against the Beijing sponsored National Education Curriculum, were arrested and later released. The latest reports indicated that over 80 people were arrested by the police.

Meanwhile, the reports has been widely reproduced the numbers of those who wounded and the use of tear gas. However, some protestors reported that the police used rubber bullets as well.

Admiralty, Hong Kong, September 29, 2014 - Photograph © by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
“We don’t have anger against police, we understood they are doing what they were ordered to do,” one of students said. 

The tension erupted in this semi-autonomous region, months after Leung Chun-ying, who is the third and present Chief Executive of the Executive Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was installed in the post by the central government. His unpopularity and political beliefs pulled him into a hot pot of many issues. 

Nevertheless, there were fearful speculations among people in Hong Kong that the Chinese military may be directly involved to quell the non-violent protest. But Leung denied the rumour and carried on with is work while ignoring what most of protestors think as essential.

“He must come down and talk to the people,” Hiew Sik Ho (16), high school student from Kowloon, said.
He went on to say, “if he (the Chief Executive) really thinks about people in this country, he must resign then we have to find a way to solve this very problem in Hong Kong”.

“I wish if we could finish the protest and start our normal life tonight, but it all depends on the Chief Executive and his government”, he added.

Hong Kong, September 29, 2014 - Photograph © by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
However, as a daily newspaper based in the territory pointed out in its editorial today (30 September), “the options are rather limited. First, it could escalate the use of force at all costs to crack down hard on the protestors to reopen the roads. But use of greater force will risk plunging Hong Kong into turmoil, a very dangerous course to take.”

The fears are spread, and some of parents did not allow their children to participate in the protest as they understood potential cruelty of the Chinese government. But students had no alternative but to ignore their parents’ warnings and join the protest.

Mavis Kam, a student at the Lingnan University where she studies Human Resource Management, had to ignore her parents’ strong warning to join this remarkable civil disobedience of mass action.

“My parents were opposed to me when I was seeking permission from them to join the protest on last Sunday. They immediately mentioned about what happened in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, where thousands of innocent people were killed. They are still living with fear, so they don’t want to see us as next victims of the Chinese government,” Mavis told while a part of the protest in front of LegCo with her colleagues.

However; it is neither, Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989 nor the Leftist riots against British colonial rule in 1967 where dozens of people were killed. The situation in Hong Kong is different from the past as the global economic hub is explored internationally, unlike China.

But an ongoing protest may create a unique history in the former British colony against the mainland China, as it already created global awareness and it was able to reach every citizen in this territory to be a part.
 Hong Kong, September 29, 2014 - Photograph © by Nilantha Ilangamuwa
Hours are left, after the protesters set the deadline as the 1st October. The National Day celebration has already been cancelled by the government. However, the 1st October, can be turned into a day of political turmoil if the government does not listen carefully to the people.

The moment of sensitiveness is very much important and it must be read carefully and act wisely. One small incident can trigger huge and an unimaginable explosion.

The moment when the people lost their trust in the government and their leadership will be rectified when the people will not get hurt but regain their trust. Then the positive hope will arise, allowing them to move forward. 

 Hong Kong, September 29, 2014 - Photograph © by Nilantha Ilangamuwa

The use of tear gas by the government revealed its unwillingness and poor judgement to undermine the people power. Its looks like the Chief Executive and the government are not capable of reading the real sentiments of the public in Hong Kong while acting behalf of the central government.

I can do no better than take the words from the late Pete Seeger to understand the energetic moments of the youth in Hong Kong.

“….look, I got a hammer
and I got a bell
and I got a song to sing
all over this land
it's the hammer of justice
a bell of freedom yeah
it's a song about love
between my brothers and my sisters
all over this land ……” ( - Pete Seeger and Lee Hays )

( The writer can be reached at ilangamuwa@gmail.com)

Scots have voted: When will Eelam Tamils vote ?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Rajasingham Jayadevan

( September 30, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The conduct and the outcome of the Scottish referendum for a separate state of Scotland has taught us many lessons. Beyond the outcome, peaceful campaign and management of the referendum are far reaching and is a lesson to be learnt by the pseudo democracies world over.

It is the will of the British parliament to accommodate a peaceful referendum for secession that must praised. The process was handled with mature sense throughout which is praiseworthy. There was no anti-Scot hate feelings let lose in the media or in the campaign. There was no police baton beating, not a bullet or tear gas being fired, there was no white vans or kidnaps or any form of physical violence. Instead all these were translated into responsible political debates and campaigns, paving the way for free and fair voting.

It was a very respectable campaign for a country that manages its affairs with an unwritten constitution. Respect for the views of the aggrieved, commonsense, mutual trust and to face the outcome with the broader shoulder were evident in the entire process of the referendum.

For the Scots, two issues were fundamental. Their Gaelic identity as a nation of people and their desire to govern themselves with their own fiscal strengths, as the heavily centralised financial control by the Westminster was an issue that were elementary to the campaign of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The British media played a laudatory role to invoke mature debates on the Scottish separation. From the politicians and political pundits to ordinary civilians, all argued their views sensibly. When the first opinion poll gave a point lead to the ‘Yes’ vote, there was a sense of sadness amongst people in the South and it did not any way turn into highhanded anti-Scott/SNP tirades or animosities anywhere.

There was general fear that a ‘Yes’ vote will have serious consequences in political and economic sense for both the divide. The opinion poll in favour of the ‘Yes’ camp sent the initial shock wave through the financial market. If the ‘Yes’ vote had prevailed in the referendum, there would have been serious financial turmoil for the UK economy that could have led to unimaginable consequences.

Whilst I am writing this piece, one thought that overshadowed my thinking was why didn’t the tin-pot leaders of absurd democracies like Sri Lanka did not engage as spectators in the referendum process to understand the way a democracy should function on a very sensitive issue that involved parting of territorial sovereignty of a region.

A referendum of this nature is diabolical for Sri Lanka and if there is a remote chance of this happening, the nation of Sri Lanka will be soaked in blood and the rabid crusaders will spearhead a campaign of vituperation of unimaginable scale. Without the guarantee of international security, a referendum of this kind cannot happen in Sri Lanka. The very entrenched government machinery would have undermined the effort to make it free and fair.

In the Scottish referendum campaign pro ‘Yes’ campaigners argued their case very well. They made use of the length of time since the announcement of the referendum to undertake a very interactive campaign. Whereas the ‘No’ camp pitched their campaign only lately. SNP leader Alex Salmond said the Scottish referendum is a "once in a generation opportunity" and results showed the demand for separation had grown from 10% thirty years ago to 45% a week ago in the referendum.

Though the Westminster was accused of spreading a fear campaign about the separation, the campaign on the whole was a mature process of claims and counter claims by both the parties.

Scots were promised wide raging devolution to the scale of a federal governance by the Westminster leadership in the campaign. The Labour Party that has major say in Scotland would have been the victim if Scotland had separated as they would have lost sizeable chunk of parliamentarians in the House of Commons. The composition of elected MP’s from Scotland in the 2010 election will confirm the scale of damage for the Labour Party.

Affiliation - Members
Labour Party - 40
Liberal Democrats - 11
Scottish National Party - 6
Conservative Party - 1
Independent - 1
Total - 59

The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was praised for his mature campaign to influence the voters. Even Prime Minister David Cameron’s emotional appeal to the Scots went very well despite the Tories accounting for one parliamentarian from Scotland.

There is also need to consider a comparative analysis between the demand for referendum by the Scots and their counterparts Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The charter of the UN under article 1 states that: UN is ‘To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace’. The Scots wanted this right to be exercised, though they did not suffer physical or mental persecution under Westminster rule. Their right to self determination was progressively recognised to the extent of some decision making powers being devolved to the Holyrood and though symbolic they successively gained recognition to use the Scottish currency notes in par with the British sterling pounds.

Though there is historical parallels between the Scots and the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Tamils faced heavy handedness of the state of Sri Lanka to exercise their right of self determination. The British, handsomely handed over the exclusive territorial control to Colombo at independence without any regard to the separate sovereignties that existed when it took control of the island. It thought, the adequate safeguards in the Soulbury constitution will progressively transform Sri Lanka into a mature democracy. But all what happened in the post era was the hegemonic crusade of the majority exerting its overall control over all the minorities and Tamils became the primary persecuted race in the country.

If Scots were given the opportunity to exercise their right to self determination, its counterparts – the Tamils in Sri Lanka, have much greater claim under the same right as there are a systematically persecuted race. The right exercised by the Scots will never materialise for the Tamils due to the stubborn internal and regional constraints. However, if Tamil politics take a mitigating path to gain federal arrangement within Sri Lanka or to join India, there will be some hope of a referendum with international engagements.

The outcome of the Scottish referendum was a right one and was in the best interest Scots themselves. Business is normal in the United Kingdom following the referendum and the promises of wider devolution to the extent of federal states for the union regions and even to the English towns and villages will be a process from now onwards in the UK, whilst Tamils in the north will be struggling to manage the Northern Provincial government with the excessive outmanoeuvrings and skulduggery of the state.

Persecution of the Tamils will continue until they are brought to the subservient standard to a manageable minority.

Hong Kong SAR: Time to Stand with the People

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Monday, September 29, 2014 | Posted in , , ,

The following statement issued by Occupy Central with Love and Peace in Response to the Chief Executive

( September 29, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) Since Hong Kong citizens began to use civil disobedience as a means to struggle for universal suffrage, the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has refused to enter direct dialogue with the public. Instead, he has unilaterally spoken on television to criticize the Occupy Central movement. The Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) movement strongly condemns this, and believe Leung ‘s non-response to the people’s demands has driven Hong Kong into a crisis of disorder. OCLP strongly demands that Leung Chun-ying resign to create a space for political reform and to defuse the crisis in our society.

Leung has said OCLP must bear responsibility for the blockage of traffic. OCLP believes the origin of the problem is the government’s first report on political reform which provoked public dissatisfaction. When members of the public wished to express their dissatisfaction at Civic Square, the government directed the police to use forcibly obstruct them and violence to crack down on them.

OCLP believes this has already become a spontaneous movement of the Hong Kong people that does not come under any organization. However, we will continue to fight alongside the people to strive for democracy and we fully support the current spontaneous and non-violent occupy actions.

Leung has urged OCLP to stop the activities for the sake of the overall interests of society but OCLP believes it is Leung Chun-ying who should resign because only this will make it possible to re-launch the political reform process and create a space in which the crisis can be defused.

Anyone with a conscience should be ashamed to be associated with a government that is so indifferent to public opinion. We urge all Executive Councillors and government officials under the accountability system, and who have a conscience, to resign from their positions and to stand with the people.

Washington’s Secret Agendas

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Paul Craig Roberts

( September 29, 2014. Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) One might think that by now even Americans would have caught on to the constant stream of false alarms that Washington sounds in order to deceive the people into supporting its hidden agendas.

The public fell for the lie that the Taliban in Afghanistan are terrorists allied with al Qaeda. Americans fought a war for 13 years that enriched Dick Cheney’s firm, Halliburton, and other private interests only to end in another Washington failure.

The public fell for the lie that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that were a threat to America and that if the US did not invade Iraq Americans risked a “mushroom cloud going up over an American city.” With the rise of ISIS, this long war apparently is far from over. Billions of dollars more in profits will pour into the coffers of the US military security complex as Washington fights those who are redrawing the false Middle East boundaries created by the British and French after WW I when the British and French seized territories of the former Ottoman Empire.

The American public fell for the lies told about Gaddafi in Libya. The formerly stable and prosperous country is now in chaos.

The American public fell for the lie that Iran has, or is building, nuclear weapons. Sanctioned and reviled by the West, Iran has shifted toward an Eastern orientation, thereby removing a principal oil producer from Western influence.

The public fell for the lie that Assad of Syria used “chemical weapons against his own people.” The jihadists that Washington sent to overthrow Assad have turned out to be, according to Washington’s propaganda, a threat to America.

The greatest threat to the world is Washington’s insistence on its hegemony. The ideology of a handful of neoconservatives is the basis for this insistence. We face the situation in which a handful of American neoconservative psychopaths claim to determine the fate of countries.

Many still believe Washington’s lies, but increasingly the world sees Washington as the greatest threat to peace and life on earth. The claim that America is “exceptional and indispensable” is used to justify Washington’s right to dictate to other countries.

The casualties of Washington’s bombings are invariably civilians, and the deaths will produce more recruits for ISIS. Already there are calls for Washington to reintroduce “boots on the ground” in Iraq. Otherwise, Western civilization is doomed, and our heads will be cut off. The newly created propaganda of a “Russian threat” requires more NATO spending and more military bases on Russia’s borders. A “quick reaction force” is being created to respond to a nonexistent threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland, and Europe.

Usually it takes the American public a year, or two, three, or four to realize that it has been deceived by lies and propaganda, but by that time the public has swallowed a new set of lies and propaganda and is all concerned about the latest “threat.” The American public seems incapable of understanding that just as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, threat was a hoax, so is the sixth threat, and so will be the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

Moreover, none of these American military attacks on other countries has resulted in a better situation, as Vladimir Putin honestly states. Yet, the public and its representatives in Congress support each new military adventure despite the record of deception and failure.

Perhaps if Americans were taught their true history in place of idealistic fairy tales, they would be less gullible and less susceptible to government propaganda. I have recommended Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the US, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the US, and now I recommend Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers, the story of the long rule of John Foster and Allen Dulles over the State Department and CIA and their demonization of reformist governments that they often succeeded in overthrowing. Kinzer’s history of the Dulles brothers’ plots to overthrow six governments provides insight into how Washington operates today.

In 1953 the Dulles brothers overthrew Iran’s elected leader, Mossadegh and imposed the Shah, thus poisoning American-Iranian relations through the present day. Americans might yet be led into a costly and pointless war with Iran, because of the Dulles brothers poisoning of relations in 1953.

The Dulles brothers overthrew Guatemala’s popular president Arbenz, because his land reform threatened the interest of the Dulles brothers’ Sullivan & Cromwell law firm’s United Fruit Company client. The brothers launched an amazing disinformation campaign depicting Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was a threat to Western civilization. The brothers enlisted dictators such as Somoza in Nicaragua and Batista in Cuba against Arbenz. The CIA organized air strikes and an invasion force. But nothing could happen until Arbenz’s strong support among the people in Guatemala could be shattered. The brothers arranged this through Cardinal Spellman, who enlisted Archbishop Rossell y Arellano. “A pastoral letter was read on April 9, 1954 in all Guatemalan churches.”

A masterpiece of propaganda, the pastoral letter misrepresented Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was the enemy of all Guatemalans. False radio broadcasts produced a fake reality of freedom fighter victories and army defections. Arbenz asked the UN to send fact finders, but Washington prevented that from happening. American journalists, with the exception of James Reston, supported the lies. Washington threatened and bought off Guatemala’s senior military commanders, who forced Arbenz to resign. The CIA’s chosen and well paid “liberator,” Col. Castillo Armas, was installed as Arbenz’s successor.

We recently witnessed a similar operation in Ukraine.

President Eisenhower thanked the CIA for averting “a Communist beachhead in our hemisphere,” and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles gave a national TV and radio address in which he declared that the events in Guatemala “expose the evil purpose of the Kremlin.” This despite the uncontested fact that the only outside power operating in Guatemala was the Dulles brothers.

What had really happened is that a democratic and reformist government was overthrown because it compensated United Fruit Company for the nationalization of the company’s fallow land at a value listed by the company on its tax returns. America’s leading law firm or perhaps more accurately, America’s foreign policy-maker, Sullivan & Cromwell, had no intention of permitting a democratic government to prevail over the interests of the law firm’s client, especially when senior partners of the firm controlled both overt and covert US foreign policy. The two brothers, whose family members were invested in the United Fruit Company, simply applied the resources of the CIA, State Department, and US media to the protection of their private interests. The extraordinary gullibility of the American people, the corrupt American media, and the indoctrinated and impotent Congress allowed the Dulles brothers to succeed in overthrowing a democracy.

Keep in mind that this use of the US government in behalf of private interests occurred 60 years ago long before the corrupt Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes. And no doubt in earlier times as well.

The Dulles brothers next intended victim was Ho Chi Minh. Ho, a nationalist leader, asked for America’s help in freeing Vietnam from French colonial rule. But John Foster Dulles, a self-righteous anti-communist, miscast Ho as a Communist Threat who was springing the domino theory on the Western innocents. Nationalism and anti-colonialism, Foster declared, were merely a cloak for communist subversion.

Paul Kattenburg, the State Department desk officer for Vietnam suggested that instead of war, the US should give Ho $500 million in reconstruction aid to rebuild the country from war and French misrule, which would free Ho from dependence on Russian and Chinese support, and, thereby, influence. Ho appealed to Washington several times, but the demonic inflexibility of the Dulles brothers prevented any sensible response. Instead, the hysteria whipped-up over the “communist threat” by the Dulles brothers landed the United States in the long, costly, fiasco known as the Vietnam War. Kattenburg later wrote that it was suicidal for the US “to cut out its eyes and ears, to castrate its analytic capacity, to shut itself off from the truth because of blind prejudice.” Unfortunately for Americans and the world, castrated analytic capacity is Washington’s strongest suit.

The Dulles brothers’ next targets were President Sukarno of Indonesia, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of Congo, and Fidel Castro. The plot against Castro was such a disastrous failure that it cost Allen Dulles his job. President Kennedy lost confidence in the agency and told his brother Bobby that after his reelection he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces. When President Kennedy removed Allen Dulles, the CIA understood the threat and struck first.

Warren Nutter, my Ph.D. dissertation chairman, later Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, taught his students that for the US government to maintain the people’s trust, which democracy requires, the government’s policies must be affirmations of our principles and be openly communicated to the people. Hidden agendas, such as those of the Dulles brothers and the Clinton, Bush and Obama regimes, must rely on secrecy and manipulation and, thereby, arouse the distrust of the people. If Americans are too brainwashed to notice, many foreign nationals are not.

The US government’s secret agendas have cost Americans and many peoples in the world tremendously. Essentially, the Foster brothers created the Cold War with their secret agendas and anti-communist hysteria. Secret agendas committed Americans to long, costly, and unnecessary wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. Secret CIA and military agendas intending regime change in Cuba were blocked by President John F. Kennedy and resulted in the assassination of a president, who, for all his faults, was likely to have ended the Cold War twenty years before Ronald Reagan seized the opportunity.

Secret agendas have prevailed for so long that the American people themselves are now corrupted. As the saying goes, “a fish rots from the head.” The rot in Washington now permeates the country.

Pakistan: People’s Revulsion against Political Stagnation

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Mahboob A. Khawaja

( September 29, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Observers interpret events and political challenges as they see fit to their imagination. But prevalent realities speak their own language loud and clear. Nawaz Sharif will put to shame all the egoistic men called politicians and disgraced puppets who operated on foreign myths and encompassing agenda. Reviewing the politics of Pakistan for the past half of a century, if there were men of moral and intellectual conscience, the masses would have stood on guard to respect and honor their much desired qualities. Not so, Pakistanis were not fortunate to have educated, honest and accountable politicians at the political powerhouses. Assuming power whether through self-generated intrigues, military coups or backdoor conspiracies, they practice absolutism devoid of political interactive dialogue to demonstrate flexibility and respect for the will of the people. The curse in Pakistani political strife is in need of urgent and workable cure. But all factors embedded in making the politics indicate a denial to public revulsion against the political curse. The dilemma of political legitimacy and accountability to the people cannot be ignored. For more than a month, millions of common folks appear to be engaged in shouting matches outside the parliament challenging political indifference and insanity in Islamabad. Nobody can predict the outcome for political change, justice and accountability. Sharif brethren have lost amicable opportunities to come to terms with the overwhelming realities demanding political change and legal justice.

They missed the opportunity to see the mirror and accept masses demand for political change and law and justice. Out of several public demands few deserve special mention: (1) Accountability for the stolen wealth and purchase of properties in London and business enterprise in Saudi Arabia; (2) Rigging of May 2013 national elections and getting into power as PM while Nawaz Sharif was already twice dismissed on corruption charges; (3) killing of 14 members of the Minhaj ul-Quran academy- Dr. Al-Qadri group at Lahore and injuring 80 protesters by Shabaz Sharif-the Chief Minister of Punjab and police prevented to register the FIR for the bloody acts of the people in power. You would burst with laughter or cry at the political nuisance, the response given by Sharif brethren to these critical issues involving life and death situations of Pakistani politics. If Sharif brethren had a cause and courage, they should have come out in public to respond and defend themselves. They demonstrated a dehumanized gutted culture of naïve politics, be it inside the National Assembly or in news media that make no sense in a 21st century knowledge-based age of reason and political accountability. People’s tormenting pains,, political agony and continuing sufferings cannot be transformed into a single portrait to show to the global audience. Would another military coup address the masses charge sheet against Nawaz Sharif? The Generals are cautious to foresee a puzzling future without genuine political remedies. How and where the feasible solutions to crime-riddled politics will come from? At a glance, Pakistan appears to be reaching at a dead-ended political discourse. The masses gathered at Islamabad would not compromise the outcome on matters of principles. The political deadlock needs a high power jolt of intervention to pave a smooth way out of the stagnated political culture of the few. People are the legitimate force for change if there is any glimpse of democracy still operational in Pakistan.

To silence the voices of REASON for political dialogue and peaceful change, Sharif brethren relied on police force. It strengthen the resolve of the people to stand in unity and encounter the unthinkable obstructions of free movements, freedom of expression and calls for legal justice to see the Sharif brethren arrested and to face legal accountability for their crimes. Is Pakistan a morally and intellectually broken nation that cannot question the few criminals in power? Sharif continues to govern as if there is no world outside the PM well guarded House or the secluded parliament. Those occupying the seats inside the National Assembly failed to demonstrate legitimate sensitivities to the interests and priorities outlined by the people. Their demands if not all but some do have solid legitimate grounds to ask for political accountability and legal justice. The mayhem at Islamabad continues to haunt the present and future of freedom, public accountability of politicians, and the normal requisites of law and justice available to the ordinary people. Pakistani people have learned from the distractions of time and history how few have robbed the nation under false pretexts and egoistic exploitation.

Democracy is a strange phenomenon in Pakistani political culture. Pakistani nation faces many critical perils in its search for a peaceful democratic future. No wonder, why Islamabad is under continuing siege by the political activists –one group is led by the new generation leader Imran Khan, the former captain of Pakistani cricket team. The other by a religious scholar Dr. Tahir -ul -Qadri, whose Lahore Minhaj ul-Quran Center was brutally attacked by the police resulting in massacres of 14 peaceful participants and wounding hundred of others for no obvious reason. It is hard to imagine how rationality could overcome insanity being perpetuated by the Sharif brethren at provincial and national levels over the Pakistani nation. None appear to signal the scenarios of peaceful transformation of serious issues into workable solutions. Lacking political imagination and legitimacy, Sharif brethrens have used power to deal with sensitive issues of public communication and result-oriented political dialogue. Political failure and corruption allegations are nothing new to the profile of Nawaz Sharif. He was twice dismissed as Prime Minister on corruption accusations. The 1999 hijacking of an incoming PIA flight from Sri Lanka with 250 passengers and former General Pervaiz Musharaf on board. Mr. Sharif wanted to assassinate all in a plane crash as the plane was not allowed to land at Karachi international airport. He wanted to install a new Chief of the Army Staff to replace General Musharaf. Even Sharif asked the pilot to go to India but it was refused. After the military coup, Sharif was tried in a public court on terrorism charges and exiled to Saudi Arabia. Now wonder in Pakistani politics how such a criminal made comeback and got elected by rigging the 2013 election to reclaim the office of Prime Minister.

When pretension and stingy greed give life to politically manipulated leadership, treachery and oppression become the rule of political governance in which people are seen as the eggs and chickens, conveniently broken and slaughtered and politicians are akin to assume the above normal role play lacking legitimacy and accountability. Pakistani politics regrettably as is, a venture of intrigues, self-engineered conspiracies and dead roll calls to explain the history of this beleaguered nation. Feudal lords are the political masters, and Bhutto family with complacent army Generals, has been one of them to unfold a naïve and destructive chapter of the Pakistan’s political misfortunes. Mr. ZA Bhutto, the leader of the PPP, his daughter Benazir Bhutto, two of her brothers, all are dead but they still ruling the country by imposter Asif Ali Zardari as the past president. Alive or dead, Bhutto family has been the centre of political intrigues and destructive problems in Pakistan. How irrational and untrue it seems that dead people are leading the living masses of Pakistan? Since 2008, Sharif has been in collaboration with the Bhutto family to continue the political curse as determining factor in Pakistani politics.

The military dictators, Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharifs could never have come into power unless the whole nation had lost the sense of rationality, PURPOSE and MEANING of its existence. These sadistic and cruel monsters have institutionalized chaos and fear, demoralization of a moral society and dehumanization of an intelligent nation and have transferred these naïve traits and values to the psychological-social-economic and political spheres of the mainstream thinking hub of the nation. Why should we care - many will assert at the cultural levels. Are there any concerned thinkers, intellectuals and proactive political activists to safeguard the national interests of the present and future generations of Muslim Pakistan?

Pakistani politics is operated by those of whom the great majorities have absolutely no qualifications to be at the helm of political power – yet they are continuously engaged in systematic degradation of the educated and intelligent young generation of Pakistanis who are deprived of opportunities to participate in the national politics. The contemporary history of political degeneration includes few generals, neo-colonial feudal lords, members of the assemblies, family-vested few houses of political power, ministers or prime ministers; they have the distinction of all acting in unison against the interest of the people of Pakistan. Political Power is aphrodisiac. Do the people belong to this mad scrum overwhelmingly witnessed at the Islamabad freedom march? To an impartial observer the scene is clear that wrong people are conducting the political governance where reason and legal justice are outlawed. This contradicts the essence of the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. It appears logical to think that at some point soon, those who are fit to lead must take over from those who are misfit to govern with credibility. It could be a bloodless coup - or it could be a bloody insurrection. One way or another, the process of phasing-out the obsolete and phasing-in the fair and much desired and deserving must happen. Are the demonstrators approaching the point of no return? Is Pakistan’s freedom and futuristic integrity being sacrificed for few dumb and dull criminals who wish to extend their power beyond the domains of reason and honesty? It will be extremely harmful and deeply flawed and dangerous ethos to the interests of the people if Sharif brethren are allowed to continue the crime riddled political governance while their legitimacy is under sharp questioning. The path to peaceful change and political success requires the wise and informed to establish an organized council of responsible oversight to move-in to the void once the despots are ousted. That is an essential component of any public uprising determined to manifest genuine and sustainable political change and legal justice.
Pakistan urgently needs a savior. A military takeover is not the solution but General Raheel Sharif- the Chief of the Armed Forces and his conscientious colleagues could take a moral stand for the best of Pakistan. This means, Nawaz Sharif must take leave or step down to clear the allegations of 2013 election rigging, killings of the protesters at Lahore and Islamabad and transfer of money to foreign assets. If cleared by a court of law, he should resume his office as PM. If not, the he must face the ultimate legal consequences. The use of security forces and power against the people will not resolve the problems - the absolute power, a draconian strategy to dispel the notion of freedom. It is shameful for a functional democracy if any and as harmful in short terms as deadly and anti-freedom in long terms for the sustainability of a free nation. Recently, this author (Pakistan: Emerging Democracy or Hall of Shame.” The Cyrano’s Journal Today, USA: 9/04/2014), offered the following remedial strategy to deal with the current crisis in Pakistan:
The nation’s capital is under siege for over two weeks. People want political change and justice to their grievances that is nowhere to be seen. The demonstrators are not hired agitators but real people standing for hard core moral principles and democratic values. Islamabad depicts chaos, extreme insecurity and frightening trend of political mismanagement and failed governance. PM Sharif was already on a life support system of his own making. Now, the oxygen tank is fast running out of the life maintaining system. Nawaz Sharif has lost sense of direction and political maturity to see the mirror and to resign from the powerhouse gained by rigging the 2013 elections. Undoubtedly, Sharif lives in a matrix of lies. He does not have the courage to encounter a truthful statement. Informed Pakistani masses can tell the difference between the truth and a lie…..The ruling elite and the people live in a conflicting time zone being unable to understand the meaning and essence of the Pakistan Freedom Movement. Nawaz Sharif must go. The allegations of election rigging must be investigated. What is the cure to the current problems? It will complement the interests of the nation if a new Government of National Unity is formed under a non-partisan-non political leader of moral and intellectual integrity for a period of two years; a New Constitution is framed with new public institutions under leadership of the new generation educated people and then a new election could be meaningful to transform the ideals of a legitimate functional democracy.

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing Germany, May 2012.

How Long Will India Pakistan Conflict Continue ?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , , ,

| by N.S.Venkataraman

( September 29, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) India and Pakistan have been in conflict with each other for over sixty five years now. There were bitter wars between these two countries and then several attempts for reconciliation as well to promote peace on the border . But, nothing has really worked. In the last sixty five years, the ground reality is that neither Pakistan nor India have gained anything by continuing and persisting with an atmosphere of distrust and mutual accusations.

Now, Mr. Narendra Modi has said in his speech in U N assembly that India cannot engage in peace talks with Pakistan, until such time that Pakistan would create a right climate by not supporting any acts of subversion in India. Pakistan has also said similar thing on many occasions. With both the countries mutually accusing each other on various counts, one wonders as to whether the conflict between India and Pakistan would be eternal.

What is particularly surprising is ,that even amongst such distrust between both the governments, many citizens of both the countries still seem to have mutual respect and admiration for each other. There are many admirers of Pakistani cricketers in India and recent India’s achievements in sending Mangalyan to Mars have been warmly appreciated by the Pakistani press. Several citizens of Pakistan have been visiting India for medical treatment and they have praised the care with which Indian doctors have treated them. In whatever little exchange programmes that both the countries had in the past, the cultural ambassadors between India and Pakistan were getting on well without any feelings of animosity. Under the circumstances, one gets an impression that the conflict between India and Pakistan are not between the citizens of both the countries but only with the governments of both these countries under the control of politicians.

Mr. C.Rajagopalachari, the first Governor General of independent India and an intellectual who could think beyond his time said several decades back ,that the best way of promoting amity between India and Pakistan would be to focus on the areas of possible cooperation instead on the areas of conflict. He said that establishment and promotion of people to people contact would be the best method of cementing relationships with the neighbours, so that it would be possible to maintain a cordial climate where the peace talks to settle the outstanding issues can be successfully initiated and concluded.

The economic and industrial growth of Pakistan have not been on healthy lines, in view of several internal issues and the unproductive money spent on maintaining the army that seem to be obsessed with threat from India. In the same way, millions of dollars are being spent by Government of India in maintaining the army to defend its area of control in Jammu and Kashmir. Those who have gained from the military expenditure by both these developing countries are only the weapon producers and merchants in the developed countries.

After listening to Mr. Modi’s speech in U N assembly, the Pakistan foreign minister has said that it was a case of over reaction. Perhaps, Pakistan foreign minister’s observation is correct. There is general feeling amongst discerning observers in India that Mr. Nawab Sheriff really want to end conflict with India , which was reflected by his readily accepting Mr. Modi’s invitation to attend his swearing in ceremony at New Delhi recently. . Perhaps, Mr. Sheriff , by his hawkish observation on Kashmir issue in his speech in United Nations , was only adopting a public posture to please the hawkish elements in Pakistan who seem to be posing threat to his position. Many people think that Mr.Modi could have shown some understanding of Mr. Nawaz Sheriff’s compulsion in Pakistan, as it is in the interest of India also to promote peace in Pakistan on firm grounds.

Diplomatic negotiations and peace manoeuvre are conducted by statesman like rulers in discreet manner with patience and long term understanding of the ground realities. Perhaps, Mr. Modi could have restrained himself to a statement of disapproval of Mr. Nawaz Sheriff’s observations on Kashmir in U N assembly , instead of closing the doors for talks and putting conditions for resuming talks with Pakistan.

Mahindavādaya, Mahinda-Vadaya and Wirathu-Āgamanaya

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

(Mahinda-Ideology, Mahinda-Affliction and the Arrival of Wirathu)

| by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“The government has turned us into orphans in our own motherland.”
Boralesgamuwa farmers affected by the Weras-Ganga Project (Lankadeepa – 24.9.2014)

( September 29, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s latest beautification project, the Weras-Ganga Development, with walkways and a food court, was declared open with much fanfare this month. Jackson Anthony, dramatist turn sycophant, used the occasion to proclaim that the time has come to upgrade Mahinda Chinthanaya (Mahinda Thought) to Mahindavādaya (Mahindaism – Mahinda Ideology) .

For many farmers of Boralesgamuwa (as for most Tamils and Muslims and increasing numbers of Sinhalese), Mahindavādaya has become a Mahinda-Vadaya (Mahinda-Affliction). Their fields could not be cultivated for two seasons because they did not have access to the usual source of water thanks to the beautification project. Now they are being told by the military how they should cultivate their fields. Lacking the money and the manpower to follow military instructions, the farmers have given up cultivation. They say that if they are unable find “labouring jobs to feed their families, they will just have to die, while watching the moneyed ladies, gentlemen and their families promenading and enjoying themselves” .


In February 2010, chief prelates of all four chapters decided to hold a special Sangha Convention on Democracy and Governance. Gen. Sarath Fonseka had been arrested and the monks planned to officially request the government to cease persecuting the war-winning army commander.

The Rajapaksas went into panic-mode. This was not some minor gathering, but a convention bringing together representatives of the entire Sangha Sasana. State media heaped vitriol on the Convention while frenzied efforts were made behind the scenes to cancel it.

At the eleventh hour the Convention was cancelled. Afterwards, Ven. Athangane Ratanapala Thero told the media that the head of the Malwatte Chapter had been under ‘severe stress’: “Many members representing the government as well as some members of the clergy who are working for the government used tremendous pressure on us to stop the meeting” .
The Chief Incumbent of the Mihintale Raja Maha Vihare was more explicit. He said that a group of 45 Buddhist monks visited the Malwatte Mahanayake Thero and informed him that he would “have to take the responsibility if two or three bombs went off within the premises of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic”. He also named names: “Chancellor of Kelaniya University, Ven. Dr. Welimitiyawe Kusaladhamma Thero, former parliamentarian Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero, Ven. Diviyagaha Yasassi Thero and Ven Rekhawa Jinarathana Thero were among the 45 monks who wanted the Mahanayake to cancel the Sangha Convention”. They initially threatened to leave the sect; when blackmail failed they called the President “who personally spoke to the Mahanayake urging him to cancel the convention.” The Chief Prelate refused. That was when the ‘bomb threat’ was made. When asked about the incident, the Chief Prelate replied “that the Mahanayakes were compelled to postpone the event to ensure the safety of the Maha Sangha and the Temple of the Tooth.”
That is how the Rajapaksas act towards any gathering of monks they consider undesirable.

Just this week Terrorism Investigation Division prevented Professional Web Journalists Association from holding a workshop on internet security. The management of the hotel where the workshop was to be held was informed by the TID that an organisation (consisting of retried army officers and disabled soldiers) is planning to surround the premises. The security of the workshop-participants cannot be guaranteed, the TID said. The management, like the Chief Prelates, got the message; the workshop was cancelled.

No such threats or warnings will mar the Sangha Convention of the Bodu Bala Sena. It will be held at the Sugathadasa Stadium, which in itself is a sign of governmental blessing. The visit to Sri Lanka by the hatemongering Burmese monk, U Wirathu, is also likely to go off without a snag. As the BBS boasted on its Facebook page, the saffron-robed rabble-rouser who gained infamy for remarks such as “Muslims are fundamentally bad; Mohammed allows them to kill any creature; Islam is a religion of thieves, they do not want peace,” came via the VIP lounge and was whisked off to a safe place .

Whether the Rajapaksas are actively helping the BBS gathering, with money, facilities and monks (to fill the hall) is not known. But the very fact that the convention is being held on such a giant scale proves that it has the Rajapaksa seal-of-approval. The Rajapaksas did not hesitate to use the most execrable measures to prevent the Sangha Convention in 2010, including an implicit threat to bomb the Temple of the Tooth. The fact that they are allowing the BBS Convention to happen is the clearest possible proof that this gathering has their blessing.

Electoral Compulsions

It is now almost certain that Presidential elections will be held in January 2015, before the Papal visit. Obviously the Rajapaksas have been jolted into feverish haste by Uva. In such a fraught context, a large gathering of monks will be allowed only if it is seen as beneficial to the Siblings.

The Rajapaksas know that most Tamils and Muslims did not and will not vote for them. Their main concern is to ensure that their support base among the majority community does not erode any further. The electoral playing field has been skewed constitutionally; the Siblings will not hesitate to use violence and malpractices. But as Uva demonstrates, such measures can result only in an extremely marginal – and politically de-legitimising – victory. To win the massive victory they need, the Rajapaksas need to keep their Sinhala-Buddhist base intact.

Economic concessions – more will be made in the coming months – may not be enough; even in the rural-fastness of Uva, a large number of Sinhalese seemed to have seen through that obvious gimmick. Other tactics are needed.

Sinhala-Buddhists must be made to feel insecure in order to reignite their desire for a powerful protector. “Making the community more fanatical and exploiting the resulting fanatics” seems to be the Rajapaksa aim. And a BBS-Wirathu combine will be ideal to focus the attention of the Sinhala public not on their economic woes but on ‘threats’ to ‘Rata, Jathiya and Agama’ (country, race and religion).

The BBS convention will constitute a leap forward in the Rajapaksa efforts to impose a racist politico-psychological climate on the upcoming election season. It will help enormously to keep the electoral discourse mired in Tiger revivals, Jihadi threats and Christian/Catholic conspiracies.

In August 2007, JHU head, Ven. Ellawalla Medananda Thero proclaimed that (Christian) fundamentalists were planning to infect Buddhist monks with AIDS. “I got information that fundamentalists at a meeting in Kurunegala had decided to eliminate Buddhism from this country. Part of their plan is to infect the monks with HIV virus… Monks could be infected with the virus when they go for a blood test or blood transfusion.”

That is the kind of discourse the Rajapaksas would want during election season. What better way to drive real life economic, political and social issues than to addle and poison Sinhala-Buddhist minds with suspicion, fear, anger and hate against Tamil/Muslim/Christian fellow Lankans? Who better to give that project a violent leap than ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’ of Burma?

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzxDiKivz6A
  2. We have become orphans in our own lands – Famers of the Boralasgamuwa fields say – Lankadeepa – 24.9.2014
  3. http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/news/sri-lanka-monks-complain-of-government-pressure/216508128
  4. http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/02/21/%E2%80%9Cmahanayakes-threatened-with-temple-bomb-attack%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%94-prelate/ - emphasis mine
  5. https://www.mirror.lk/news/17128-tid-hampers-web-media-workshop
  6. http://www.ruom.net/portfolio-item/inside-969-movement/#sthash.aCkW5bcN.dpbs
  7. https://www.facebook.com/bodubalasenablogofficial/photos/a.1478310909093649.1073741828.1474709476120459/1490042541253819/?type=1&theater
  8. The Language of the Third Reich – Victor Klemperer
  9. http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2007/8/18397.html

A Resounding Cheer To The Voters Of Uva-Wellassa

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , ,

| by Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena
Courtesy: The Sunday Times, Colombo

( September 29, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Rajapaksa administration faced its harshest post-war reality-check administered by the villagers of Uva-Wellassa last week when it lost electoral strongholds in the Badulla District and only scraped through with proverbial inches to spare in regard to the leadership of the Uva Provincial Council itself. 

Reason to celebrate 

This was despite multifarious election violations and the garish abuse of power including rampant bribery and corruption by ruling party politicians which went unchecked by elections officials and the police. 

So there is reason to celebrate. Devoid of party-political loyalties, all Sri Lankans who do not wish to see the country reduced to the corrupt fiefdom of a single ruling family must surely hail the result. The grotesquely imbalanced power equation that we see now must be corrected. Even the most establishment-prone among us, (I refer here not to slavishly loyal lackeys but rather to those who persist in seeing some good in the government trajectory), must acknowledge this. 

For the United National Party, it is a spectacular drawing back from the abyss, engineered by a young opposition parliamentarian who cannily shifted his base from the national to the provincial and arose above vicious intra-party conflicts. 

Dispelling of persistent myths

Some persistent myths need to be dispelled at the outset. As oft reiterated in these column spaces, the first telling lesson to this government would be taught by rural voters rather than by urbanized liberals or the elite who tend to dismiss the ‘hoi polloi’ with scorn. Last Saturday’s election bears this out in no uncertain terms. Similarly, the Uva result negates the perception of a continuing monolithic preference for the Rajapaksa regime by ordinary Sinhala-Buddhist voters. 

Indeed, the voters of Uva numbering some of the poorest in the country, hammered home a point which many sophisticated urban voters had failed to grasp for a while. This time around, the fiendishly clever tactic adopted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa of separating himself from the misdeeds of his administration did not quite work. President Rajapaksa’s direct engagement in Uva election meetings on behalf of contesting government politicians failed to sway the votes in Badulla.
The fact that the provincial leader of the government team was a Rajapaksa relative of the extraordinarily close kind did not work either. 

Time had come for a ‘good lesson’

Profound dissatisfaction with government policies based on needless extravaganzas and the cynical encouraging of communal and religious divisions had been growing for some time. As a Sinhalese vegetable cultivator in Bandarawela observed in a casual conversation with me last year long before September’s Provincial Elections was even on the cards, ‘anduwa natanawa wadi, balayath wadi...honda padamakata kale hari’ (this government is dancing too much, it has too much power…the time has come for a good lesson).

Moreover, the electoral results should not be interpreted to mean a mere reprimand administered by poor villagers struggling for their basic survival. True, Rajapaksa policies which seemingly depend on the rural Sinhala Buddhist voter for its electoral base but cater overwhelmingly to the economically privileged were bound to confront their inherent contradictions sooner rather than later. These contradictions are not merely theoretical but result in the practical deprivation of livelihoods.
Take the Uma Oya project in Welimada for example, meant to take the waters of the Uma Oya to the Southern dry region. This is a project that had been rejected on numerous occasions earlier by leading multilateral donors on the basis, inter alia that it was unsustainable due to the insufficient income generated when compared to the incurred cost. Under the Rajapaksa government however, this project was implemented with ‘aid’ from the Government of Iran without proper environmental impact assessments and contrary to law. Catastrophic consequences have ensued for affected villagers and the environment, contrary to the frantic cries of Badulla based government politicians. 

Stop the crippling of the democratic process

And unlike a decade ago when problematic development efforts were legally challenged, the courts are not envisaged as a practical forum to appeal for relief given the lack of public confidence thereto. But disastrous development policies aside, the rationale underlying the Uva vote result emerges from a stronger base. It is underpinned by the electoral acknowledgment that a government veritably gone mad with power has to be reined back, expressed in the most homespun language possible by my erstwhile conversationalist in Bandarawela. 

Whether the blow administered by the Uva voters can be strategically taken to a national level by Sri Lanka’s opposition remains to be seen. On its own part, the Rajapaksa regime would do well to restrain itself from further degradation of the governance process. Recent plans to amend local government laws enabling heads of local authorities to stay in office despite annual budgets being defeated on two consecutive occasions during the year under review is one example. Yet another is its intention to legalise election violations as recently reported in this newspaper. 

These are unacceptable deviations from the democratic process. Particularly now they will only be seen as further enabling of ‘hora’ (robbing) of the vote. 

Addressing national failures in justice 

Most of all however, this government must realize that the assumption of ‘eternal gratitude’ of the rural Sinhala-Buddhist vote bank for ending active fighting with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the North and East is dangerously faulty. It must reverse its post-war militarization drive and reach out to the minorities. State protection must not be given to militant groups who spew racial and religious hatred while clad in yellow robes. 

Indeed, the correction of national failures in justice will impact positively on international opinion regarding the treatment of our own citizens during the ending of war in the Wanni. The democratic health of judicial, policing, prosecutorial and electoral processes must be revitalized. These imperatives can only be for the greater good of the country. 

For the moment however, we can only take our hats off to the voters of Uva-Wellassa and give a resounding cheer.

India: What Jayalalithaa's Sentence Means for Tamil Nadu

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Sunday, September 28, 2014 | Posted in , , , ,

| by Siddharth Varadarajan

The king rules the world and justice rules the king' - Tirukkural

( September 28, 2014, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) By finding Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sending her to prison for four years, a special court in Bangalore has created a political vacuum in Tamil Nadu that will not be quickly or easily filled.

The conviction means Jayalalithaa must immediately resign as Chief Minister and as Member of the Legislative Assembly. She will appeal her conviction, no doubt, and perhaps even get a stay on her sentence. But so long as the courts do not stay the conviction itself - as was the case with the former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani - Jayalalithaa will be disqualified from holding any elected office for a period of at least 10 years i.e. for the course of her four year prison term and an additional period of six years.

The court's decision ought to send a powerful message to other Indian politicians who have clearly amassed assets - property, land, bank balances, and business interests - well beyond their known sources of income. In reality, most political leaders understand that prosecutions like that of Jayalalithaa are the exception and not the rule in India. The 18-year-old case against her was the product of sharp political rivalry with Karunanidhi, who used the time he was in power as Chief Minister to gather the required evidence. If at all there is a lesson for other politicians then, it is that one must keep one's enmity with political rivals within certain bounds. Trade charges of corruption by all means but don't take matters beyond the court of politics.

Since Jayalalithaa is the unquestioned, singular power centre in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), her choice of successor need not detain us unduly. Like Narendra Modi, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and other personality-centred leaders, Jayalalithaa too doesn't believe in deputies. She doesn't do No. 2s or 3s or 4s.

In 2001, when she had to resign as Chief Minister following a direction from the Supreme Court in another case, she chose O. Panneerselvam as her designated seat-warmer. This time around, she may pick him again or grace some other individual with what can only be considered a ceremonial job. In Chennai, there is speculation that trusted aide Sheela Balakrishnan, a former Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, may make the grade.

What is certain, of course, is that the role of 'Amma' as leader and political totem for the AIADMK and its government will not diminish. As CM, she was not always very visible even if pictorial, edible, potable and medicinal reminders of her authority were everywhere (http://www.ndtv.com/article/south/after-amma-water-and-salt-jayalalithaa-to-launch-amma-medicine-stores-547954)

If anything, one can now safely expect the business of Amma portraiture and nomenclature to reach new heights as the narrative of 'political vendetta' is used to counter the taint of Saturday's conviction.

Much will depend on the ease with which an imprisoned supremo is able to communicate with her party at all levels. If she serves her sentence in Tamil Nadu, or is released on bail pending appeal, this will pose no particular difficulty. But if she is held in Karnataka, where the trial court is located, acting the role of a non-playing captain may not be that easy.

In political terms, more interesting than the choice Jayalalithaa makes among her loyalists is the question of how other political forces in Tamil Nadu will plan their next move.

Her principal political rival, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has been beset with corruption charges as well as factional squabbles in the very household of its leader, M. Karunanidhi. The DMK was vanquished in the assembly elections of 2011 and received a total drubbing in the recently held Lok Sabha elections, where it failed to win a single seat. Jayalalithaa's conviction will no doubt enthuse the party's leadership and cadre but the assembly elections are still two years away and there are no major local level polls in between to prove their worth.

A lot of water has flowed down the Cauvery since the 2011 elections when the AIADMK and its allies routed the DMK-led front. The alliances which the AIADMK and DMK led in 2011 have long since broken down. Jayalalithaa had the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam of Vijaykant on her side, as well as the Left parties. Karunanidhi's allies then included the MDMK of Vaiko and the Pattali Makkal Katchi of P. Ramadoss. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, both the AIADMK and the DMK fought on their own while the DMDK, MDMK and PMK joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

While Karunanidhi is known to be making overtures towards his erstwhile allies in the state, chances are that these smaller parties will continue to hitch their chariot to the BJP in the hope that the time is right for the emergence of a third force in the state.

For the moment, national attention is bound to be focused on the law and order situation in the state. Already there are reports of clashes between AIADMK and DMK cadres. Jayalalithaa ought to realize that if this violence gets out of hand, her rivals are bound to demand the imposition of President's Rule, and perhaps even early elections. That is the only way to bring forward her political day of reckoning and she would be foolish to allow that to happen.

(Siddharth Varadarajan is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University)

President Barack Obama does not speak for God

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

A Lesson on Good and Evil for Western Civil-Military Leaders

| by John Stanton

( September 28, 2014, Virginia, Sri Lanka Guardian) Who in the world is Barack Obama to claim that “No God” would allow the Islamic State to exist and slaughter what it considers to be non-believers? His statement follows the same line of transgression committed by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in their baleful appeals to God and Christ, even as they approved and presided over operations leading to torture, rape, murder and the wounding of large swaths of humanity. And this sinful vanity-- the claim to know God’s Will, is precisely the sin that the Islamic State’s Caliph, the House of Saud, the Vatican, the Church of England and all stripes of religious sects worshiping Prophets/Gods from Yahweh to Zoroaster make each and every day in the name of “good.”

Let us turn to the Russian author of Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman, for a lesson on good and evil as the civil-military leaders of the 21st Century Western world appeal to their Gods to sanction suffering, censure, torture, murder and the creation of gulags large and small.

“Few people ever attempt to define 'good'. What is 'good'? 'Good' for whom? Is there a common good – the same for all people, all tribes, all conditions of life? Or is my good your evil? Is what is good for my people evil for your people? Is good eternal and constant? Or is yesterday's good today's vice, yesterday's evil today's good? When the Last Judgment approaches, not only philosophers and preachers, but everyone on earth – literate and illiterate – will ponder the nature of good and evil. Have people advanced over the millennia in their concept of good? Is this concept something that is common to all people – both Greeks and Jews – as the Apostle supposed? To all classes, nations and States? Even to all animals, trees and mosses – as Buddha and his disciples claimed? The same Buddha who had to deny life in order to clothe it in goodness and love.

The Christian view, five centuries after Buddhism, restricted the living world to which the concept of good is applicable. Not every living thing – only human beings. The good of the first Christians, which had embraced all mankind, in turn gave way to a purely Christian good; the good of the Muslims was now distinct. Centuries passed and the good of Christianity split up into the distinct goods of Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy. And the good of Orthodoxy gave birth to the distinct goods of the old and new beliefs. At the same time there was the good of the poor and the good of the rich. And the goods of the whites, the blacks and the yellow races… More and more goods came into being, corresponding to each sect, race and class. Everyone outside a particular magic circle was excluded.

People began to realize how much blood had been spilt in the name of a petty, doubtful good, in the name of the struggle of this petty good against what it believed to be evil. Sometimes the very concept of good became a scourge, a greater evil than evil itself. Good of this kind is a mere husk from which the sacred kernel has been lost. Who can reclaim the lost kernel?

But what is good? It used to be said that it is a thought and a related action which lead to the greater strength or triumph of humanity – or of a family, nation, State, class, or faith. People struggling for their particular good always attempt to dress it up as a universal good. They say: my good coincides with the universal good; my good is essential not only to me but to everyone; in achieving my good, I serve the universal good. And so the good of a sect, class, nation or State assumes a specious universality in order to justify its struggle against an apparent evil.

Even Herod did not shed blood in the name of evil; he shed blood in the name of his particular good. A new force had come into the world, a force that threatened to destroy him and his family, to destroy his friends and his favourites, his kingdom and his armies. But it was not evil that had been born; it was Christianity. Humanity had never before heard such words: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again… But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'

And what did this doctrine of peace and love bring to humanity? Byzantine iconoclasticism; the tortures of the Inquisition; the struggles against heresy in France, Italy, Flanders and Germany; the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism; the intrigues of the monastic orders; the conflict between Nikon and Avvakum; the crushing yoke that lay for centuries over science and freedom; the Christians who wiped out the heathen population of Tasmania; the scoundrels who burnt whole Negro villages in Africa. This doctrine caused more suffering than all the crimes of the people who did evil for its own sake…

In great hearts the cruelty of life gives birth to good; they then seek to carry this good back into life, hoping to make life itself accord with their inner image of good. But life never changes to accord with an image of good; instead it is the image of good that sinks into the mire of life – to lose its universality, to split into fragments and be exploited by the needs of the day. People are wrong to see life as a struggle between good and evil. Those who most wish for the good of humanity are unable to diminish evil by one jot. Great ideas are necessary in order to dig new channels, to remove stones, to bring down cliffs and fell forests; dreams of universal good are necessary in order that great waters should flow in harmony… Yes, if the sea was able to think, then every storm would make its waters dream of happiness. Each wave breaking against the cliff would believe it was dying for the good of the sea; it would never occur to it that, like thousands of waves before and after, it had only been brought into being by the wind.

Many books have been written about the nature of good and evil and the struggle between them… There is a deep and undeniable sadness in all this: whenever we see the dawn of an eternal good that will never be overcome by evil – an evil that is itself eternal but will never succeed in overcoming good – whenever we see this dawn, the blood of old people and children is always shed. Not only men, but even God himself is powerless to lessen this evil. 'In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.' What does a woman who has lost her children care about a philosopher's definitions of good and evil? But what if life itself is evil?

I have seen the unshakeable strength of the idea of social good that was born in my own country. I saw this struggle during the period of general collectivization and again in 1937. I saw people being annihilated in the name of an idea of good as fine and humane as the ideal of Christianity. I saw whole villages dying of hunger; I saw peasant children dying in the snows of Siberia; I saw trains bound for Siberia with hundreds and thousands of men and women from Moscow, Leningrad and every city in Russia – men and women who had been declared enemies of a great and bright idea of social good. This idea was something fine and noble – yet it killed some without mercy, crippled the lives of others, and separated wives from husbands and children from fathers.

Now the horror of German Fascism has arisen. The air is full of the groans and cries of the condemned. The sky has turned black; the sun has been extinguished by the smoke of the gas ovens. And even these crimes, crimes never before seen in the Universe – even by Man on Earth – have been committed in the name of good. Once, when I lived in the Northern forests, I thought that good was to be found neither in man, nor in the predatory world of animals and insects, but in the silent kingdom of the trees. Far from it! I saw the forest's slow movement, the treacherous way it battled against grass and bushes for each inch of soil… First, billions of seeds fly through the air and begin to sprout, destroying the grass and bushes. Then millions of victorious shoots wage war against one another. And it is only the survivors who enter into an alliance of equals to form the seamless canopy of the young deciduous forest. Beneath this canopy the spruces and beeches freeze to death in the twilight of penal servitude.

In time the deciduous trees become decrepit; then the heavyweight spruces burst through to the light beneath their canopy, executing the alders and the beeches. This is the life of the forest – a constant struggle of everything against everything. Only the blind conceive of the kingdom of trees and grass as the world of good… Is it that life itself is evil? Good is to be found neither in the sermons of religious teachers and prophets, nor in the teachings of sociologists and popular leaders, nor in the ethical systems of philosophers… And yet ordinary people bear love in their hearts, are naturally full of love and pity for any living thing. At the end of the day's work they prefer the warmth of the hearth to a bonfire in the public square.

Yes, as well as this terrible Good with a capital 'G', there is every day human kindness. The kindness of an old woman carrying a piece of bread to a prisoner, the kindness of a soldier allowing a wounded enemy to drink from his water-flask, the kindness of youth towards age, the kindness of a peasant hiding an old Jew in his loft. The kindness of a prison guard who risks his own liberty to pass on letters written by a prisoner not to his ideological comrades, but to his wife and mother.

The private kindness of one individual towards another; a petty, thoughtless kindness; an unwitnessed kindness. Something we could call senseless kindness. A kindness outside any system of social or religious good.

But if we think about it, we realize that this private, senseless, incidental kindness is in fact eternal. It is extended to everything living, even to a mouse, even to a bent branch that a man straightens as he walks by.

Even at the most terrible times, through all the mad acts carried out in the name of Universal Good and the glory of States, times when people were tossed about like branches in the wind, filling ditches and gullies like stones in an avalanche – even then this senseless, pathetic kindness remained scattered throughout life like atoms of radium.

Some Germans arrived in a village to exact vengeance for the murder of two soldiers. The women were ordered out of their huts in the evening and set to dig a pit on the edge of the forest. There was one middle-aged woman who had several soldiers quartered in her hut. Her husband had been taken to the police station together with twenty other peasants. She didn't get to sleep until morning: the Germans found a basket of onions and a jar of honey in the cellar; they lit the stove, made themselves omelettes and drank vodka. The eldest then played the harmonica while the rest of them sang and beat time with their feet. They didn't even look at their landlady – she might just as well have been a cat. When it grew light, they began checking their machine-guns; the eldest of them jerked the trigger by mistake and shot himself in the stomach. Everyone began shouting and running about. Somehow the Germans managed to bandage the wounded man and lay him down on a bed. Then they were called outside. They signed to the woman to look after the wounded man. The woman thought to herself how simple it would be to strangle him. There he was, muttering away, his eyes closed, weeping, sucking his lips… Suddenly he opened his eyes and said in very clear Russian: 'Water, Mother.' 'Damn you,' said the woman. 'What I should do is strangle you.' Instead she gave him some water. He grabbed her by the hand and signed to her to help him sit up: he couldn't breathe because of the bleeding. She pulled him up and he clasped his arms round her neck. Suddenly there was a volley of shots outside and the woman began to tremble.

Afterwards she told people what she had done. No one could understand; nor could she explain it herself. This senseless kindness is condemned in the fable about the pilgrim who warmed a snake in his bosom. It is the kindness that has mercy on a tarantula that has bitten a child. A mad, blind, kindness. People enjoy looking in stories and fables for examples of the danger of this senseless kindness. But one shouldn't be afraid of it. One might just as well be afraid of a freshwater fish carried out by chance into the salty ocean. The harm from time to time occasioned a society, class, race or State by this senseless kindness fades away in the light that emanates from those who are endowed with it.

This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what is most truly human in a human being. It is what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No, it says, life is not evil! This kindness is both senseless and wordless. It is instinctive, blind. When Christianity clothed it in the teachings of the Church Fathers, it began to fade; its kernel became a husk. It remains potent only while it is dumb and senseless, hidden in the living darkness of the human heart – before it becomes a tool or commodity in the hands of preachers, before its crude ore is forged into the gilt coins of holiness. It is as simple as life itself. Even the teachings of Jesus deprived it of its strength. But, as I lost faith in good, I began to lose faith even in kindness. It seemed as beautiful and powerless as dew. What use was it if it was not contagious?

How can one make a power of it without losing it, without turning it into a husk as the Church did? Kindness is powerful only while it is powerless. If Man tries to give it power, it dims, fades away, loses itself, vanishes. Today I can see the true power of evil. The heavens are empty. Man is alone on Earth. How can the flame of evil be put out? With small drops of living dew, with human kindness? No, not even the waters of all the clouds and seas can extinguish that flame – let alone a handful of dew gathered drop by drop from the time of the Gospels to the iron present… Yes, after despairing of finding good either in God or in Nature, I began to despair even of kindness. But the more I saw of the darkness of Fascism, the more clearly I realized that human qualities persist even on the edge of the grave, even at the door of the gas chamber.

My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man's meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.”

John Stanton can be reached at captainking22@gmail.com

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