EDITORIAL: Geneva debacle – spin doctors and the blame gamers to the fore

( March 27, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) One of the fascinating features in Sri Lankan politics - particularly after Elections - is often both victor and vanquished come out with their theories of “victory” While the declared victor has little convincing to labour with, it is always interesting to hear the delusionary arguments of the losers. The March 22 Geneva debacle is no exception. The spin doctor was the first off the block virtually claiming “though the other side won by a mere single vote, we are really the winners”??? This was naturally aimed to catch the eye of the Royal Boss - now that talks of a Cabinet Reshuffle reverberates and is very much in the air. In yet another after-thought our Foreign Minister, who refused to accept Hilary Clinton’s invitation to visit Washington and talk matters over early March refused this then. But now he seeks an audience in April. To use local parlance “after the magula (wedding) is over”

Our delegation failed us and offered badly needed ammunition for our detractors in the future when the leader of our delegation, in his vital speech, threatened the peace and reconciliation process in Sri Lanka will be harmed if the Resolution is adopted.
Those on the spin doctor’s side say the official leader of the delegation – who made certain the former was consigned to an insignificant position despite being a senior Minister – was partial cause of the change of position by India. They say he angered the South Bloc when he told the gathered media a few days ahead that “India, our special friend and neighbour, is totally with us” Surely, a costly miscalculation. This saw Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi, Vaiko, Seeman, Rajah (CPI) and others virtually rupturing their veins in pitching onto the Indian PM. Yielding to the combined pressure at home Dr Manmohan Singh was forced to abandon the “country-specific” exception formulae and reluctantly agreed to vote for the US Resolution. It is in such delicate situations we miss the caliber of experienced lawyers like Lakshman Kadirgamar and his enlightened observation “our relations with India should be so managed to preclude the need for Indian concern – far less involvement´ Surely that intellectual depth cannot be expected from our man leading the show whom the spin doctor is said to have whispered “is nothing more than a former Waiter at the Oberoi” He cannot be far too wrong because the recent UNP-parachutist did a lot of manoeuvring with the powers be at home to beat Professori to the Leader’s Chair in Geneva. Predictably, the Boss took his side. The Foreign Ministry itself remained divided. Sri Lanka found itself going to our most important battle in the international arena totally divided even before the starting bell rang.

The rowdism displayed by State-financed and sponsored hoods from Colombo within the UNHRC halls, where they virtually manhandled some respected members of NGOs, resulted in a severe warning from the UNHC/HRC herself “of Unprecedented & totally unacceptable level of threat & intimidation directed at SriLankan activists attending HumanRights Council” There is little doubt UN staffers would have taken photographs and data of the agit-prop men introduced by the GoSL side.

To compound matters TNGTE from New York was quickly on the pounce issuing a statement pointing out to the continuous violence and thuggery unleashed against innocent Tamil dissenters from the beginning of the struggle by Sri Lankan State actors. The TNGTE insisted this is now overflowing into the premises of the UN in Geneva itself. Need one say more of the damage done to Sri Lanka’s good name by short-sighted strategists in the foolish belief they were serving the cause of the Rajapakse brothers. It is probably the same planners who were behind the rowdy street demos of noisy, disorderly drunken men - and even Buddhist priests by the thousands opposed the Indian High Commission and in the streets of Colombo in the crazy hope this will provide dividends in the Geneva voting.

Our delegation failed us and offered badly needed ammunition for our detractors in the future when the leader of our delegation, in his vital speech, threatened the peace and reconciliation process in Sri Lanka will be harmed if the Resolution is adopted. This after the LLRC Report has become a public document. One is tempted to ask how much of faith the international community can place on GoSL in respect of even solemn undertakings it offers in writing.

Unsurprisingly, the wounded Big Chief thunders in the safety of home “we do not need outsiders to tell us what we should do in our country” But good neighbour clearly has other thoughts. The Indian PM in his letter of March 23 rubs it in “It is our conviction that a meaningful devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would lead towards a lasting political settlement on many of these issues and create conditions in which all citizens of Sri Lanka, irrespective of their ethnicity, can find justice, dignity, equality and self-respect. I would like to reiterate to Your Excellency my Government’s commitment to continue to be of assistance in the achievement of this important objective” This, to the discerning reader, is not a letter offering some form of sympathy but more in which India points out to the Rajapakses the Path to Sri Lanka’s peace and reconciliation. It may be recalled India has repeatedly said “this has been promised by Sri Lanka on SEVERAL occasions” The only difference now is that something which was between Sri Lanka and India has now become internationalized.

Our Royalty and their entire retinue – reflecting on the services of our two feuding Ministers in Geneva - must be telling themselves now “with friends like this who needs enemies”

( Written by Senguttuvan )