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China or India, do they really care or do they want a piece of the isle

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(August 02, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Ms Navi Pillai is a woman with a mission and her arrival in Sri Lanka on August 25, 2013, is the only hope the war victims of Mullivaikkal would depend on to ameliorate their grievances at the international level.

That the government has given her access is something positive. The UNHRC (United Human Rights Council) - whatever its flaws may be - has always proved to wield the best possible candidates to mete out justice for the oppressed since UN was formed in the aftermath of World War One.

The UNHRC chief Ms Pillai’s arrival in the island is awaited with abated breath by all the parties concerned post Mullivaikkal of May 2009. Nandhikadal flowed with the blood of Tamils both let down by the LTTE and the government which had it in their power to protect them. Alas, it turned out to be another pogrom or far worse an ethnic cleansing exercise on the part of the government following the July23rd pogrom of 1983.

LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) turned out to be an eye-wash and a puerile attempt to appease the international community that the government is serious in investigating atrocities by its security forces.

There were honourable persons in the LLRC but the government pooh-poohed them and went its merry way appeasing the Sinhala majority as it did in July 1983.

Panicking over the arrival of Ms Pillai it has now set up yet another commission to look into the LLRC recommendations. Four years is ample time to implement LLRC recommendations. But alas, the spirit of the Rajapakse government is most disingenuous to say the least.

It is hoping against hope the international observers can be hoodwinked into believing Sri Lanka is practising democracy whereas the government is nouveau dynasty run by a family of ignoramuses from the outbacks of Hambantota; the scene for Leonard Woolf’s Village in the Jungle. The jungle law still prevails.

Ms Pillai’s visit also coincides with the provincial council elections for the first time since war ended. Taking in the geopolitical mode in the Indian Ocean where India and China are vying for their strategic interests - in plain-speak their commercial interests – as Sri Lanka straddles the watch-towers for the US to keep an eye on Iran, India and Pakistan it is up to the SL Government to act shrewdly and not lose out on its territorial oceanic integrity.

Sri Lank needs to protect its maritime boundaries and not let India take over Kachchaithivu. At the same time it should not play into the hands of China and provoke India by sidelining it in mega deals.

While China is eyeing Trincomalee, the island’s natural harbour which the colonial Britain during WW11 used to keep an eye on its enemy territories, India is in cahoots with Cairn of Scotland over the North’s Mannar oil basin. Cairn has its franchise in India and it has a history of failed oil rig explorations. Several of its oil-rigs have proved to be duds. That we could become the new Middle East is but a pipe-dream.

If this government is serious about protecting this isle it should not take cudgels over its ethnic minorities, it should seek to redress its past mistakes and say mea culpa for its heinous crimes on past mistakes made against its own ethnic minorities. Until such time it will provoke international intervention.

(The writer has been a journalist for 24 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)

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