Inderjit Badhwar the Editor in Chief of Gfiles Magazine -an Indian publication focused on governance - recently interviewed Mahinda Rajapaksa.
During the interview Badhwar tells Rajapaksa that Europe feels he may no longer be concerned for the "rights and grievances of Tamils."
To which Rajapaksa responds: "I do not need lectures from outsiders on Sri Lankan Tamils. They are my people and our country is proud of them. I will tolerate no injustice towards them as I would not tolerate injustice to any Sri Lankan."
"My family is intermarried with Tamils. My cabinet has Tamils. Seventy percent of our Tamils have always lived in peace and harmony and prosperity in the south and west, which were outside LTTE control," he added.
In Sri Lanka too it appears as though the Media has been hit with the '13th amendment bug'.
The 13th amendment, which addresses devolution of power to the provinces, has now become the talking point of the town.
Irrelevant extremist hardliners who oppose any form of devolution mouthing it off with respected officials and former civil servants via published opinions/editorials on Sri Lankan newspapers. Add Dayan Jayatilleka's sacking in the midst of all this and some could even twist it in a way to make it seem that Rajapaksa is shying away from his previous promises to the Sri Lankan Tamils.
Dayan spoke with fellow Sri Lankan blogger David Blacker about his sacking. The interview was published just yesterday on David's blog 'Blacklight Arrow'.
Dayan served as Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UN. He was pretty vocal in his support of the 13th amendment. Just prior to the announcement that his contract would not be renewed, Dayan's opinions on the 13th amendment were published in the local media. That led the way to speculations over Rajapaksa's commitment to a political solution to address Tamil grievances.
Getting back to the interview..
Inderjit Badhwar didn't settle for Rajapaksa's previous response about being committed to meeting Tamil grievances. "Does this mean you are committed to sharing more power with the Tamil minority in the north?" he asked.
"The political solution was delayed not by me but by the LTTE who held everyone seeking a political solution hostage to their gun or assassination or mass murder. I have openly spoken about the 13th Amendment as a starting point. It is acceptable to India and it has been accepted in Sri Lanka," said Rajapaksa in response.
The above response is pretty straight forward. It explains the government's stance on devolution. It should help put an end to the speculation.
Inderjit Badhwar then threw the G-Word at the Sri Lankan president. He asked Rajapaksa a question which nobody bothered to ask before. He touched on the accusations of Genocide.
"You must be aware that Tamil groups have accused you of genocide," Badhwar asked.
Note the word "Tamil Groups".
The accusations only stem from Sri Lankan Tamils sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers, and anyone who has fallen prey to their propaganda.
Genocide never took place in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Tigers and their front organisations attempted to create that impression among the naive in order to bring UN and international pressure on Sri Lanka to stop it's military operation against them.
The Tigers were cornered and holding 300,000 people against their will as a human shield. Only a ceasefire could save the terror group's leadership.
Rajapaksa didn't just address the question. He also explained the definition of the word for the benefit of those who did not know.
"Genocide is the systematic elimination of one community by another. First, no community has been systematically destroyed in my country and no Sri Lankan government would stand such brutality. We are not Pol Pot or Idi Amin regimes. And we do not bomb civilian targets thousands of miles away from our homeland," he responded.
"Second, if my government wanted to destroy any one community, why should we have rescued more than three lakh [300,000] civilians from the war zone and from LTTE guns? People who commit genocide don’t save the people they are supposed to be destroying. Our people are peace loving and gentle," said Rajapaksa.
The Sri Lankan conflict panned out across the northern province. The rest of the island was not affected directly by war. Sri Lanka's 4 million Tamils, who did not live in the conflict zone, continue to live free as every other citizen on the island.
However, there are approximately 260,000 Tamil civilians who were displaced by the fighting. They now live in temporary camps. Their movement is restricted. Among these civilians are former Tiger combatants who need to be screened out. This is an important process which will ensure law and order can be maintained once the displaced return to their former villages.
Most of the conflict zone is booby trapped and mined. The Tigers hid large caches of explosives and weapons for future use. The speed of the resettlement process is dependant on how fast the military can de-mine, unearth weapons dumps, and rehabilitate former combatants.
You need to be pretty thick to think there is genocide going on in such circumstances. Take a few moments to read through my blog. One has to look beyond the headline news to understand Sri Lanka and it's misunderstood people.
Tamils living outside Sri Lanka are convinced that genocide is taking place. Thus breeding a new generation of supporters for the Tamil Tiger movement. Photo by by Sergey Gabdurakhmanov used here under a Creative Commons license.
Human Rights Watch has asked the IMF to hold back it's loan to Sri Lanka. A loan which a developing nation - during a global recession - requires in order to help sustain a country with nearly 21 million people in it.
Brad Adams (HRW)
Two months after the end of the 25-year-long conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sri Lankan government continues to hold more than 280,000 people, almost all of them Tamils displaced by the fighting, in detention camps in violation of international law. The government also severely restricts access to the camps by humanitarian organizations, the media, and independent monitors, leaving the displaced vulnerable to government abuse.That's not entirely true. Sri Lanka has begun the resettlement process. 5000 have returned home. It could be more. Check the Sri Lankan government's official statistics and information page on the displaced.
Senior citizens over the age of 60 are also being released into the care of friends and family.
Bogollagama said about 5,000 civilians have so far returned home after the areas where their villages are located were cleared of mines.Oh! That's right. Human Rights Watch doesn't get donations to encourage, inspire, or compliment. The organisation's very existence is reliant on criticism. In most cases unjust criticism based on hear-say. But whatever..
The point is Brad Adams spent a good part of your donated dollar trying to influence the July 24th International Monetary Fund board meeting. He was trying to get in the way of a loan to a developing nation. This is not charity by the way. This is a loan that Sri Lanka has to pay back.
How can denying credit to a third world country help bring awareness, or put an end to Human Rights abuses? If you think about it realistically pissing people off with constant criticism and depriving a whole nation of a much needed loan is the wrong way to go about it.
HRW is counter productive to it's own cause. Poverty plays a major part in corruption and Human Rights abuses worldwide. This is exactly the reason the why the opinions of non-accountable organisations like HRW should not be associated with any decision making process stemming from the UN, or bodies such as the IMF.
I wrote recently on why the resettlement of the displaced cannot, and should not be rushed.
Those who care for long term peace in Sri Lanka inevitably understands the move. It is heartbreaking to see people in camps. It would be even more heartbreaking to see kids lose limbs due to mines, or see the Tigers re-grouping and taking Sri Lanka back into war.
Click here for INDERJIT BADHWAR's full interview with Mahinda Rajapaksa.
(Photo courtesy News.lk)