Victor Ivan, the founder Editor of the popular Ravaya – a Sinhala tabloid launched particularly to target President Ranasinghe Premadasa with the backing of the Western and Indian embassies and, of course, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake – has written an article in the Financial Times (25 October) arguing that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not fit to be a presidential candidate.
His last two lines summarise his case against Gota. After listing the names of mainly journalists killed when Gota was in power (he doesn’t say Gota killed them), Victor passes his censorious judgment. He says: “I am of the view that it is not proper for a person with such serious allegations to be elected leader of the country, even nominally, until he is fully acquitted and exonerated of those charges. It is also not right for a person with such allegations to even contest for such a position.” Phew!
I have selected Victor from the usual mob of anti-Gota denigrators because he is typical of the current scare-mongering that goes on in the so-called civil society. In his statement Victor takes the high moral ground of a pious political priest with no blemishes in the past, or accusations/allegations of killing, or any alignments with mass murderers who killed innocent civilians for committing the only sin of opposing his leader’s brand of Pol Potist politics. In his article he poses, as he normally does these days, as a born-again human rights activist policing the conduct of political criminals and sentencing them to the various kinds of hells defined by the Western masters who patronise his media/political ventures.
After his leap from the Pol Potist JVP to Ravaya, his primary political mission was to demonise the Premadasa regime in his Ravaya parroting the human rights mantras which was the most lucrative job of the day, financed by the Western masters. Ravaya was, more or less, the mouthpiece of the Western and Indian embassies, which were behind Lalith-Gamini duo doing their damndest to overthrow President Premadasa. Ravaya was dancing to the drumbeat of this anti-Premadasa lobby. Their investments paid off well but not to the extent of achieving their goal of ousting President Premadasa.
It was this stage that Victor donned the costumes of a righteous human rights activist. After killing and being a key instrument in the killing machine of the JVP – he was a bomb-maker – Victor reinvented himself as a knight in shining armour and is now parading as a human rights activist in the civil society. Being anti-Premadasa none of the other foreign-funded NGOs with whom he hob-nobs now, raised any objections to his murderous past. He has listed in his article the number of journalists “alleged” to have been killed when Gota had power. Has he forgotten the number of journalists killed at the time he wielded power in the JVP?
The JVP used some of the bombs he manufactured to blast innocent newspaper vendors eking out a bare living in wayside outlets in the villages. Victor and his gang were out to bomb and kill their way into power in the name of revolutionary justice. Victor gladly provided his expertise to manufacture bombs that killed those who opposed his Pol Potist leader. He was committed to the task of bombing and killing the nation into submission of his Pol Potist leader’s will. What moral credibility/right has he now to pontificate against any other State authority using his kind of violence/methods to prevent the rise of Pol Potist fascism?
Violence in politics
The central issue here is the use of violence in politics. There are many theories ranging from Machiavelli and Marx to Gandhi. Leaving those theories aside, it can be asserted that Victor and Gota both used violence. But there is fine difference between the two. To Gota it was a moral necessity to protect the lives of people facing Pol Potist violence of a gang of killers with no licence to kill, except their perverted doctrine of Marxist revolutionary justice. To Victor indiscriminate killing, at the whims and fancies of his doctrinaire masters, was also a necessity to destroy the elected state which was operating within a democratic framework, however flawed it may have been.
The doctrine of turning the other cheek was not applicable to Gota. It is valid in inter-personal relations but not in facing organised criminal gangs using pretentious moral theories and dogmas to kill those who oppose them. The JVPers were released hoping that they would give up violence and return to non-violent politics. But their obsession with violence made them believe that they could win with brutality. Premadasa had no choice but to save his people and the democratic institutions. And he won. Today the civil society continues to accuse President Premadasa and embraces the killers that forced Premadasa to crush them. If, for instance, a JVP terrorists broke in to rape a feminists is it moral for her to open her legs or kick the bastard to thy kingdom come? Premadasa kicked the JVP bastards to thy kingdom come. He did not let the JVPers to rape the state.
The morality of using violence has been twisted to suit the political agendas of the parties in conflict. So if Victor found it valid to engage in inhuman violence to impose his Pol Potist regime led by Rohana Wijeweera why is it invalid for a democratically elected state to use his kind of violence to prevent Pol Potism and maintain the democratic framework, with all its infirmities? What moral credibility/right would Hitler, the prime architect of Auschwitz and Belsen, have if he came out defending the human rights of the Jews?
It was also a time when the entire media had ganged up against President Premadasa. Only Tissaranee Gunasekera, Dayan Jayatilleka and yours truly were defending the indomitable struggle of President Premadasa to save the nation from two fascist terrorists – the JVP fathered by the likes of Victor Ivan and his gang of cold-blooded murderers and their Tamil counterpart in the LTTE. Their sole objective was to attack the democratically elected state which, of course, had many infirmities. It was a time when the anti-Premadasa media went bananas, blaming him for anything that moved, good, bad or indifferent.
For instance, led by Lalith and Gamini the media went bonkers attacking the Kandalama Hotel project as a venture that would pollute the environment and cause serious damage to the tank nearby and the villagers. Even the Catholic Church and the Sarvodaya leader, A. T. Ariyaratne, joined the bandwagon. Premadasa could do nothing right – not even promote a tourist hotel. Ravaya, for instance, not only attacked Premadasa relentlessly but also those associated with him. Anti-Premadasa Victor did not like my backing Premadasa all the way, without any reservations. I was editing the Observer at the time. Victor had nothing to say against me. So he ran a news snippet alleging, like the way he alleges against Gota, that I was paid not by Lake House but by the Maharajas. He knew he was lying. He knew he had no evidence to back it up. But this political pundit, full of righteousness today, had no qualms about publishing lies to blacken the image of those who were with President Premadasa.
If civil society can believe in Victor as a human rights activist, knowing his proven brutal past, why can’t they believe in Gota, facing only allegations? In any case, Gota should know, with all his experience, what would happen to him if he does what Victor had done with his kind of Pol Potist politics. I am willing to place my faith in Gota any day than in Victor – a Sinhala Prabhakaranist willing to kill any dissident at the drop of a bomb made by him. I believe in democracy, however imperfect it may have been, than in the fascism of violent bomb-makers. This is one of the main reasons why I’m willing to back Gota all the way
I am glad that Victor is no longer instrumental in preparing weapons of mass destruction on a domestic scale and turned his hands – or what’s left of it – to champion human rights. That makes it one less murderer in the killing fields of the nation. But his logic goes awry when he questions the competency of Gota to be the presidential candidate on the basis of his allegations.
What he doesn’t realise is that he opens himself to be taken to task on the basis of his own logic. It is important to take his logic of sentencing individuals on mere allegations seriously because the same yardstick can be applied to test the validity of his righteousness. So, applying his logic, will he demand the sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe because the Batalanda allegations are yet to be cleared?
The Sunday Times (21 March 2004) reported: “President Chandrika Kumaratunga has said that if the Batalanda Commission recommendations related to the 1988-90 period were implemented properly, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would not have been a free man today.” Since Victor believes in his own logic it is necessary to ask why Ranil is fit to be the Prime Minister while Gota is unfit to be the President.
When Ranil contests for the premiership next time will he raise objections on the grounds of crimes committed against the media that opposed him? When the Maharaja Headquarters near the Gangaramaya was attacked the day he won Parliamentary vote of confidence the UNP thug who led the attack against the Maharaja was shown immediately after standing behind Ranil and worshipping at Gangaramaya. This is not an allegation. This is documented evidence. Has Victor, the Righteous, raised any objections on any known principle against the UNP thugs violating human rights to keep Ranil in power?
He also accuses Gota on “allegations” of crimes that occurred when he was in power. But the public knows for certain that Victor was a killer, or instrumental in killing with his expertise in bomb-making. This is no “allegation”. When a known Pol Potist killer, or a willing manufacturer of bombs to kill his fellow-man without any qualms, can be a human rights activists why can’t Gota be a President? What we are asked to judge is the past of both. Which is more criminal? Victor’s? Or Gota’s? And whose violence served and saved the people best? Victor, when he had power, was not in the top ranks of the JVP to protect human rights. He was one of the committed cadres to kill on behalf of the JVP. What needs to be stressed here is that when Victor points one finger at Gota, four fingers are pointing in his direction.
Serious moral issue
This leads to a serious moral issue: Is there anyone in Sri Lanka who is not tainted with guilt to take the moral leadership? Take the case of the Yahapalanaya. It was a movement that was launched on the promise of delivering pure moral leadership. But it went down the sink into depths of moral depravity within the first few months in office, with Ranil leading the gang that robbed the Central Bank. He imported his special crook, dressed in Saville row suit, to run the biggest heist in banking. These are not allegations. The available evidence has proved the guilt of the Ranil. So is why isn’t Holy Victor not declaring that neither Ranil nor nominee Sajith is fit to hold the highest public offices of the nation? Isn’t Sajith who is in the Cabinet that robbed the Central Bank and supported his leader faithfully all the way as guilty as his leader?
Of course, it cannot be denied that Victor did a brilliant job in exposing the moral and political corruption of Chandrika Bandaranaike and other political leaders. But his essential political ideologies, including the distorted and adulterated five-lecture Marxism, and the fascist terror he unleashed, make him a first class hypocrite and a theoretician of sheer bunkum.
Consider, for instance, the latest political formula he propounds in his article to save the nation. He had suggested to Mahinda and Ranil that they should have joined hands after the war ended. To begin with, anybody suggesting that anyone should join hands with Ranil to work for the good of the country must have his head examined. Ranil can work only by himself and for himself. CBK and Sirisena have openly revealed that they could not work with Ranil who was undercutting them. Sajith too knows it only too well. At the height of the internal power struggle to win the presidential candidacy, he hinted at it obliquely though he did not go all out to blast Ranil with this accusation.
In any case the time to work together was during the war and not after the war. National unity was most needed at that time to face the enemy. Ranil was all out to sabotage the national efforts to defeat the LTTE. As everyone knows, he ridiculed the heroic efforts of Sarath Fonseka and his brave men. Victor’s theory is laughable because there wasn’t a chance in hell for Ranil to join Mahinda after the war when he had not joined Mahinda at the greatest hour of need. Ranil held a sword in his hands which he could have used for the good the nation. But he didn’t.
This tragic situation is summed up in the wisdom of Sinhala folklore: Yud-day-ta nathi kaduwas kos kotan-da-the? (Is the sword not available for war to cut the jack fruit?) A realistic example is UK in World War II. Churchill (Conservative) and Attlee (Labour) joined hands to defeat the fascist terror of Hitler. After the war they went their separate ways and people elected Attlee and not Churchill who won the war. Victor’s punditry preached to the political leaders in power is as ridiculous as his Marxist baloney that led thousands of youth to an early and unwanted death without any political gain to anyone.
He says that he put the idea of working together after the war to both Ranil and Mahinda The reply he received from Ranil is quite telling. Victor says: “Ranil Wickremesinghe listened carefully to the views expressed by me. ‘We didn’t think that far,’ was his reply.”
With all his claims of being a political analyst Victor missed the most salient point in Ranil’s reply. He missed Ranil’s confession which admits that he can’t think far. This, by far, is the most sensible statement found in Victor’s article. Everyone knows that if Ranil could think far he would not be in the pickle he is now!
Victor’s bankruptcy is revealed in his scare-mongering. There is nothing new in his thinking except to parrot the slogans of the anti-Gota bandwagon. Like most of his ilk he is raking up a past to say that Gota is going to be the monster that they think he was – only on allegations, as stated by Victor. One prediction that can be made with certainty is that Gota will never commit the acts that he is “alleged” to have done in the past when he becomes the next President. It is certain not because he has denied these “allegations with conviction but because there is no necessity for him to go down that track (assuming that he did it) now that he and his Commander-in-Chief had liberated the nation from the Tamil terror unleashed by the JVP counterpart in the North.
It is civil society activists like Victor that give a bad name to cause of human rights. They don’t have the credentials to be accepted as genuine defenders of human rights. Any day I would take human rights from Gota than from Victor. The state violence he used – and he was no different from Churchill, Roosevelt and Truman who led World War II – was to defend and protect the state elected by the people.
Besides, the Rajapaksa regime was far more humane than the Allied forces who occupied Germany and Japan. The Allied victors went all out to eliminate Nazism and Tojoism (Japanese fascism) root and branch. There wasn’t a building standing in Dresden and Nagasaki when the democratic Allies finished the war. Mothers turned to prostitution to feed their kids. Nazis were hunted and persecuted. Etc. Etc. Manik Farm, which I had visited, was a paradise compared to the Germans and Japanese prisons under the vaunted democrats of the West.
Gota’s actions, however tough it may have been, would not have demolished the democratic state. Unfolding events have proved it. After comprehensively defeating the fascist forces of the North and the South not even Gota, if he tried, could impose an authoritarian rule. The greatest triumph of the Sri Lanka polity is that it has defeated all fascist forces that came from the Left, Right, Centre and, most all, from the North. But the fascist terror of Victor and his counterparts in the Tamil North would have certainly demolished the democratic state if they succeeded and imposed the most brutal reigns of fascism.
Finally, if civil society can believe in Victor as a human rights activist, knowing his proven brutal past, why can’t they believe in Gota, facing only allegations? In any case, Gota should know, with all his experience, what would happen to him if he does what Victor had done with his kind of Pol Potist politics.
I am willing to place my faith in Gota any day than in Victor – a Sinhala Prabhakaranist willing to kill any dissident at the drop of a bomb made by him. I believe in democracy, however imperfect it may have been, than in the fascism of violent bomb-makers. This is one of the main reasons why I’m willing to back Gota all the way.