- Rejoinder to State Minister Rear-Admiral Sarath Weerasekara
By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
While I have no wish to enter into a polemic with Rear-Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, having once done so in the pages of the Daily Mirror in 2017-2018 and found him uneducable on international relations, I must also say that I find his attempt at rebuttal on 26 October in these pages, extremely useful and timely because it makes two things transparently clear. (See http://www.ft.lk/opinion/Right-of-Reply-Avoidable-clashes-by-Dr-Dayan-Jayathilake/14-708008)
State Minister Rear-Admiral Sarath Weerasekara’s grimly threatening discourse can only be described as proto-fascist and a prefiguring of a dark future
Firstly, it clarifies the stand of a confidante of the President and his handpicked choice as State Minister for Provincial Councils, on the inter-related issues of India, the Tamil issue and the devolution of power, which is especially relevant since we are in the run-up to a new Constitution.
Secondly, it places on the record, the view and attitude of the said State Minister, to dissenting views; an attitude which is clearly revelatory of the ethos of the incumbent regime and its dominant cabal.
I shall therefore limit myself pretty much to extracts, with little comment, from the text of Rear Admiral Weerasekara’s article. I shall respond on what I consider the most important problem, that of Sri Lanka’s external relations, by quoting a single paragraph which I regard as useful advice to Sri Lankan leaders and policy-makers.
So, with my numeration, here’s Weerasekara:
“…What I said was that Modi’s interference into our ‘internal affairs’ must have been based on the authority India wields via Indo-Lanka accord and if the accord has become null and void, India has no moral right to insist on 13A.”
“…Modi who insists on 13A in Sri Lanka implying autonomy to Tamils, stripped J&K of autonomy and downgraded them into Union of territories status with the slightest sign of danger. Now J&K is not a state of India.”
“India should now be cognisant of the fact that we too see the ‘danger’ due to the behaviour and attitude of Tamil politicians…So if that is the attitude of the Tamil politicians, we should seriously think of following India and abrogate 13A.”
“Indo-Lanka Accord makes no mention of 13A and it serves no purpose to the country…What needs to be said and reiterated is that Sri Lanka cannot be divided into mono-ethno-linguistic faith States and if so the PCs cannot be also demarked in the same manner.”
“…DJ was the mastermind behind the inclusion of 13A to the Resolution 11/1 passed in UNHRC on 27 May 2009. This resolution, adopted eight days after we won the war, praised and congratulated the Government for defeating LTTE and condemned the terrorists for their atrocities including recruiting child soldiers and keeping innocent Tamils as a human shield.
It was DJ, as the Ambassador in Geneva, on his own, who manipulated to provide a clause in it indicating the full implementation of 13 A. DJ boasts that the above Resolution was a big victory during his time, but in actual fact, he let down the entire nation, because, even after comprehensively defeating the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world, it had paved the way for separatists to demand an independent state in the north. Because of his treacherous act he was very rightly sacked and recalled from Geneva. In keeping with the norms/much valued traditions of a diplomat, he should have been blacklisted, tried for treason and sentenced to jail.”
“It is nothing to be surprised, that even during the period of subjugation, most of the time, it was a Sinhalese who betrayed the side. Such people were ever ready to lick the boots of their Masters and go to any extent for personal gains. Past history shows us how such people were spiked to death as punishment…”
Two major takeaways then:
The State Minister for Provincial Councils and close comrade-in-arms of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, not merely thinks, but actually says on the public record, despite the recent Joint Statement following the Modi-Mahinda virtual summit, that (a) the Indo-Lanka Accord is null and void, (b) the 13th Amendment should be abrogated and (c) Provinces – and thus, Provincial Councils—should be re-demarcated. This is the shape of things to come. It should be taken seriously.
While kindly clearing up any confusion as to why I was sacked from the UN Geneva six weeks after we had won the May 2009 UNHRC vote by a near two-thirds majority—an achievement never to be repeated, and indeed followed by three consecutive defeats in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and capitulation in 2015—Rear Admiral Weerasekara displays a mindset revelatory of the dark side of the regime’s collective psyche. “…In keeping with the norms/much valued traditions of a diplomat, he should have been blacklisted, tried for treason and sentenced to jail...Past history shows us how such people were spiked to death as punishment…”
I can only describe his grimly threatening discourse as proto-fascist and a prefiguring of a dark future.
For the purpose of educating his peers and superiors, and also because he has hinted at my DNA as a factor in the formation of my diplomatic and political perspective, I shall conclude with a quote on the larger subject at hand, the axiomatic geopolitical and geo-existential realities of Sri Lanka’s situation, from my father, Mervyn de Silva, delivering a lecture at the MARGA Institute in 1985:
“What Sri Lanka’s national crisis—and it is clear that the unresolved ethnic issue is the core of that crisis—has ultimately achieved is that it has compelled us to come to terms with our identity. Questions like who we are (the products of a history of migrations from India), what we are (a multi-ethnic society) and where we are (an island separated from the continental landmass by a 25-mile expanse of water), have been raised and answered. So, it was not nonalignment that left us naked. It was the gradual rejection of all the basic premises of that traditional non-alignment, of which the cornerstone was the relationship with India, that left us naked to our enemies, real or fancied, internal or external.”
(External aspects of the Ethnic Issue, in ‘Crisis Commentaries: Selected Political Writings of Mervyn de Silva,’ edited by E. Vijayalakshmi, International Center for Ethnic Studies, Colombo 2001, p 72)
[Dr. Jayatilleka was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation. Earlier he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka to France and Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO, Paris (2011- 2013) and Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations at Geneva (2007-2009).]