Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

An Open Letter to the Oxford Union Regarding President Rajapaksa

by Dr. Brian Senewiratne, Australia, December 26, 2010

“….the decision (to invite Mr Rajapaksa) was not made in relation to any aspect of Mr Rajapaksa’s political position, the policies of his administration and any allegations against his government”.

Mr Walker, I can clarify Mr Rajapaksa’s ‘political position and the policies of his administration’. There is no need to get it from him, if only because he will be ‘careless with the truth’, as he always is. It is really quite simple. It is to make multiethnic, multireligious, multilingual, multicultural Sri Lanka into a Sinhala-Buddhist nation.

The problem he faced was what could he do with the Tamils, 18% of the country. There were four options –

  • Drive them out of the country. A million have been and thousands more are fleeing as refugees and asylum seekers. However, there are still some left, so he has to move on with other options.
  • Make them non-people – ‘internally displaced people’ (refugees). Nearly half a million are, and the numbers are not decreasing, President Rajapaksa’s claims (lies) not withstanding.
  • Make them ‘disappear’. Rajapaksa’s Democratic Socialist Republic has the second highest incidence of involuntary ‘disappearances’, second only to Iraq. Did you want to invite him to Oxford to find out how this is done? You need not have done so, because it is street talk in Sri Lanka. A white van with no number plate drives up, the victim is bundled in, the van drives off, and that’s it... Mr Walker, there is a 221 page publication by Human Rights Watch Sri Lanka. ‘Disappearances’ by Security Forces. A National Crisis and Recurring Nightmare. The State Responsibility for ‘Disappearances’. The ‘State’ referred to is Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan State.
  • Kill them. That is genocide – which I have just defined.

Version 2

Alistair Walker                                                                          
Press Officer                                                
Oxford Union Society
Frewin Court
Oxford, OX1 3JB
UK                                  

                                     Your invitation to Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa

                                         to visit the Oxford Union on 2nd December 2010

Dear Mr Walker.

I am responding to the ‘Statement from the Oxford Union’ signed by you, ‘explaining’ the ‘unfortunate cancellation’ of the invitation to President Rajapaksa to address the Oxford Union on December 2nd, 2010.  

The delay was because I was far from convinced that it was worth the time and effort to respond. I finally decided to do so for three reasons.

  • The decision to invite someone with a record such as Rajapaksa’s, reflects poorly, not only on the Oxford Union but on Oxford University, and even on other Universities in your country. I happen to be a graduate of two (yes, two) of them – Cambridge and London.

    Moreover, several members of my family have been to Oxford, including my uncle, S.W.R.D Bandaranaike, who was the Secretary of the Oxford Union in 1923, at a time when it had a distinguished record. I owe it to them to see that the reputation of Oxford University and the Union is not damaged by the irresponsible acts of a few.
  • The Union invited him in 2008 when there was overwhelming evidence that he was preparing to wipe out the Tamils. You have now done it again, after he has achieved his murderous intention. It is clear that the Union has no understanding of the background of the ‘gentleman’ you have invited. It is time that someone dealt with this serious lack of knowledge, if only to further your education which is presumably why you went to Oxford.
  • President Rajapaksa has a problem in that he needs a regular ego-boost and it is possible that he will try again, to salve his bruised ego. He will not hesitate to use one of the most expensive lobbying firms in the world, Bell Pottinger, and get poverty-stricken Sri Lankans to pay for it. His ego comes first, his family second, his ‘hangers on’ next, and below that, China and others who support and finance his ruthless agenda.

Way down the list comes the future of the country and its people (Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims), and lower still, at the very bottom, literally as a footnote, the Tamil people who live in the North and the East. That is not an opinion to be debated, but a fact to be faced.

In an interview with The Times, Rajapaksa lamented, “We are very weak in our propaganda”. Indubitable: but the fault lies with the ‘product’ that has to be marketed (Rajapaksa), and not with the propagandists or their methods. This is compounded by several factors.

  • The downright lies Rajapaksa and his regime have presented as ‘facts’ to the intimidated and censored media, and the people, in his country, but more importantly, to those outside in the hope that these lies will be believed. 
  • His arrogance telling the UN, including Navaneetham Pillai, Head, UN Human Rights Council, those in your country (and elsewhere), to “go to hell” when they demanded an international credible investigation into war crimes,
  • His propensity for self-aggrandizement, his lust for praise and power, and his ostentatious mode of living and travel.

Rajapaksa trying to play a role on the world stage, or even the regional stage is simply not working. He is too insignificant for it to work, something his oversized self-image will not accept. The best he could do was to sit next to the Indian Prime Minister at your Commonwealth Games in Delhi, 2010, sulking because he was not invited to speak. He looked pathetic – a tin-pot dictator of a tiny crumbling ‘democracy’, sitting uncomfortably next to the leader of the world’s biggest democracy, hoping that something would rub off on to him. Unfortunately, good governance is not infectious, the opposite is (highly) infectious.

Speaking at the Oxford Union for the second time, would have been a significant boost to his already oversized ego. In addition, it would have been a chance for his acolytes (some 100 of them accompanied him to London though it was a strictly private visit, and 110 to New York for the UN meeting even though only five are allowed into the UN), to do some shopping and sightseeing at Sri Lankan taxpayers expense. Could you please remember to pay for him and his entourage the next time you invite him? If you do not, you will become part of the problem faced by the struggling Sri Lankan taxpayer, to say nothing of the damage done to the reputation of the Union by inviting someone with his dreadful track record which I will detail in this letter.

For all his embrace of the Chinese, and the rejection of the West, he is still in thrall to Sri Lanka’s former colonial masters. The word ‘thrall’ is not widely used, but describes Rajapaksa perfectly – ‘one who is intellectually or morally enslaved’. He barely conceals his desire is to be accepted by the West, visit Western capitals, rub shoulders with Western leaders, and even lesser beings such as members of your Union. Why else would he revel in your invitation, (falsely) claiming that it was a unique honour, even though it is being extended to all other world leaders as your Union website clearly states?

Your ‘Statement’

Let me take you through the disgraceful ‘Statement’ you thought fit to release.

“The Oxford Union invited …..Rajapaksa, to address our members at a date convenient to him”.

And what was that date? December! Even Rajapaksa should know it is winter, with subzero temperatures and traffic chaos. Did it not occur to you that it happens to be the time when Christmas shopping is in full swing? Why else would someone, by choice, want go to Britain for a private visit? Did you know that those responsible for his security had to give him special permission to leave the Dorchester hotel for just one and a half hours, for him to do this ‘essential’ shopping? So, the trip to London was not entirely a waste of time and (Sri Lankan taxpayers) money.

The more important question is whether the Sri Lankan taxpayer knows all this since it was they who footed the entire bill (millions of rupees) for this private frolic of their President with no benefits for them or the country, and for which your Union was responsible.

“The Union has a policy of inviting a broad range of prominent politicians and heads of state from around the world”.

Really?  To give this some credibility, have you invited Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan since 1993, and Prime Minister since 1989, which is much longer than Rakapaksa’s Presidency? He could have told you all about Genocide, and how he handled (and is handling) Darfur.

Have you invited Kim Jong Il, President of North Korea? He could have told you how his father, Kim Il Sung (President from 1972 till he died), maintained a one party State and a personality cult around him and his family (which is what Mahinda Rajapaksa is doing right now in Sri Lanka, and whom you were so keen to hear)? 

Mr Walker, there are enough tyrants who are, or have been, Heads of State. Just because Rajapaksa is a Head of State, it should not be a passport for an invitation to address the Union. Your own Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC), of the Oxford Union, no less, housed right there in the Department of Politics and International Relations in your University, could have told you all about President Mahinda Rajapaksa, if you really wanted to know.

Your Statement hilariously goes on,

“The Union has a long tradition of hosting prominent speakers and upholding the principles of free speech”.  

And you pick President Rajapaksa, of all people, who has specialised in silencing free speech, and whose regime has even murdered those (a dozen, so far), who have defied this, even in a minimal way. An International Media organisation has clearly stated, not without reason, that Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places on earth for independent journalists. The 2010 Press Freedom Index, http://en.rsforg.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034,html lists Sri Lanka at the bottom of the ladder at 158 of 178 countries. This is the lowest ranking of any country in your British Commonwealth.  This is not secret information. It could have been accessed by you before you decided to invite him.

Raising more questions than providing answers, you state that,

“Since the invitation was accepted by Mr Rajapaksa, the Union has consulted extensively with Thames Valley Police as well as the Sri Lankan High Commission in London on security arrangements for the president’s visit”.

Mr Walker, the Sri Lankan High Commission is not there to provide security, which is a matter for your Police. Did you not think it would have been more intelligent to have consulted the Police before you sent that irresponsible invitation? There is an old saying about “locking the stable door after the steed has bolted” This ‘steed’ had, in fact bolted from bonny Sri Lanka, when you were told that security (for a private visit, no less), could not be provided by the relatively small Police force in Thames Valley. Did you really expect your Government to bend over backwards to provide security for a man who was on a private visit, and who no government Minister was prepared to see officially? If you did, you have a lot to learn about real politic. I do not mean to insult your tutors, but they do not seem to be giving the necessary information about the real world. 

“Due to security concerns that have recently been brought to our attention by the police, the Union has regretfully found that the talk is no longer practicable….. ”

Knowing the efficiency of your Police Force very well, it is more than likely that you did not ask the necessary questions in time to avoid, what I can only describe as, one of the most disastrous set-backs to Sri Lanka’s international image.

The up-side was that it taught President Rajapaksa the lesson of his life (hopefully) and bruised his ego as never before. For this I am grateful, even if this was unintentional, and even though the Sri Lankan taxpayers forked out the bill, which included not only first and business class fares for his jumbo entourage, accommodation at the Dorchester and other very expensive Park Lane hotels, and reimbursements to passengers on the flight back to Sri Lanka whose flight schedule was altered by this megalomaniac who insisted that the London-Male-Colombo flight be rescheduled to London-Colombo-Male to satisfy his ego and arrogance – this, “I can do what the hell I want” attitude.

“The decision was not taken lightly…”.

Well, the decision to send the invitation seems to have been (very) lightly taken. As another old saying goes, “Act in haste and repent at leisure.” There is some truth in all these old sayings, except that in this case it will have to be modified to “Act in haste and repent in haste”. The problem is that this irresponsible action damages your once famous University, of which the Oxford Union is but a small part.

“However, due to the sheer scale of the expected protests…”.

Was ‘expected’ a misprint, or was it intentional? If intentional, then we are moving forward at last. So, it was expected. And when did you expect that – before or after the invitation was sent? It surely did not suddenly appear? If you did expect a protest, why didn’t your learned Society ask the views of the Police before the invitation was sent?

Did you ask yourself why there should be a protest at all, let alone a protest of “sheer scale’? Well, Mr Walker, the British are not all asleep, many are awake, and these are not just the expatriate Tamils, ‘terrorists’ as Rajapaksa calls them, or Sinhalese ‘traitors’ such as myself, but the ordinary decent non-Sri Lankan British whom I know so well after a decade and a half in your country. True to form, they were out in the freezing cold, in numbers that brought enormous credit to your country and set an example of how the world should act when dictators, tyrants and those who have a case to answer for crimes against humanity, step outside Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa should be forced to limit his visits to his new-found friends in China, Iran, Pakistan, the minute Maldives, and occasionally India (just to show the world that the murderous Sri Lankan regime is still acceptable, even superficially, to its great neighbour).

Rajapaksa has got to learn (or be taught) that he simply cannot fly into the bastion of democracy and parliamentary politics, with a human rights record such as he has, and not expect a protest of gigantic proportions.

These is also the ‘small matter’ of the revelations from your outstanding British Channel 4 Television network of video footage that can convict him, his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and, if ever freed, the former Army Commander, Genreral Sarath Fonseka, now imprisoned by Rajapaksa because he dared to challenge him for the Presidency. I will detail this important evidence later.

If you and the Union do not rock the boat and if you ‘co-operate’ with him, he might send you a VIP invitation for a jumbo delegation from Oxford to holiday in that blood-drenched island on a quid pro quo basis. If this happens, you might ask him about his brand of democracy that locks up a man on a fabricated charge because he said that he would testify against the Rajapaksas’ in any International Criminal Court, and had the temerity to contest him for the Presidency.

You will find more evidence of Rajapaksa’s murderous agenda to crush the Tamil people, and the dismantling of democracy and its replacement by a Totalitarian State, in a dvd I have recorded. Sri Lanka. Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Violation of International Law. That dvd has enough documented evidence to convict the lot. It also has a recording of one of your outstanding lawyers, Australian-born Geoffrey Robertson QC, a leading British silk, who spelt out in a BBC interview, what steps could be taken to charge those responsible for war crimes. It is important that you see this before you (or others of your ilk), go down this same path and invite Rajapaksa for yet another meeting. This service is being provided by me free. Just for the record, I am not a Tamil - ‘terrorist’ or any other type.

Mr Walker, I do not think that the Oxford Union is being completely honest about the cancellation of this talk by claiming that it was entirely due to the protests, by implication those of the expatriate Tamils in Britain. Much as they deserve our thanks and admiration for standing in the freezing cold, I doubt if it was the only reason.

I refer to the commendable action of your Channel 4 TV that released a crucial video at the moment critique. It was incontrovertible evidence of a major war crime by Rajapaksa’s Armed Forces executing people who had surrendered. This was an extension of the earlier video which showed the execution of naked, bound (Tamil) men which shocked the world.

In the new video, instead of stopping after the execution of the men, the camera pans to the left to reveal the naked and dead bodies of at least seven women, with accompanying dialogue (in Sinhalese), from onlookers who make lewd and callous comments which strongly suggest that sexual assaults have taken place before their execution.

A significant part of the international community, including UN Experts, believe the first video to be authentic (its authenticity has been checked). Having seen the second video (an extension of the first), the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, Professor Christof Hayes, said, “It is shocking indeed, and clearly deserves more investigations”.

Channel 4 has forwarded a copy of the video to the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Committee on Sri Lankan war crimes.

Now, Mr Walker, do you think it plausible that we, on the other side of the world, know all this but you, right there in the UK where Channel 4 TV is shown, did not see this?  If that is your position, we simply do not believe you.

In the unlikely event that it is true, it is an even greater damnation of your Union.

Why don’t you come clean and say that you did see this damning evidence and that the decision to cancel the talk was, at least in part, due to this serious evidence?

By presenting half the truth, you have not only done Oxford University a disservice but also enabled Rajapaksa to run head-lines in Sri Lanka’s intimidated press, “Pro-Tamil Tiger Diaspora surround the Dorchester. The UK Security Division advises the President not to leave the Hotel….”. For a start it is simply untrue. There are no ‘white’ Tigers in the UK, except two, and they are ‘Tigresses’. There are no male ‘white’ Tigers. The photos I have of placards, “Rajapaksa mass murderer go home”, “Stay around and face arrest for war crimes” etc were carried by ‘white’ males. Unless the Tiger has changed its stripes (in this case its colour), they simply could not be ‘Tamil Tigers’. They were ordinary decent British people outraged by the presence of Rajapaksa in their country.

“The Union holds a politically neutral stance …”. 

Mr Walker, this has nothing to do with political neutrality but with basic human rights, and now, the right of the Tamil ‘minority’ to live with equality, dignity and safety in an area they have a right to be in, and now, to live at all. The inability to live at all constitutes Genocide.

I am using this word as defined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as an act to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. In Sri Lanka, the ‘part’ is the part of the Tamil people who live in the North and the East. Note that Genocide has nothing to do with the number of people killed. It is the intention, backed by the act(s) to achieve that intention, which defines ‘Genocide’.

Mr Walker, is your Union familiar with the UN Human Rights Charter (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights)? This is the very basis of human rights. The Government of Sri Lanka, under a succession of Sinhalese ‘leaders’, has violated every one of the 30 Articles, except one, Article 16 (to do with marriage). Bad as the past Sri Lankan ‘leaders’ have been, your invitee, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is in a class of his own in brutality, crimes against humanity and blatant lying.

At the insensitive ‘celebrations’ in Colombo to mark the first anniversary of the mass slaughter of Tamils, with his massive military arsenal on display, the ‘Tamil conqueror’, President Rajapaksa, told his blindly adoring fans in Colombo, that the war he waged to crush the Tamil Tigers (which in reality meant the Tamil people), was a ‘humanitarian operation’ which caused ‘zero (civilian) casualties’. Carried away by his own lies, he got into ‘mega-lies’. He said that his soldiers went to war with a gun in one hand and the UN Charter of Human Rights in the other!

Gordon Weiss, an Australian, was with the United Nations in Colombo. He resigned from the UN after 14 years and returned to Australia. Speaking to Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s, highly reputed “Foreign Affairs” program (9 February 2010), he said that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians had died during the final stages of the war.

"The Sri Lankan government said many things which were either intentionally misleading, or were lies".

Weiss said that after the war ended, a senior civil servant openly admitted that the authorities had deliberately underestimated the number of trapped civilians “as a ploy to allow the government to get on with its business.”  That ‘business’ was genocide.

While the Sinhalese, members of my ethnic group, seem to have taken leave of their senses, and (patriotically) believe the lies that come with monotonous regularity from Rajapaksa and his spokesmen, he cannot expect these blatant lies to be believed by the rest of the world. That is why there will be major protests when he visits every major country except China, which has its own geopolitical and economic agenda in Sri Lanka. It also has a shameful record of supporting tyrants and dictators similar to those that exist in their own country. I need hardly tell you that geopolitics and commercial gains, are what are important to China, not human rights. As such, Rajapaksa will always be welcome there.

“….the decision (to invite Mr Rajapaksa) was not made in relation to any aspect of Mr Rajapaksa’s political position, the policies of his administration and any allegations against his government”.

Mr Walker, I can clarify Mr Rajapaksa’s ‘political position and the policies of his administration’. There is no need to get it from him, if only because he will be ‘careless with the truth’, as he always is. It is really quite simple. It is to make multiethnic, multireligious, multilingual, multicultural Sri Lanka into a Sinhala-Buddhist nation.

The problem he faced was what could he do with the Tamils, 18% of the country. There were four options –

  • Drive them out of the country. A million have been and thousands more are fleeing as refugees and asylum seekers. However, there are still some left, so he has to move on with other options.
  • Make them non-people – ‘internally displaced people’ (refugees). Nearly half a million are, and the numbers are not decreasing, President Rajapaksa’s claims (lies) not withstanding.
  • Make them ‘disappear’. Rajapaksa’s Democratic Socialist Republic has the second highest incidence of involuntary ‘disappearances’, second only to Iraq. Did you want to invite him to Oxford to find out how this is done? You need not have done so, because it is street talk in Sri Lanka. A white van with no number plate drives up, the victim is bundled in, the van drives off, and that’s it. “Simple, my dear Watson”, as your famous author of crime and detection said. Mr Walker, there is a 221 page publication by Human Rights Watch Sri Lanka. ‘Disappearances’ by Security Forces. A National Crisis and Recurring Nightmare. The State Responsibility for ‘Disappearances’. The ‘State’ referred to is Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan State.
  • Kill them. That is genocide – which I have just defined.

You refer to “allegations against his government”. Yes, Mr Walker, that is precisely why there is a growing chorus across the world, demanding a credible international investigation into these alleged war crimes, which your invitee refused to have, but prefers to have a bogus Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

When Amnesty International (AI), your Nobel-Prize winning human rights organisation, the American-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the world renowned Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG), were invited to testify before this Commission, to give it the credibility it sorely lacks, do you know what they said? In a joint letter to the Commission (14.10.10), they refused to accept the invitation because it lacked the ability to advance accountability for war crimes. They said that they would welcome an opportunity to appear before a genuine, credible effort to pursue political reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, but that the Commission does not meet the minimum international standards for Commissions of Inquiry . Yes, Mr Walker, ‘minimum standards’.

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HRW, “There is little to be gained by appearing before such a fundamentally flawed commission. Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an independent international investigation. Thousands of civilians were killed in the last few months of the war as a result of gross violations of international law by both the government and the LTTE forces. The Commission is nothing more than a cynical attempt by Sri Lanka to avoid serious inquiry that would bring genuine accountability”.

Mr Walker, did the Oxford Union know all this? If not, why not? It is a public document, which I accessed from the net, which you could have too. It would have given some essential information to your Union if it wanted to know anything about the person invited. Perhaps you, like the Rajapaksa junta, could not care less. If so, your credibility, like that of Rajapaksa, is at stake. While he might have nothing to lose (his credibility being zero in any case), Oxford does have a lot to lose. Your Union simply cannot get into the moral gutter with the likes of Rajapaksa. If you do, protest we must, and will.

“As the President of Sri Lanka for the last five years…”

No, Mr Walker, he is not the President of Sri Lanka. He is the King of Sri Lanka and fancies himself as such. There was an ancient Sinhalese King called Dutugemunu who crushed a Tamil King and ‘unified’ Sri Lanka. He hailed from the same area that Rajapaksa comes from – the deep South. Rajapaksa fancies himself as the modern Dutugemunu. That is why he arranged for larger-than-life cardboard cut-outs of Dutugemunu and himself to be paraded in Colombo. Yes, he is a ‘card-board King’, but a ‘King’ nonetheless.

When the ruler is a king, there are no citizens; only subjects. Subjects are bound to obey the king unquestioningly, since monarchical infallibility was a belief that premised absolute monarchies.

The clear intention of this megalomaniac family is to rule Sri Lanka for decades. This will be achieved by manipulating the Constitution, by eliminating any opposition, silencing criticism, and unleashing whatever State violence is necessary on the populace, irrespective of ethnicity. National reconciliation is not even on the distant horizon of this smiling assassin of the Tamil people, his meaningless rhetoric notwithstanding. The rhetoric is only for foreign consumption. The reality is utter contempt for the Tamil people, and crushing them – by committing genocide if necessary.

As for the reference to the duration of his rule, yes, it is five years (so far), but be assured that it will be forever, since Rajapaksa has just altered the Sri Lankan Constitution to make life-long rule a certainty. Waiting in the wings to take over is son, Namal, whose future is cast in concrete. Rajapaksa is clearly following your own Royal Family of linear heritage. The brown sash he (and his family) wear is only worn by the  Rajapaksa Royalty – just like the Tiara or Crown worn by your Royal Family. 

“…the Union felt that Mr Rajapaksa would provide a unique insight into the political climate of the region in his speech”. 

For sure he could have. He could have provided a very unique way of committing Genocide with no witnesses. Never has this been done anywhere in the world, and worryingly, it will be a template for other mass murderers to adopt, something that is already happening. Does that worry you? It must.

Mr Walker, you might not know that 12 September 2008, is a crucial day in Sri Lankan, if not World, history. That was the day the Rajapaksa junta ordered all humanitarian workers, including international organisations (and even the UN), to leave the conflict zone in the North and the East. 13 Aid groups that were providing emergency food aid, clean water, sanitation and medical aid to 200,000 people living in refugee camps and under trees, were ordered to leave, and they left. Then started the bombing, shelling and mass murder of civilians – men, women and children, refugee camps, hospitals, the lot, including the government’s own so-called ‘no-fire zone’ which was the very opposite of what it was claimed to be. That is how Genocide is done without witnesses. Is that what you wanted to hear from ‘the horse’s mouth’?

Mr Walker, I can suggest a better person for that – President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. I do not want to plant dangerous ideas in your head, lest they take root and ‘bear fruit’, but he can provide a unique insight (as you put it) into the political climate of the region (and more). 

He is the man who directed the war, shot by shot, bomb by bomb, murder by murder, rape by rape, creating not a flood, but a torrent, of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. If he did not actually do these terrible things, he was certainly responsible, as the all powerful  Secretary of Defence who gave the orders to the military.

He is the man who, in a TV interview in your country, stated unequivocally, that hospitals are legitimate targets to be bombed. His interview is in my dvds. Do you want a copy? Here is a small part of this, which will be important when this American citizen is finally rounded up and charged with crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka.

Reporter: “Aid agencies said that a hospital packed with wounded has been repeatedly shelled, killing some patients, injuring many more. The Defence Secretary told us that right now everything is a legitimate target”.                                                                                       Gotabaya Rajapaksa, “Nothing should exist beyond the no fire zone” (there was, in fact, no such zone).                                                                                                                                            

The incredulous Reporter  : “Even if the hospital is operating ……it is a legitimate target?”

Gotabaya Rajapaksa: “Yes. No hospital should operate…”

Well. Mr Walker, this man who was in the Sri Lankan Army, and left some years ago, for greener pastures in Los Angeles, USA, took up US citizenship, and was, among other jobs, running a ‘7/11 Store’ there. He returned to Sri Lanka after his brother’s election, to run the country.  Running a 7/11 store is somewhat different from running a country. Not surprisingly, he has no idea of the Geneva Conventions, and could not care less if what he said and did was in violation of them.

The 1st Geneva Convention states:

“Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical Service, may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”

The 4th Geneva Convention, Article 18, “Civilian hospitals organised to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstance be the object of attack, and shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict”.

Sri Lanka signed the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Geneva Conventions and signed and ratified the 4th, by accession to it on 23 February 1959. So, Mr Walker, the Rajapaksa junta is in violation of these Conventions. Did you know that?

Sri Lankan Armed Forces repeatedly attacked Tamil civilians trapped in the conflict zone, using multibarrel rocket launchers, helicopter gun ships and even Kfir jets and bombers, firing into the government’s own “no-fire zone” and targetting even hospitals and refuge camps. With nowhere to go, and with witnesses excluded from the area, the causalities were staggering. Although the UN estimated that at least 7,000 civilians were slaughtered between January and May 2008, the International Crisis Group compiled evidence of the killing of an estimated 30,000 to 75,000 people. Even after the end of the slaughter, Independent observers and even aid organisations were not allowed into the area – presumably to enable the government to destroy evidence that would have shown the magnitude of the killing – “mopping up operations” as the Army put it.

Do you know what happened to the thousands of civilians (Tamil and Muslim, men, women and children) who survived the slaughter? They were herded into ‘concentration camps’ in violation of International Conventions and Sri Lanka’s own Laws and Constitution. Guess how many? A staggering 279,263 people in 40 camps, according to the UN.

Mr Walker, some 25,000 are still there, more than a year and a half after being put there, held illegally behind razor-wire fences, guarded by the military, held without charge or trial. Their crime? To be born Tamil, in the North and East, where they had a right to be born, since it is their home.

“…the Union wishes to apologise to our members”.

It will be more appropriate if the Union apologises to the Tamil (and Muslim) people in the North and East of Sri Lanka who have been brutalised, tortured, raped and murdered by the Armed Forces under President Rajapaksa, his brother, Gotabaya, Defence Secretary, and the Army Commander Sarath Fonseka. Those ‘in the chain of command’ all the way to the top, can be charged. It is our duty to see that they are.

The future

Mr Walker, before you and others of your ilk go down this disastrous road and offer tyrants and mass murderers an international platform to build up their ego, lie and mislead the international community, I really should ‘educate’ you. Unfortunately, at 79, fatigue is a problem.

Besides, there is so much to be done in critical areas such as the outrageous treatment of asylum seekers/refugees, by my country, Australia, and its disgraceful handling of these unfortunate people which is in violation of the UN Refugee Convention, signed by Australia.

So, I will do so only briefly. However, there is detailed information in a dozen, yes, twelve, dvds recorded by me which I will be glad to send your Union if it helps to prevent another debacle. The only reason for wasting my time and energy to educate you and your Union, is that should Rajapaksa reappear in Oxford, God forbid, your Union would know what questions should be raised – not that I really believe that they will be.

Rajapaksa’s Armed Forces have gone from 175,000 during the war, to 230,000 after the war ended, and now a call to increase it to 300,000. This is by far, the largest army per capita of population or land area, in the world. Why double the army if the war has been won, as Rajapaksa claims? It is to run a Totalitarian State. There can be no other reason since Sri Lanka has no external enemies. The ‘enemies’ are its own people – the ‘minority’ Tamils (for years), and now that they have been crushed, the majority Sinhalese (from my ethnic group) who dare to question what this Totalitarian regime is doing. That is how Totalitarian regimes function. You will see a clear parallel with those of Hitler, Mussolini and others of their ilk.

Mr Walker, is your Union aware that there is a major military presence (99% Sinhalese) in the former war zone, the homeland of the Tamils, and this military presence is continuing at war time levels?

There is a widely held misconception that there has been a ‘civil war’ in Sri Lanka. Not so. What there has been is a series of increasingly virulent pogroms against the Tamil people by the Sinhala State, resulting in a degeneracy of Sinhala society and a rapid descent into barbarism. All this has been achieved in the name of the Sinhalese and of Buddhism (my mother’s religion) by the concerted action of politicians, political opportunists, their armed thugs, and politically active yellow-robed hoodlums who are a disgrace to one of the greatest teachers of Peace the world has ever known, Gautama Buddha.

There is a ‘fire-sale’ going on in Sri Lanka. The country is being divided up and sold to China in particular, India, and others, who want to get a foothold in this geographically crucial island astride the Indian Ocean. That is the name of the game. Most of the land that is being ‘generously’ given is in the Tamil area and belong to the Tamil (and Muslim) people. It is simply the Sinhalese government stealing Tamil lands for geopolitical gains. Did you get that, Mr Walker, or would you like it repeated – because it is so important, and you will not get it from Rajajaksa or his cronies – all of them notorious liars and twisters of the truth.

Just a bit of geopolitics which you and your Union members might not have been taught but is crucial in your declared claim,  “.. the Union felt that Mr Rajapaksa would provide a unique insight into the political climate of the region”.

It was set out by US Admiral, Alfred Mahan, a hundred years ago, when he said, “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean, dominates Asia”.  That, Mr Walker, is because 40% of the World’s oil production occurs in countries that share the Indian Ocean, it carries 70% of the world’s oil shipments and 50% of the world’s container cargo. So to get a foothold in Sri Lanka is crucial for those who want to control the Indian Ocean and dominate Asia ie China, India and the US, among others.

Then there was Christopher Pehrson, Director, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S.Army War College, who in July 2006, published a paper, String of Pearls: Meeting the challenge of China’s rising power across the Asian littoral.  This is a publication of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, section 101. As such, it is in the public domain. You could have accessed it, as I did.

These ‘Pearls’ are military bases to guard the oil supply from the China’s oil suppliers in the Middle East, to oil consumers in energy-hungry China, and manufactured goods going the other way round. Sri Lanka is one of the “Pearls” That is why China is in bed with Rajapaksa, and has funded and supplied the weapons for him to crush his people and then be sold (at nominal) prices, large chunks of the island.

One of these (many) Chinese ‘projects’ is the nearly completed Hambantota Port, airport to follow, in the ‘deep South’, astride the Indian Ocean, and well-suited for monitoring ‘activities’. Hambantota was a tiny fishing village in Rajapaksa’s political power base. It has been taken over by the Chinese and converted into a major Port for use, essentially by the Chinese Navy, although the pretence is otherwise. Sri Lanka is effectively paying for this white elephant and the Chinese are laughing all the way back to China.

The local people are out of luck, since the Chinese have even brought their labourers (some of them criminals spending their jail-time as half-paid labourers). I was relieved to hear that they even brought their own prostitutes, which, hopefully, will spare the local girls and women. Unfortunately, they do believe that ‘variety is the spice of life’ as evidenced by what I saw in  Indonesia, in a similar Chinese ‘project’.

You should have been taught all this (I mean the control of the Indian Ocean and the “String of Pearls”, not the part about prostitutes) in Oxford.  Perhaps your tutors are not doing what they are supposed to be doing and you have to get this information from Rajapaksa, of all people.

Let me slowly drift to the humanitarian crisis in Rajapakas’s Sri Lanka, which he is lying about. 

The vast majority of the Tamil and Muslim half-million refugees, ‘Internally Displaced People’ if you are more comfortable with the term, have not been resettled with even basic facilities or minimal compensation. Many have had no compensation at all for the damage willfully done by their government. They are, Mr Walker, citizens of Sri Lanka, who have a right to be treated as such according to the Sri Lankan Constitution. 

In addition, there are a large number of Tamil prisoners detained in various parts of the country, held in detention centres and completely illegal prisons, without charge or trial, let alone a conviction. There is no list of the Tamils being held (illegally) and that violates International Conventions (signed by Sri Lanka), and Sri Lanka’s own Constitution.

They are held under “Emergency Regulations’ or the notorious ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)’. If the war has been won, what is the ‘Emergency’? If the ‘terrorists’ they have been eliminated, as Rajapaksa claims, why is the PTA still in force? He cannot have it both ways.

The ‘High Security Zone”, imposed by Rajapaksa’s clique, is preventing people from generating their incomes from lands they own, while outsiders (Sinhalese from the South, including and especially, Sinhalese soldiers, and, God forbid, even Chinese), are being settled in the area that belong to the Tamils. These moves will drastically alter the demographic composition of the Tamil North and East, the electoral consequences being to exclude Tamil representation and make the Tamils a ‘voiceless people’.

The involvement of the Security Forces in civil administration and public affairs is creating major problems in the resumption of a civil administration. Local Tamil youths have been totally ignored in appointments even as minor employees in Government institutions in the North and East. This anti-Tamil discrimination is what led to the problem in the first place some 50 years ago. It is now being pursued again with renewed vigour as never before. What do you think the consequences are likely to be? Mr Walker, do you see why the Tamils in your country turned up in thousands to protest against Mr Rajapaksa’s visit. Rest assured, it will continue.

If I have not shocked you already, let me do so now by telling you that Mahinda Rajapaksa, believe it or not, is (or was) a human rights activist. Indeed, the first, and hopefully the last, time I came across him was in a UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva, where he had commendably come to express his concerns. Much water has flowed under the bridge.

Rajapaksa is an excellent example of what Barack Obama referred to in his famous speech in  Cairo:

“…there are those who advocate democracy when they are out of power: once in power they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others”.

My own actions have been guided by John Reith (Lord Reith), the Founder of the BBC, who said, “There are some people whom it is one’s duty to offend!” For some inexplicable reason, more than my fair share of such people have come my way in the past 79 years. The top of this dreadful list is, most certainly, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Totalitarian Supremo of Sri Lanka – invited by you to address the Oxford Union.

In conclusion, I will raise one (hypothetical) question, and make a suggestion – a challenge if you like – to the Oxford Union.

What if the proposed meeting went ahead?

Although it is not possible to answer questions about an event that did not occur, there is a past experience to go by. As you know, Mr Rajapaksa has addressed your Union in 2008. I am aware that he spoke on “Strategy towards Empowering the Rural Economy of Sri Lanka”. To hell with that. Here was the chance to ask him about the escalating human rights situation which was of international concern. Such chances do not come often with people as evasive as Rajapaksa, and who can talk about anything except what is important. Did you fall for that one? You should not have.

Empowering …. Sri Lanka”. Indeed. He will now tell you that Sri Lanka is, or is going to be, the “Asian Miracle”. Excuse me while I laugh!

There is, in fact, no evidence of the ‘Miracle’ (yet, and time is running out in more ways than one). I have just had an email from a Tamil friend of mine who put this better than I can:-

“Manipulating figures, whether it is inflation, GDP, Per Capita Income, Trade Deficit, Containers handled in the port, number of tourists, (‘real’ and not diaspora arrivals), hotel rooms built, Middle East income, (where half is remittances from the diaspora), will fool the country (and the world) for only a limited period”.

When Rajapaksa addressed you in 2008, did he have a fawning audience that cheered wildly and did not ask any questions about things that really matter? Did anyone question him on the conduct of the ‘war’, the ‘Rules of War’, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Convention, their violations, his responsibility and obligations as Head of State, Executive President, Minister of Defence, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to see that his Armed Forces did not act in a manner that was in violation of these?

Did anyone ask him, or would anyone have asked him, for the evidence to back his claim that his soldiers went to war “with a gun in one hand and the UN Charter in the other”, and if this was true, why it was necessary to expel independent observers from the area? 

Did anyone ask him about his claim, oft repeated by him and his Ministers, that his Armed Forces were not responsible for “a single civilian casualty”, and how that squares with the International Crisis Group, one of the world’s most reliable sources of information, that there were an estimated “30,000 to 75,000” civilians killed? If, as he and his regime claim, “it was all the work of the Tamil Tigers”, why did he prevent independent observes from checking this, which, if confirmed, would have helped his country that is facing a serious crisis in credibility?                                                                                                                                                         

What about the targetted bombing of schools, orphanages, churches, Hindu temples, markets, entire villages, and the whole infrastructure of the Tamil areas in his country, of his Tamil people (as he claims with staggering hypocrisy)? Did no one think that these dreadful actions must be explained by the man at the helm, an Executive President with more powers than anyone else I know of? With great power comes great responsibility. Was this raised when there was an opportunity to do so? If not, why not? It sure was happening ‘bigtime’, when he came to Oxford. Or was this ‘not on the agenda’ of the Oxford Union despite the claim that the purpose of getting Rajapaksa there was to “provide a unique insight into the political climate of the region”. Or are these just words with no meaning?

If these important issues were not raised, it was certainly not for lack of information. The Sri Lankan conflict is about the most extensively documented conflict in the world, thanks to a highly intelligent expatriate Tamil community and others, such as myself, who have dedicated every moment we could spare, and have done so for decades, and internationally credible organisations such as AI, HRW and the US State Department ‘Country Reports’, that have published volumes for years.

This huge stack of information is readily available. For those who have a short attention span reading documents, I have gone to the extent of having the dozens of talks I have given across the world, recorded and uploaded on ‘Youtube’, not to mention the dozen dvds, many of them on the net available at no cost.

If what Rajapaksa had in Oxford was no more than an applauding, fawning, audience like what he has in his home country where he expects this as ‘the norm’, what purpose would have been served by getting him there again? Or was it the ‘brain child’ of Rajapaksa’s Sinhalese fans in Oxford, just six of them, I am told?

Oxford is, thank God, not Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka, where any dissent, or even questioning what he has done, or is doing, is treason, and dealt with as such – with 20 years in jail, or execution or an involuntary ‘disappearance’ at the hands of Rajapaksa’s Armed Force, Police, paramilitaries working with the government, or just hooligans and thugs who are now part of governance in that lawless country where accountability for those supportive of the government is non-existent. He really must be made to ‘face the music’ when he gets out of his protected cocoon in Sri Lanka.

Perhaps you could let me know what exactly occurred when Rajapaksa addressed you the last time, so that I can convey it to the ‘hungry’ (for information, I mean) international community.

A Debate             

Mr Walker, the Oxford Union is a Debating Society and should not become a platform for demagogues to boost their ego. I suggest that your Union gets back to its raison d’etre and arranges a debate:-

“This House supports an International Investigation into War Crimes in Sri Lanka”.

Since you clearly do not have people with the necessary knowledge to make this a meaningful debate, I suggest you get people from outside Oxford, or even from outside the UK.

Proposition

As someone who has watched the Sri Lankan situation deteriorate from day one (1948) when your country handed over Ceylon, as it then was, to the Sinhalese majority (74%), leaving the Tamil ‘minority’ (18%) at their mercy, I have seen Sinhalese-majoritarianism getting firmly established . I have been witness to the progressive discrimination against the Tamils, to get the votes of the Sinhala-Buddhist majority to get into or remain in power, the entirely justifiable Tamil non-violent protests, the violent response of the Sinhala State and the armed resistance of the Tamil youths.

I have seen “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean” turned into “The Killing Fields of Asia”, ending in the near Genocide of the Tamils. What is on show in Sri Lanka is political opportunism of the worst kind that has prevented the building of a nation. Unsurprisingly, it is now falling apart.

Of equal concern has been the dismantling of Democracy, the establishment of a Presidential dictatorship, the drift to a politico-military fascist State, and now, a Totalitarian State under one family, the Rajapaksas.

With this experience over half a century, I feel obliged to come to Oxford (or anywhere) at my expense, for a discussion or a debate with those who hold a different view.

I will come to the UK from Australia, at my cost, and present the case for the proposition. I will try and get one of your lawyers, Geoffrey Robertson QC, from London, and Professor Francis Boyle JD, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois College of Law, both of whom I have been in touch with about ‘matters Sri Lankan’, to join me.

If he can spare the time and endure the trauma of that horrendous trip to your country, I will bring Australia’s most outstanding human rights and refugee advocate, the incomparable Julian Burnside QC, AO. What contribution can he make? A major one. He, and those who work in this area, are the ones who have to pick up (in Australia), the pieces of Rajapaksa’s brutality in Sri Lanka. He knows the score better than most others. 

If time is a problem, I will gladly donate part of the time allocated to me, to him, so that he can deal with the thoroughly irresponsible stance adopted by the developing countries to this escalating problem, for which the likes of Rajapaksa are responsible.

He is excellent ‘value for money’, in fact, ‘value for money you might not have to spend’. When I went to consult him in Melbourne, and spent an hour of his time asking what I could do about the dreadful plight of the refugees both in and outside Sri Lanka, he refused to accept any payment, “My consultations on human rights are pro bono”.

He is far more intelligent and informed more than Rajapaksa will ever be. He has the necessary experience, and above all, the integrity, resolve and determination to address some of the major human rights problems, in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. There, Mr Walker, is a man to address your Union.

Opposition

For the opposition, President Rajapaksa can present the case, and be assisted by any number of his numerous relatives, ‘yes men’ and his jumbo Cabinet of Ministers. It will, however, be helpful if he brings (retired) Army General Sarath Fonseka (temporarily) releasing him from his illegal jailing, since we will raise some questions which only he can answer. He can come in full military regalia to stamp his authority, with his once chest-full of medals (now stripped by Rajapaksa), but which can be (temporarily) restored just for the occasion. It will also be helpful if Rajapaksa can bring a member of the Chinese government, since we have questions which only such a person can respond to.

To summarise this:-

For the motion (Proposition)

Geoffrey Robertson QC. A world authority on Crimes against Humanity

Professor Francis Boyle JD – Professor of International Law, University of Illinois

                                                College of Law

Julian Burnside QC, Human Rights and Refugee Advocate,

Myself – MD, age 79, a Sinhalese and not a Tamil, or a ‘terrorist’.

The first three will present our case, since they are more than competent to set out the legal arguments and International Conventions that have been violated. I will merely show video evidence of the actual bombing and the military assault on the civilians, the bombing of orphanages, schools and hospitals, the human carnage, which those against the motion will be  struggling to hide.

Summing up.

I will do. This will only take a couple of minutes, since our case is flawless, and if our main speakers have not been convincing, I, most certainly, will not be able to do so, however good the summing up. So, after a few sentences, I will ‘rest my case’. 

Against the motion (Opposition)

President Mahinda Rajapaksa – Executive President, Minister of Defence and  Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who single-handedly won the war.

(Retd) General Fonseka – who ‘delivered’ the victory, currently jailed by his President who ordered that his medals be removed for contesting him for the Presidency.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa (who can make the case for the unleashing of the Chinese-supplied, lethal weapons on civilians, and the bombing of hospitals, schools etc).

A Chinese Government nominee – who (hopefully) will defend China’s agenda and why the weapons and money were supplied so generously.

Summing up.

His Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa. He can, with no objections from our side, go on ad nauseam, ad infinitum, trying to justify the unjustifiable, or just opt out claiming that all the facts presented by us are lies, and the video evidence is fabricated, including the Kfir jets and the banned bombs, because his Buddhist country has no such weapons and killing was not what Buddha ordered.

The Chair will have to ensure that it is a proper debate and not an exercise in thuggery or a become what regularly occurs in Rajapaksa’s ‘debating chamber’ – the Sri Lankan ‘Parliament’. This common event occurred a few months ago, in spectacular fashion (in front of scores of schoolchildren in the galley who had to be rapidly ushered out. What an example). An MP, a Buddhist monk at that, was attacked by Rajapaksa’s supporters in the ‘Well’ of the House, when he tried to get to the Speaker to be confirmed as an MP. He had to be admitted to hospital with injuries that will constitute pornography, if I describe it in detail.

You might have heard of an alarming incident that occurred after President Rajapaksa returned empty-handed from your cancelled meeting because of the protests there. Dr Jayalath Jayawardene, a senior Minister in the previous government, was falsely accused of organising the protests in Britain, insulted, attacked and manhandled in the Sri Lankan parliament by several of Rajapaksa’s Ministers, to show their fealty to the President. They now want him expelled from Parliament for violating the 6th Amendment which makes it illegal to support a Separate Tamil State (which, of course, Jayawardene did not do). If this succeeds, it will be one more weapon Rajapaksa will have to silence the Opposition. The slide to a Totalitarian State that brooks no opposition is there for all to see.

Mr Walker, your Westminster-type Democracy and parliamentary traditions have not taken root in Sri Lanka. You simply cannot take a system of government that has evolved over hundreds of years, graft it on to a country where many of the politicians are thugs, hooligans, and crooks, and expect it to work. It does not work.

Given the ‘norm’ in Sri Lanka, of violence during a debate (in parliament), it is always a risk to get people from there for a debate since they might have a different concept of what it is all about. Hence the need for a strong Chairperson.

Although we expect a smooth debate, an unexpected development could be the sudden crossing of Fonseka to our side to testify against President Rajapaksa, and his brother, Gotabaya, the Defence Secretary and Fonseka’s former boss. That, Mr Walker would provide, to use your words, a ‘unique insight’. In the interests of the debate, we will discourage such a betrayal, although it will strengthen our case considerably and even win the debate for us.

The debate will have to be televised since this will minimise unruly behavior and ‘unparliamentary language’, such as what Rajapaksa used in the Dorchester hotel when he heard of the cancellation of the Oxford event. Moreover, the debate will have a huge international audience since it might provide answers to questions that are troubling a number of people in many countries. It could break box-office records.

It is very appropriate that this debate be held in the Oxford Union since it would be an excellent example of ‘Free Speech’ and Democracy in Action. After all, Harold Macmillan, who should have known what he was talking about, said that the Oxford Union was "the last bastion of free speech in the Western world.”

Having been to your famous Thursday evening debates, I doubt if the debate I propose could be held in that particular room which, as far as I can remember, does not even have a microphone, let alone a television camera. Some other venue will have to be found. It might also be difficult to address Rajapaksa as ‘Honourable’ (as tradition demands on a Thursday) since the words might get suck in the throat, but we can drag these out if absolutely necessary.

If the protocol, red-tape, ‘tradition’ and inflexibility in Oxford will not enable such a debate to take place, perhaps the BBC might be the next stop. The BBC is known to do ‘strange things’ and might well agree to host this.

I hope we are not forced to approach Channel 4 TV, which will be seen as ‘partisan’. We might simply ask whether they can present, without prejudice, what I can best describe, as a cabaret item, at the dinner that will have to follow the debate (and not precede it) so as not to affect the debate or the voting. This ‘cabaret’ will be an airing of the invaluable video footage they have of the execution of Tamils after they had surrendered to the Sri Lankan Forces, and document its authenticity.

The downside of all this which could make this entire suggestion an ‘exercise in futility’, is that President Rajapaksa might find this ‘Free Speech’ and the British version of ‘Democracy’ (which is different from his version) too threatening, and will almost certainly get cold feet and duck out, rather than face the music. He is not much of a debater in any case, since what he says in Sri Lanka cannot be opposed, so the mere idea of a debate will be too intimidating.

There is, of course, nothing we can do about this, except to give him an absolute assurance that nothing presented at the debate will be used to issue an arrest warrant. So he not need to be constantly looking over his shoulder for someone carrying handcuffs, and can also bring any number of his military (which he did when he arrived for the December 2010 meeting),and be reassured that they will have a safe passage back home.

Ironically, it might be Rajapaksa who might strongly object to this and demand that Fonseka be arrested and tried for war crimes. He will be ill-advised to go down this path since the ‘chain of command’ can go all the way to the very top, and there might be no stopping this, especially in Britain. The British are particularly unpredictable in such things, as the massive protests at Rajapaksa’s visit convincingly demonstrated.

The result of the debate is by no means certain. The motion could be lost, and I will then have to return to Australia, disgraced, put my pen down, and never be seen or heard from again.

Should Rajapaksa win, he can make a triumphant return home, where he is already King of Sri Lanka. He might even be deified – God of Sri Lanka. One thing is certain, he can roll up the Electoral map for a very long time, even for ever, since he will be anointed “President-for-Life” (and even longer). Bell Pottinger, can justifiably lift their already astronomical charges even higher, for achieving the impossible.

Off the record, I gather that there is a move to re-name Sri Lanka in honour of Rajapaksa, (at his request, I am told by habitual liars), as Rajapksa-land, or if that is cumbersome phonetically, Rajapakistan, or even “Sri Rajapakistan” – ‘Sri’ meaning ‘deserving respect’.

Mr Walker, as is obvious, I have taken a great deal of time and trouble, not only to respond to your ‘Statement’ but to educate you, doing what your tutors in Oxford should be doing. I have gone well beyond that and have made a positive suggestion. The ball is now in your (doubles) court, the court of the Oxford Union and its (temporarily) abandoned partner, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ‘Raj’ (King) for short. 

In closing this letter that looks more like a submission to the Nuremberg Trial, let me send a note of caution to you in Oxford, and one of encouragement to my Sinhalese countrymen in London.

To you

You are fortunate that Rajapaksa does not know that it was the Oxford Union that (in 1933) passed a motion

This House will in no circumstances fight for King and Country”

Churchill called it “that abject, squalid, shameless avowal”.

This motion, passed by the Union, will not go down well with Sri Lanka’s leader, far more powerful than Churchill ever was, and much more prone to temper tantrums and violent outbursts. He might do to you what he did on 4 August 2006 (two years before he appeared before your Union) to the 17 French NGOs  ‘Action against Hunger” in the Tamil East – line them up and shoot them. Ulf Henriccson, Head, Nordic Monitoring Mission said it was,“ ..one of the most serious crimes against humanitarian Aid workers worldwide”. Rajapaksa has blocked every investigation into this, including that by the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (who walked out in disgust because of obstructions).

So, Mr Walker, if you ever invite this ‘gentleman’ again, I’d advise beefing up Security, not for him, but for your Union – better to be safe than sorry. You can never predict what Rajapaksa will do.

For my countrymen

On this Christmas Eve, as a genetically half-Christian (the other half being Buddhist), I will cite a popular hymn about bringing “Glad Tidings of Great Joy” to members of my ethnic group, the (patriotic) Sinhalese in your country, who are shedding unnecessary tears because of Rajapaksa’s humiliation. As your famous bard would have said,

 “Friends, Sinhalese, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to bury Rajapaksa, but to praise him, for everyone says he is an honourable man. I come not to disillusion and upset you, but to comfort you. Weep not, for he will return as sure as day follows night, in one form or another, and will reappear somewhere, sometime, and destroy the ‘Tamil Tiger Diaspora’, as he did to the Tamil Tigers and the Tamil civilians, men, women and children, born and unborn, in the North and East of Sri Lanka. I give thee my troth. I have complete faith in him, and so should you. That is what patriotism is all about – to believe in tyrants even if they are proven murderers.

Stand close to the National Flag, even if it has a ferocious Lion with a menacing sword with his tail up, even if it is drenched with the blood of innocents. The person who said that “flags are bits of coloured cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead ”, and went on to rub this in, “when independent thinking people blindly yoke their art to the service of the nation, it’s time for all of us to sit up and worry”, is a traitor, like as the writer of this letter. He deserves execution, at the very least. That is what Mother Lanka expects of you. May the blessings of the Buddhist Triple Gem be on you, even if this is not what Lord Buddha taught, because Buddha got it wrong. Who says so? Our National Leader who is never wrong.”

Wishing you and your Union a more informed and responsible New Year in 2011

Brian Senewiratne

MA (Cantab), MBBChir(Cantab). MBBS (Hons) (Lond),

MD(Lond), FRCP(Lond). FRACP

Physician, Brisbane, Australia.                                                       

My address, to safeguard myself from the ‘patriotic Sinhalese’ here in Australia and abroad, will have to be a post office box,  POBox 5006, Mt Gravatt East, Australia 4122

----------------------------------------------------

http://www.hrw.org/node/93600

“No person shall, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka”.