The Fate of Sri Lanka

by Wakeley Paul, Esq.

A few teasing and troublesome questions arise from the assassination of the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister.  One first wonders how a Tamil Tiger could have penetrated the highly secured area where the Foreign Minister lived, which was further secured because of the presence of a foreign embassy in that vicinity, with the highly visible weapon that was used to commit this offense.

Policeman near Kadirgamar's residence

How for that matter, could anyone have done so, unless there was some collusion with those in charge of the security of this area?  The only other explanation is that the security was not as great as it was claimed to be.  The fact that the perpetrator or perpetrators escaped without detection or apprehension is indicative of this.  Now all the action and reaction is well after the event.

The danger of this inefficient inaction is that the police will resort to desperate efforts to locate a suspect or suspects whose identity could disappeared forever or whose identity could be altered.

The Inspector General of Police claims to have questioned hundreds and arrested 16, including some Sinhalese, all of whom could be held indefinitely incommunicado without any charges being filed against them.  Based on the emergency regulations that have been hastily promulgated, it is very unlikely that anyone would be made aware of what proof the police have against any of these detainees.  What tactics are they going to use against those who have been arrested?  One cannot easily forget that the Sri Lankan police have been guilty of random arrests of Tamils in the past, and are noted for the use of police brutality when questioning detainees.

The bigger question is, who would have anything to gain from this assassination?  The Tigers have been immediately blamed by those in the South.  There are other interesting possiblities, however.  For instance, the Tigers have been struggling to have the provisions of the peace agreement fulfilled, as it carried with it an obligation by the Sri Lankan government to restore the NorthEast to a state of normalcy.  It was the government’s coalition partner that opposed the implementation of these obligations.  They are now ousted from the coalition, and continue to oppose not only the terms of the peace agreement, but have legally challenged the government’s commitment to allow the Tigers to control the money awarded for Tsunami relief in their region of the country. 

By pointing fingers at the Tigers for committing this offense, the JVP could incite their supporters in the south to riot against the peace effort to which the government is ostensibly committed.

On the other hand, does this killing provide the government with the opportunity of getting rid of their obligations under the peace agreement?

The President has made it clear that it would be fatal for the government to go to war.  Both sides realize this and both sides should do everything in their power to effectuate the terms of the peace agreement.  Now that her former coalition partner is no longer her ally, and the extremist Sinhalese Buddhist monks have been neutralized, the President could go ahead with her obligations to complete the peace effort.


Posted August 15, 2005