by Brian Senewiratne, Brisbane, Australia
I note that the Editor of Sangam adds what amounts to an apology for publishing the poem by Rajendra and the well-researched article by Satchi Sri Kantha on Sri Lanka's worst ever Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar.
I think the apology is misplaced. I am aware of the old adage about not speaking ill of the dead. I totally disagree. The evil that a man (or woman) does MUST live after them.
SWRD Bandaranaike, his wife Sirima Bandaranaike, who marched in an Army of Occupation into Jaffna and then sat back and watched the 'fun', that wreched man JR Jayawardene, who brought Sri Lanka to the brink of a dictatorship and whose selfish constitutional fiddling we are still paying for, the murderous Cyril Mathew who had so much innocent Tamil blood (shed in 1983) on his hands, the notorious Lalith Athulathmudali, who among other things invited the Sinhala youth to 'defend their motherland agaist 'foreign invaders' (i.e. Tamils), to name just a few - and now add Lakshman Kadirgamar to this infamous list - have done serious damage to Sri Lanka. The evil that they have done must live after them. The Sihala people must know what the people have done to their country over the years.
In fact, I even advocated prosecuting J.R. Jayawardena as a war criminal, even after his death, for what he did to the Tamils during those dark years.
To forget all this and sing their praises just because they are dead is nothing but sheer hypocricy.
It is time that the Tamils (and the Sinhalese) started documenting the damage that these (and other) people have done to Sri Lanka and circulating the material widely. These are the traitors of Sri Lanka, the people who have betrayed the country.
No one seems to have any hesitation in condemming the atrocities committed by Pol Pot, Hitler, Idi Amin, etc. just because they have died. Why not the others who have destoyed an entire country and the lives and futures of generations of Sri Lankans and made the on-going national problem almost unsolvable without a blood-bath?
My own contact with Kadirgamar has been limited, but serious. When the 'Butcher of Chemmani' was appointed to a diplomatic position in Australia, I personally faxed Kumaratunga, a person I know (she had given me her direct fax number), to urge her not to send this 'gentleman' to Australia. I asked "What message are you sending the Tamils in this country. Is it that the reward for making Tamils \disappear' in thousands is a diplomatic post? I even flew down to Canberra to see the Australian Foreign Ministry, urging them not to accept this man till his inviolement in the Chemmani massacre has been sorted out and his name cleared. The Foreign Ministry, to their credit, said that they will make these concerns known to Colombo. At least that is what they told me.
A few days later I had a call from the Foreign Ministry that Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Minister, had received a reassuring call from Kadirgamar that the gentleman to be appointed ambassador was a 'much-decorated' General. As such, he had decided to accept Karirgamar's assessment and allow the appointment of this gentleman, who should have been facing the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague, rather than be the representative of the Sinhalese AND the Tamils in Australia. Kadirgamar must take full responsibility for this insult to the Tamil people, in particular those who lost their loved ones in those terrible years in Jaffna.
In the years that Kadirgamar has strutted the globe, taking his wife for good measure, the Sri Lankan tax-payer footing the bill, he has done a great deal of damage to the Tamils AND Sri Lanka. I have not been one to speak up for Chandrika Kumaratunga, God-forbid, but she would probably have been more willing to negotiate with the Tamils and bring an end to the rapid downslide of Sri Lanka, if Kadirgamar, holding the position of trust that he did have, had not prevented her from doing so.
All I can hope is that another, as bad as Kadirgamar, will not step into his vacant shoes. Unless we condemn this man and the damage he has done in the strongest possible terms, a replacement for Kadirgamar will only be a matter of time.
If we cannot be honest and face up to the reality of the past, the least we can do is to see that those who have the guts to speak out can do so without an apology preceeding their efforts.
Posted August 25, 2005