On November 16, 2019
by Thambu Kanagasabai, LLM [Lond.] Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 9, 2019
The Presidential election on November 16, 2019 will usher in a new President, either Gotabaya Rajapaksha or Sajith Premadasa. Intensive campaign with promises suiting the locations and people are pouring from candidates to woo the voters, particularly Tamils by Sajith Premadasa. The promises thrown before Tamils will have a short life span as their deaths will be a certainty once a President is sworn in for the office, as the implementation of promises lies in the hands of MAHA SANGA and other radicals.
Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapakshe is waging a campaign solely relying on his role as Defence Secretary after conducting the genocidal war with success on May 2009, There is a bitter tug-of-war going between Gotabaya Rajapakshe and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka as to the ownership of the victory in the war, with neither of them owning responsibility for the killings of more than 70,000 civilians as per UN’s investigation, and accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity etc. The recent statements of Gotabaya Rajapakshe in his election meetings have confirmed his rejection and contempt for the basic universally recognized norms of accountability and justice, laid out in United Nations Charter and various Conventions.
In his first public meeting in Anuradapura, he stated that “Military was given the due respect only after 2005, when his brother Mahinda Rajapaksha became the President. This situation completely changed after 2015”.“Military Intelligence Officers have been arrested and locked up in jails accused of fabricated offences, once I became the President on November 16, 2019 my first action on November 17th is to release all these military officers from prisons”, apparently with no conditions or any charges or any prosecution. This purported release will include those convicted and serving jail terms, for committing murders, robberies, abductions, torture, drug smuggling, sexual violence etc. This sweeping and contemptuous statement of Gotabaya Rajapakshe has sent chills and shivers and have shattered the hopes of victims and causing concern of United Nations and the International Community. These statements of Gotabaya Rajapakshe undoubtedly are nothing but pure disrespect, insult and contempt hurled against the Sri Lankan judiciary, besides dealing a deadly blow to the existence of a democratic system of government in Sri Lanka. The dreadful consequences that could follow from these deplorable and derogatory actions will be sending shivers and fears to the ordinary law abiding citizens even among Sinhalese people if and when Gotabaya Rajapakshe becomes President who could also kill the independent functioning of state institutions with one stroke.
Above all, Gotabaya Rajapakshe is not a politician who has held any political office. He is purely a military officer immersed with military mindset and thinking which makes him politically unfit to hold a political office and rule a nation which is mired with plethora of social, political and human rights problems for the last seventy years.
Gotabaya Rajapakshe has purely targeted the Sinhala/Buddhist voters taking up the evils of Sri Lankan politics, Buddhism, Sinhala chauvinism and communalism. He appears to be targeting to gain the votes of Security Forces and their family members to pursue the politics of militarization.
The possible scenario in the event of Gotabaya Rajapakshe becoming the President can be visualized as follows:
- Being a military mindset person, one can expect rigorous enforcement of obedience and behaviour from everyone, disregarding rule of law and fundamental rights of a citizen.
- Political foes and traitors will face correctional punishment even possible elimination depending on the severity of their roles and harms.
- The purported release of all convicted military officials will usher in a reign of terror and fear among all citizens, as the security forces would be emboldened to commit crimes without any fear of prosecution, almost a free run being granted and licence to the security officials and government officials to break the laws of the land with impunity even resorting to personal vengeances and vendetta.
- The military presence in the North and East will substantially increase accompanied with intimidation, threats and even extra-judicial killings for dissenters with white van abductions including enforced disappearances and sexual violence. A climate of fear and insecurity will prevail in the Tamil areas. Even dissents and political enemies among the Sinhalese will not be spared. It is to be recalled that present President Msaithiripala Sirisena was staying in an unknown location until the election results were out in January 2015 fearing Mahinda Rajapakshe return to power.
Gotabaya Rajapakse’s rejection of thirteen demands put forwarded by the five Tamil parties is not surprising as he being accused of war crimes by United Nations and UNHRC and to expect accountability and justice is like the dog barking at the moon for a bite as Sri Lanka has been dubbed as an island of impunity by civic groups and human rights activists like Madam Jasmin Sooka of International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka. Under Gotabaya Rajapakshe’s Presidency, United Nations, UNHRC Resolutions and their Recommendations will remain worthless and in-fact gathering dust. It is to be noted that Sri Lankan Government has already rejected its own sponsored HRC Resolution 30/1 and its Recommendations.
Above all, Sri Lanka will hold the unique distinction and honour to have an accused war criminal as President of a democratic country paying scant respect to accountability and justice, while brushing aside all United Nations Conventions which call for observance by the signatory states including Sri Lanka.
It will be interesting to watch how the United Nations, International Community and particularly democratic countries and the co-sponsors of UNHRC Resolution 30/1 and 40/1 will react, and treat a United Nations accused war criminal holding the office of Presidency. Will they live up to enforce the observance of commitments and undertakings or Sri Lanka or lay a Red Carpet welcome giving priority to geo-political, economic and military considerations involving Sri Lanka.
One has to keep the fingers crossed whether United Nations, UNHRC, International Community and the co-sponsors of the UNHRC Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 will adopt proper sanctions against the Government under Gotabaya Rajapaksha in pursuance of accountability under COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY?
In conclusion, Gotabaya Rajapakshe as a President will most probably ignore and neglect the ethnic issues and political problems facing the Tamils, not to mention any just political settlement as he has completely omitted in his election manifesto any mention of Tamil’s problem or any political proposals, not even any discussion or consultation with Tamil parties or their leaders. As such, one can surely start counting the date of state terrorism and strangle hold of military in the North and East while Tamil civilians can expect to continue their lives of surveillance and state terrorism.
However, Gotabaya Rajapakshe’s control of government may prove to be a double-edged sword and a blessing in disguise for the Tamils forcing the United Nations/UNHRC/The co-sponsors of the UNHRC Resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 to carve out separate state for them [as existed before 1816 before the British rule] to ensure their existence through the right of self-determination as stipulated in the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Article 01 of 1966.