Editorials - Page 2

Sri Lanka: Plot to Arrest Gota

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Many have failed to grasp the reality of this geopolitical game and the dangers small states may face, and many warnings have been dismissed as empty conspiracy rhetoric. The sophisticated plot is underway. The next move of this grand scheme is to arrest former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who at the moment has no permanent shelter in any foreign territory. There are different opinions about his departure while holding the top seat of the state. A few who were closely associated with him wanted to see him stay in Sri Lanka. But he had no personal will for it and wanted to leave the country immediately. As we pointed out earlier it was not a wise decision but an invitation to unprecedented turbulences. In light of this, we believe it is important to look into the extremely weak situation that Sri Lanka is facing as a sovereign country due to the President being placed in this situation and the future conflicts that may arise as a result. This crisis is much more than economic bankruptcy. We don’t buy the widely held view that this crisis followed an economic downturn.

File photo of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Let’s get to the point. Most of Sri Lanka’s budget is spent on defence to counter internal and external threats. Threats are disguised in various forms. The prime responsibility of the security forces is to defend the state and to protect the head of the state. We believe they should be bound by this paramount obligation until the last soldier or policeman is left standing. But it is questionable whether the security forces fulfilled this basic responsibility of defending the country while protecting the President. Can the nature of such intended behaviour of certain responsible officials be interpreted as a dereliction of duty?

As an individual, Gotabaya Rajapaksa may not be important. But for the country, the head of state, the President of Sri Lanka, is important. As a sovereign state, on July 9, we experienced a grave failure of national security. This is the most horrendous assault on the nationhood of this country. This attack is far worse than the Easter bombings by extremist fanatics who distorted the core values of Islam. The officials who are responsible for national security should explain this serious collapse of the system. Shouldn’t they give a detailed explanation to the people of this country? Certainly, they must. They cannot blame others or circumvent the responsibility to secure their positions. As heads of institutions, they should take responsibility. No leader who will come to power in the future can be said to be safe.

The officials who are responsible for the national security of the country have seriously failed in their duties. On the other hand, the group of clowns who claim to be social reformists have disgraced the pride of the country. After this whole incident, we don’t get to see a good picture of the country. What can happen next under such a tragically degenerated state structure? By now, the former President has been weakened and rendered powerless. Many local political and social groups have been armed against him. Many of his fellow politicians are fighting like Kilkenny cats to become the next president of the country. A large number of people, including Sri Lankans living abroad, have been mobilized against him. What matters to us is who the individual or group that is going to have the last laugh of this total tragicomedy, not the group of clowns masquerading as “social reformers”. Where the hype they get by going crazy on social media and releasing live videos every now and then ends, we will find the real hand behind this whole drama.

The first purpose, however, of that hidden hand has been accomplished. In other words, Gotabaya proved to be weak and isolated. Meanwhile, some countries and social groups have given a new approach to the activities they have been doing for years to implement the international law against former President. For instance, as soon as the President left the country, a group of politicians in the United Kingdom requested an international warrant against him. In such a situation, it is impossible to believe that Gotabaya’s life will be safe in a foreign land. Many organizations and politicians accused Gotabaya of so-called war crimes during the humanitarian operations which vanquished the most brutal terror outfit. Many fake sources have been socialized to substantiate this accusation. Ironically, many authentic sources that prevailed to correct misunderstandings about events on war have been replaced with fabricated reports targeting the former President. Consequently, what is the situation that he may have to face?

To understand it, it is important to know about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its functioning, which prosecutes the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. The Rome Statute came into force on 1 July 2002 to formally establish the International Criminal Court. More than 120 countries signed and ratified it. However, it was then Prime Minister but now the Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe has refused to sign and ratify it in Sri Lanka. Therefore, Sri Lanka as a sovereign state is not accountable for it. Accordingly, as long as a citizen residing in a non-signatory state or its territories such as embassies and high commissions established abroad cannot be brought before the ICC for legal proceedings. But a citizen of a non-signatory country can bring before the ICC through the establishment of an ad hoc tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations. However, if the foreign state in which a citizen from non-signatory state lives has signed and ratified the Statute, his fate is determined by the laws and regulations of that signatory country. The turmoil coming towards him is obvious. Is it not thus clear what was hoped to be accomplished by creating an atmosphere for his sudden departure under all this “popular fury” commonly known as the “Aragalaya” against former President Gotabaya? Otherwise, why did UK politicians rush to seek an international warrant against the former President even before he announced his resignation? If not, why do certain Western and Asian embassies and high commissions in Colombo urge for a “peaceful power transition” in the late afternoon of July 9th?

Let’s be frank! Sri Lanka has been isolated internationally due to the high level of incompetence of officials appointed to deal with human rights. Establishing the ad hoc tribunal with the blessings of the United Nations is proceeding. A set of considerations are already on the table to refer Sri Lanka to the ICC through the UN Security Council. If one thinks that all others can be freed by sacrificing former President, they can watch all events and remain silent. But if there is an intention to act regarding the serious conspiracy currently underway, the responsible parties in this country must fulfill their responsibility immediately. If one wants to protect the man who played an important role in crushing the Tamil Tigers to liberate the unarmed civilians, it is very important to take proper steps immediately. It is imperative not only for him but also to determine the country’s geopolitical future. Unfortunately, it is doubtful whether the politicians of this country will be able to work together to understand the seriousness of this matter. But isn’t it true that the people of this country owe him?