Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2642

The Special Envoy from Britain to Sri Lanka

By Garvin Karunaratne,

Britain has decided to send Des Moines, a Member of the UK Houses of Parliament as special envoy to Sri Lanka to solve the problem that the Government of Sri Lanka is facing in the North. The North of Sri Lanka belongs to Sri Lanka a sovereign country and the Sri Lankan Government has not requested Britain for any such Envoy.

The Government of Sri Lanka has protested vehemently at this infringement of its sovereignty. It is felt necessary to analyze the motivation of Britain in sending this Envoy. His purpose is said to be to work with international forces, with the different communities and to facilitate a political solution to the problem in the North.

History never lies. A look at historical facts will easily reveal the motives.

Once when Malaysia was to be offered independence a terrorist organization- then it happened to be Communist inspired, raised its ugly head. Then Britain did not decide to send a Special Envoy to discuss with the terrorists and iron out peace accords and ceasefires. Instead, Britain sent its armed forces to wipe out the terrorists and they were hunted out one by one and killed mercilessly. Then there were no human right concerns. Malaysia could not have been accorded independent status without wiping out the terrorists. Now one can compare why Britain has decided to send a Special Envoy instead of sending its crack force- the SAS to the support of Sri Lanka to wipe out terrorism. This act of Britain to send a Special Envoy discloses the sinister motive that Britain has. It has not even agreed to sell fighter planes to Sri Lanka which has made the Sri Lankan authorities beg and borrow from third grade sources for weapons.

This act of sending this Special Envoy comes on the heels of activity by LTTE supporting Members of the UK Parliament to interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka in order to save the terrorist LTTE from total defeat. Once earlier in the days of President Jayawardena and Minister Lalith Athulathmudali when the terrorist LTTE was cornered in Valvettithurai, India interfered.

Under Rajiv Gandhi India is reported to have sent its fighter planes flying over Colombo in a show of strength to intimidate President Jayawardena and instead of protesting at India Jayawardena caved in on bended knees and foisted the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Jayawardena was compelled to accept this Amendment. It was an infringement of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka by India.

Earlier, Jayawardena signed the Indo Lanka- India Accord which enabled India to send its armed forces to Sri Lanka. The 13th Amendment was enforced with Parliamentarians who were incarcerated by Jayawardena in a Five Star Hotel and marched to the Parliament and forced to vote as Jayaweardena wanted. It is even a fact that Jayawadena had obtained resignation letters from all Parliamentarians (except from Ronnie de Mel), and thereby held the threat of dissolving Parliament. The threat of dissolving Parliament reined in all members of Parliament because the Members of Parliament stood to be deprived of their salaries, perks and pensions in the case of dissolution. In that process what really happened was that the LTTE was allowed space and opportunity to reform and re arm itself to become a monster again.

A small island country got saddled with unwanted administrative systems which are proving today to be unworkable. Today’s attempt to send a Special Envoy is aimed at allowing the LTTE to regain itself and to re-arm itself. There is evidently no other motive. The UK members of parliament are on bended knees to the Tamil voters in the UK for their votes and perhaps there are perks for them if only they do what the LTTE wants. The members of parliament are evidently emulating millionaire Mark Thatcher- how he built up his fortunes while his mother Margaret Thatcher was in power.

It is a credit to our present President Mahinda Rajapaksa that he is not prepared to cave in to the requests and threats from Britain and such international forces. Already there is the sanction of no Aid- except for a few morsels here and there. Britain should admire our President for his forthwith posture and his total allegiance to democracy because it is well known that he has not gone to the extent of Jayawardena to accept the resignation letters of the members of parliament to force them to do what he wants and lock them up in a Five Star Hotel. That is not the Rajapaksa way of administration. Once I remember that our President Rajapaksa when confronted with resignations had said that if anyone wants to go they can depart. Karu Jayasuriya came and went but the Rajapaksa fortress was not shaken in the least. Britain should admire our President’s stance on democracy. Our President did not have to go away from his own members of parliament and seek the help of the opposition Conservatives when the Prime Minister of the UK (Tony Blair) wanted to play poodle to George Bush and send his forces to Iraq. The soldiers of Britain are paying with their blood for the folly of Tony Blair.

The fact remains that the terrorists that our President is facing today are within the borders of our country. They are not in a far off land two thousand miles away from our shores- in another sovereign country- Iraq. In sending a special envoy, the Prime Minister of Britain is kindly requested to fathom what he is doing- interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign country- Sri Lanka, a country that totally upholds democracy. This does not accord well with the democratic principles that Britain is supposed to uphold.

The Ambassadors of Britain, the USA and Germany have been making very sinister utterances in favor of the terrorists and interfering with the sovereignty of Sri Lanka for sometime and recently Wimal Weerawansa the leader of a national political party has called upon the Government to throw out the German Ambassador out. I have myself protested earlier in these columns several times at the fact that the Ambassadors of the USA and the UK have been found interfering with what happens within our borders. All three ambassadors should have been sent packing long ago. If that had been done Britain would not have dared to send a Des Moines.

What is the famous political solution that the Special Envoy is supposed to iron out? He is requested to first study paleography and read for himself the inscriptions in brahmi script that are found all over the Wanni which date back to the pre Christian Era and that will bury the homeland theory for good. If he dares to come let him first look at who among the citizens of Sri Lanka have been dispossessed. For the past two and a half decades no Sinhala people and they happen to be over 75 % of the population could not have gone to the North or the East- to around a third of our country.

The last time I stepped into Trincomalee was in 1980. But the Tamils of Sri Lanka can go anywhere in Sri Lanka, own land and reside. The LTTE chased away eighty thousand Sinhala people who lived in the North and some one hundred thousand Muslims were given a full 2 hours to get out of Jaffna. I am personally aware that there were Sinhala fishing communities all along the coast of the Northern and Eastern Provinces and now there are none. Now Special Envoy please iron out a political solution for the Sinhala and Muslim people who were dispossessed of their land and their businesses to get back. Britain should actually appreciate what our President has done to regain the North and the East.

Let me have the freedom to roam all around my own country. In 1980 I slept on the beach in Trincomalee under the stars in the natural air conditioned surroundings.. I hope to be able to do that soon.Thus if the Special Envoy comes he can first iron out who has been discriminated. Let him know that in the recent past two of the Heads of the Police Force- the Inspector General of Police happened to be Tamils- Rudra Rajasingham and Anandaraja. Can an Asian ever aspire to Head the Police Force in the UK. We had a Tamil Chief Justice, a Tamil Attorney General and even the Head of the Public Service for a number of years was Mr. B.Mahadeva. There is a distinct color bar in the UK and a non White person can go only so far and no further.

The Special Envoy should know the historical circumstances that have caused the various colonies of Britain to face problems that defy a solution. The British when they wanted to turn our self sufficient economies to contribute to their Mother Economy imposed a plantation economy on the colonies. They wrested the land from the people without any payment by various methods- declaring all unoccupied lands as belonging to the Crown and thereafter sold that land to Europeans- mainly to the British officialdom at fancifully low rates- at five shillings an acre to establish plantations.

The British also did this in countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe. President Mugabe is now classified as a pariah because he wrested the lands back from the British planters, which he was entitled to do. When the local people refused to work on the land that was wrested from them, the British imposed a hut tax to be paid in cash, for which the people had to work on the plantations to find money to pay that tax. What human rights did the British uphold then?

The British went further- they found poor people in plenty in India and took them as indentured labor to all their colonies. This was a good human rights record to get indentured labor where the labor is tied to the plantation. That was the slavery record of every British colony! So comes the problem in Fiji where the Fijians have wrested control of Fiji because the Indian population amounts to even a majority. So comes the problem in the hill country of Sri Lanka where the Tamils who came as indentured labor now hold rights to live and even challenge the native inhabitants. Recently they even demanded that a separate state should be carved out in the plantation areas. So also comes the problem in Malaysia where recently there were riots- seven or eight percent of the population dictating against the Malaysian 90%. It was only Myanmar that did right by sending all Tamils back to India.

Sri Lankans cannot forget how Britain declared Marshall Law and totally killed every male person in the Uva Province and destroyed every tanks (reservoir) and every fruit bearing tree because the rebellion against British domination was centered there. The tanks so destroyed have yet to be restored. Britain you should be bearing the total cost of restoring all these destroyed reservoirs. Instead today, Britain is working surreptitiously to destablize Sri Lanka, by helping the terrorists. Its role should be instead to help Sri Lanka to totally annihilate the terrorists.

What our President Rajapaksa is trying to do is to find a solution where all, of us can live freely wherever we want. Let Britain note that the vast bulk of the Tamil population is living with the Sinhala population and enjoying the democratic right to elect provincial councilors, members of parliament. This week it is even reported that the LTTE is killing its own peopleTamil supporters.

The parliamentarians of Britain should learn to earn the respect of its former colonies. Let them be aware of what they did to the colonies. When Captain Robert Clive of the East India Company defeated the ruler of Bengal “ he informed the Directors of the East India Company that he had acquired bounty that would offset the losses of the East India Company. The newly appointed Nawab of Bengal ceded half a million pounds to the East India Company, pounds 1.2 million as gifts to company officials pounds 31,500 and an estate yielding pounds 27,000 a year to Clive In the furst eight years of company rule pounds 5.9 million was taken out of Bengal Between 1757 and 1815 a hundred million pounds went from India to Britain. This was growth for the Superpower but destitution for Bengal In fact in the 1770 famine, when one third of the Bengal population died more taxes were collected than in the earlier year.(From How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka…(Godages)

It would be good for Britain to forget its inglorious past and help its former colonies. Remember they are sovereign countries and though there may have been a Jayawardena who licked the Indian and the IMF boots, our present leaders are of a caliber that will stand up and fight to the last.

Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D. Michigan State University, Former SLAS, and Government Agent, Matara District.

- Asian Tribune -

Share this


.