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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

On the ‘lecturing rights’ of genocide-perpetrators and their lackeys

By Malinda Seneviratne

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaking to reporters after briefing the 15-member Security Council on his recent visit to Sri Lanka has warned the Sri Lankan government against triumphalism after the comprehensive, historic and absolutely unimagined victory over terrorism. The UN Chief also urged the Government to ‘heal the wounds’ of the conflict.

I have written on the issue of triumphalism and its relation on the other side of the fence, defeatism before. There’s a time and place in such things. There’s a ‘decent’ and an ‘indecent’ too. Stray too far from these norms of propriety and you run risks of generating other problems not to mention a delay in the process of healing. Not hard to figure this out. So Ban is not making news by his propriety lecture. He is making news, however because he is the UN Secretary General because advocating regarding the appropriateness of celebration or acceptable forms of joy is not the job of the UN Secretary General.

Ban is not only out of order but is completely out of depth with respect to the situation in Sri Lanka. Let’s deal with the second of these afflictions.

The whole of Sri Lanka erupted in unabashed joy when the news came through that the LTTE was no more. It shouldn’t surprise anyone because Sri Lanka has suffered at the hands of terrorism for close to thirty years. A nation of robots may have carried on as though nothing had changed. Sri Lanka is not sure a country. Sri Lanka has anticipated this news for three decades and had suffered long periods, sometimes lasting several years, of reluctantly believing this was not meant to be.

So yes, there was celebration. People celebrated for a variety of reasons. They were happy that they would no longer have to fret over what could happen to their children between the time they left for school and the time they were supposed to get home. Those who were dependent on the tourist industry were celebrating the end of the war because it meant that better days were ahead. The parents, families and friends of those who had been tasked to protect the territorial integrity of the country and make it safe for the general citizenry were celebrating too; those men and women would not be returning home in coffins or on crutches. In short, life could now return to something closer to ‘normal’ than Sri Lanka had experienced in decades. Yes, there were ample reasons to celebrate.

What of triumphalism? There are all kinds of triumphs here and not all of them are of the kind that can worsen wounds. There is the triumph of the state over terrorism; the triumph of democratic possibility over anarchic ‘inevitability’, the triumph of a small nation over a ruthless outfit backed by influential and powerful individuals and nations. All this calls for celebration. Of course it can be read as the triumphalism of the Sinhala Buddhists over the Tamils but part of that is resident in ideological bent and outcome preferred by the perceiver.

Among the many labels that can be pinned on this conflict is this: it was a conflict between political interests. The political interests that did battle wore ethnic uniforms for reasons of convenience, it can be argued, especially since the ‘ethnic’ in the grievance was poorly substantiated and utterly out of sync with the desired outcome. Those who emerge victorious celebrate; those who lose don’t. There’s nothing extraordinary about it. In any event nothing to warrant the gravity of tone from a man who has lots of things to worry about, like Afghanistan and Iraq, shall we say or are those names taboo for Ban Ki-moon?

What is this ‘triumphalism’ that Ban is so worried about anyway? Is it the fact that the President of Sri Lanka announced victory in Parliament? Was he upset, perhaps, by the fact that the Government decided to hold an official event celebrating a victory over terrorism, something that the UN regularly asks us to unite and achieve, not just in Sri Lanka but all over the world? Surely he can’t begrudge a speech on National Heroes’ Day? That was marked in the calendar many years ago and it so happened that it fell a few days after the LTTE was wiped out. Is it the national flag flying from every home, fluttering atop building, vehicles etc? That is ‘triumphalism’?

Ban may not know it but there’s no flaunting of ‘victory’ in the face of the defeated unless of course Tamil people identified 100% with the LTTE, which is not the case. The truth is, people have got back to their routines and go about their lives, looking after their children and their parents, going to work, enjoying the company of friends, worrying about how to make ends meet etc etc.

If there was a kind of anti-wound-healing triumphalism then roads wouldn’t be getting built (as they are) in the North, the Yal Devi would not have gone beyond Vavuniya, there wouldn’t be people sending relief items to the IDPs, doctors wouldn’t be working around the clock attending to the sick in these areas, the Government wouldn’t worry about providing meals for these people, setting up schools in the camps, clearing landmines so people can return to their homes and canvassing friends abroad to help in whatever way possible to expedite the recovery of livelihoods.

The more serious question regarding Ban Ki-moon’s ‘concerns’ is that it is not his business to tell anyone how to or how not to celebrate. We haven’t heard him tell the people of Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan how to mourn, have we? Did he or the UN tell the USA how to celebrate when they captured Saddam Hussein and the entire mainstream media in that country went wild with joy? Perhaps it is not Ban Ki-moon’s fault. Perhaps it is a disease that one picks up at the UN Headquarters, perhaps on account of being forced to listen to the would-be masters and mistresses of the world, especially people from Europe and North America.

We have had the EU working tirelessly to rob Sri Lanka of the right to celebrate, extrapolating from unsubstantiated claims regarding the plight of civilians to whip up horror stories that the civilians themselves would find incredibly stupid. It is arguably the last hurrah of WMBS (White Man’s Burden Syndrome).

‘Last hurrah’ because the world has changed and they no longer call the shots. It is the last hurrah of a set of thugs that just can’t accept the fact that things have changed, perhaps in an irrevocable way. It is a blast from the deep-rooted sense of denial.

These ladies and gentlemen have operated as though they can get away with murder (well, they got away with massacre after massacre without any UN Secretary General even whimpering protest) for so long and have failed miserably in achieving their stated objectives even after orchestrating the world’s worst bloodbaths. They simply cannot understand that Sri Lanka achieved the unimaginable. In their book it was marked ‘impossible’ with perhaps acorollary ‘possible only subsequent to bloodbath’. Didn’t happen that way, but ego probably demands that it be recorded that way.

If this were not the case, then timesonline would have had hundreds of articles about the history of civilian deaths and the called for the amputation of the West’s bloody hands so they cannot do it again. Let’s mark a few ‘historic’ moments that Ban Ki-moon might have deleted forever from his memory.

Civilian deaths in Iraq are conservatively estimated to have numbered over 600,000 by the year 2005 and this does not include the half a million children who died as a result of sanctions imposed by the sanctimonious frauds trying to lynch Sri Lanka for eliminating a domestic terrorist threat with minimal harm to civilians (over 6500 troops died in the process and thousands were disabled; a Government intent on genocide would have saved half those lives and finished the job 6 months ago). In Afghanistan the do-gooders have already killed over 35,000 people and turned a million into IDPs. When is it going to end so the Ban Ki-moon can wax eloquent about ‘healing’?

Over 30,000 died in the Mau Mau insurrection. Perhaps someone can tell Ban Ki-moon how many died in Nagasai and Hiroshima, how many in the fire bombings of Tokyo, Dresden and Hamburg. The USA arrested thousands of their own citizens during World War II because they came to the ‘land of the free, home of the brave’ not from Europe but Japan. Does Ban Ki-moon know that Britain invented ‘concentration camps’ during the Boer War? Does Ms. Pillai, head of the Human Rights Counil know that the Dutch peace keepers watched while 6000 Muslims were butchered in Sebrenica? The French did not intervene while 600,000 Hutus were massacred, but that’s already forgotten is it not?

Not only do these people think that white people have a right to walk in ‘unfettered; massacre communities, erase cultures and pillage nations, but that if brown people actually sorted out a problem they could not have done it without perpetrating genocide.

For the record, all allegations regarding Sri Lanka remain unsubstantiated and drawn exclusively from claims made by a ruthless terrorist. Sour grapes, is it? Bitterly disappointed, are they?

So Ban Ki-moon can spare the homilies. He can reserve his lectures to the real perpetrators of genocide, the inventors of horrendous crimes against humanity, the white ladies and gentlemen who are unrepentant and absolutely uninterested in ‘healing’, forget compensating for damage done.

He has called on Sri Lanka to "recognize international calls for accountability and transparency." Such calls he does not make to the USA and the UK. "Whenever and wherever there are credible allegations of violations of humanitarian law, there should be a proper investigation," he notes, but is yet to jump up and scream for ‘unfettered access’ to Guantanamo Bay and for ‘proper investigations’ into credible allegations of torture and rape of prisoners in Abu Ghraib or the bombing of Bala-Boluk just a few weeks ago.

Ban Ki-moon has a thousand toilets to go to and yet he chooses Sri Lanka to piddle. Rather crude, isn’t he? Sri Lanka is not ready to be his private washroom, though. Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans know tragedy intimately. All kinds of tragedies, in fact. Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans know about being sensitive to the needs of people who feel they’ve lost out in the way the cookie crumbled in the end. Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans see ‘fellow-citizen’ and responds as per the requirements of culture, civilization and civic duty. There’s no triumphalism here of the vulgar, despicable kind, Ban, and what triumphalism there was is fast transforming into a national resurgence, a yes-we-can feeling (if you like), great national pride (not a crime is it?) and a will never to cower in awe or fear when some ill-informed, self-righteous genocide perpetrator or his/her lackey says ‘boo’. Sorry, Ban, but that’s how things stand here in Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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