Minister of External Affairs Mangala Samaraweera’s embrace of the Diaspora is wrong, not because the Diaspora is diabolical but because Mr. Samaraweera’s embrace is indiscriminate.
Sri Lanka must welcome its Diaspora or Diasporas (plural). I do not mean that the Sinhala Diaspora is good and the Tamil one is bad. What I do mean is that there are extremists in both the Tamil and Sinhala Diasporas, just as there are moderates. The Government and the country should open its doors for the moderate, enlightened currents of both Tamil and Sinhala Diasporas. The Government should go beyond that and strive to promote a truly Sri Lankan, i.e. Tamil and Sinhala Diaspora, by building bridges between the moderates, the progressives, of both sides
By anti-Sri Lankan I refer to an objectively verifiable political stance against Sri Lanka’s national interest. The evidence is out in plain view in the interview that Suren Surendiran of the GTF gave the state-run Daily News, AFTER the conciliatory meeting with Foreign Minister Samaraweera and the resultant conversion to moderation on the part of the GTF. In it he spells out the four pillars of GTF policy. If I may mix metaphors, the smoking gun is in pillar number 3:
‘…Explaining the third pillar, he said: “The third is to actively lobby and create awareness within the international community, international institutions and governments regarding the injustices and alleged breaches of international laws. Lobby for international independent investigations of both sides…Surendiran said the GTF intends to carry out the Four Pillar Strategy “with the help of the people of Sri Lanka, in the Diaspora and the international community including India.”
The problem with the Ranil-Mangala-CBK model of reconciliation and peace-building is that they have learnt nothing from their unsuccessful efforts of the dismal Decade of Appeasement 1995-2005.
For its part the Rajapaksa administration made the opposite error. Just as Ranil-CBK-Mangala failed to realize that peace could not be achieved without a successful war; that a victorious war was a necessary precondition for peace; the Rajapaksa administration whose great merit was to recognize that military victory was both possible and necessary, made the opposite error of assuming that a necessary condition was a sufficient condition. It failed to realize that a process of peace-building was necessary, and that this peace-building required not only material reconstruction and development, not only de-mining and rehabilitation; but also political negotiation. It failed to understand that political negotiation.
Ranil-CBK-Mangala strove to achieve peace by talking to the wrong people: the fascist, fundamentalist Tigers and their fellow-travelers. They could and should have worked out a political project with the anti-Tiger/non-Tiger Tamil groups and caught the Tigers in a politico-military pincer, but they did not. They could have implemented the 13th Amendment instead of wasting time and political capital with the union of regions packages of 1995 and 1997. They could have appointed an interim administration within the 13th Amendment and installed a coalition of progressive anti-Tiger Tamil groups which had worked with the UNP earlier and knew CBK from her SLMP years. But they did not.
For their part, the Rajapaksa administration could have empowered their ally Douglas Devananda in 2009, as the war was won and before the TNA recovered.
Interestingly, CBK and MR administrations had the same option and made the same mistake: they both had an anti-Tiger, anti-secessionist Tamil partner which they had inherited from the Premadasa-Ranjan Wijeratne years, but they failed to play that card. CBK preferred to talk to the fascist Tigers (through the Norwegians) even after they tried to kill her and instead, blinded her in one eye.
The MR administration correctly understood the fascist character of the Tamil Tigers and defeated them, but having done so it strove in the postwar phase, to operate politically in the North without any identifiable Tamil partner and strategic ally. Having made that mistake, the Rajapaksa administration compounded it by allowing the default option to fail, in that the dialogue with the TNA broke down and stayed suspended.
What the Sri Lankan government should do, is to adopt, in its Diaspora outreach, a policy of concentric circles, which privileges the anti-Tiger, anti-secessionist elements of the Tamil Diaspora before reaching out to those who were Prabhakaran’s fellow travelers, and still refuse to criticize him or the LTTE. No Government should embrace those who, even after dialogue, boast that one of the pillars of their policy is to lobby the international community including governments, for international investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity!
The basic task of any Foreign Minister and Foreign Ministry should surely be to oppose, refute, rebut and defeat those Diaspora elements who threaten our national sovereignty by lobbying for international war crimes inquiries against Sri Lanka.