The story of a sick physician

‘Domination by the Rajapaksas of Sri Lanka’ seems to have caused serious concern to the US government as a recent State Department report suggests. Many allegations have been levelled against the Sri Lankan government including human rights violations but, we reckon, what is really of concern to the US is none of them. The opening section of the report betrays a kind of visceral hatred some bigwigs of the Obama administration have for the incumbent government of Sri Lanka because it flew in the face of the diktats of some western governments to crush terrorism.

True, the Rajapaksas have become a problem for some people here as well. But, the fact remains that the majority of Sri Lankans back them as evident from the results of the last presidential and parliamentary elections. The US says the elections, at which the Rajapaksas retained power, were flawed. Yes, but have we ever had a one hundred per cent clean election in this country since 1977? It was also at a seriously flawed election that George W. Bush secured the US presidency in 2000. But, that did not prevent him from (mis)ruling the US, destroying Iraq and Afghanistan and using his military campaigns to win a second term. Never mind democratic elections! The US backed Saddam Hussein to the hilt notwithstanding the savage methods he employed to remain in power until it felt the need to get rid of him to obtain cheaper oil in bigger quantities. The US had no problem with General Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew a democratically elected government in Chile and had Salvador Allende killed, in 1973. The same goes of Papa Doc and Baby Doc of Haiti, sponsored by the US. The US has backed virtually each and every dictator in the world such as, to name but a few, Shah of Iran, Marcos of the Philippines and Zia Ul Haq of Pakistan.

If and when the Rajapaksas become a problem for the majority of Sri Lankans, they will be kicked out of power in the same way as their predecessors including the Bandaranaikes. Let the people of Sri Lanka deal with the Rajapaksas, a task they are quite capable of. No pot is too big for a club, as they say in this country. The day the people decide to see the back of the ruling clan, the Rajapaksas will have had it! Why should the US be worried about them? After all, time was when US politics was dominated by the Kennedy family and the Bush family. Other countries did not give a damn about them, did they?

America's real problem is not the rule or misrule by the Rajapaksa family as such but the fact that it is not pro-American enough. If the Rajapaksas had given in to US pressure and stopped the war letting Prabhakaran get away, the State Department's criticism of Sri Lanka would not have been so harsh. The US does not care two hoots about human rights violations if the perpetrators thereof happen to be its allies. Last October, the Obama administration waived a 2008 law to allow US military aid to flow to Yemen, Chad, Congo and South Sudan, though they are notorious for recruiting child combatants. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended Washington's decision which, she said, was in the 'national interest'! But, there was no military aid for Sri Lanka while it was fighting the LTTE, which had thousands of child soldiers in its combat units! Obama, Clinton, Blake et al may have thought that helping this country crush terrorism was not in America's national interest. It may be to promote its national interest that the US is now having talks with a bunch of notorious LTTE activists residing overseas and conspiring to revive terrorism here.

Strangely, the US, which is critical of the Rajapaksas, had no qualms about forcing Sri Lanka, in its capacity as one of the so-called Tokyo Co-Chairs, to negotiate with the LTTE led by Prabhakaran, who did not have representation even in a local government institution but appointed his outfit the ‘sole representative’ of the Tamils through sheer terrorism! Worse, the US was instrumental in tying the implementation of an aid package pledged by the Co-Chairs, to the progress to be made in the Sri Lankan government's talks with the LTTE, thus enabling Prabhakaran to act according to his whims and fancies as he was aware that the other side would have no alternative but to take his ceasefire violations lying down as it was desperate for foreign aid.

We have been reading many State Department reports on human rights situations in various other countries but there has been no such official document issued periodically on blatant violations by the US government, its military, the CIA etc. of human rights such as arbitrary arrests, brutal torture in American prisons such as the Guantanamo Bay facility, extra judicial killings in Iraq and Afghanistan, denial of compensation to the victims of agent orange and the deportation of over 5,000 Chagossian people from their country to construct the Diego Garcia military installation way back in 1973. Most of all, victims of torture perpetrated by the CIA and other US agencies have been denied justice in the US.

Before criticising human rights violations elsewhere, the US should turn the searchlight inwards and put its house in order. Physician, heal thyself!

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