Sunday, 26 May 2024
My dear Mahinda: An open letter from Mangala Samaraweera to ex-President

My dear Mahinda: An open letter from Mangala Samaraweera to ex-President

My dear Mahinda,

I still vividly recall the first time I met you. It was at the SLFP Party Headquarters on Darley Road in June 1988, which I attended in my capacity as the new SLFP organiser for Matara. I also remember being moved by the impassioned speech you made during the meeting about the widespread disappearances across the country and the responsibility of the SLFP playing an active role in finding these persons. I found your words exhilarating and it was the beginning of a long friendship. At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike who chaired the meeting called you over and introduced me to you as Mahanama’s son.

Mangala says what he then saw as Mahinda’s single minded commitment to many of the values he too cherished since his student days struck a familiar chord bonding their friendship even further.

Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in London as a fashion and textile designer, I was more at home in the bohemian artistic world of London at that time having qualified as a fashion and textile designer. My belief that I should do something about the large scale disappearances and other human rights violations in the South especially in and around my birthplace, Matara, finally pushed me to leave the comfort-zone of fashion, art and design and become a full time politician. And then we became ‘brothers-in-arms’, championing a number of democratic, progressive and humane causes. This led to the formation of the Mother’s Front Movement on the verandah of my ancestral house in Walpola, Matara in 1990 where you graciously accepted my invitation to be a co-convenor, along with me, of this historic movement.

Buoyed by the attention the Mothers’ Front was receiving, you started portraying yourself as a savior of human rights. You also became a champion of the free media and workers’ rights. In fact, we attended the inaugural meeting of the Free Media Movement at the New Town Hall together. You also took a leading role in the Padha Yathra protest made against alleged human rights violations of the Premadasa administration. Your single minded commitment to many of the values I too cherished since my student days struck a familiar chord bonding our friendship even further.

However, the many statements you have been making lately, especially the recent statement made by you opposing the Human Rights Council resolution, brings me genuine sorrow because it reminds once again that your role as a great human rights defender and upholder of democracy was merely an act done for the sake of political expediency while you were in the Opposition.

In fact, I realised this bitter truth only after you climbed to the top of the greasy poll of power and became President ten years ago. If you remember, before parting company in 2007, I sent you a thirteen page handwritten letter emphasising my concerns that your policy of dismantling democracy, ignoring reconciliation and violating the basic tenants of good governance would lead to the country’s ruin and your own downfall as well. But instead of learning from those mistakes, I fear that stubbornness, hate and greed continue to cloud your judgement, leading you down the very same path of destruction.

However, I still like to believe that there is even a little bit of the old Mahinda left in you. Hence my decision to write yet again. Like the protagonist of Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Gray who struck a deal with the Devil to remain eternally beautiful you may have sold your soul to the Devil to remain eternally in power. Even if that is true, I am sure there is a portrait of the Mahinda I knew gathering dust in the inner sanctums of Medamulana.

But alas, the dust seems to be thick and the sanctums deep. Your statement opposing the UN Human Rights Council Resolution exemplifies just how self-serving, unpatriotic and opportunistic a politician you have become. Perhaps you have forgotten the days when you boldly proclaimed the virtues of human rights, justice and international intervention at the UNHRC in Geneva, in Parliament and even in the Supreme Court.

The UNHRC in Geneva was a second home where you worked tirelessly to generate international pressure to secure accountability and justice for the thousands of disappeared in the South. You systematically lobbied at such international fora to exert pressure on the Government at the time to stop such violations of human rights and democracy. And such was your zeal that your entrance to many of the sessions was obtained by Tamara Kunanayakam, who was also there to campaign against the Government of the day, whom you later as President appointed as the Permanent Representative to Geneva.

In fact, speaking in Parliament on the 25th of October 1990, you boldly proclaimed and I quote Hansard, “If the Government is going to deny human rights, we should go not only to Geneva, but to any place in the world, or to hell if necessary, and act against the Government. The lamentation of this country’s innocents should be raised anywhere.”

Not only did you highlight human rights violations, you went so far as to ask the international community to stop giving aid to Sri Lanka. I quote the same Hansard, “We asked the donors countries as to why conditions cannot be imposed when giving aid. That was the request we made. It is what has been fulfilled today.” This has never been done by anyone before. Even in the face of continued human rights violations under your Government we never asked for aid to be stopped as it would have only made life harder for our long suffering people.

In case your memories are no longer as clear, I am also annexing a copy of the famous case Kudahetty v Mahinda Rajapaksa in which you defended, in the Supreme Court no less, the injustice of your arrest at the airport when you were taking 533 documents containing information on thousands of the disappeared to Geneva in order to lobby the international community and the UNHRC. Perhaps history will one day learn this incident was stage-managed by you in order to gain media publicity for yourself and to tarnish the international image of the Government of the day.

When you were in opposition, human rights, Geneva and the international community were your friends. But when power intoxicated you, they were forgotten and anyone who dared to talk of such universal values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law were labelled as LTTE sympathisers and traitors. Now that you are out of power, looking at your coconut-breaker cronies’ business class travel to Geneva, it appears you have remembered them again. And just the other day you had the audacity to appeal to the UN for replacing your military security with STF VIP security.

It is in this context that I find your hypocrisy astounding when you and your acolytes continue to criticise our government for co-sponsoring the Geneva resolution last October. I am sure you know deep within your heart that this Resolution is a victory for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans. It was also a victory for Sri Lanka’s new foreign policy. In UNHRC sessions under your Government the world was divided over Sri Lanka. Our main export markets, the US and the EU, account for over fifty percent of our exports. They, and our closest neighbours, all expressed their concern at your government’s dismantling of democracy and abuse of human rights. In 2015, however, the whole world rallied around our country and supported our resolution including India, China and Russia who spoke-out in support of the resolution.

Not only did Sri Lanka gain the entire world’s unanimous support for the Resolution but, because of the credible domestic mechanisms we proposed, our successful foreign policy prevented economic sanctions and the indignity of a foreign inquiry.

Contrary to your claims, this resolution was not foisted on us. It was based on the Sri Lankan Government’s plans for establishing good governance, accountability under the rule of law, human rights and reconciliation which were outlined in my speech to the Human Rights Council in September last year. These plans had been carefully developed by the Government over many months by studying the experiences of Sri Lanka’s own past as well as those of many other countries.

As a result, the resolution gives us a way of dealing with our past so that the senseless violence and bloodshed of the war will never haunt our beautiful island ever again. The resolution, along with the new constitution, will help us win the peace and set our country free from the shackles of conflict that have held the country back since Independence.

The resolution will help us heal our wounds and genuinely unite the country. It envisions the establishment of a Missing Persons Office to help mothers, daughters, husbands and sons find out the fate of their loved ones. It also envisions a truth and reconciliation commission which will analyse the causes of conflict and tell us how we can prevent violence from ever occurring again. The resolution also contains provision for an Office of Reparations to provide assistance and compensation to those who have lost life, limb and property over the course of the many conflicts Sri Lanka has endured over the last few decades.

It also includes the creation of a credible Sri Lankan judicial mechanism that will prevent impunity and abuse of power from raising its ugly head. For this mechanism to be credible it is essential that the victims of human rights violations that took place over the years are also confident in its impartiality and credibility. Sri Lanka has always welcomed international participation in areas where we may lack the expertise and the proposed mechanism will also do so to ensure credibility.

This mechanism will fully clear the good name of the members of the Army and all those against whom there are unfair allegations. True war heroes, as Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has said, have nothing to fear from this transitional justice process. It is only those who smeared the dignity of their uniform by restoring to criminal acts, bringing the entire security forces into disrepute and those that gave orders to carry out such heinous crimes that need worry. The vast majority of the Army will have their tarnished image restored as a disciplined and professional force. By punishing offenders it will also set an example to ensure that white vans, child recruitment and other crimes will not take place in the future.

We cannot and should not let go of this unprecedented window of opportunity, when the two main parties, for the first time since Independence, are working together and when the minorities are led by reasonable, moderate and far-sighted individuals.

I urge you to put your political interests and those of your family aside for a moment and join President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the unity government, the opposition political parties, civil society and the people in obtaining this key breakthrough in our post-Independence history. Or at least do not try to destroy this historic opportunity. If you do, you will betray the country. And the people will be certain that your continued role in politics is nothing but a misguided and selfish attempt to protect yourself and your family.

Although your statement is so full of known falsehoods, it does not merit a response. But in order to prevent your lies from misleading the country and to expose the depths of your hypocrisy, your utter disrespect for the truth and your insulting attitude towards our citizens’ intelligence, I have written a point-by-point analysis of your statement.

1. “The President and Prime Minister have given the UN Human Rights Commissioner an assurance that last year’s UN Human Rights Council resolution against Sri Lanka will be implemented.”

The bold decision to co-sponsor the UN Human Rights Council resolution last October was a massive foreign policy victory for Sri Lanka. The world which had been divided towards Sri Lanka during your Government, unanimously rallied around Sri Lanka. The resolution was not against Sri Lanka, it was for Sri Lanka and it was in the interests of its people. The resolution was drafted on the basis of the Government of Sri Lanka’s carefully deliberated plans that I outlined in September 2015. These plans, and as a result the resolution, will strengthen democracy, good governance, reconciliation and accountability under the rule of law. This will help us understand and heal the wounds of the past so that we can create a peaceful and prosperous future. It is also a fulfilment of the promise made by you in your Joint Communique with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2009 in which you, on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, promised accountability: “The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances.”

2. “This UNHRC resolution was accepted and co-sponsored by the Sri Lankan Government and passed by the UNHRC without a vote. The UNP-led Government accepted the Geneva resolution with the same carelessness with which they entered into the ceasefire agreement with the LTTE in 2002.”

Indeed the resolution was adopted without a vote by consensus. This shows that many of the countries which had distanced themselves from Sri Lanka under your Government’s policy of self-imposed isolation are all backing Sri Lanka. From Washington to Beijing, Delhi to Brussels, London to the Kremlin and Tokyo to Riyadh the world’s doors are open to Sri Lanka. For the first time a Sri Lankan Head of State has been invited to the G7 summit, which will be held in Japan this year, where President Sirisena will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world most powerful leaders.

Since Independence we have been a respected and well-regarded member of the international community. It is only during your tenure as President that many countries that had been our traditional friends distanced themselves and we became a virtual pariah state. Your policy of shooting the messenger also distanced us from our main export markets. They, and our closest neighbours, all expressed their concern at the dismantling of democracy, abuse of power, oppression of minorities and failure to make use of the historic opportunity for healing after the end of the war.

In fact, Sri Lanka has co-sponsored similar resolutions in the past. In 1984 and 1987 Sri Lanka was party to consensus resolutions on its human rights and governance record.

The 2002 Ceasefire Agreement did not succeed because of the LTTE’s obstinacy. But it managed to divide and break-up the LTTE with the defection of Karuna Amman and exposed their true motives to the international community, which in turn helped me as Foreign Minister in your Government to have the LTTE listed as a terrorism organisation in the EU and Canada in 2006, which they themselves admitted was the biggest blow to their fundraising capacity.

3. “Though our Ambassador in Geneva tried to negotiate different terms that were deliberately stopped by the Government which insisted on accepting the US sponsored resolution just as it was.”

As I have noted earlier, the resolution was based on our own plans which had been carefully developed over many months. As you know, all Sri Lankan ambassadors, including the Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, act solely on the instructions of their democratically elected Government.

4. “There is now an attempt to portray this UNHRC resolution as a great diplomatic victory for Sri Lanka. But in reality, it was a great betrayal comparable to the Kandyan Convention of 1815. The people should once again be reminded about what exactly has been undertaken by accepting this resolution. In operative paragraphs 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 12, the present Government has accepted the report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights which said that war crimes including the killing of civilians, torture, and the deliberate starvation of people had been committed by our armed forces and they have agreed to set up a war crimes tribunal manned by foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators and funded directly from overseas to try our war heroes for these alleged crimes.”

This argument is sensationalist and irresponsible. When serious allegations of Human Rights violations and war crimes are levelled at a country or an individual, it is the duty of the Government to prove such allegations wrong through a credible process of investigation and inquiry. And if some of the allegations are true it is also the duty of the Government to expose the perpetrators to such heinous crimes as well as those in the chain of command so that the good name of the army and country can be restored.

Your Government, with its shoot the messenger policy, resorted to insult and defame those who levelled such accusations. When Hilary Clinton highlighted some of the human rights violations that took place under your Government’s watch, state vehicles were used to put up posters of Hilary Clinton calling her a terrorist sympathiser. When Navi Pillay came as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, she was treated atrociously and the state media defamed her in the most shocking manner. You got your ‘diplomatic henchmen’ to insult visiting heads of Government, like British Prime Minister David Cameron, during the CHOGM meeting and hired mobs who tried to stop Channel 4 journalists from travelling.

In fact, the Channel 4 allegations are a good example of your Government’s total mismanagement. In fact, when the footage was first shown I remember asking your Government to hand over the video footage to any world-renowned forensics expert to establish your argument that they were tampered and distorted with. Having secured such evidence you could have sued Channel 4 in the UK courts to prove your innocence. Instead, laughably, you gave it to forensic experts hired by the Defence Ministry in order to disprove the footage’s authenticity. In fact, according to the information we have the video footage is not only authentic but was given to Channel 4 by members of the armed forces who themselves were deeply shocked at some of the acts carried out as a result of orders from above.

Sri Lanka has had a long history of foreign judges, lawyers and investigators participating in our mechanisms. But on the basis of your argument, the investigation and trial of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was a great betrayal: two of the three judges in the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Sirimavo Bandaranaike government were foreigners, a foreign lawyer, Phineas Quass QC participated in the trial, and the UK’s Scotland Yard handled the investigations.

There have been many allegations. But to clear the good name of the innocent, to punish the perpetrators of heinous crimes, to find out what happened to the missing, to heal the wounds of the past and to move forward, is the duty of the government. In fact, in President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100 Day Work Programme, which among other pledges relating to good governance and reconciliation, promises that:

“Since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome Statute regarding international jurisdiction with regard to war crimes, ensuring justice with regard to such matters will be the business of national independent judicial mechanisms”

If one reads the Resolution carefully, that is exactly what one finds:

“Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka…[the Resolution] also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorised prosecutors and investigators.”

5. “Furthermore they have not agreed to remove through administrative action members of the armed forces who are suspected of having committed war crimes but against whom there isn’t enough evidence to place before the war crimes tribunal.”

All public servants, including the security forces, have a higher level of code of conduct than average citizens and there are many administrative procedures in the Establishments Code and circulars for disciplining officers that fall well short of those standards of conduct.

The removal of any public official or member of the armed forces will be purely on the basis of due process that will of course be subject to the Constitution and the law of the land. In the new Sri Lanka, no one will be above the law; not the President, Ministers or other favourites. The law will apply equally to all; even the clergy, even the armed forces and the police must not be above the law.

6. “They have also agreed to make amendments to the Public Security Ordinance and to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act.”

We are replacing Prevention of Terrorism Act, with National Security legislation that reflects contemporary best practices. The PTA was promulgated in 1979 and the nature of terrorism and the world have changed greatly since then. The war has also ended. As all the political parties have at various points noted, the Prevention of Terrorism Act is a draconian piece of legislation that has been frequently misused for political ends. In order to address these shortcomings and make the legislation more relevant for the 21st Century we asked the independent Law Commission headed by the eminent lawyer Romesh de Silva PC to submit a draft bill for the government’s consideration. A committee appointed by the Prime Minister is now finalising the legislation.

7. “In operative paragraphs 16, 18 and 20, the Government has undertaken to devolve power in order to bring about a political settlement in Sri Lanka and to do everything undertaken in the resolution under the supervision of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR).”

The first time the Government of Sri Lanka made a binding commitment to the entire international community to devolve power was in 2009. In that resolution, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the time, Dayan Jayatilleke, promised to implement the thirteenth amendment in full. The resolutions reads, “Welcoming also the recent reassurance given by the President of Sri Lanka that he does not regard a military solution as a final solution, as well as his commitment to apolitical solution with implementation of the thirteenth amendment to bring about lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka”. Three years ago, in August 2013, Dayan Jayatilleke also said that the OHCHR should establish an office in Sri Lanka.

Let us not forget that you too endorsed the SLFP’s position to devolve power even beyond the 13th Amendment at the Tangerine Beach Declaration of 1997 which was unanimously endorsed by the SLFP and all it members in an open show of hands. You also supported the ‘Union of Regions’ Constitutional Draft in Cabinet and within the party. Furthermore, in your meetings with the international community, particularly with Indian Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and National Security Advisors, you have consistently expressed your support and plans for devolving power well beyond the 13th Amendment.

8. “It should be borne in mind that the OHCHR that has come in for heavy criticism by the UN Human Rights Council itself. The UNHRC passes every year (with more than a two thirds majority) a resolution calling upon the OHCHR to end the domination of that office by Westerners and to reduce its dependency on Western funds. The Government has thus agreed to place Sri Lanka under the supervision of an institution that is facing criticism by the UNHRC itself for its Western bias.”

Sri Lanka is not under supervision – no part of the resolution specifies that Sri Lanka will be under supervision. In fact, in most transitional justice processes it is the UN that decides the mechanisms and even the appointments to key positions. Under this Resolution Sri Lanka has the freedom and flexibility to decide on the contours, architecture and personnel of the mechanisms. Many multilateral institutions are funded by Western funds, including the UN. Were you not aware of this when you were lurking around the corridors in Geneva a couple of decades ago with a pass and comforts provided by Tamara Kunanayagam who you later made our ambassador in Geneva. The fact that you have again appealed to the same institution which you accuse of Western bias is a another indication of your duplicitous nature.

9. “Having accepted the Geneva resolution, the Government is now adopting various strategies to convince the public that it will not be harmful to the country. We saw the President and Prime Minister in recent days expressing to the international media what seemed to be contradictory views on the participation of foreign judges in the proposed war crimes mechanism. But this was just a drama for public consumption. It became clear from the President’s Independence Day speech that there is no difference in the stands taken by him and the Prime Minister on the Geneva resolution. The President not only endorsed the decision of the government to implement the Geneva resolution but also accused those opposed to it of misleading the public. He further said in his Independence Day speech that the implementation of the Geneva resolution will only result in promoting democracy, reconciliation and respect for our armed forces. Subsequently, on 6 February the Daily Mirror reported that the SLFP had officially announced at a press conference that the UNP and the SLFP had jointly agreed on the implementation of the Geneva resolution.”

You, who was considered one of the most progressive leaders of the era, within the first year of taking office revealed yourself to be an utter political opportunist. President Sirisena, by contrast, has within this short period of time proved himself to be a statesman who is playing a Nelson Mandela-like role in healing a deeply divided and wounded country. Unlike you who spoke to the fears and prejudices of people, President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have inspired our people with their vision for a new Sri Lanka that is united in diversity.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party has had a long and illustrious history of promoting democracy, reconciliation and human rights: from the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact, to our work promoting human rights in the 1980s and 1990s to the efforts of the Chandrika Kumaratunga Government. I would like to remind you that President Maithripala Sirisena himself survived a suicide bomb attack and so has the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, during whose tenure the Jaffna Peninsula was recaptured. Despite this great personal sacrifice, they never resorted to revenge but always stood by a political solution.

At this historic juncture, as the two main political parties work to secure the country’s future we are proud that we have not sought to score petty political points but have remained committed to the Sri Lankan people and have jointly welcomed the resolution.

10. “The war was won by an SLFP Government led by me. It is a matter of profound regret to me that our party has been subordinated in this manner to the UNP which tried to sabotage the war effort at every turn. ”

The credit for winning the war must go the security forces and the police who had to take on one of the world’s most brutal and capable terrorist organisations. Also, since the war began in 1983, both parties that have been in power since that time, gave leadership and guidance to the security forces in achieving this victory. Up until 1993 most of the Eastern Province was under LTTE control. However, it was in 1993 under President D.B. Wijetunga and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe that the LTTE was decisively defeated in the East and Prabhakaran and the LTTE had to move to the North. In 1994, when President Kumaratunga came to power most of the Northern Province, especially the city of Jaffna was under the LTTE’s control. The LTTE’s and Prabhakran’s headquarters were at the Government Agent’s Office. In 1995, under President Kumaratunga’s direction, Operation Riviresa was launched and Jaffna was recaptured. At which point the LTTE was confined to Killinochchi and Mullaithivu.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the mastermind responsible for the two main causes of the LTTE’s ultimate defeat. The LTTE suffered a fatal blow by the defection of Karuna Amman, one of the LTTE’s most efficient killing machines, and most of its Eastern cadres – which were known to form the core of the LTTE’s fighting capability. This defection gave the army tremendous intelligence and understanding of the LTTE’s fighting methods. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also cut off the LTTE’s supply lines, preventing them from securing arms and ammunition. It was during his tenure that the Air Force obtained two surveillance aircrafts that enabled effective patrolling of the North Eastern seas. He also paved the way for signing the Access and Cross Services defence agreement with the United States that enabled Sri Lanka to access specialised equipment, training and information such as coastal radars. The LTTE’s stubborn refusal to cooperate with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s peace initiatives also exposed the LTTE’s true nature to the international community who rallied around Sri Lanka.

It was also thanks to my predecessor Lakshman Kadirgamar that the LTTE was proscribed in the United States in 1998 and the UK in 2001. And it was during my tenure that I, along with the help of our friends in Washington aimed the biggest blow to the LTTE by listing them in the 27 countries of the EU and Canada. By 2007 with the LTTE banned in the US, EU and Canada, its funding and procurement network was severely affected.

In fact, much of the spadework for winning the war was done by the time you became President through a narrow election victory that was secured thanks to the LTTE who got the people of the North to boycott the election.

Even though your regime started accusing the US of being LTTE sympathisers, I can say confidently if not for the support of the US State Department, in particular Condoleezza Rice and Nicholas Burns, achieving a unanimous consensus among the EU’s twenty seven countries would have been impossible and I am happy to say that today our relations with the United States have been restored and gone on to greater heights than ever before.

Let us not forget that the UNP has had many leaders who paid the ultimate price for their courage including former President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Janaka Perera and the list goes on. Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, now a UNP Minister, led the troops to victory and made many important reforms to the fighting. As we all know, he almost died in a suicide bomb attack.

Looking back, it is remarkable now that while you were in the opposition or even after you became a minister you never ever criticised the LTTE or denounced their terror publicly. You were never on one of the LTTE’s death threat lists until you became President in 2005. However, even I as Convenor of the Sudu Nelum Movement denounced the LTTE and its extremist politics on every possible platform and as a result the 2000 General Election President Kumaratunga, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, Anuruddha Ratwatte, Lakshman Kadirgamar and myself were given the right by Gazette for the first time ever to cast our ballot papers from our homes due to the high threat levels.

You only found courage to denounce the LTTE and its politics of violence after you surrounded yourself with nearly 4000 security guards as President.

However, your callous disregard for the truth and devious attempt to claim the war victory as your own led to the arrest of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who led the Army to victory – and who had spent years fighting alongside the troops rather than leaving for the balmy California. Having got him to cut the cake celebrating the war victory he was later dragged and incarcerated for several years.

11. Many would recall the manner in which the UNP even tried to stop the war by defeating the Government at the budget vote in 2007. When that did not work, members of the UNP ridiculed the war effort by saying among other things that ‘any ox can fight a war’ and that ‘while claiming to be advancing on Alimankada the army was actually moving towards Pamankada’. It is not surprising to see such people now trying to exact revenge from those who won the war.

However, I am profoundly saddened to see that a section of the SLFP has also joined the UNP in this great betrayal. The UNP may be deriving a great deal of satisfaction by thus getting a section of the SLFP which won the war to underwrite every traitorous action they commit. I call upon the people of Sri Lanka to unite and resist this attempt by the government to betray the country and our war heroes.

The opposition trying to defeat the budget in 2007 was not to stop the war but to stop corruption which was beginning to spread like a cancer. The UNP, as shown above, always supported the security forces but were critical of the way in which their blood, sweat and tears were used to prop up your family rule.

By trying to deny the country and its people this historic opportunity to firmly entrench the peace and development that have eluded us since Independence and for which the war was fought, it is you who are betraying the country, the people, future generations and the war heroes. As my predecessor the late Lakshman Kadirgamar said, “Let us never have to rue the day when we won the war, but lost the peace for which the war was fought.”

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesignhe by agreeing to form a national unity government have demonstrated true statesmanship and foresight to turn a new leaf in the history of this country. For the first time the two principle parties which have governed Sri Lanka have come together for the betterment of the country giving Sri Lanka a new window of opportunity to achieve economic development that has been elusive for so long. In fact the great betrayal is that seasoned politicians along with a pack of so-called politicians are trying in every way to sabotage this grand coalition. A common denominator between you and your group seems to be greed and the desperate need to hide the misdeeds of your criminal past, details of which are now emerging.

My dear Mahinda, despite the acrimonious nature of our relationship over the past ten years, the Mahinda I knew had a special place in my heart and I do not want to see you going towards further doom and destruction.

If not for your lust for power you still would be President today. Instead, you used the goodwill generated by the war victory to establish a family dynasty and in order to do so you even changed the Constitution to allow you to contest without limit. Had you, like earlier Presidents, decided to serve your two terms and go home graciously you would still be President today with your second term ending next year. Instead, you fiddled with the constitution which was your ultimate downfall. You have been decisively defeated twice in one year but it is still not too late to accept defeat, retire graciously and enjoy a happy retirement. Perhaps then we could be
friends again.

Yours truly,



Last modified on Monday, 16 May 2016 10:06