Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa is certainly not going to be a favourite of messrs. Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila or Ven. Elle Gunawansa. Not by a long way. Come to that, he is not going to endear himself to elder siblings Mahinda or Gota either. Not after his comments made in Jaffna, where he was busy setting up local branches of the pohottuwa party, over the weekend.
Addressing journalists, at the Jaffna Press Club, the younger Rajapaksa conceded that the security forces, indeed, committed crimes during and after the war. “I think our forces did not do war crimes. But individuals must have done (crimes). We can call (it) crimes”, Rajapaksa was quoted as saying. This is the first time that a Rajapaksa has admitted to crimes committed by the military, both during and after the war. He certainly would not have meant combatants, read the LTTE. For, essentially, killing guerillas, can, by no stretch of the imagination be described as a ‘crime’, in what was, after all, a war. Hence, if crimes were committed, as contended by Basil, it has got be against civilians. By this admission, the onetime powerful minister has certainly opened a can of worms. He has, wittingly or unwittingly, compromised all those who vehemently protested against the Darusman report, that listed specific instances of the killing of civilians, including the cold blooded murder of four schoolboys, in Trincomalee, alleged to have been committed by the security forces.
What is more, Basil has also endorsed the claim made by many, that, members of the security forces were responsible for abductions, particularly the allegation made by Sarath Fonseka that a Safe House operated in Colombo, staffed by members if the forces, who were responsible for the abduction and harming of journalists. He has given the lie to all the lamentations of his JO buddies and Bikkhu fronts who are weeping buckets for the war heroes who, it is said, were being maltreated by the Yahapalanaya government.
Basil has unmasked the true face of these war heroes and the Weerawansas, Gammanpilas and Elle Gunawansas can no longer blame the government for the maha paava deema. The charges made against the former Navy Spokesman now languishing behind bars, for being behind the abduction of Tamil youth from several areas in Colombo cannot be far-fetched, anymore. Those who were gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair over the ranaviru dadayama had better wake up and come to terms with reality. The man, who was once their Godfather, had let the cat out of the bag.
Basil's is not just an isolated admission. Major General (rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne had borne personal witness to crimes committed by the security forces, as contained in his book “Road to Nandikadal. Basil cannot be faulted in that sense. Also, the brouhaha made over claims by Sarath Fonseka, vis-a-vis his successor as Army Commander, Lt.Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, too is just so much hot air.
Rajapaksa's contention that all occupied land in the north should be returned to their original owners, too, has removed a strong plank in the JO's campaign to show up the government as paving the way for the re-emergence of the LTTE. By this stand Basil has even pooh-poohed the present Army Commander's position that withdrawing the army from the north, at this stage, was not feasible. In this too, Rajapaksa has gone against the campaign of the JO and Bikkhu organisations who are agitating for the retention of the military, at its full strength, in the north.
It was only the other day that his own brother, the former President, expressed fears that the LTTE, whom he defeated, was poised to make a comeback due to the government's move to reduce the strength of the military, in the north. How he will respond to Basil's remarks will be anyone's guess.
Of course, the younger Rajapaksa is on a political mission in the north, to obtain a foothold for the pohottuwa party, a tall order, though, this may be. One way of atoning for the militarist approach of the Rajapaksas, Basil would have thought, was doing a Mea Culpa, admitting to the crimes committed by the military. Whether this would have any impact is difficult to say. That is because the Rajapaksas have already blotted their copybook with the minorities, the Tamils in particular.
MR too was on a similar mission in the north, trying to woo the Tamils by distributing jewellery, stolen by the LTTE, prior to the Presidential Election. But this attempt came a cropper, judging the poll results in the north. Rajapaksa also must have estranged the northerners, further, by declaring that he was defeated on January 8 by the Tiger vote, thus branding all the Tamils as terrorists. Post war-victory, he also conducted himself in a manner that cast the Tamils as a conquered race, by staging military parades, and, also, banning the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil, in all the schools and at public functions in the north.
It is difficult to comprehend Basil pulling it off, where brother Mahinda failed.
Daily News, October 4, 2017