Time to stop foreign diplomatic corps involvement in local politics

 

(11.08.2014 – Email)

According to media reports, a tense situation prevailed at a meeting organized by a NGO named, “Right to Life Human Rights Centre” involving families of disappeared persons from the North and representatives from US, France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland missions in Colombo, when, another NGO, the “Dead and Missing Person’s Parents Front”, had sought access to the meeting, demanding that their grievances be heard too.

Later the US, France, Germany, Britain and Switzerland issued statements condemning the incident and demanding the government to enforce the rule of law.

The external affairs ministry, in response, said to have hit back at the diplomatic corps based in Colombo for organizing events for a particular region and community in Sri Lanka, that could lead to ‘volatile situations giving rise to the perpetuation of mistrust amongst communities’ and urged the diplomatic community to “be more conscious of local sensitivities when attending events of an emotive nature.”

Foreign interference, both political and economic, with the internal affairs of Sri Lanka was minimal prior to 1977. Sri Lanka became an active member of the non-align movement and in early 1970s and late Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected as the chairperson of the movement. She nationalised foreign owned businesses such as, estates, oil distribution and insurance with hardly any problems. The only threat she had to face was the 1962 abortive coup orchestrated by the top brass of the police and armed forces after the takeover of the missionary (but government aided) schools.

Almost all countries including, the West and the Soviet bloc came to assist Sri Lanka when 1971 uprising broke out.

With the emergence of open economy policy and the short-sighted foreign policy of the government elected in 1977, various forms of foreign interference started emerging. The collapsed of the Soviet Union followed by the non-aligned movement also strengthened the level of foreign interference with time.

India became the first country, since independence, to interfere with the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, in the late 1980s with the so called Indo-Lanka Pact of 1987 and the IPKF. India had to pay a heavy price for its misdeeds later.

Norwegians became the second country to interfere with the internal affairs of Sri Lanka, under the guise of ‘peace facilitation’. Simultaneously, various secretive foreign funded non-governmental organisations which appear before the public under various guises, such as ‘peace’ free media’ human rights’ no war’ “abduction”, “disappearance” and so on, have started emerging and are still continuing their old dramas on the same themes, violating the basic norms and guidance which they are expected to adhere.

Disappearances, abductions and killings were carried out daily by the Tamil Tigers terrorists, at their liberty, in areas under their control for nearly three decades while the so-called international or local ‘human rights champions’ were marinating a blind eye towards them.

The so-called ‘peace facilitation also led to the emergence of undue interference of the foreign diplomatic corps based in Colombo notably US, France, Germany and Britain as never seen before.

These diplomats, who are representatives of the superpower, are gradually becoming part and parcel of our local political system and we see no significant difference between their day-to-day tasks in Colombo and those of the opposition parties including LTTE proxy TNA.

Statements issued by various foreign diplomats in Colombo, notably those of former and current US ambassadors, almost one after the other concerning the internal affairs of our country, and reported visits and secret visits said to have been made to meet the opponents of the democratically elected government to discuss ‘undisclosed’ matters related to internal politics of the host country are typical examples of their failure of self-controlling, what appears as, some sort of a ‘superiority’ complex when serving in tiny nations.

How much damaged to our country’s reputation, peace and harmony has been done as a result of so-called ‘concerns’ on our ‘peace’, ‘human rights’, ‘free media’, etc by some of the notable former diplomats such as US Ambassador Robert O. Blake, British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott of Britain, the German Ambassador Weerth during their tenure of office in Colombo are now part of the history. We also remember how so-called advisors like Allan Rock and officials like Sir John Holmes from the United Nations came here, time to time, and provided the moral support to those diplomats to strengthen their activities in the past. These western diplomats and the UN officials based in Colombo attempted their best to prevent the ‘peace’ we are enjoing today, calling for an immediate ceasefire at every stage of the war against LTTE. The theme of their common story was simply ‘Do not touch Prabhakaran’.

After reading the analysis of speeches and considering the extent of involvement in the internal affairs of the US embassy, one may tends to believe that there is no other foreign diplomat who could match the potential of Mrs J. Sison , when figuring out a solution to the ‘human rights’ situation in Sri lanka. Perhaps she may have not come up to the same standard of Mr A.N, Dixit, who attempted tofind a solution to the so-called ‘ethinic’ problem, during late 1980’s while serving as the Indian High Commissioner. However Mrs Sison must have definitely exceeded, by now, the efforts of one of the former British High Commissioner who was made ‘persona non grata’ by President Ranasinghe Premadasa due to the diplomat’s unwarranted interest in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.

Just over a month ago, the US embassy had to withdraw its overall plan to implement a project called ‘Election Support through Voter Education’, through local NGOs after the Sri Lanka government authorities revealed their ‘concern’ over hidden intention of the project to undermine the government ahead of Presidential polls.

It is also interesting to note how the champions of democracies of the world, who define ‘human rights’ and pretend to show that they are the owners of ‘human rights’ of the world, are responding to situations affecting their nations. These democracies are also champions when it comes to interpretation of the words to suit their benefit while following a different policy towards smaller developing nations such as ours.

Being a passionate in the day-to-day events of Sri Lanka, Mrs Sison must be aware of the growing concern, among the Sri Lankan population about the undue foreign interference and bullying through the diplomatic missions in Colombo and apparent pressure on the government to take remedial action to safeguard the sovereignty of the country.

The meddlesome foreign envoys in Colombo should need the growing concern, among the Sri Lankan population about the undue interference. It is time the government to take remedial action to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.

S. Akurugoda

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