An Email Memorandum from Gus Mathews in London, c. 24 February 2021[i]
Michael, I am afraid there are no niceties in war. War is brutal as is the detritus of war. Unlike in a conventional war where the behaviours of troops are defined by the ‘Geneva Convention,’ it is not applicable in a civil insurrection especially one that attacks a legitimately elected democratic government. No country is bound to tolerate a secessionist group especially one that utilises terror to achieve its ends. History is replete with examples of civil wars that were prompted by secession. The most glaring example is the United States civil war. We also have an example from Vietnam and currently ongoing is the Korean debacle.
Sri Lanka is accused of human rights violations during its civil war and as Desmond de Silva, the former Chief Prosecutor of UN sponsored war crimes attested, it is inappropriate in combat and battlefield conditions. While it is possible that some individuals have overstepped the ‘local’ terms of engagement in the ‘fog of war’, to attribute such incidents to all and sundry of the Sri Lankan forces is not only facile but also futile. As for prosecuting the former head of state for the actions of a handful of soldiers during the depth of the conflict, on the face of it [such a course] is tinged with vengeance by the supporters of the LTTE supporting Diaspora together with the cabal of Western governments for the political control of Sri Lanka.
On a concluding note, political issues that pertain to Sri Lanka are for Sri Lanka to solve, not outsiders. Any interference from the UN or other agencies tends to exacerbate matters and prolong any steps for reconciliation, peace and economic progress. We saw this with Vietnam when the country was split into North and South. We are currently witnessing the standoff with North and South Korea, the problems with North and South Sudan are also extant despite the UN involvement.
Unfortunately, the UN has not had much success in resolving conflicts. The shenanigans of the UNHRC encouraged by the West is not based on morality, but on political imperatives for the political, social and military control of Sri Lanka. I shall leave you with a quote [ii] from Mathias Keittle a German political analyst:
“This must surely be the only case in history that a winner in a conflict has been hounded in this manner to account for alleged war crimes and breaches of human rights in the process of winning the conflict – leave alone defeating a ruthless terrorist group.
There have been no such demands made following World War II, or after the Korean Conflict, after Vietnam, after Gulf War 1, the continuing occupation of Afghanistan or Iraq. It is difficult to pin down one reason for this attitude of a number of key Western countries and some high-profile individuals. Were pure principled attachment to humanitarian standards the reason, then Sri Lanka would, in their view, appear to be the one egregious offender in the whole world. This obviously cannot be the case. But Sri Lanka is certainly a developing country from the non-Western world and hence easier to beat up.”
End of quote.
[i] An Email Note arising from a Discussion within a vibrant email circle of Sri Lankan Enthsiasts of Varied Persuasion, c. 24 February 2021. Highlighting emphasis has been added by Michael Roberts.
Gus Mathews’ Note was generated by the Video entitled DARE under discussion within a small circle of Sri Lankans, 25 February 2021. By error on my part — perhaps marking the early onset of Altzheimers — I confused the email with what I thought was another by Chandre Dharmawardana. That item is now deleted
Gus lives in the UK and is a Sri Lankan of mixed lineage — an achcharu in local terminology, a person who, he noted, was generally deemed Burgher [as I often am — though I do not consider myself such]. I got to know Gus recently after the traumatic bereavement of Rajeewa Jayaweera and have always found his thoughts weighty and well-grounded.
[ii] Since presented in Thuppahi — see https://thuppahis.com/2021/02/25/a-german-scholars-incisive-review-of-the-western-powers-treatment-of-sri-lanka-2009-21/#more-49617