October 16, 2018 (LBO) – Imagine a team of 15 highly trained Sri Lankan intelligence operatives board a private plane and embark on a journey to Istanbul, one of the greatest cities in the history of the world.
This team of operatives includes those well versed in interrogation, torture, forensics, and someone who is an expert in the use of a “bone saw”. The team lands in Istanbul and enters the country on tourist visas.
The team proceeds to the Sri Lankan consulate where they set up a base of operations. That day they are expecting one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent media personalities with a global reputation. He is an aristocrat who has been close to Presidents and other VIPs. This Sri Lankan is now a Unites States resident and a global opinions columnist for the Washington Post, America’s most important political newspaper.
The aristocrat arrives at the consulate, he is interrogated, tortured, and killed. Afterwords his body is chopped into pieces, and disposed of via the Consul General’s official residence. The kill team then gets onto the private plane and leaves Turkey.
The Turkish and American intelligence agencies know exactly what happened. We are caught red handed.
What would be the fate of Sri Lanka in such a circumstance?
When I presented this hypothetical to a colleague, it didn’t take long for the person to say that we’d all be broke. The country would be bankrupt. We would be a global pariah like North Korea. The international community would hang us out to dry.
Saudi Arabia is a country of 33 million people, about 50% bigger than Sri Lanka, and they have been caught red handed. The difference in this case is that Saudi Arabia has oil and money, a lot of it. This has caused the international community’s response to be timid and measured. We are also complicit as Sri Lanka hasn’t even released a statement on the matter.
While Sri Lanka suffers under UNHRC resolutions, Saudi Arabia can send military squads violating the sovereignties of world powers, and so far get away with it.
For all the criticism one may level on Sri Lanka, we can be thankful that Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, however flawed they may be, respect international laws.
We as a nation are sending women out of our wonderful country and away from their families to work in nations which don’t share our same basic human values. One such woman, a teenager employed to look after a 4 month child who tragically died, was beheaded despite fierce diplomatic efforts from our side. Her name was Rizana Nafeek, born in the Trincomalee district.
We should be proud of our democracy, our respect for human rights, our media freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and compassionate people. The nation has made many mistakes, but this government is doing something to make amends. We have harmed our journalists, and failed to deliver justice, but we can still prevail.
The government has certainly not adequately delivered on fixing these many mistakes, and there is so much more that we desperately need to get done. However, Sri Lankans have much to be thankful for, we have no need to fear our leaders.