|Robert Evans’ falsehoods exposed|
|Thursday, 19 February 2009|
The British European MP Robert Evans has engaged in a constant barrage of criticism of Sri Lanka for a period of nearly ten years, when he accused the government of President Kumaratunga of 'implementing an oppressive press-censorship policy and of not allowing essential supplies, including baby food and medicine, to be distributed in areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers... the government has made no progress against the Tamil Tigers on the battlefield... its proposals to end the fighting through constitutional reform will not work'.
Now, though the situation is quite different, Evans sings a similar song, basically wanting to promote a solution on the lines of what the Tigers want. Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process in Sri Lanka, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, in the following letter to the Editor of the Independent exposes Mr. Evans’ true self. It is to be hoped that the British papers will publish this detailed refutation of Mr. Evans’ false arguments, and that British officials will not give in to pressure from someone like Mr. Evans who has for so long done nothing but criticize successive Sri Lankan governments.
The infamous ceasefire agreement
Given below is Prof. Wijesinha’s letter:
I was sorry to see you give so much space, in your columns of February 14th, to Robert Evans to pronounce with regard to the situation in Sri Lanka. Far from being an expert on the subject, he is a proven partisan. The European Parliament noted this when it rejected his report on the visit to Sri Lanka of a delegation of European Parliamentarians. That report had claimed that the Sri Lankan government prevented a visit of the delegation to the East, whereas we had tried to facilitate this. Later Mr. Evans declared to a pro-LTTE gathering in London that he had not gone to the East because he did not want to shake the hand of the current Chief Minister – a former child recruit who had repudiated the LTTE and taken to democratic politics.
Mr. Evans’ fractured relationship with the truth is apparent also from the current article. He asserts, on the basis of the rejection of a special British envoy, that the government has ‘become increasingly paranoid and defensive about all matters relating to the vicious civil war’. He fails to register that there is a special Japanese envoy, who was appointed after consultation, which the British failed to engage in.
He claims that the conflict continued with ‘very little outside involvement and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) were able to establish a de facto independent state-within-a-state’ – a ‘state’ in which all government officials were paid and food supplies secured by the central government, with free health and education provided as elsewhere in the country. The heavy taxes the LTTE were able to collect precisely because of foreign involvement went on weapons. Evans indeed knows about the foreign involvement because he asserts that ‘the Sri Lankan government unilaterally withdrew from the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire, and under the leadership of its hawkish President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, embarked on this current campaign’ – again omitting that the current government succeeded in resuming talks with the LTTE which had unilaterally withdrawn from negotiations in 2003, and did so again in 2006 while launching massive attacks which had to be resisted. It was only then that the government decided that the right of self-defence accepted in the Ceasefire Agreement meant taking measures also to prevent further surprise attacks.
The abrogation of the agreement itself only happened later, when the LTTE made it clear it would not return to talks. That abrogation allowed the government to proceed more confidently with the talks it had already begun with democratic Tamil forces.
Evans goes on to say that the ‘real victims’ of the government’s struggle against terrorism are civilians, he ignores the fact that his sanctimonious pronouncements come precisely because the government has rescued much of the country from terrorist control – i.e. the victims are terrorists. Civilians have suffered because the LTTE forced them to retreat along with the LTTE, and people like Evans who are now pronouncing failed to make any effort to have them released then, when it would have been much easier.
The same sadly goes for the UN, which claimed it was quiet earlier because it feared for its workers who had also been trapped by the LTTE. Now however the UN has begun to assert more loudly that the LTTE should let the people go. Why does Evans fail to add his voice to theirs, to condemn the continuing recruitment of children, to denounce the murder, through suicide bombing and grenade throwing and shooting, of civilians trying to get away?
Evans claims that the Tamil people are terrified of ‘Sri Lankan troops and their "holding camps", with all the stories of assaults and rape, not to mention the different language and religion which divides the Hindu Tamils from the Buddhist Sinhalese troops’. He obviously does not know that nearly 40,000 have got away to the protection of Sri Lankan troops – which include Christians and Tamils and Muslims, though fewer of the last two since the LTTE started killing them as traitors, in particular those who were able to set up a fantastic intelligence network amongst Tamil speaking citizens sick of the LTTE. He also ignores the recent yeoman service of the Catholic church in providing leadership to Tamils, Hindu as well as Catholic, who wanted to escape.
Evans’ sole concession to Tiger brutality is that there are ‘stories suggesting that the LTTE has, or might, shoot anyone who tries to escape from the areas that remain under their control.’ But he promptly goes on to claim that none of this is verifiable – presumably even his own extreme pronouncements, which were asserted with no diffidence.
He claims that ‘The Sri Lankan government restricts all journalists and independent observers from entering the conflict zone. The reports from the few remaining aid or humanitarian agencies still allowed in the area are dismissed by the Sri Lankan authorities as propaganda.’ What precisely is he talking about? He goes on to declaim, ‘Can Amnesty International and United Nations workers all be lying? Are all the horrific pictures of bombed-out hospitals and lines of dead men, women and children false or fabricated?’
This is rhetoric of the highest degree of deceitfulness. There are no pictures of bombed-out hospitals, because there are none. The PTK hospital about which there was so much hype, Amnesty International claiming it had been cluster bombed and then refusing to withdraw that statement even when the UN repudiated it, is still standing. The lines of dead men, women and children are to do with LTTE shelling, as asserted clearly by the Bishop of Jaffna and the UN.
What the government objects to is assertions that, when there is doubt about who did it, the government is blamed. When it is clear that the LTTE did it, even if the UN declares this, the Evans brigade claims there is no evidence.
Finally, Evans does the classic British thing of wondering, if a British envoy is not accepted, ‘who will protect the Tamil civilians from being massacred?’ Does he not realize that, from the mealy-mouthed British head of Save the Children who gave good reasons why he had not spoken out against Tiger recruitment of children, to the Britishers who allowed heavy equipment intended for humanitarian purposes to be used to build Tiger defences, that it is the British who have the worst reputation of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds? Des Browne may himself be a gentleman, but he has to be accepted if at all after formal discussions, not simply because Gordon Brown is under pressure from Robert Evans and the other crew of British MPs desperately in need of votes in marginal seats.
Robert Evans thinks that ‘anyone who doesn't wholly back the murderous tactics of the Colombo government is automatically dismissed by the Sri Lankan authorities not just as an apologist for terrorism but as a supporter of the LTTE .’ Had he ever studied philosophy he would have known that that is a collection of several propositions, none of which has basis in fact. Further analysis of his bombast is not necessary, but has it ever occurred to him that, while we might initially have thought of him as a naïve fool, the alternative is not apologist for terrorism, but rather self-serving politician? The fact that terrorists can take advantage of such folly or self-serving does not mean he should be charged under Britain’s Anti-Terror legislation – but Gordon Brown should perhaps gently take him aside and sit him on his knee and say he really should know better.
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretary GeneralSecretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
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