UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe is once again out on a sojourn in the Western
capitals at a crucial passage in Sri Lanka, this time as a
crusader for democracy and human rights in the Sri Lankan state.
His professed claim to save democracy in Sri Lanka as the
reason for his latest visit to the EU countries is laughable if
not for the gravity of the statement impinging on the country's
dignity and honour.
Addressing a news briefing at the Opposition Leaders' office
UNP front liner Lakshman Kiriella said that Wickremesinghe
during his European tour was only hoping to seek support of the
Western countries to safeguard democracy in Sri Lanka adding
that democracy was facing it's worst challenge in the country.
In what way Wickremesinghe plans to persuade countries of the
West to safeguard democracy in Sri Lanka is unclear other than
prevail on these countries to use economic aid as a bargaining
Significantly Wickremesinghe's trip also coincides with
crucial negotiations on the Rs1.9 billion-dollar aid package Sri
Lanka hopes to secure from the IMF.
This is not the first time that the UNP leader has taken wing
to the West when the country is at a crossroads with the Armed
Forces poised to finish off the LTTE.
Instances are many when he had bad mouthed the Government
abroad as he is preparing to do now without realising that it is
the country of which he was twice Prime Minister he is devaluing
and denigrating before the international community.
This is a far cry from past UNP leaders who acted as real
statesmen and never bartered the country's honour for political
gain. It is regrettable that Ranil Wickremesinghe has chosen to
take a different path whereby he is motivated by ill will
towards the Government.
If there is a challenge to media freedom as UNP says how come
there are so many newspapers and private television channels
operating in the country with the freedom to criticise the
Government. This was in contrast to the time when private TV
channels were not given the right to telecast news broadcasts or
even voice opposition against the Government in power.
Today the tendency is to cry fowl and invoke human rights at
a time when the Government is taking maximum precautions to
protect the civilians' population from terror strikes.
True, there was the case of eviction of lodgers out of an
abundance of caution for the self same reason of protecting the
innocent civilian population.
But even this step was revoked by a Supreme Court order and
the Government forced to bring back the lodgers at it's own
expense. Is this not a testament that the Government cannot act
with impunity in this country and that the courts sits as an
overarching influence to prevent such violations.
Compare this with the abduction and murder of human rights
lawyers Kanchana Abeypala and Wijedasa Liyanaarachchi on whose
behalf present President Mahinda Rajapaksa took up cudgels as a
young human rights lawyer at a time the country was plunged into
a reign of terror with burnt corpses at street corners and
floating in the rivers as the insurgents and Government
vigilantes engaged in tit for tat killings and when torture
chambers were operating with the full knowledge of those now
turned crusaders for human rights.
Who are these people Wickremesinghe is seeking support from
to protect human rights is Sri Lanka? Today as everyone knows
Britain has imposed harsh restrictions on minorities living in
that country and are profiling members of the Muslim community
after the recent subway bomb blasts.
Wickremesinghe's rabid pro-western stance and his penchant to
take Sri Lanka's problems before the West has hardly endeared
him to vast population of this country.
Wickremesinghe may want to build his crumbling stature by
hob-nobbing with the Western allies to compensate for his
party's electoral disasters at home.
But what the UNP leader should realise is the fallout of his
conduct and utterances on the country's reputation. This at a
time when the President is taking pains to rebuild the country
shattered by three decades of war and trying to unite all
communities and at a time the spotlight of the world is focused
on Sri Lanka.
This is why the people of this country are going to have a
poor opinion of the UNP leader across party lines.