For the ex-president, the election battle “is a fight for political survival,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo. “Rajapaksa Inc., the dynastic project, can’t stay out of power too long or it risks destruction.”
John Kerry’s visit to Sri Lanka, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State in 11 years, recognizes country’s geopolitical importance. It also highlights the outcome of the recent tussle over the island state by two emerging global powers. This is a contest in which India has now gained the upper hand over China, offering important lessons for rising powers as they begin a “Great Game” in Asia.
“Sri Lanka needs good relations with both China and India but Rajapaksa turned it into a zero sum game, which made him a liability for India,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Sri Lanka.
A Sri Lankan court on Thursday barred former Tamil Tiger rebel leader Kumaran Pathmanathan, wanted by India in connection with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, from traveling abroad, a lawyer said.
« About16,000 children born to Sri Lankan refugees in India are stateless since they do not have Sri Lankan citizenship and enjoy a mere refugee status. »
Many of us who never physically crossed any borders were yet born as refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people in foreign countries, as was I. Unlike me, however, most of these children will remain stateless for much of their life, if not all of it. For some it may take ten years, for others it may take a whole life to become ‘human’.
After an apparently strained relationship with Colombo during Mr. Rajapaksa’s tenure — predominantly over what India saw as Sri Lanka’s growing proximity to China — New Delhi was quick to welcome and reach out to Colombo’s new dispensation following the January 8 election.
The inter-ministerial talks on resolving the woes of the Tamil refugees in India have resumed. This follows the recent meeting external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had with her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera in Delhi. The refugee problem is a hangover of the ethnic crisis the island nation had experienced. At one time, there were over three lakh Sri Lankan Tamils in India seeking refugee status. Nearly two-thirds have returned to Sri Lanka or other places. Of the remaining, about 60,000 are in refugee camps enjoying whatever little facilities they are entitled to under UN rules. It is only natural that they want to return to their homeland
Fresh evidence has emerged pointing to a concerted international effort behind the defeat of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in the country’s presidential election on January 8. Reuters reported on Sunday that the Colombo station chief for India’s external spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was recalled to New Delhi before the election, following complaints by the Sri Lankan government that he was helping the opposition parties.
The international community could also play a positive role in Sri Lanka’s progress toward reconciliation. Sri Lanka’s relations with the United States and Europe were notoriously bad during the Rajapaksa regime, but the election creates the opportunity for a revision of U.S. and European policies vis-à-vis Sri Lanka.
To help control corruption and promote reconciliation, it may be time to consider relieving some of the pressures on Sri Lanka applied by the United States and Europe. Gradually unfreezing development aid and giving Sri Lanka enhanced trade benefits under the GSP+ trade agreements if Sri Lanka works toward achieving genuine reconciliation and fighting corruption could be steps in the right direction.
Adopting an antagonistic approach towards the West only further strengthened their resolve and the resolve of other regional powers to tighten the noose against us. It is critical that if we are to tread delicately and get the best of what the game of international politics has in store for us, that we are at our best behavior at home.
« When the Chinese naval submarine ‘Great Wall 329′ arrived at the Colombo Port, Mahinda Rajapaksa may have not dreamt that even his royal astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardene’s prediction may prove wrong about his victory. Also, having declared a presidential election and when he travelled to Lord Venkateswara Temple, India, Mahinda may not have felt that the correct Temple to worship was the Temple at South Block, New Delhi. Be that as it may, Mahinda’s destiny was not changed by Maithripala who had hoppers and left him, but by the Chinese submarine ‘Great Wall 329′. »
« The new Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, has a chance to make some changes, but only if he can keep an uncertain coalition together. Resetting relations with Delhi and Washington will be an important part of this – and his country’s friends need to give him some space. »
On a Sunday four months ago, a vessel pulled unannounced into Sri Lanka’s Colombo harbor: the Chinese Navy submarine Great Wall No. 329, which is designed to carry torpedoes, a cruise missile and a 360-pound warhead.
“Neither of their manifestoes states anything about refugees living outside the country. My plight in the Trichy camp is no better than those at the Chettikulam camp in Lanka. How does it affect me if Mahinda or Sirisena wins?”
“Rajapaksa has made it clear in public rhetoric and propaganda that China is our best friend,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives. “There’s a perception that the Chinese are underpinning misgovernance and corruption in the regime.”