Created: Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Upcoming Geneva UN Resolution Against Sri Lanka – Not Exactly a Surprise
On one level it is surprising that the United States and the international community is not willing to let go of its desire to punish Sri Lanka for alleged human rights abuses at the end of its 30-year war against the LTTE terrorists; after all, the hard evidence points to Sri Lanka’s innocence.On another level, however, it is not a surprise at all. What is the value of “hard evidence” in an era when arguments and battles are won in the media, and public opinion can be bought and swayed when falsehood is so easily turned upside down into truth?
Just look at the billionaire Koch brothers in the US, and the many Political Action Committees they and others heavily fund to push their conservative Republican agenda. In 2012 there were 1,319 of these conservative PACs, and they had taken in receipts of US$838 million. They spent $631 million on the 2012 election cycle in various candidates’ campaigns. With all this money, wealthy conservative Republicans and their PACs repeat their policy “talking points” frequently enough on television to turn them into brainwashing memes, and their oftentimes self-righteous claims and defamations of their opposition have absolutely nothing to do with the truth. Actually, these people have no interest in truth. They are only concerned about establishing their ideological perspective, which is mere subjective opinion, and then be able to decide how things “should” be run. How shameful, really, is this modern global trend that ignores “hard evidence” and perverts the truth for the sake of ideology. Unfortunately, the people are duly persuaded via huge paid media budgets, and the promoters’ deluded positionalities become what’s absolutely “real.”
Fortunately for President Obama, he also had his wealthy donors and their PACs, and they were able to tell the President’s side of the story more effectively. Obama couldn’t have gotten re-elected without his team of experts, the PACs, and the mountains of money. His team spent about the same as the Republicans, but they turned out to be smarter in utilizing all forms of media, and recognizing the many demographic changes that had come about in America during the past few years. Since it is not illegal, both sides in the recent American election cycle used the PACs, and both bought public opinion. It seems that PACs have become a “necessary evil” in today’s climate of relativistic truth.
It seems apparent that a big huge PAC is functioning today in regards to troubled Sri Lanka and its uphill battle to win the support of the international community. In spite of the progress it has made since the ending of the terrorist war, and its efforts to implement the Lessons Learned Commission recommendations, the reality is that the Sri Lankan Government is no match for its international nemesis, the LTTE rump diaspora and its internationally-funded public relations and media spin weapons. The huge diaspora NGO’s, their limitless funds, and their wealthy donors and supporters could be likened to a Tamil expat Super-PAC. Unlike registered American political PACs, there are no public records on the amount of money the diaspora groups around the world have raised – nor how much money they have spent on defaming Sri Lanka’s reputation. The damaging of its reputation is only step one; step two is to punish it for winning the war against the LTTE; step three is to take over the island for its own country. (Notice that step three is the same as the LTTE’s former step one.)
I saw the coming tsunami of Tamil diaspora media and negative public relations inundation several years ago, and did my best to try to help. I wrote letters, newspaper and magazine articles, proposals, and provided some good ideas – all free of charge as a caring friend. I even vetted PR professionals in New York City for the job of handling the GOSL’s international media account. My efforts to help went nowhere, however, and do you know why? Lack of funds. Everyone I spoke to in the Government said there simply wasn’t enough money to pay the right team of professionals to gear up and manage its media image, and defend itself against the diaspora’s hatred when the war ended.
Anyway, that was then and now is now. The Tamil diaspora PACS, media spinners and PR mavens have been working overtime, and to much success. In a couple of weeks Sri Lanka will probably be the recipient of yet another Resolution from the UNHRC condemning it for alleged war crimes, and for not implementing all of the Lessons Learned Commission’s recommendations. Notice that like clockwork yet another damning Channel 4 video has suddenly appeared, and was shamelessly presented in Geneva on the eve of the Conference.
Another new documentary about wartime atrocities has debuted, and don’t forget those doctored photos of a murdered Prabhakaran’s son. These media bombs – and more – are dropped just in time for the UN Resolution hearings. Didn’t the same thing happen the last time Sri Lanka was chastised in Geneva? It should be no surprise, however, that the LTTE diaspora has been hard at work to spin its yarns – very effectively, I might add, and with a war-chest full of Dollars, Lire, Pounds Sterling, Deutschmarks, and every other currency. We wanted to believe that the LTTE was defeated in May of 2009. Militarily, yes, it was; but totally? No. Even though it is supposedly inactive, in the court of world opinion it has gained a big lead.
It doesn’t help the situation that the deck is already stacked against Sri Lanka with the Chairman of the UNHRC, Ms. Navi Pillay, an ethnic Tamil who consistently demonstrates her bias against the GOSL. This bias is familiar to us all, and is well documented in numerous other articles. Her bias has influenced the international community to be predisposed against Sri Lanka, and to turn deaf ears to the Government’s progress, internal implementations, responses to allegations, pleas for fairness and justice, and global acknowledgement for its tremendous achievements in country-rebuilding.
In spite of multiple efforts to inform her about the real situation on the ground in Sri Lanka, Miss Pillay simply won’t let it go; she won’t even visit the country – even after three years of pleas and invitations to do so. She seems determined, come hell or high water, to bring shame and ruin to the shores of Sri Lanka. Yesterday the UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, came out with lukewarm, but encouraging, support, and said that yes, there has been a great deal of progress in the rehabilitation of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. He finished his comments by saying, however, that it still needs work in the areas of “reconciliation and accountability.”
The only bright note in this tawdry affair of lies were the statements made last week by the U.S. Rep. from American Samoa, Democratic Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, the Vice Chairman of the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee; he had just returned from Sri Lanka the previous week. I watched the video of the Committee’s official hearing exchanges he had with Ambassador Robert Blake, and was impressed with the Congressman’s “island man” candor in complementing the GOSL on the tremendous progress made in rehabilitating the country since the war. He commented that he had seen hard evidence of such progress first hand, and had met with the President and other authorities and was convinced that the Government was doing its best to implement the Lessons Learned Commission. The Congressman asked Mr. Blake repeatedly why he never acknowledged the positive things the GOSL had done, and the Ambassador’s flimsy answers indicated that he never will – that he will continue to press on with the trumped-up atrocities charges like a dog on a tasty bone. The Republican Chairman of this Committee, however, Rep. Steve Chabot, also seemed determined to stay in step with Mr. Blake on his negative quest.
In the midst of all of the hype over the Geneva resolution, Sri Lanka also has a host of messy and inconvenient problems on the home front: multiple alleged corruption cases; foreign government investigative agencies like the KGB, India’s RAW, various Middle Eastern jihadists, and the CIA working behind the scenes within Sri Lanka’s borders; the Halaal issue; the Muslim illegal tariffs; the sterilization of Sinhalese girls; perceived Chinese hegemony; a falling rupee; murdered or missing journalists; illegal urban construction; and many more. Each of these problems causes a further dip in Sri Lanka’s overseas image, and the Government, oftentimes via unethical local politicians, can’t seem to help miss-stepping on almost all of them when they attempt to find solutions.
The GOSL is clearly not prepared to deal with all of this at once. A “perfect storm” is brewing. The Government is no match for the diaspora’s well-orchestrated and well-funded PR and media campaign against it. It still doesn’t understand how the spin machine industry works, and it has done nothing pro-active to protect itself from its media enemies – other than sponsor a few junkets for the press and business types, and have its embassies around the world issue feeble press releases that never get picked up by the right media outlets. I know the GOSL tries, but trying just doesn’t cut it these days.
The LTTE diaspora continues to be in a vengeful mood, and the Government needs to employ bigger caliber media guns to counteract their lies and damaging, negative propaganda. Has anyone checked out Bruce Fein’s Tamils Against Genocide website recently? The entire home page is still covered with a huge list of active lawsuits they have filed against Sri Lanka, the President, the Defense Secretary, and others, in many, many countries. TAG, a pseudo “non profit humanitarian” organization, is still very active – as are other “cover” organizations like them all over the world – all actively pursuing the destruction of the Sri Lankan Government and its esteemed leaders. Many of these organizations (let’s just call them PACs) and their wealthy diaspora donors are also funding the political campaigns of local politicians in Canada, Switzerland, the U.K., Norway, and other countries, which puts themselves in the driver’s seat as “important constituents” for the politicians they help elect. This campaign money makes the politician “obligated” to support their Tamil voters hatred of Sri Lanka, and vote against it whenever they get the chance.
The earlier example of the Koch brothers and their PACs basically represents the same sort of well-financed attempt to manipulate public opinion against Sri Lanka. What’s the difference between the US and Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka has no Super PACs to support it, its image, and its cause in the international media. Sri Lanka doesn’t have a pair of Koch brothers to spend millions in its defense, and get other Sri Lankans – both at home and abroad – to rally for its defense. If wealthy loyal Sri Lankans – wherever they are – formed such a PAC (or PACs), raised money, and hired top-notch media specialists, it might put the country on an even footing to face and fight its enemies. After all, many now-financially-successful Sri Lankans living abroad were the beneficiaries of free educations at the expense of tax-payer Sri Lanka citizens; perhaps it’s time for them to show their gratitude and start giving back. I could think of no better way to do so.
What’s at stake here? The sovereignty of Sri Lanka, that’s what. We can’t just say, “Ho hum, another UN Resolution against us.” Sri Lankans have to band together, pool resources, bite the bullet, and get professionals to help solve the country’s image and media problems. Sri Lanka needs a Super PAC to swoop down and come to its defense; right now there is no action figure hero with a flying cape and a chest full of rupees to rescue the country from its arch foes.
Any takers on the PAC idea? Super Heroes Wanted!