Feature Article

Intoxicating hubris

[TamilNet, Monday, 21 June 2010, 00:01 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who is widely believed to be the key Sri Lanka official responsible for instituting procedures and issuing commands that allegedly violated international norms in the conduct of war, has provided enlightening clues to inner workings of his mind in several interviews recorded on film by reputable international media. "His unchecked power, authorized by his brother and Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse, appears to have blunted his reasoning faculty, triggering him to compulsively express open threats against journalists and unwittingly admit to abject disregard for civilian casualties while issuing military commands. Many of his statements border on self-incrimination," said a spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group. A collection of Gotabhaya interviews are compiled in this feature.

Sky News interview before
Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital attack
February 2009: Interview with British Sky News television. "No hospital should operate outside the Safety Zone...everything beyond the safety is a legitimate target," Sri Lanka's Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse tells the Skynews, before the attack by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital.

A series of Satelllite images establishing the attacks on Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital and references to US State Department report were presented at the Dublin war crimes tribunal.


Interview with BBC
January 2009: Lasantha Wikramatunga, the chief editor of the English Weekly Sunday Leader, was shot dead by gunmen while he was on his way to work around 9:30 a.m. The newspaper and its editor as well as the editor of Morning Leader have been harassed and threatened continuously during the last three years.

The UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize 2009 has been awarded posthumously to Mr. Wickrematunge, one of the few journalists who continued to criticise the militarist, hardline government of President Mahinda Rajapakse. In a statement marking the award, his wife, Sonali Wickrematunge, described the government’s military campaign in the north as a “racist war” in which future charges of genocide would not be surprising and pleaded for international action.


Interview with Australia's SBC
February 2009: "Gotabaya's "displeasure and intolerance" towards his articles that criticize the Government, and Gotabaya's "malice borne of intolerance," were reasons for his incarceration," said Nadesapillai Vithyatharan, present editor of the Tamil newspapers Sudar Oli and Uthayan. Vidyadaran was arrested six days after he was grilled by the Sri Lankan Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) for his views on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) attacks on civilians in Vanni and about his interactions with the officials of the Tigers in the past.


On international war-crimes
investigations; BBC interview
February 2010: Noting the contents of the interview to the BBC where Mr Rajapakse said that he would not allow any war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka, Professor Francis Boyle, an expert in International Law and a professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law said, "Defense Secretary Rajapaksa has now publicly and definitively ruled out any investigation of war crimes by the Government of Sri Lanka. And he is a government official acting within the scope of his official duties so that his statement binds the State of Sri Lanka under international law. Hence the basic requirement of international law mandating "complementarity" has been satisfied.


Gotabhaya appearing in BBC's
Hardtalk program
June 2010: Stephen Sackur of BBC's Hardtalk program said Gen Fonseka told him, in a clandestine telephone interview, that he would be prepared to testify before any independent investigation of alleged abuses during the Tamil war. "I will not hide anything," he said.

When Sackur put this possibility to Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa he responded with an extraordinary tirade.. "He can't do that. He was the commander," he said. "That's a treason. We will hang him if he do that. I'm telling you… How can he betray the country? He is a liar, liar, liar."


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