By Udaya P. Gammanpila
Ehelepola was Maha Adhikaram (Prime Minister) of Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe who was the last king of Sri Lanka. His seven-year-old son Madduma Bandara, is considered a child hero. He never risked his life in defence of the nation. At least, he has not helped a needy person risking his life.
Although liberation struggles of 1818 and 1848 have produced a lot of child heroes, none of them is known as heroes. Madduma Bandara who asked the executioner to cut his head off due to the lack of understanding is considered a hero.
Who portrayed Madduma Bandara as a hero?
In response to liberation struggles, the British launched a tactful plan to eradicate liberation feelings of the Sinhalese. It was a 'psy-op' in present day military language. They redesign the surrender to the British Empire as saving the Sinhalese from brutal king of Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe. Staging Ehelepola Nadagama (Nadagama is a variety of drama) was a part of this psy-op. The drama emotionally depicted how the Sinhalese suffered under King Rajasinghe.
The most important scene of the drama was the brutal killing of the family of Ehelepola. Madduma Bandara was portrayed as a hero in the minds of the people by the drama. The British felt sorry for the Sinhalese after witnessing their sufferings. They came forward to save the Sinhalese by dethroning the king. Thereafter, the Sinhalese lived happily and peacefully. In the end, there was a song thanking the British for saving the Sinhalese from the vicious king. The drama was staged for Crown Prince Albert when he visited Sri Lanka in 1875.
The present government's reaction to Geneva resolution reminds us of Ehelepola Nadagama. They betrayed the nation in Geneva and the betrayal portrayed as a salvation. In 2015, the cabinet of ministers played the role of Kandyan nobles. Human Right Commissioner volunteered to play the role of John Doily. Two-hundred years after surrendering the sovereignty to the British, it has now been surrendered to the entire international community.
In fact, if President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to this betrayal in 2009, western nations would not have fallen out with him. He would not have faced defeat at the last presidential election. He fought western super powers risking his presidential office to safeguard the sovereignty of the nation and our beloved war heroes.
The Geneva resolution was brought by a group of nations who have been against Sri Lanka in the recent past. According to media reports, when they refused to accommodate the amendments proposed by Sri Lanka, our ambassador in Geneva, Ravinatha Ariyasinghe, quite correctly advised the government to abstain from co-sponsoring the resolution. The government should have protected our reputation and sovereignty by challenging the credibility of the resolution. If the government did so, there would have been several countries to support us. At least, Sri Lanka should have opted for being silent. Ignoring these options, Sri Lanka co-sponsored the resolution and thereby accepted the contents of the resolution.
According to the government, there was no betrayal. There will be no hybrid court as repeatedly told by the joint opposition. When the people listen to both the government and the opposition, they would feel that two sides are talking about two different resolutions. Making the situation worse, the government has so far failed to publish the resolution adopted by the UNHRC. It is not available at the websites of the UNHRC and the Ministry of External Affairs. Hence, we are forced to conclude that the final draft available in the website of the Ministry of External Affairs was adopted by the UNHRC without any amendment. According to the available resolution, there is a clear betrayal, not a victory or salvation as claimed by the government.
The Human Rights Commissioner had proposed a hybrid judicial mechanism for Sri Lanka in his report. Nevertheless, there was no word 'hybrid' in the resolution. Hence, the government argues that the proposed mechanism is not hybrid. It is an illogical statement. Nothing is classified looking at the label attached to it. Classifications are done by analyzing features of a product. For instance, although Indian constitution does not possess a label calling it a federal constitution, the Supreme Court of India has determined that it was a federal constitution by analyzing its features. Similarly, the proposed judicial mechanism is hybrid although the word 'hybrid' was not in the resolution.
According to the sixth operative paragraph of the resolution, not only among judges but also among defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators, there should be foreigners. Hence, foreign involvement is not limited to the courts. The entire judicial mechanism is hybrid. When a judicial mechanism exclusively consists of local persons, it is a local judicial mechanism. Similarly, it exclusively consists of foreigners or appointments are made by an international organization, it is a foreign mechanism. If both groups are in a judicial mechanism, it is a hybrid mechanism.