29 March 2014

No one gives a hoot about truth, it seems

There can be no ‘reconciliation’ (whatever that means) without ‘closure’ (whatever that means).  There can be no closure without ‘truth’ (whatever that means).  It follows then that obtaining truth is a non-negotiable for closure which, in turn, is a non-negotiable in the matter of reconciliation.  The ‘whatever that means’ is a necessary interjection because politics is not clean. It is not objective.  The rhetorician lords over the logician in these things. Preferences make for privileging and suppression.  And this is why it can be ‘logically’ said that those who talk of truth, justice and reconciliation as though these are obtainable through clean and clinical cuts of reason are either utterly naïve or are charlatans disguised as benefactors of humankind. 

And yet, come ‘Geneva Time’ we hear these words a lot.  Reconciliation.  Truth.  Justice.  Accountability.  All articles of faith. For some.  Like Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament M Sumanthiran.  He wants all of it.  A few teaspoons of reconciliation, a dash of truth, a sprinkling of justice, a tablespoon of accountability and you’ve got it made.  A good speech that is, there’s no denying that.

But then again Sumanthiran doesn’s own any of these, separately or together.  Others are smart too. They too pencil in a liberal dose of the said goodies for, as I said, they make for good speeches. ‘Others’ meaning people like Ananthi Sasitharan, for example. 

They say certain towns are too small for two big persons.  Geneva is small and small-minded though both Sumanthiran and Ananthi are it looks like they both think the other is too big to share stage with.  So there was a spat. 

Now this could have been because of upstaging-need, we don’t know, and we really don’t know why Ananthi was upset with Sumanthiran.  Perhaps  she felt a pinch on her ego.  We can guess why Sumanthiran was not in a spotlight sharing frame of mind though.  She has the potential, he might have thought, of wrecking his speech; not on account of using the same vocabulary but, in fact, for the very ‘problem’ of using the same terms. 

See, Ananthi Sasitharan is not cool.  Not for people who take human rights and human wrongs seriously.  Sumanthiran is smart enough to know she’s a liability.  There’s a story she says and a story she would rather no one talks about.  She will talk of a missing husband but will not talk about the husband and what he did.

Sumanthiran is Colombo, Ananthi is not.  Sumanthiran heard of depravation, Ananthi saw it.  Sumanthiran knew that Tamil civilians were used as a human shield, Ananthi knows who the humans shielded.  Sumanthiran knows that those Tamils held hostage by the LTTE tried to flee into areas controlled by the Sri Lankan security forces, Ananthi knows who tried to stop them and how.  For Sumanthiran it was nameless, faceless ‘Butcher-Boys’, for Ananthi it was her ‘Butcher-Boy’. 

Ananthi’s husband, Elilan, was one of the butcher-boys and he played the part to perfection.  He was seen brandishing a sword with blood dripping from the blade, threatening those who would flee with dismemberment.  Some had obviously defied the order and paid the price, the relevant exchange marked on a blade-ledger with the blood of the defiant. 

Sumanthiran knows that the West doesn’t like hearing about blood, about the swipe of sword and the ‘un-limbing’ it produces.  Sumanthiran probably didn’t want those ‘specificities’ brought into the Geneva discussion because it would spoil Ananthi’s case as well as the TNA’s case.  ‘Spoil’ would not have meant the US-led resolution would have lost out. No, it would have made some people squirm in their seats.  People notice squirms.  People comment.  It’s loss of face to lose composure. 

Winning the vote is one thing, but losing credibility and sympathy is quite another. In the long run, sympathy counts.  Even the biggest hypocrites would be happier if they don’t have to field tough questions about the credibility of ‘victims’ especially if these ‘victims’ are providers of ‘evidence’ used to lengthen charge-sheets. 

The problem with all this is that it throws ‘the truth’ out of the equation.    Is Ananthi ready to be truthful about her husband?  Isn’t the truth of what he did, who he killed, who he ordered killed, the grief thus engendered, the doubts and lack of closure it all resulted in less worth investigation and comment than the truth about her husband’s fate?  Is Sumanthiran ready to talk about Elilan-truth?  How about the other fellow travelers, people like Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Jehan Perera, J.C. Weliamuna and Nimalka Fernando?  How about Frances Harrison and Callum Macrae?  Would David Cameron be interested?  How about a whispered query from Navi Pillay to Ananthi?  Would Al Jazeera ‘explore’? Would Channel 4 give us an exposé and air it on the sidelines of the next session of the UNHRC?

Or are they not interested in ‘the truth, the WHOLE truth and NOTHING BUT the truth’?    And if that’s the case, are we to conclude that they are not interested in justice either?  Can we all agree, thereafter, that this reconciliation talk is just a lot of hot air and that no one really cares about peace, harmony, holding-hands, singing the national anthem in 157 dialects? 

A final question:  can we just move on now?


gdesilva said...

Yep, let's get ready for the 4th resolution which will be moved by the US at the next UNHRC. The show must go on....otherwise the clowns will miss out on a piece of action.