18 May 2014

Shelly Whiting would be funny if she were not tragic

Canadian High Commissioner Shelley Whiting is a conscientious woman, she would have us believe.  She has decided to boycott this year’s ‘Victory Day’ celebrations. She has offered her reasons.  She is upset that Canada’s suggestion that Sri Lanka retires its Victory Day Parade has fallen on deaf ears. She believes that this Parade ‘perpetuates roles of victors and vanquished within the country’. 

The Government of Sri Lanka is clear on who the ‘vanquished’ were.  The LTTE.  Terrorism.  The Victory Day Parade does not in any way ‘perpetuate the role of the LTTE’.  How Whiting came to that conclusion only she would know. 

What is hilarious about this lady’s objection is the fact that Canada has spared no pains to ‘perpetuate the role of the vanquished,’ i.e. the LTTE.   Whiting’s condemnation of the LTTE is nothing more than tokenism given Canada’s long standing refusal to cooperate with Sri Lankan authorities to bring to book known terrorists, sanction of any and all pro-LTTE events on Canadian soil, and objection to help find allegedly ‘disappeared’ persons who are currently in Canada.  She talks of Canada banning the LTTE and proscribing the World Tamil Movement.  She says nothing of outfits run by known LTTE fund-raisers, propagandists and other criminals that now function under different and new names but still proudly wave the Tiger flag.  Half-blind, is she or selectively so, one wonders.   So, when she says begs people not to rush to judge and erroneously conclude that her decision is informed by some misplaced nostalgia for the LTTE, one can say ‘hmmm….’  

‘I will thinking and remembering all those who lost loved ones over the thirty year conflict,’ Whiting tells us.  That’s very humane of her.  And pragmatic.  Why go all the way to Matara and suffer through what to her would be boring official duties, listening to speeches made in a language she doesn’t know when she can stay at home and mourn, eh?  She could be playing bridge or poker, watching a movie or having a small tea party with the like-minded and we wouldn’t know. 

Anyway, since she is invested in thought, reflection and recollection, we can ask her to speak on others who lost loved ones, not in Sri Lanka or Afghanistan (where she was stationed before coming to Sri Lanka), but in her native Canada. 

Has Whiting thought of a woman called Loretta Saunders, we wonder.  Loretta Saunders was an Inuk woman who researched missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.  She was, until her body was found in a province neighboring her native Halifax, Nova Scotia, one of 825 lost Aboriginal women.  She is now in a different category, ‘lost or murdered’. 

Did Whiting commiserate with Loretta’s loved ones?  All we know is that Whiting’s Canada has refused to conduct a domestic inquiry into these missing Aboriginal women.  ‘No need,’ says the self-righteous Prime Minister Harper, the man who is upset about alleged atrocities committed by Sri Lankan security forces, allegations easily sourced to the most unreliable ‘witnesses’, i.e. LTTE cadres, sympathizers and apologists.  Something is being ‘perpetuated’ in her country, but Whiting doesn’t seem to be upset.  Is she going to scrap Canada Day celebrations in Colombo this year because her government has pooh-poohed calls for investigation from both Canadian as well as international bodies, one wonders.

The point is that Canada has a long history of violence against its native peoples. That appears to be sanctioned by successive governments simply by the non-provision of institutional mechanisms to stop it or lethargy on the part of law enforcement officers that can only be described as racist.  The racism doesn’t begin with inaction though.  It is part and parcel of the policy regime of Canada.  Canada talks ‘humanitarian’ but lives ‘racism’.   It was a nation founded on injuries to native peoples and it is a nation that continues to injure.  Whiting’s bleeding-heart justification of boycott, for this reason (and of course for her utter and undisguised humbuggery with respect to ‘victims’ and ‘loved ones’) would be hilarious if it were not tragic.  

She is condescending and erroneous, double-tongued and myopic.  ‘A bad egg’ would be a compliment because she is representative of ‘True Canada’, not because she is the top diplomat of that country in Sri Lanka, but articulates in her silences and cockeyed missives the racism that thrives in her country.
It is no surprise then that this boycott provokes observations such as the one below (by Fred Fernandez):

I read with interest the statement made by the Canadian High Commissioner that she will not participate in the Victory Day Celebrations because she is very keen that Sri Lanka should enjoy Peace and Reconciliation as soon as possible.  While welcoming her interest in ushering Peace into Sri Lanka, may I request the Canadian Government through its peace loving Ambassador here, to kindly support the peace process further with the following initiatives as well.

(a)   Stop fund raising by ex-LTTErs who are today masquerading as human rights activists in various parts of Canada.  It is well known that these funds are used by them to “enlist” certain Canadian politicians to bash Sri Lanka.
(b)   Help the Sri Lankan authorities to identify the many LTTE cadres who are in lists of missing and dead in Sri Lanka, but who are actually living and working in Canada, so that the data bases of who are alleged to be missing could be accurately updated.
(c)    Grant a separate State to the Tamils of the world including those in Sri Lanka as already mooted by several Tamil Organizations in the recent past, and as explained in the article appearing at http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2014/03/23/time-to-establish-a-self-governed-tamil-state-in-canada/

The Canadian High Commissioner’s boycott of the Victory Day Celebrations and the Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s boycott of CHOGM in 2013 would be truly meaningful when the above initiatives are also implemented by the Canadians.

The third suggestion is of course tongue-in-cheek, but the points are valid.  Neither Whiting nor her government is serious about either peace or reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  It’s easy to show heart-bleed.  Easy to stay home twiddling thumbs while claiming ‘I am mourning’.  One is judged less on word than on deed.  In ‘deed’, Ms Whiting and Canada have done little. Not for Sri Lanka and not for Canadian Aborigines.  Indeed, the record shows that Canada has covered itself in the glory of subverting reconciliation.  Ms Whiting can reflect on that since she’s party to that achievement.