Columns - 5th column

Once friends, now strangers

By Rypvanwinkle

I thought I must write to you even if you may not have left a forwarding address when you fled from Tripoli. That is because you seem to be in the news these days for all the wrong reasons and your country is in a chaos.

Then, there is also another reason why we ought to write to you. Our first memories of you are as a dashing young leader who visited our country during the Non-Aligned Summit here in 1976. You were a handsome young man then and most of our ladies had a crush on you!

Even since then, you have been identified as a friend of Sri Lanka and we know that Mahinda maama considers you and your country an ally. I dare say that these days we seem to have some common enemies too!

Colonel Gaddafi, we have been told by the international media that you are a tyrant and that you have committed many atrocities during your forty two years of rule and I’m afraid there is some evidence to substantiate those claims too.

What I find interesting though is how the countries and the forces which are persecuting you now seem to have realised this suddenly. Somehow, over the last forty two years, they appear to have overlooked this rather obvious fact.

Why Colonel Gaddafi, you have been implicated in many international incidents including the infamous Lockerbie bombing in which an American aircraft was bombed killing some 270 people. You even arranged to pay compensation to the families of the victims!Then, there were other incidents as well, such as when a British policewoman was killed in England and a nightclub was bombed in Berlin in Germany for which you were again thought to be responsible.

What I find interesting is the fact that these are not recent events. Most of them happened in the ‘80s and the countries which are waging war on you now knew what kind of person you were for a long, long time but that does not seem to have bothered them all these years!

Why, Colonel Gaddafi, many years after you were implicated in the Lockerbie bombing, the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair restored full relations with you and even visited you in your famous tent, in return for offering to do business with a British oil company!

Therefore, it was hardly surprising when the Bush administration in America followed suit and appeared to forgive and forget everything you did in the past, removing Libya from their list of ‘terrorist nations’.
For all the accusations everyone makes about you now, Colonel Gaddafi, it seems strange to me that just two years ago you were meeting and entertaining people like Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy of France-the very people who are sending their forces to launch air attacks on your country today!

There is an even more intriguing aspect to all this and that is about the war waged against your regime by the so-called ‘rebels’ in your own country which are supported by air strikes by the ‘NATO’ forces commanded by western governments such as America, Britain and France.

I am almost certain these ‘NATO’ forces must be having the most amazing technology at their disposal because they seem to be able to drop bombs and destroy your forces with pinpoint accuracy –without harming a single civilian!

I say so because we haven’t so far seen a single image or television footage of a civilian being hurt or injured despite over five thousand air strikes launched on Tripoli by these NATO forces, even though you, Colonel Gaddafi, have accused NATO of killing innocent civilians including children!

Just imagine Colonel, if that were the case I’m sure the British television station, Channel 4, will rush in and do a documentary and broadcast it to the world and before you could say ‘Ban Ki- moon’, the entire world will be accusing Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy of war crimes!

And if you are lucky enough you may even be able to convince Ban Ki-moon to appoint a ‘panel of experts’ to investigate these allegations of NATO forces bombing and killing innocent civilians in your country. Then you could get Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy to answer war crimes charges!

After all, according to what is fashionable now, even if you are a terrorist, defeating you must be done in the gentlest way possible and if there are casualties of any kind while doing that, the ‘NATO’ forces and their commanders will be guilty of war crimes and human rights abuses.

But no Colonel Gaddafi, none of that has happened. There is no Channel 4 documentary on Libya and Ban Ki-moon hasn’t appointed a panel of experts so we can only assume that all these NATO air strikes didn’t kill a single civilian!

As I write this Colonel Gaddafi, I am told there is a million dollar reward for your head. I am afraid that is not very good news because that is how they got Saddam in the end. All I can therefore say is that you will need all the luck in the world in the next few weeks…Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS-No matter what your fate is Colonel Gaddafi, you will always be remembered in this country because it is at a stadium named after you that we achieved our greatest sporting triumph to date-the Cricket World Cup in 1996!

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