My Dear David Cameron, I thought I must write to you because I heard that you will be visiting us after all, despite all those calls to boycott the Commonwealth Summit. I suppose you must be thinking that we should be grateful to you for your presence, but that is not what I wanted to [...]

5th Column

Let’s be candid Cameron


My Dear David Cameron,

I thought I must write to you because I heard that you will be visiting us after all, despite all those calls to boycott the Commonwealth Summit. I suppose you must be thinking that we should be grateful to you for your presence, but that is not what I wanted to write to you about.

When chaps in your country were asking you why you wanted to travel to Sri Lanka when there was a call to boycott the summit, I heard you say that you wanted to have some “very tough conversations” with our leaders. You also said you were “not happy” about what happened after the war was over.

Around the same time, we had your man here, that High Commissioner chap, lecturing us that we should show progress on ‘human rights’, ‘reconciliation’ and a ‘political settlement’ as if he was talking to some kindergarten class. That is why I am quite confused.

Anyway, it is a bit ridiculous for you to now lecture us on human rights and war crimes when your country subjugated ours for over a hundred and thirty years, depriving all of our citizens of their human rights during that period-not to mention the war crimes that would have been committed at that time.

They tell me, David, that you are the youngest British Prime Minister in two hundred years but even then, I think you must be old enough to know that we are not your colony anymore. We gained independence some sixty-five years ago and became a Republic forty years ago, you know.

Since then, we have been minding our own business the way we want to-even though those who led us have sometimes made a mess of it, I must admit. And that means we make our own decisions about our affairs and we are not particularly fussed about what you are “happy” with.

I know, David, you are talking about all these alleged ‘war crimes’ that some people want you to talk about. You want to know what exactly happened and who was responsible for what. In this day and age, there is nothing wrong with that either-but you would have to be fair about what you demand. 

What I find odd is that all these allegations are being made about ‘war crimes’ that occurred in the last few months of our war when it lasted nearly thirty years. Which rock were you-and others like your Lord and Master, Uncle Sam-sleeping under, during the last three decades?

During that time there were bombs exploding every day on our streets and killing innocent men, women and children-and we all know who committed those crimes. Hundreds of thousands died, David, but I don’t hear you talking about those war crimes or the human rights of those victims!

Unlike the ‘war crimes’ that you talk of, these people didn’t die in the heat of battle. They were men, women and children who were going about their usual business. They were killed on buses, trains, while walking on the streets, or even while worshipping at a temple, church, kovil or mosque.

If you could pass on the message to Channel 4, there is plenty of footage about these atrocities too, to produce two dozen inflammatory documentaries that could then be screened at strategic events. And remember that some of those responsible for these crimes are now citizens in countries such as yours!

This is what puzzles me, David. Now if you were fair, you would be demanding justice for both sides and insisting that both aspects of the war be thoroughly investigated-and I have absolutely no problem with that. Instead, your recent remarks and demands have a hint of double standards, don’t you think?

Talking of double standards, David, if you really are the champion of democracy and human rights that you claim to be, why is it that you roar like a lion and talk of ‘tough conversations’ with a small country like Sri Lanka, but squeak like a mouse about matters related to Uncle Sam?

Surely you must know that Uncle Sam was recently found to be hacking into the phone conversations and e-mails of millions of people around the world including world leaders-all in the name of fighting terrorism, their euphemism for doing what they want, regardless of whether it is right or wrong.

I don’t know whether they thought you were important enough to listen in on your phone conversations but they certainly listened in on the German Chancellor. And in your own country right now there is a criminal trial of newspaper editors who resorted to the same tactic, isn’t there?

David, why is it that we don’t hear you utter a word against Uncle Sam, Barack or his tactics? Is it because you too believe that might is right and that these days the Prime Minister of Britain is just a ‘yes man’ to the President of the United States, like Blair was to Bush during the Iraq war?

Don’t get me wrong, David. We Sri Lankans are reputed for our hospitality and not in the habit of insulting our visitors. But when you want to have ‘tough conversations’ with us even before you set foot here, that doesn’t sound quite right-but you can rest assured that you are still most welcome here! 

Yours truly
Punchi Putha

PS-I heard that you want to visit the North. If you do, David, just ask yourself whether that would have been possible if the war was still raging. Remember, the last time your Foreign Secretary was here, he was pleading with Mahinda maama to halt the war and he had to be shown the door.

If we listened to him, we would be still be fighting and thousands more would have died. And that is why, David, we believe that what you want for us may not always be the best!

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