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Washington Liberals, Gotabaya and Sri Lanka's '19 Polls.

Washington, Jan. 26 -- It was a proven fact that Washington liberals, both in the Departments of State and Homeland Security - as well as in Obama White House - during the Mahinda Rajapaksa-reign, at the height of the separatist war which threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation, interfered in domestic political process giving a very hard time to Sri Lanka.

Leaving aside what the nation faced during the Eelam War IV, Washington liberals took Sri Lanka to international forums - the UNHCR in Geneva in particular - underscoring human rights and rule of law. Within the White House, Hilary Clinton and Samantha Power took the lead in placing this South Asian nation on the global dock.

Washington liberals persuaded the newly-elected Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration to sign into the October 2015 UNHRC-placed resolution that compromised the independence and sovereignty of Sri Lanka forcing it to accept foreign jurists to probe alleged human rights violations and war crimes committed by Sri Lanka during the Eelam War IV.

Despite the advent of the neo-conservative Trump administration in January 2017 whose overall policy was non-interference in world affairs unless America's national security and economic out-reach were threatened, despite the ouster of some leading - Obama era - liberal officials from the two US departments, it was apparent the manner in which the departments approached foreign policy issues the liberal influence has not ended but has consolidated.

Using the Washington yardstick toward Sri Lanka during the Eelam War IV and thereafter, the liberal agenda of the Departments of State and Homeland Security has not changed. Those who have officially associated with these two departments are quite knowledgeable that Washington's assessment of political personalities in Sri Lanka too has neither changed as a result of the retention of 'liberal elements'. This was very clear when Washington refused to accept the October 26-change last year that elevated former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the position of prime minister, and dismissing the Wickremasinghe-faction of the administration.

Since the advent of the new administration in Colombo in January 2015, Washington's military encroachment has enhanced. The Asian Tribune expects to give details of this American military expansion in a separate report.

Of personalities: Washington Department of State liberals will obviously focus on Sri Lanka's former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has expressed his desire to contest for the scheduled presidential election end of this year.

Under the Nineteenth Amendment of the Sri Lanka Constitution - ratified in April 2015 with the advent of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration - Mr. Rajapaksa has to renounce his American citizenship to qualify to enter the Sri Lankan electoral process. According to the amendment dual citizens are barred from contesting any election in Sri Lanka.

In a statement to the media in mid-January, Mr. Rajapaksa, addressing the issue of renunciation of American citizenship when queried, said the matter of dual-citizenship was something personal to him and he did not think the US could block individual rights, and continued, the matter of dual-citizenship was something personal to him and he did not think the US could block individual rights. When asked about contesting the presidential election, he said, "I have already said I'm ready,"

A person wishing to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:

1. appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer,

2. in a foreign country at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; and

3. sign an oath of renunciation

What's more, renunciation is not as easy as throwing out one's passport. It's a lengthy legal process that involves paperwork, interviews, and even investigations.

The process has become more bureaucratic. There are reports of the renunciation process taking up to six months and sometimes longer.

This is where Washington liberals - at least the remaining liberals who worked with the already departed liberals - who displayed their dislike toward the manner in which the former Rajapaksa administration handled domestic affairs including the separatist war come into play. It was no secret that officials in the state and homeland security disliked Gotabaya Rajapaksa who, as the defense secretary with overall power, given by his brother the president, brought the 26-year war to an end in May 2009 when the Washington and European liberals were engineering a ceasefire.

Disappointed with the outcome of the war, a classified diplomatic cable sent to Washington by the U.S. diplomatic mission in Colombo in December 2009, signed by Ambassador Butenis, declared the Rajapaksa brothers as war criminals. The Office of War Crimes of the U.S. Department of State released a report in December 2009 denouncing the manner in which the war was fought by Sri Lanka's military leaders and their civilian counterparts. It is this deep rooted sentiment that made the state department officials to force the hand of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration to sign the joint SL-US resolution of October 2015 that compromised the independence of Sri Lanka.

The question is: Will this scenario affect Gotabaya Rajapaksa's desire to renounce his U.S. citizenship to obtain the Certificate of Loss of Nationality?

US law sets no time frame and leaves the investigative agencies to take their own time to furnish their report. The U.S. consular officers do not have the authority to approve the request for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality. The final decision is made by the Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management in the Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State.

It has been observed that relinquishments and renunciations are considered low priority cases. And when the liberal officials have a play in Mr. Rajapaksa's request a different turn of events could take place.

Then comes the DS-4079 Questioner:

The DS-4079 is the questioner the applicant has to fill before he or she makes an appointment with the consular officer of the U.S. diplomatic mission.

The following questions, among others, need to be answered by an applicant who requests the U.S. Department of State for determination of possible loss of U.S. citizenship.

* Have you served in the armed forces of a foreign state? Yes

(a) If so, what country?

* Have you accepted, served in, or performed the duties of any office, post or employment with the government of a foreign state? Yes or No (a) If yes, please provide dates of service, country and the job title

* What ties did you have to the country where you performed the act or acts indicated in Questions 8-11? Do you have family or social ties? If yes, please explain. What other ties did you have to the country where you performed the act or acts indicated in Questions 8-11?

* Describe in detail the circumstances under which you performed the act or acts indicated in Questions 8-16.

* Did you perform the act or acts voluntarily? (a) If not, in what sense was your performance of the act or acts involuntary?

It will be interesting how the Department of State and/or Department of Homeland Security would view the answers given by Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the above questions.

Undoubtedly, Washington could take note of Mr. Rajapaksa's employment in Sri Lanka's armed forces, what type of duties involved in that position, and his role as Sri Lanka's Secretary of Defense (2005 through January 2015) during the Eelam War IV, a separatist war that Washington wanted a conclusion with a ceasefire and a political solution as opposed to a military one. It was quite knowledgeable during that time that a ceasefire would have largely benefitted the Tamil Tiger movement and a political solution would have benefitted the separatist movement to gain control in an area it had its writ rather than the minority Tamil community in Sri Lanka. It was with that understanding that the Rajapaksa administration rebutted the Western pressure to bring a military conclusion taking note of the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Washington, at that period, and thereafter, took serious note of this fact.

The Washington liberals are quite capable of scrutinizing Mr. Rajapaksa's record.

There is a Presumption that the U.S. law does not apply abroad. In general, absent a clear indication of intent for a statute to apply abroad, there is a presumption that U.S. laws do not apply outside of the United States.

However, the United States may give extraterritorial effect to U.S. laws in cases involving: 1. U.S. citizens abroad.

2. Foreign citizens employed by U.S. companies abroad. 3. Violation of certain laws, such as: Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (Dealing with bribery), Export Administration Act of 1979 (Dealing with boycotts), Iranian Assets Control Regulations (Dealing with the response to the hostage crisis), Civil Rights Act, the National environmental Policy Act, and drug enforcement laws.

It is this scenario that power elements within the Island State of Sri Lanka have taken much interest in Gotabaya Rajapaksa's moves to end his U.S. citizenship, and possible counter-moves by Washington.

Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Asian Tribune.

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Publication:Asian Tribune (India)
Geographic Code:9SRIL
Date:Jan 26, 2019
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