Switzerland is flat, ladies and gentlemen
By Malinda Seneviratne
Hostage Drama in Swiss Embassy in Sri Lanka
It is not advisable to believe one’s own propaganda. That’s a basic rule in political engagement. Blurs vision. Flaws calculation. Usually results in egg on the face. Now consider an article by Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu published last Sunday titled ‘And so it has already begun.’ Here’s the intro:
‘And so it has happened already. The first white van abduction. An official of the Swiss Embassy, on her way to work, taken in for two hours. She apparently was involved in the handling of the visa for Nishantha Silva – the CID officer investigating politically sensitive cases who left the country sometime last week.’
I am surprised that he didn’t say ‘fled the country’ along with a bit of lunu-ambul. The crystal-gazing author paints dark portents. That’s normal. We heard lots of ‘dark’ stories about Gotabaya Rajapaksa long before he announced his candidacy. Fear-mongering was the order of the day as far as the United National Party (UNP) and those allied with it — Funded Voices, Candlelight Ladies, Colombots and Born Again Democrats. Saravanamuttu moves in such circles and offers accented voice to the whines.
Hot on the heels of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory came the voices of concern (in diplo-speak) and cries of horror. Democracy at peril on account of a democratic exercise, elections, we were told. And so, Saravanamuttu rushes to judgment.
White vans. Abduction. Detention against will. All on account of a description from two websites, lankaenews and lankanewsweb, both operated by minions of the UNP’s spin-doctoring mafia. Naturally, Saravanamuttu and his ilk are persuaded to treat such fake news as biblical truth. It’s worth mentioning that many who read, liked and shared the ‘news’ dished out by such propagandists actually believed that Sajith Premadasa would defeat Gotabaya Rajapaksa. They were duly shocked.
The Swiss could actually cooperate with the Sri Lankan Government and help everyone get to the bottom of this sordid affair. There’s no shame in admitting one was hoodwinked, if indeed that was the case. If they were right all along and the Government was trying to make the best of a bad situation, there are many ways to ensure that the lady (now a high-profile ‘victim’ remember?) does not get harassed. If that’s the case, it would be in the interest of the Government to let justice take its course
You tell yourself horror stories all the time and after a while you start believing there are monsters under your bed, like Calvin (in Calvin and Hobbes). What of the Swiss Embassy, though? Their story is full of holes. First they claimed, ‘contrary to news reports, a complaint was made.’ That’s a half-truth. They did not lodge a complaint with the police. They just told someone. They mentioned that people had seen this woman being abducted. So far, no witnesses. The CCTV camera evidence refutes the entire story. There’s other evidence which compromised the Swiss narrative. In other words, in all likelihood, a story was fabricated and the Swiss Embassy went along with it, either because it was party to the fabrication or because, like Saravanamuttu, had revved itself up to believing the unbelievable.
Palitha Kohona, former Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, subsequently referred to a similar incident during the war, when another employee of the Swiss Embassy feigned an abduction to make a case for emigration as ‘a refugee’. So they knew the script, only they forgot the lines, forgot the cues and ended up under the spotlight without a fig leaf to shield themselves from embarrassment. Perhaps that’s what happened.
The Embassy citing the woman’s ‘deteriorating health condition’ refuses to let her make a statement to the law enforcement authorities. Now, are we supposed to believe the Embassy after playing hora-hora (robber-robber), which is a perverted version of the kids’ game cops-and-robbers (hora-polees)? Absolutely not. Of course, the Swiss have a perverted notion of criminality, from safe-keeping loot to the more recent determination that terrorists are not criminals. We should keep that in mind.
So where we are as of now. The Swiss Embassy is holding a Sri Lankan citizen, with or without permission, for we only have the Swiss-Word for it and that’s a joke. The Swiss are long on claims, dead short on substantiation. It is not hard to imagine how things would be if the boot was on the other foot, i.e. some individual (say a US citizen) with a tall story that amounts to vilification of the US Government taking refuge in a Sri Lankan Embassy.
And they want to circumvent immigration laws to airlift her out of the country!
The CCTV camera evidence refutes the entire story. There’s other evidence which compromise the Swiss narrative. In other words, in all likelihood, a story was fabricated and the Swiss Embassy went along with it, either because it was party to the fabrication or because, like Saravanamuttu, had revved itself up to believing the unbelievable
Anyway, now the unofficial travel ban on the lady has been formalized by the Colombo Chief Magistrate. Now, if the lady’s health condition is as bad as the Swiss have made it out to be, then she does require medical attention. Unless there’s a fully-equipped mini-hospital in the precincts of the Swiss Embassy, the Ambassador has to allow doctors to attend on her or allow her to be taken to a hospital. Perhaps they are scared, following self-fulfilling prophesies that the Kolombian Twitterati are particularly fond of. Here are the possible scenarios we can expect. The woman, if in fact her health condition is bad, could recover. The woman’s condition could get worse. She could die (or be made to die just so the Swiss can save face — I wouldn’t put such things past any Government, for credibility is often considered more important than eating humble pie).
The Swiss could actually cooperate with the Sri Lankan Government and help everyone get to the bottom of this sordid affair. There’s no shame in admitting one was hoodwinked, if indeed that was the case. If they were right all along and the Government was trying to make the best of a bad situation, there are many ways to ensure that the lady (now a high-profile ‘victim’ remember?) does not get harassed. If that’s the case, it would be in the interest of the Government to let justice take
As things stand, there’s no evidence of white vans, no evidence of an abduction, no evidence of being held against her will; just stories, half-truths, holes and the use of diplomatic privileges to keep the justice system at bay. As things stand though, Switzerland is flat. Flat on the face, that is.