The keynote speaker was Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an owlish, watchful man with a mustache, wearing spectacles and a gray suit.
“Sri Lanka’s victory over terrorism is an unprecedented event that the world can learn from,” he said.
He spoke of how the Tigers’ international support network had enabled it to raise funds from the Tamil diaspora and to ship weapons into Sri Lanka.
“At one point, the L.T.T.E. controlled one-third of the Sri Lankan coastline,” he said. “In this way, heavy weaponry and enormous quantities of ammunition were brought to Sri Lanka. And this happened in a post-9/11 world.”
Rajapaksa was congratulating the American observers; it had been the U.S. that helped locate the Tigers’ ships.
He didn’t drink, he said, and didn’t know what he had in the house. He knew only that he had a bottle of “Fonseka.” Would we like a drink of that? He grinned. On the trolley was a bottle of Fonseca Bin No. 27, a brand of port.
When I asked about the suspicions that the government was attempting to change the demographics of the Tamil lands by swamping them with Sinhalese soldiers, he said, with a laugh, “We should do that, but it’s difficult.”
” After dinner, Gotabaya led us outside. Across his lawn, by the garden’s high security wall, was a huge, illuminated outdoor aquarium.
Inside, several large, unmistakable shapes moved relentlessly back and forth.
“Are those sharks?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said. “Do you want to see them?”
We crossed the lawn and stood in front of the tank, which was eight feet tall and twenty feet wide. There were four sharks, each about four feet long, swimming among smaller fish.