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Missing the wood for the trees

An article published last week by Gomin Dayasri commences with the three following paragraphs, which represent a populist view of apologists of the present regime. The three paragraphs are a misrepresentation of facts and need to be addressed in order to understand the hostility of the West, the UN and some NGO’s not to Sri Lanka, but the present Sri Lankan regime.

"The spectre of war crimes will haunt Sri Lanka until the triumvirate consisting of the Diaspora, anti-Sri Lanka NGO’s and the Western Powers abandon their relentless struggle to punish Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism which still continues to torment those countries which did not desire the LTTE to be vanquished.

These countries continue to be plagued by terrorism with which they have been grappling for years but yet has failed to comprehensively defeat notwithstanding the superior fire power possessed, sophisticated equipment at their disposal and the economic strength to combat terrorism.

They never expected Sri Lanka with its limited resources to defeat the LTTE of which they were supportive, because of its "master-sir" approach to the West and Sri Lanka’s geo-strategic placement in the Indian Ocean."

To accuse the West and the UN for trying to punish Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, misleading the citizens of Sri Lanka in taking the focus away from the real issues.

It was the United States which first listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.

Western governments have consistently armed and trained our security forces against the LTTE. Our most effective military commanders including Generals Janaka Perera and Sarath Fonseka received training abroad including in the United Kingdom where they graduated from the Royal College of Defence` Studies (RCDS) and even The Royal Military

Academy Sandhurst in the case of Perera. There have been considerable intelligence sharing and the prosecution and incarceration of LTTE operatives in the West. LTTE fund raising has been curtailed and front organizations such as the TRO de-listed. Even during the present regime our military officials travelled to the United States for training.

The United States and the European powers consistently assisted in the enhancement of Sri Lanka’s military capability in training and identifying areas for improvement. The Sri Lankan military performed poorly during the early phases of the conflict and it was foreign training which enhanced Sri Lanka’s military capability to a point where it was able the defeat the LTTE. South African, Israeli and Pakistani military assistance was indirectly sanctioned by the United States from the very early days.

Therefore the Western powers, the UN and some NGO’s are not trying to punish Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism, but demand accountability, particularly for war crimes committed by a few individuals who have betrayed the Sri Lankan republic in abusing their powers.

There has been a long tradition in our republic to investigate war crimes and to bring about accountability for the actions of those in power.

The Manamperi case during the Sirima Bandaranaike regime prosecuted those who blatantly abused power during the military crackdown against the first JVP terrorism. There was the very public investigation into the Chemmani mass grave allegations with the participation of organizations such as Amnesty International which diffused that incident.

All the Western powers and the UN are demanding is consistency on our part in investigating war crimes allegations as we have done in the past.

The present regime has so far deviated from our past traditions and democratic norms for political reasons.

These are short sighted manoeuvrings by the Rajapakse regime because it is inevitable that at some point down the road, it will have to bite the bullet. The World has moved on from the old days of complacency. International legal and accountability standards have changeIs Obama d to make it more difficult for tyrants to get away with it in the 21st century.

Chandrika

The Chandrika Kumaratunge regime with the able guidance of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar realized that to delay or cover up the Chemmani incident would be damaging to Sri Lanka and initiated an investigation with the participation of foreign NGO’s such as Amnesty International. This exercise addressed the outstanding issues and defused it. By delaying a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka, the Rajapakse regime is causing grave damage to the Sri Lankan republic, locally and internationally.

Locally, the war in Sri Lanka was not against a foreign power, but our own citizens. Our republic has since independence mobilized our military capabilities exclusively against our own citizens. We need to move on, heal wounds, reconcile and build our nation. Aid and soft loans funded construction of concrete roads, bridges, airports, ports and power plants without addressing the political issues, is like pasting wallpaper over serious structural cracks.Aid alone cannot build Sri Lanka.

The second and third of the three paragraphs relates to another simplistic Sinhala nationalist fallacy that terrorism was defeated in Sri Lanka, but not in the West.

The slogan of "defeating terrorism" in Sri Lanka is a political slogan of the Rajapakse regime to garner votes. Reality is that we have been continuously defeating terrorism since independence.

Since independence in 1948, our army, navy and air force have been used exclusively against our own citizens with the demise of approximately 100,000 Sinhalese citizens labelled JVP and approximately 100,000 Tamil citizens labelled LTTE and other militant groups.

So we defeated terrorism in 1971, in 1989 and in 2009 and going by the past record there is every possibility we will defeat terrorism again and someone else will take credit for it and want your votes for "gratitude".

When your own citizens are involved, the method of defeating terrorism is somewhat different in the West, where they appreciate a peace that is durable and could be sustained. That’s why the quest for peace is one of such great patience and tolerance in Northern Ireland and in the Basque region.

The "master Sir" approach of Sri Lanka has been consistent to those who dole out aid to Sri Lanka. As we traded the Dutch for the Portuguese and the British for the Dutch, we are today trading China for the United States and Pakistan for India?

"Master Sir" is still very much around, but the Rajapakse regime has directed our attention only at the old "master sir" in the West in order to mislead us from noticing the new Chinese galleons quietly parking in our harbours.

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