Laudable rehabilitation feat


This is in reference to the July 27 article by Shamindra Ferdinando about the incredibly rapid rehabilitation of Tamil Tiger terrorist combatants (from the world’s most ruthless, tenacious terrorist separatist outfit) who once swore to destroy the state of Sri Lanka and kill all its legitimately elected leaders.    I wanted to express my congratulations to the Commissioner General Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe, the armed forces and the government of Sri Lanka for this feat, against all odds and obstacles.

 The absurd (and hypocritical) demands from the US and other Western nations (clearly lobbied by generous Tiger Eelamists) to speed things up was not a laughing matter.  Western nations have been caught with their knickers at their ankles, when they took it upon themselves to  preach what they failed to practice in Iraq and Afghanistan( WikiLeaks of over 92,000 pages of documents on the war in Afghanistan indicates, there is a boatload of hypocrisy in their attitude towards what happened in Sri Lanka).  Let’s leave that to Ban Ki Moon to investigate with the same passion and ardour for later.

 It is amazing how fast the government of Sri Lanka, the Army and the Rehabilitation Commission have acted. It needs to be commended by all fair minded individuals.  In 1971, after the military phase of the operations against the JVP insurgency ended, Mrs. Bandaranaike graciously extended a campaign asking JVP combatants hiding in the jungles to surrender. My father Mackie Ratwatte was one of key proponents of this campaign, and I recall how he flew on Indian Air-force Helicopters taking off from Airforce HQs in Slave Island, to drop the surrender leaflets amid a lot of uncertainty and insecurity over the thick jungles of Sri Lanka.  Hundreds, if not thousands heeded this call; this move resulted in a lot of young lives being saved and rehabilitated.   In contrast, most Tigers refused to heed the call to surrender and made sure the suffering of innocent Tamils continued to the gory bloody end to their war.

No other legitimate government in the world would have worked this fast amid all odds after the war ended in May 2009, barely 425 days ago.  In comparison, it was reported that the US still holds over 12,500 Iraq men without trial; for over five years the US held more than 125,000 Iraqi men just rounded up on mere suspicion of being combatants in the wrong place at the wrong time. These young Iraqi men were not offered due process, or access to their families. They were basically held incommunicado on the basis that the US was fighting a "global war on terrorism". We all know how that has turned out so far. See the hypocrisy?

The self- styled English- speaking (and thinking) Colombo intellectuals (who never admit to being wrong but twist their prose to justify new conditions every time their smug predictions on how the war would end were proven wrong), on inflated generous Western NGO payrolls, need to be cognizant of this when they keep writing their negative comments about an extremely difficult process. I doubt if any other country in the world has moved this fast to rehabilitate enemy combatants who once swore to destroy a nation from within.

 Their credibility in the eyes of ordinary people will increase if they have the guts to admit when they are wrong instead of continuously spewing venom against a country which has only been free of violence for an year.  May all beings be free of rancor and hatred and may all beings have the wisdom to admit their mistakes. National security concerns must always be the first priority in any expedited process of rehabilitation of people who were sworn to the destruction of the nation state of Sri Lanka barely a few days ago.   I wish good luck to all those involved in this complex task. I dare the US or its neo colonial ally Britain to emulate this.


Mano Ratwatte

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