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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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Government Gazette

President's clarion call

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the United Nations on Tuesday that his Government would hold elections in the Eastern Province early next year, adding that it was an opportunity for the international community to play a "vital role in breaking the cycle of conflict by focusing on development".

Addressing the 62nd session of the General Assembly in New York, the President said human rights were too important to be used as a "tool to victimise States for political advantage".

President Rajapaksa's fearless address to the UN, where he talked about the bitter truth on international terrorism and human rights, is indeed commendable. As he precisely emphasised, State sovereignty, civil society and the rule of law are increasingly being threatened by terrorism and other illegal activities in many countries. The international community should be vigilant about these activities, keeping a sharp eye at all times.

The United Nations could play a decisive and leading role is this regard.

But to what extent is the UN playing its role? Though the UN system has set up mechanisms to deal with many of these problems, the capacity of the UN to address these challenges effectively has been brought into question.

Many member states of the UN have experienced havoc caused by brutal terrorism which has stretched its tentacles to many corners of the globe to mar innocent lives.

President Rajapaksa has stressed that terrorism in any part of the world is the same because the impact of all those acts brings nothing but misery and pain to innocent people. That is why the President said; Terrorism anywhere is terrorism. There is nothing good in terrorism.

Be it in New York, Mumbai, Cairo, London or Colombo, terrorist attacks threaten the democratic way of life. All peace-loving and loyal people must condemn them unreservedly.

Why have so many countries become members of the UN? This is because all those independent states wanted to be a part of an organisation that was created to let all voices be heard, to avoid trying to resolve problems through violence, revenge and blame. Instead of seeking solutions through cooperation, some member countries have often created suspicion and built walls amongst themselves through double standards.

It's a pity that we experience a new trend to find fault, to place countries in the dock and penalise those who do not fall in line. Instead of finding solutions through cooperation, we have often created suspicion and built walls between ourselves through double standards.

Only a few countries and international organisations condemn the ruthless terrorist acts of Velupillai Prabhakaran and the LTTE. Many turn a blind eye to the LTTE's terror acts against innocent civilians. Nevertheless, the same people react differently to an isolated incident or to a concocted story by the LTTE.

They make a big hue and cry, as the sole representatives to protect human rights. Why don't these people utter a word when the merciless Tiger terrorists violate human rights of innocent civilians in broad daylight? The aim of the Government is to develop the newly liberated Eastern Province and bring it on par with the Western Province. To achieve that, the Government needs the support and assistance of the international community and backing from our donor countries. If they are sincerely interested in protecting human rights and contribute to the well-being of the people in the East, they should join hands with the Government in the 'Eastern Reawakening' program launched under the direction of President Rajapaksa.

The LTTE pulled out of the Norwegian-brokered peace talks long before the fall of Ranil Wickremesinghe's government. Even after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President in November 2005, his government too made numerous requests to the LTTE to resume negotiations.

Prabhakaran was under a delusion that he would be on a better wicket if the LTTE pressurises the government though terror acts. Without giving the new President even a month to settle down, the LTTE launched a series of attacks on various civilian and military targets.

Could any legitimate government condone this under such circumstances? Wickremeseinghe and his UNP government did so under the controversial Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) but President Rajapaksa has shown no mercy whatsoever to terrorism.

Hence, the government had no option but to embark on several humanitarian missions - to provide water to farmers at Mavil Aru and to liberate the suffering civilians from Sampur and Vakarai. The government launched military operations only to exert pressure on terrorists to convince them that it will not be possible for them to obtain a military victory.

Whenever the LTTE terrorists and their sympathisers are perturbed, they use human rights as an effective tool to discredit the government.

Unfortunately, some opposition politicians and a section of the local media with ulterior motives make a big issue on those lines. However, in realistic terms, it's the human rights of the majority of innocent civilians that have been abused due to the LTTE's terror acts. There are only a handful of human rights activists to speak on behalf of those innocent civilians.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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