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Why double standards?

The intentions of the three-member panel headed by Marzuki Darusman to study what took place during the final stages of the battle against the LTTE was a foregone conclusion from the day the United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon decided to appoint it.

Initially, it was identified as a mere advisory panel that would study developments in Sri Lanka during the final phase of the battle against terrorism and report only to the Secretary General. However, that initial move itself appeared to be an act outside the UN Charter and moreover prevents the UN Secretary General seeking advice or guidance from an individual or a panel outside the UN system and its empowered bodies.

Eventually, Moon not only sought the advice of the Panel but also went a step further and made the controversial Darusman Report a public document. The highly controversial and one-sided Report is fundamentally flawed in many respects. To add insult to injury, the report is based on biased material, which had been presented without any verification.

The backstage actors of the controversial Darusman Report came to the limelight when certain countries jumped the gun and commended a report which is not worth the paper it is written on. It is deplorable that some quarters which are levelling war crime charges against Sri Lanka have turned a Nelsonian eye to the circumstances that prompted Sri Lanka's valiant Security Forces to launch the world's largest humanitarian operation.

Strangely enough, some countries and certain international organisations which claim to be the 'sole agents' favoured the taciturnity when thousands of innocent civilians were brutally killed by the merciless LTTE Tigers. Was it not the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran who ordered an umpteen number of genocide attacks against the Sinhalese and Muslims?

Moderate Tamil leaders who believed in ethnic harmony and coexistence were also his targets. His suicide bombers assassinated two world leaders President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was almost successful in claiming the life of a third Head of State when former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga escaped a well-planned suicide bid at the Town Hall rally in December 1999.

It is a crying shame that these new godfathers of human rights have conveniently forgotten how the Tigers cared two hoots for human lives and indulged in mass-scale killings, the massacre of hundreds and thousands of innocent people, including the clergy in Aranthalawa, Kebithigollewa, Habarana, Muttur, Kent and Dollar Farms, Pettah Central Bus Stand, Central Bank and other prominent public places.

These are only a handful of the innumerable brutal killings of the LTTE which had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians through mass scale bomb explosions and even resorting to the use of swords and knives to chop human beings. The million dollar question is how the controversial Darusman Report defines the LTTE terrorist outfit. Despite the world being horror-struck by the LTTE's atrocities which continued for nearly three decades, the Darusman Report emblazons the LTTE with some dubious respectability in the most cynical fashion.

Darusman and the other two members in that panel of mockery make a scandalous attempt to issue a fresh character certificate to the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit by identifying the LTTE as 'the world's most disciplined militant group'. This itself speaks eloquently of the Panel's overwhelming bias.

The Report seems to be a well-organised plan to undermine Sri Lanka's singular achievement to become the first country to eradicate terrorism.

Darusman and his members have made a puerile attempt to whitewash the LTTE, the world's most brutal terror outfit.

From the day the Security Forces launched an offensive to rescue the hapless farmers in Mavil Aru in the Eastern Province, it had been a truly humanitarian operation which rescued over 600,000 people from the jaws of LTTE terror. Are some countries and certain members of international organisations wearing blinkers to fail to see the positive side and honourable intentions of the world's largest humanitarian operation?

Rather than hailing the Security Forces for those magnificent achievements, having put their lives at risk, the Darusman Panel and certain countries are raising a big hue and cry over the human rights of a handful of Tiger terrorists who had inflicted untold misery on innocent civilians in the North and the East. Apart from the Government, there is nobody to champion the human rights of the thousands of civilians butchered by the LTTE. On the other hand, there seems to be many LTTE sympathisers who are shedding crocodile tears over terrorists who had been considered civilians after they were killed in the battle. It is even more baffling that some countries and international organisations have not paused to consider the sincere efforts of the Government in its reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development drive in the areas affected by LTTE terror. Those who point an accusing finger at Sri Lanka on trumped up war crime charges should have visited Sri Lanka to see for themselves the sincere efforts of the Security Forces in rescuing over half a million people who were held as a human shield and the development thereafter, with the Tiger leadership being vanquished.

The Government which is now in the process of addressing these challenges, achieved tremendous progress on many fronts, including the resettlement of displaced persons, restoring the livelihoods of those in conflict-affected areas, releasing child soldiers recruited by terrorists, rehabilitation of detainees, de-mining, restoring democracy in the North and the East and the reconstruction of houses and infrastructure. Is it fair for extraneous elements to disrupt the smooth functioning of Sri Lanka, when the country is confidently moving forward to consolidate national unity?

It goes without saying that making the controversial report public at this crucial juncture is totally unwarranted. It not only disrupts the Government's efforts to reinforce peace, security and stability in Sri Lanka but also serves the political agendas of interested parties. The UN, set up in 1945 at the end of World War II, is based purely on the policy of promoting peace, stability and cooperation. It seems that a few individuals representing the UN are in the habit of bringing disrepute to the same organisation by violating the very principle on which it was founded.

The UN belongs to all its member countries, including Sri Lanka. President Mahinda Rajapaksa firmly believes in the UN and its original principles and is only too willing to cooperate with the good intentions of the UN and its Secretary General. It must be ever vigilant against certain elements representing the UN who are making every effort to project their personal agendas. This runs contrary to the principles of this organisation which is dedicated to promote reconciliation between communities and nations.

It is now opportune for the UN's member countries to act wisely to protect the organisation from unscrupulous individuals and a few countries with vested interests. Unless this is done, the credibility of the UN is at stake.

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