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Sunday, 22 May 2011

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View Sri Lanka from a broader perspective

Extremist elements in the Tamil diaspora made another subtle attempt to discredit Sri Lanka and its Security Forces at the European Parliament. Nevertheless, several knowledgeable members of the European Parliament, who are deeply cognizant of the developments in Sri Lanka and its unrelenting efforts to eradicate terrorism, were quick to shoot down the moves.

Thus, the European Parliament last week defeated a resolution proposed by the Socialist group "To seek the immediate establishment of an international justice mechanism" on Sri Lanka. However, the eventual resolution adopted, during an 'urgency' debate called by the Socialist and Green parties at the Strassbourg Plenary session, instead drew attention to the controversial Darusman Report.

Against this backdrop, it was indeed heartening to see several ardent supporters of Sri Lanka taking steps to prevent moves by the extremist elements in the Tamil diaspora. Earlier, during the debate, the Chair of the 'Friends of Sri Lanka' group of the European Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden of European Conservatives and Reformists (UK) said that he had reason to believe that the debate was promoted by extremist elements in the Tamil diaspora.

These self-same people helped the LTTE terrorists in numerous ways to campaign over many years through political activity and funding, more often than not from their ill-gotten gains. Rather than making a sincere effort to unite people in Sri Lanka, these extremist elements sought to continue a campaign of hatred and division. The LTTE ghouls spared no pains to use the controversial and biased Darusman Report as a weapon to project a gloomy picture in a desperate attempt to put the Government in the dock.

EU parliamentarian Van Orden declared that such an approach was malicious and counter-productive.

He stressed that the Sri Lankan Government had acted in a responsible manner by setting up the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to ensure accountability and justice. "I believe that its work would be strengthened enormously," he said.

Van Orden has quite rightly highlighted, that it was the duty of the international community to support the Government and people of Sri Lanka, "instead of attacking them". He called upon the European Parliament "To remain vigilant concerning those who seek to re-ignite the embers of LTTE terrorism". Van Orden said the EU and European governments should be more active in dealing with extremists in their midst.

Besides Van Orden, several other European parliamentarians had spoken in favour of Sri Lanka during the debate. German Thomas Mann of the Majority European People's Party outlined his first-hand experience following a tour of Sri Lanka in February as a member of the South Asian Delegation. He commended the efforts being made to progressively deal with post-conflict issues such as clearing landmines and facilitating displaced people to return to their homes. "The Sri Lankan Government's readiness to cooperate, desire to integrate minorities and assure proper democratic and human rights standards implies that there will be a valid future for this country," he said.

Dr. Charles Tannock of the European Conservatives and Reformists (UK) had described the Darusman Report as a "far cry from reality, heavy on criticism, but light in substance". Dr. Tannock had said that Sri Lanka has finally achieved peace by defeating a ruthless terrorist outfit which flatly rejected all peace bids by successive governments in Sri Lanka. He pooh-poohed the Darusman Report as a laughing stock, saying that the pannellists had used the term 'Genocide' without knowing its true meaning.

Dr. Tannock shot down baseless arguments adduced by the Socialist and Green parliamentarians, questioning how anyone could charge Sri Lanka's Security Forces of genocide or crimes against humanity when the same Army had rescued more than 200,000 Tamil civilians from the grip of the LTTE and helped resettle most of them. The million-dollar question left the Socialist and Green parliamentarians dumbfounded.

The forthright views expressed by European Union parliamentarians Geoffrey Van Orden and Dr. Charles Tannock are a good eye-opener for critics who look at Sri Lanka through tainted glasses. The international community and certain officials in the United Nations should take cognizance of the views expressed by Van Orden and Dr. Tannock before rushing to level war crimes charges against Sri Lanka.

It was exactly two years ago that Sri Lanka's Security Forces conducted the biggest ever human rescue mission in world history by liberating over half a million people in the North and the East who were held forcibly by LTTE terrorists as a human shield. When the civilians fled from LTTE-held areas and sought assistance from the advancing troops, the Tigers fired at those civilians indiscriminately. The Security Forces even offered their food to the rescued Tamil civilians and moreover, provided them with medical assistance and shelter.

Dr. Tannock hit the nail on the head when he made it abundantly clear during the European Parliament debate on Sri Lanka, that none could charge the Security Forces of genocide or crimes against humanity because these same soldiers had rescued over 200,000 Tamil civilians from the clutches of LTTE terror. These hapless civilians had been subjected to untold privations due to LTTE terror in the areas forcibly held by them. Would these civilians have fled LTTE-held areas and run towards the Security Forces for safety had the soldiers committed any genocide or crimes against humanity?

It is unequivocally clear that the civilians who had been living in the Tiger-held areas had supreme confidence in the Security Forces. These civilians knew only too well that the Security Forces were on a human rescue mission to liberate them from the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world. Would any civilian run towards an advancing Army, abandoning people of their own race, unless they had full confidence in those soldiers? The Darusman Report and certain officials in the UN had conveniently ignored these facts for reasons best known to them. At a time the country is celebrating its second anniversary of having eradicated terrorism, the international community should view Sri Lanka from a broader perspective. The international community should not fall prey to these scheming extremist elements in the Tamil diaspora, who are still continuing with their campaign to discredit Sri Lanka in the eyes of the world. It is an indisputable fact that Sri Lanka showed the world how to defeat terrorism.

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