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Sunday, 10 March 2013

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A visit to Lanka will change Pillay's mind

Most foreign delegates and State officials who tour Sri Lanka's North and the East are satisfied with the development in these areas and the new lease of life given to people liberated during the humanitarian operation.

Prior to leaving Colombo, they commend the Government for its sincere efforts to improve the lifestyles of those in the North and the East. They lavish praise on the Government for the mega development projects, speedy resettlement and the efforts towards national reconciliation.

However, when they return to their countries, the self-same delegates sing a different tune, ignoring the first-hand information they had gathered, and, moreover, contradict what they had said earlier in Colombo.

One of the main reasons for this state of affairs is the misleading campaign projected by our countrymen, either for petty political gain or their lust for foreign funding through International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs). It is not surprising that foreign delegates get carried away by such campaigns as Sri Lankans themselves are responsible for spreading this type of canard.

Regrettably, Opposition politicians and local NGO goons care less for their country as they are bent on achieving their personal agendas. It is evident that many countries and international organisations repose more faith on statements of Opposition politicians and local NGO representatives.

Perhaps, they assume that Opposition politicians and NGO heads express such views sincerely and do not, even in their wildest dreams, realise that these unscrupulous politicians and NGO activists discredit their own country. This assumption may hold water for most countries, but certainly not for Sri Lanka.

Opposition politicians and NGO activists in other countries do not harm their countries' national interests despite wide political differences. Nevertheless, in Sri Lanka, there is a different band of Opposition politicians and NGO activists. While most bankrupt Opposition politicians here would stoop to any low level to achieve their political goals, most NGO activists in Sri Lanka do likewise, to increase the foreign funding they receive. In short, both these categories of people sell their country for a mess of pottage.

The ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva and the United States' plan to bring in another resolution against Sri Lanka have afforded an opportunity to these two segments to tarnish their country's image, purely for power and money.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken the Government to task for welcoming the setting up of the UNHRC in 2006, to empower it to investigate human rights' violations and the undertaking it had taken to safeguard human rights in the country.

Wickremesinghe had told a group of party activists at the United National Party headquarters, that the Government had put the country in a precarious situation at the UNHRC sessions. The UNP leader has alleged that the Government had further acknowledged the UN's powers to solve international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and promoting human rights, irrespective of race, sex, language or religion.

Wickremesinghe said that he had declined to sign an agreement on the International Court during his tenure as Prime Minister, thereby preventing Sri Lankan leaders from being charged with war crimes. This is indeed, a diabolical lie, as Wickremesinghe had never been the Head of State at any time and functioned only as the Prime Minister for a few years under former Presidents D.B. Wijetunga and Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Sri Lanka cannot live in isolation in a fast changing global village and should cooperate with the international community, protecting the UN Charter. This does not necessarily mean that Sri Lanka should permit international interlopers to meddle in the country's internal affairs, ignoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Wickremesinghe can make sweeping statements as barely anybody, not even his party supporters, take him seriously. However, his irresponsible statements could send the wrong signals to the international community as they consider him the Leader of the Opposition, irrespective of the vote base he commands.

Shirani Bandaranayake has also shot herself into the limelight to coincide with the UNHRC sessions. A few days after her impeachment from the post of Chief Justice was referred to at the UNHRC sessions, she made a preposterous statement by informing the Supreme Court that she is "still the Chief Justice of the country". She had even refused to appear before the Supreme Court hearings relating to her impeachment.

This was a high-handed act and an insult to the highest institution of the Judiciary. She fails to realise that she is no more the Chief Justice and merely an ordinary citizen. She should hang her head in shame, having been found guilty by over two-thirds of Parliamentarians who approved her impeachment motion. Though no country or international organisation could challenge such a legitimate procedure, Dr. Mrs. Bandaranayake sees it fit to take undue advantage of the UNHRC sessions.

Many local politicians and NGO activists are working round-the-clock to discredit Sri Lanka in the eyes of the world. Wittingly or unwittingly, these people are indirectly helping the LTTE cohorts and Tamil Diaspora to take Sri Lanka to task in the international arena. Western politicians who depend heavily on the Tamil Diaspora vote in their countries play a key role in trying to intimidate Sri Lanka.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in reply to a question on Sri Lanka during a press briefing last week, said that he recognises "the important steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka" since terrorism was eradicated.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Denise Rollins has also expressed satisfaction on the development work in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

At a meeting with Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, she said there would be more employment opportunities in the two provinces through tax-free investments. Rollins was confident that the North and the East's scenic attractions, especially the natural beauty of the Eastern coastal belt and the traditional Sri Lankan hospitality, would attract more foreign tourists to Sri Lanka, following the rapid progress of Sri Lanka's tourism industry.

Despite top officials of key international organisations making such positive remarks on Sri Lanka, most Western countries still fail to understand the true ground situation. This is because they are either ill-informed or do not come to terms with the fact that Sri Lanka was the first country to defeat terrorism.

It was witnessed that representatives of little-known countries had levelled malicious and baseless statements against Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the UNHRC sessions in Geneva. Our only plea to those representatives is for them to visit Sri Lanka and see for themselves the real situation.

The LTTE's propaganda network had been extremely active when the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit was unleashing untold terror. Although it had been beaten militarily, the Tamil Diaspora continues to do likewise through its trusted channels. Hence, there is every possibility for the international community to be misled as a result. The doctored video telecast by the notorious Channel 4 on the eve of the UNHRC sessions speaks volumes of how the Tamil Diaspora misleads the international community.

The UNHRC should not swallow hook line and sinker everything that is dished out by local NGO activists and LTTE cohorts. Navi Pillay should at least, now refrain from making baseless statements from Geneva. Instead, she must visit Sri Lanka and gain first-hand experience on the peaceful co-existence among all communities. She should not merely go by what her officials or INGOs say.

Pillay must visit the North and the East and speak to those who had been rescued from the jaws of LTTE terror. They would tell her the true story in detail which most UNHRC members are unaware of.

These civilians, who are now enjoying the dividends of peace, would enlighten Pillay on how the world's most disciplined Army sacrificed its dry rations to feed the civilians who had been forcibly used as a human shield by LTTE terrorists. Pillay would definitely change her mind if she were to visit Sri Lanka's North and the East.

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