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Sunday, 21 April 2013

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Terrorism, no respecter of countries

Last week's bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon brings into sharp focus again the need for a global effort to eradicate terrorism, the world over. We condemn in no uncertain terms the bomb attacks near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which killed three persons and injured many, and sympathise with the families of the unfortunate victims.

Be it the US or any other country, for that matter, terrorism unleashes untold misery on hapless people. This is precisely why President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the United Nations General Assembly a few years ago that terrorism in any part of the world is the same and should be eradicated likewise.

The President has stressed time and again that there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists. Terror outfits the world over had inflicted untold misery on tens of thousands of people. Irrespective of differences, all countries should unite to face global terrorism.

Regrettably, certain Western countries view terrorism in our part of the world from a different perspective. While they go hammer and tongs to destroy terrorists in their countries, terrorists in the East are often tagged as freedom fighters.

Some Western countries, surprisingly, show more concern for the human rights of terrorists killed in action rather than the human rights of civilians who had been brutally killed. Nevertheless, they show no mercy, whatsoever, when it comes to terrorism on their soil.

We condemn terrorist acts in all parts of the world in no uncertain terms due to the agony of all those unfortunate victims, irrespective of their religion or nationality. That Western hypocrisy has compelled these countries to have a dose of their own medicine is a stark fact.

If the West treats terrorism in all parts of the world with the same yardstick and demonstrates a genuine concern to defeat terror outfits, they could have perhaps sought Sri Lanka's proven expertise and first-hand experience in crushing the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit - the LTTE, almost four years ago.

Rather than commending the Herculean efforts of Sri Lanka’s valiant Security Forces, certain Western countries showed more concern about the human rights of terrorists killed in action when confronting a legitimate army of a sovereign state.

Just as much as the US, UK or any other country, for that matter, protects their people from terrorism, Sri Lanka too is duty-bound to protect its people. When Sri Lankans were subjected to innumerable brutal terror attacks and thousands of Tamils were forcibly held by the Tigers as a human shield, the Government had no option, but to embark on that memorable human rescue mission.

This was a landmark achievement in the world’s history since over half a million people were liberated from the clutches of LTTE terror. Those who now make a big hue and cry over relatively small-scale terror attacks in the West did not even utter a word when Sri Lanka was at the receiving end and the LTTE went on the rampage, killing thousands of people in mass-scale bomb attacks.

The West, rather than grabbing Sri Lanka's wide expertise to eradicate global terrorism, underestimated the gigantic efforts of the Security Forces and showed bizarre concern over the human rights of terrorists killed in action. Perhaps, the West would have been diffident to acknowledge the fact that Sri Lanka's Security Forces had achieved much more than the forces of the most powerful countries.

What most Western countries did was merely look for ways and means to undermine the laudable efforts of Sri Lanka’s Security Forces and levelled war crimes allegations to discredit the true sons of Mother Lanka.

On the other hand, two successive Resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by the US rekindled fresh hopes, not only in LTTE cohorts, but also promoted global terrorism. In the guise of security for Americans, the US Government did everything within its power to protect its people and even invaded Pakistan territory to launch drone attacks which killed many civilians.

In contrast, the US came down hard on Sri Lanka purely for taking military action to protect its people. The Government of any sovereign country, irrespective of its size or military capabilities, has the supreme right to protect its people. No country or world body could dispute this stark fact.

Those countries which voted for the US-led Resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC should bear in mind that the day their action would boomerang against them is not far off. Terror outfits the world over are jubilant that certain Western countries and world bodies would focus more attention on their human rights than their terror acts.

There are striking similarities between the recent bomb explosion at the Boston Marathon and the Weliweriya marathon just five years ago. But, strangely, none of those so-called godfathers of human rights even uttered a word when an LTTE suicide bomber exploded himself, killing Highways Minister Jeyeraj Fernandopulle and 14 others including Sri Lanka Olympian and national marathon champion K.A. Karunaratne and national athletic coach Lakshman de Alwis. Over 83 people suffered injuries in the attack.

This was the most brutal terrorist attack at any sports event in the world since the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Minister Fernandopulle, the chief guest at the 2008 National Marathon at the Weliweriya Kanthi Sports Grounds, was about to flag off the runners when the bomb exploded. This was one of the many LTTE brutal attacks in its three decades of terror which threatened the entire nation.

The jackpot question is whether vanquishing the leaders of such a deadly terrorist outfit and eradicating terrorism is an act against humanity. Didn’t the Government protect the human rights of over 21 million people in Sri Lanka and usher in peace? Can the West label the liberation of over half a million people from the jaws of terrorism as a violation of the LTTE’s human rights?

Those who are making a desperate attempt to frame war crime charges against Sri Lanka must ponder over these questions. The US and its allies which voted in favour of the Resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC should also give serious thought and prove their stand.

Terrorism should be condemned in the strongest possible terms as unleashing terror is a criminal act which causes the loss of lives of unarmed civilians.

There can't be two types of terrorism, one for the West and another for this part of the world! Fostering terrorists by projecting them as freedom fighters and voicing for their human rights is also an act against humanity. Such despicable acts would only inspire terrorists to strengthen their operations as they know only too well that the godfathers of human rights would protect them.

If the double standards of the West on terrorism continue, a conducive environment would be created for terror outfits to hold sway in future, thereby posing a serious threat to world peace. This is by no means a matter of taming Sri Lanka or levelling war crime charges against the country to appease the whims and fancies of the West, but a firm decision has to be taken to eradicate global terrorism.

Sri Lanka has set a shining example to the world in eradicating terrorism. The peaceful environment and coexistence prevailing among all communities in the country bears testimony to this fact. Resettlement and development in the North and the East have set new world standards and have been commended even by UN officials.

The new lease of life for those who had been liberated from LTTE terror has won high approbation. Moreover, Sri Lanka’s landmark achievements in development and reconciliation are worthy of emulation.

Those countries which voted for the Resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC must prove their sincerity to crush global terrorism. They should exploit Sri Lanka's expertise and ground experience to crush global terrorism, rather than pontificate over the human rights of LTTE terrorists.

In eradicating terrorism, Sri Lanka had only exercised its legitimate right to protect its people, just as much as what the US, UK and other countries in the West are now doing. This should inspire one and all in the worldwide battle against terrorism.

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