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Sunday, 12 May 2013

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Peace for over 20m people

Goal of humanitarian operation :



The world’s biggest humanitarian operation

When the LTTE terrorist operations were at their height during the three decades of terror, none thought that the world’s most merciless terror outfit could ever be destroyed militarily. There were enough and more reasons for that belief as the LTTE took successive leaders of Sri Lanka for rides in the name of peace talks.

They used the negotiating table and periods of peace talks to reinforce and strengthen their military capability. However, all former Presidents of Sri Lanka, from the Late J.R. Jayewardene to Chandrika Bandaranaike, had little or no option due to tremendous international pressure.

All that the LTTE did was to show some interest on peace talks to mislead the international community. Each time the Tigers ran short of weapons and were in a disadvantageous position due to the Security Forces’ operations, they opted for peace talks to halt the advancing troops. The previous Presidents of Sri Lanka bowed down to international pressure and fell into the LTTE’s trap.

However, it was an altogether different story after President Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President on November 18, 2005. LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran ‘greeted’ the new political leadership with his usual bomb explosions. He thought he could try his dirty games with President Rajapaksa too.

That is where Prabhakaran made the biggest blunder of his life. The LTTE, as usual, initially showed that they are interested in holding peace talks with the Government in early 2006. But they were not sincere in those attempts and were trying to mislead the new leadership as well.

The LTTE thought that they could command the bargaining power at the negotiating table at all times. After a couple of rounds at the negotiating table, the LTTE unilaterally walked out of the peace talks in 2006 without any valid reason whatsoever.

They not only abandoned the peace talks, but went a step further to show their might by closing down the Mavil Aru anicut, an action that proved too costly and ultimately led to the end of Prabhakaran and his terror outfit.

When the Tigers closed down the Mavil Aru anicut and deprived the farmers in the area of their basic need of water, President Rajapaksa did not think twice in ordering the Security Forces to begin a humanitarian operation to liberate the area to enable the farmers to have free access to water.

That eventually became the beginning of the world’s largest human rescue mission as over 500,000 civilians in the North and the East were liberated from the clutches of the LTTE terror.

The Security Forces, which began their operation from Mavil Aru, did not look back as they had the political sagacity of President Rajapaksa which was a tower of strength to inspire the true sons of our soil.

International pressure

Though all his predecessors bowed down to international pressure and abandoned various military operations against LTTE, President Rajapaksa was not prepared to let down the efforts of the Security Forces. He gave the fullest support and the much needed political leadership for the Security Forces to accomplish that mission impossible in little over three years. Moreover, the first-hand experience and unmatched military strategies of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa proved to be too much for the Tigers who lost their grip in every area they forcibly held until the LTTE leadership was vanquished at the Nandikadal lagoon on May 18, 2009.

The nation will celebrate the fourth anniversary of that great victory on Saturday (18) with the now customary Victory Day parade at Galle Face Green and the commemorative ceremony at the Ranaviru Memorial at Sri Jayewardenepura.

The nation would remember all those who sacrificed their lives in the name of our motherland with profound gratitude. They perished to provide us a secure future. It was due to their great sacrifices that we enjoy this freedom today and live in peace with all communities.

At the time the nation celebrates that greatest victory that ushered in peace, we would like to focus on one of the greatest atrocities committed by the LTTE exactly 28 years ago. The LTTE proved that they have no respect for race or religion when they brutally killed 146 devotees at the sacred city of Anuradhapura.

On May 14, 1985, the Tiger terrorists attacked the Sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and brutally killed over 146 civilians and wounded another 85 people. Many Bhikkhus and pilgrims who were inside the Sri Maha Bodhi premises were among the dead. On their way back from Anuradhapura, the LTTE entered the Wilpattu Forest Reserve and shot dead another 18 Sinhalese villagers.

Those Western forces who now shout from the rooftops on the human rights of Tiger cadre killed in action didn’t utter a word when all Sri Lankans were threatened by LTTE terror. Now that our Security Forces have liberated the country, there are many godfathers of human rights to voice strongly on behalf of the dead Tigers and question so-called acts against humanity. Yet, they never ever saw those barbaric acts of the LTTE as acts against mankind.

The entire nation and the Buddhist world were shocked at the news of the barbarism displayed by the LTTE, as unarmed and innocent civilians including the clergy, women and children were massacred. As later revealed, the attack was masterminded by none other than the megalomaniac terrorist leader Prabhakaran himself.

Civilians targeted

It was intended at flaming communal hatred and a spree of island-wide mob attacks targeting innocent Tamil civilians. However, Prabhakaran could not put his ultimate plan into action as Sri Lankans including Buddhists responded with extreme resilience, as they once did, safeguarding their Tamil brethren during the 1983 July mob violence.

The LTTE terrorists had snatched a public bus on that ill-fated day, stormed the central bus stand at the Anuradhapura old town and splashed those present there with a rain of gunfire indiscriminately. The terrorists had opened indiscriminate gunfire at both the Uda Maluwa and the Pahala Maluwa, killing scores of pilgrims and members of the clergy.

It is regrettable that some LTTE cohorts still try to destroy that hard-earned peace. Even a few Western countries do not like to see the prevailing peaceful situation in the country. Newspapers such as Udayan published in Jaffna still try to poison the minds of the Northerners who now live in peace with their fellow countrymen. The Editorial published in the Udayan newspaper on April 30 was a deliberate attempt to stoke the flames of communalism in the country once again and drive the Tamil people towards another war.

The Udayan Editorial stated that the Government had resorted to political deceit by killing time to hold the Northern Provincial Council elections. It was an attempt made by the Udayan newspaper management to further their political prospects by taking undue advantage of the internal split in the TNA. Undoubtedly, it was an unpatriotic statement. The Udayan appears to be jealous of the friendship and amity prevailing between the Security Forces and the public in the North.

Battle against terrorism

As such, the newspaper was trying to fan the flames of communalism once again to set the Tamils against the Security Forces.

What is most pathetic is the attitude of certain countries in the West who only want to dig old wounds. They are only interested in finding out about the final two weeks of the battle against terrorism, not the entire 30-year period during which the LTTE had brought misery to the lives of over 20 million people.

The West must look positively at the progress Sri Lanka has made since terrorism was crushed four years ago. Even Asian Development Bank (ADB) officials and SAARC ministers have recently commended Sri Lanka for the progress made in development projects after the dawn of peace.

What baffles all peace-loving Sri Lankans is the stance of the United States and its allies who had brought two resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in successive years.

That was purely against Sri Lanka’s battle against terrorism and only questioning the last two weeks of the humanitarian operation.

They have no right to exert pressure on Sri Lanka, citing human rights and the so-called allegations on acts against mankind. The US never compromises when it comes to its national security and they have all the right to do that.

The US has been launching regular drone attacks in Pakistan which had killed many innocent civilians, but none of the world’s human rights watchdogs uttered a word.

We do not challenge the US’ right to its national security. They have every right to go that extra mile and protect American citizens. At the same time, every sovereign nation has a right to take action against terrorism and national security of their countries.

In conducting a military operation against the LTTE’s ruthless terrorism, Sri Lanka too has only exercised its legitimate right as a sovereign nation. Irrespective of its extent of military capability, every sovereign country has a right to take legitimate action against terrorism and protect its people.

Hence, the West must keep in mind that there can’t be a different policy or attitude by the UNHRC when it comes to this part of the world. Has the UNHRC chief, Navi Pillay, who has been a strong campaigner on human rights of LTTE terrorists killed in action, ever uttered a word on behalf of the innocent civilians killed in Pakistan due to US drone attacks?

Unless the United Nations comes out with one policy for all its member countries, the credibility of the world body would erode soon.

The UNHRC should not use human rights as a tool to intimidate smaller countries while turning a blind eye on gross human rights violations carried out by the so-called big countries.

Some common words in the Western jargon such as freedom of expression, human rights, acts against mankind and accountability have often been used to intimidate countries such as Sri Lanka which has a fearless foreign policy and do not dance to the melody of the West. At the same time, these countries would allow even a small country to do anything as far as they are under the control of countries in the West. This is typical Western hypocrisy adopted purely to suit their agendas and intimidate any country which does not fall in line with their actions.

It is a pity that the UNHRC is acting like a puppet of a few Western countries which continue to use human rights as a tool to intimidate any country which opposes their acts. If Navi Pillay and the UNHRC were genuinely concerned about the human rights of people across the globe, they should wake up and order immediate investigations on US drone attacks in other countries such as Pakistan.

Cause for alarm

US President Barack Obama’s administration recently underwent its first UN treaty body review, and the resulting concluding observations made public should be a cause for alarm. The observations, issued by independent UN experts tasked with monitoring compliance with the international treaty on the rights of children in armed conflict (formally known as OPAC), paint a dark picture of the treatment of juveniles by the US military in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of children have been killed in attacks and air strikes by US military forces, and those responsible for the killings have not been held to account even as the number of children killed doubled from 2010 to 2011, where children under 18 languish in detention facilities without access to legal or full humanitarian assistance, or adequate resources to aid in their recovery and reintegration as required under international law. Some children were abused in US detention facilities, and others are faced with the prospect of torture and ill-treatment if they are transferred to Afghan custody.

These are the people who try to pontificate to us on human rights and accountability.

The UN must prove that it is no more a toothless tiger and take action against those, as they regularly do when it comes to smaller nations.

Once again, we wish to reiterate the fact that the US has every right to defend itself and protect its people. All that we would like to stress is that Sri Lanka, like any other sovereign nation, has a right to protect its people and the Security Forces only exercised that right under the Commander-in-Chief, President Rajapaksa, and liberate people from the clutches of LTTE terror and ushered in peace to over 20 million people.

 

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