President's clarion call
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
assertion last week that international relations are marred by
self-interest of the states and their struggle for power is an
eye-opener to one and all. He told the extraordinary session of the
National State Assembly of the Republic of Seychelles that colonialism,
which Sri Lanka had fought and freed the nation from a few decades ago,
is now making a comeback in a different form in today's global scenario.
He said that a new power bloc is emerging, states are intervening in the
affairs of other states using their strength and the past seems to be
The President said threats emanating from these developments will
only harm small nations such as Sri Lanka. Likewise, the independence
and sovereignty of the so-called smaller countries are at risk.
Therefore, these countries should unite as they had done in the past
against colonisation, to face this looming challenge.
Having eradicated terrorism, Sri Lanka embarked on massive
infrastructure development projects that would provide the masses the
dividends of peace. The Government's aim is to develop the country as a
regional hub as envisioned in the Mahinda Chinthana in five strategic
areas - knowledge, commerce, naval and maritime, aviation and energy.
Nevertheless, while the Government is attempting to bring about
national reconciliation and economic development, Sri Lanka has to still
grapple with extraneous elements and those with vested interests. They
spare no pains to undermine Sri Lanka's historic victory against
terrorism and also sully the country's image internationally. The best
support that the international community could offer the Government at
this juncture in its reconciliation process is time, space and
It is indisputable that Sri Lanka was the first and the only country
to eradicate terrorism. When the so-called powerful Western nations
desperately battled terrorism in their countries, Sri Lanka set a
shining example in May 2009 by vanquishing the LTTE which was then
considered the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit that had massacred
thousands of civilians and assassinated world leaders.
At a time when the main cities of these countries are not safe and
are moreover, vulnerable to terrorist attacks at any given time, their
leaders are still diffident to acknowledge the fact that Sri Lanka is
much safer compared to their countries. Officials of the Ministry of
External Affairs who held a meeting on Tuesday with a delegation from
the United States Embassy called upon them to lift the travel advisory
against its citizens visiting Sri Lanka.
They explained as to why Sri Lanka should be removed from such a
Foreign Secretary Karunathilake Amunugama had said that the US
delegation would make representations to the US State Department in this
The Western countries' travel advisories are more or less
tendentious. In issuing the adverse travel advisories, certain Western
countries attempt to project a dismal picture of those countries which
don't dance to their tune. It is even more baffling that favourable
statements are being issued on countries that are unsafe, but whose
leaders are puppets of the West. No country could compromise national
security, whatever their size. Every sovereign state has the supreme
right to protect its territorial integrity.
The leaders and the Governments of all sovereign countries have an
inalienable right to protect their citizens. Hence, a country's national
security could never be compromised by any means. Although powerful
countries exploit this right to the maximum and go that extra mile and
do virtually anything and everything in the guise of national security
in their countries, they are somewhat reluctant to adopt the same
principle when it comes to the national security of countries such as
While pontificating to countries such as Sri Lanka on privacy, human
rights and the right to information, some Western countries even
overstep their limits in the guise of national security. It has now come
to light how some godfathers of human rights had even gone to the extent
of tapping the private telephone conversations of certain people and
kept surveillance on them.
In sharp contrast, they exert undue pressure on Sri Lanka even when a
notorious criminal or hardcore terrorist is taken into custody. There
are seemingly countless Western forces who still make a big hue and cry
over the human rights of terrorists killed in action, while confronting
a legitimate army of a sovereign state.
The American presidential historian Robert Dallek had said that US
President Barack Obama seems to be more committed in protecting national
security than promoting civil liberties and privacy rights, which puts
him firmly in the tradition of most of his predecessors.
Dallek said that one reason is that there are "real national security
concerns" that preoccupy every commander-in-chief. In Obama's case, they
include fear of a repetition of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the
Boston Marathon bombings. Domestic politics also play a role, Dallek
said. Presidents believe that their top job is to "keep the country
safe," and to fail in that mission would look "negligent," a reputation
that no president wants, the historian said.
Obama has strongly defended his administration's surveillance of
telephone and internet communications, which have been exposed through a
series of recent news leaks. "They make a difference in our capacity to
anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity," Obama was quoted as
Head of the US National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander had
said that his agency's electronic surveillance programs had helped avert
dozens of terrorist attacks. "I think what we're doing to protect
American citizens here is the right thing," Alexander told a
congressional hearing and added, "Our agency takes great pride in
protecting this nation - and our civil liberties and privacy."
We fully endorse the views of the US President and his National
Security Agency head. In this context, it is pertinent that Sri Lanka,
or any other sovereign state for that matter, has the same right when it
comes to a country's national security.
The Head of State of any sovereign nation should enjoy the same right
which the US President or any other head of a Western nation enjoys when
it comes to national security. The Government, led by President
Rajapaksa, has exercised the same right when Sri Lanka was subjected to
brutal LTTE terrorism. The President had no option but to take recourse
to military action when LTTE terrorists held over half a million people
as a human shield in the North and the East.
At the time, Sri Lanka's Security Forces were directed to embark on
that historic humanitarian operation - the largest ever in world
history. The West's double standards to deal with terrorism in this part
of the world, to say the least, is mind-boggling.
President Rajapaksa has time and again stressed that there are no
good terrorists and bad terrorists. Terrorism in any part of the world
is the same and wreaks havoc. Hence, terrorism in any part of the world
should be eradicated likewise - be it in the West or elsewhere. The West
should relinquish its negative approach that undermines Sri Lanka's
herculean efforts to crush LTTE terror.
Any attempt to discredit the Security Forces or frame war crime
charges against Sri Lanka would only foster terrorism and jeopardise the
country's efforts to usher in a better tomorrow for those rescued from
the jaws of LTTE terror. Rather than levelling war crime charges to
appease the Tiger cohorts, the West should make a tangible contribution
to Sri Lanka's efforts to find a secure future for the Tamils in the
North and the East.