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Sunday, 4 August 2013

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Tap Lanka's expertise to crush global terrorism

Many countries have done their utmost to crush terrorism but failed. Even the most powerful armies in the world, with sophisticated modern weapons, have come a cropper in their attempts to crush global terrorism.

Sri Lanka's valiant Security Forces, perhaps, may not have had the luxury of modern weapons and techniques used by their counterparts in the so-called big countries, but crushed terrorism admirably well. The true sons of our soil had proved their mettle by destroying the deadliest terrorist outfit in the world.

Over four years have elapsed since Sri Lanka eradicated LTTE terrorism and set new world standards. No other country has achieved such a magnificent task in world history. However, it is deplorable that those grappling with terrorism have not exploited the first-hand experience of Sri Lanka's Security Forces and its expertise to crush global terrorism.

Leaders of powerful nations have often vowed to defeat global terrorism and even deployed their armies to combat terrorism in other countries. The need to crush international terrorism came into sharp focus after the 9/11 attack in the United States. Many countries make vociferous claims at international fora that they would leave no room for terrorism to rear its ugly head, but the jackpot question is how many of them have been sincere in their claims.

Had they practised what they preached, they would have grabbed Sri Lanka's expertise soon after it vanquished the LTTE in May 2009. Even if the leaders of those countries which had not supported Sri Lanka's humanitarian operation and even spoke in favour of Tiger terrorists, but sought help, Sri Lanka is still ready to offer its know-how and expertise to crush global terrorism.

It seems that some countries are reluctant to acknowledge the fact that Sri Lanka was the first and only country to crush terrorism successfully. Although their forces are battling the scourge of terrorism, they still seem to be having reservations in securing Sri Lanka's expertise. On the other hand, they make subtle attempts to undermine Sri Lanka's herculean achievements and discredit its Security Forces for reasons best known to them.

Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha had said that the approach adopted in post-tsunami and post-terror Sri Lanka, with suitable adaptation, could be deployed in managing humanitarian situations in other countries as well. Moreover, the Government is only too willing to share its vast experience as the best practices on humanitarian effectiveness, with other countries that are similarly affected, to bring relief to those who suffer due to humanitarian emergencies.

Sri Lanka had not only grappled with separatist terrorism for almost three decades, but also dealt with an unprecedented natural disaster, the Asian tsunami devastation in 2004. The systems deployed by the Government's Centre of National Operations (CNO) to manage natural disasters, the 24/7 operational capacity now permits Sri Lanka to evacuate coastal areas within an hour of a tsunami alert.

The manner in which Sri Lanka has completed resettlement in next to no time after the tsunami devastation and the humanitarian operations have set new world standards. Demining and resettling over half a million people after the world's largest human rescue mission especially was by no means an easy task. Many in the international community cast doubt whether Sri Lanka could ever accomplish this stupendous task.

Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the Government, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka overcame all overwhelming odds and achieved those targets much earlier than anticipated in a manner which no other country has done before. Sri Lanka has made significant strides during the past four years since the end of LTTE terrorism, in re-settling displaced persons, demining operations, restoring livelihoods and property of those affected and initiating a program to pay compensation to those affected in the North and the East, who had lost loved ones and property and sustained injuries.

The recent phasing out of the operational role of the UNHCR and ECHO and the re-orientation of the ICRC's activities in Sri Lanka reflect an acknowledgement by the international community of Sri Lanka's success story in responding to humanitarian situations, both man-made and natural.

Stressing that the discourse to establish an international system to address the dire situations and the needs of countries in the aftermath of humanitarian catastrophes as important, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN has said that Sri Lanka takes cognizance of the need to not only address the immediate humanitarian needs in the aftermath of a disaster, but also as to how countries could rebuild the lives of those affected by promoting a recovery that is sustainable and development-oriented.

Sri Lanka has reiterated its support to the humanitarian assistance guiding principles articulated in the GA Resolution 46/182, especially on the full adherence to the humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality and independence, while engaging in negotiations for and during humanitarian operations.

However, in the co-ordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of concerned sovereign states need to be fully respected. Sri Lanka has also reiterated the need for de-politicisation of humanitarian aid and that non-governmental organisations involved in the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected countries should also be accountable, both financially and in the work that is being carried out by them.

Many UN agencies deliberate on the negative consequences of man-made disasters such as extreme weather patterns in many corners of the world due to climate change. Extensive discussions have been held for many years at the United Nations FCCC on the adaptation for climate change. This needs policies in terms of funding and adapting to face the dire consequences of rising sea levels and unpredictable weather patterns.

Despite many years of negotiations, things are at a standstill as funds for adaptation, especially for developing countries, are not forthcoming. The setting up of the Green Climate Fund has rekindled fresh hope for developing countries as they grapple with development challenges, apart from the humanitarian challenges.

In this scenario, Sri Lanka looks forward to greater engagement in this dialogue, especially at the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit in 2015, where the knowledge and best practices on strengthening humanitarian assistance and promoting humanitarian aid, transparency and effectiveness could be shared among all stakeholders. It is our fervent hope that the WH Summit would help create a synergy between the development partners and those who work on disaster preparedness.

Irresponsible statements alleging war crimes and pontificating on internal matters of a sovereign state would only bolster the hopes of the LTTE rump which has taken shelter overseas. It is absurd talking about the human rights of LTTE terrorists killed when confronting a legitimate army of a sovereign state.

Those countries which make a big hue and cry over the human rights of LTTE terrorists killed must bear in mind that the human rights of hundreds of thousands of civilians either killed or affected, are by far more important than those of Tiger cadres. Levelling unjust allegations against Sri Lanka would only help foster terrorism and not do any good to the half a million people rescued from the jaws of LTTE terrorism. These civilians have received a new lease of life and begun their own livelihoods, making a worthy contribution to the national economy. The Government has already embarked on reconciliation, addressing the grievances of people in the North and the East. Their real problems are far from what the LTTE cohorts and a section of the Tamil Diaspora project.

The Tamils in Sri Lanka do not have unique problems due to their ethnicity. The only problem they encounter is due to their geographical location. Moreover, the Muslims and Sinhalese in those provinces also experience similar problems, if any. They have now been afforded an opportunity to elect their own representatives to run the provincial administration, thereby restoring democracy that the LTTE had robbed them of through the bullet.

Tamils living outside the Northern peninsula mingle freely with all other communities sans any discrimination. This is ample testimony that there is no ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Concocted stories are spread by the LTTE cohorts to woo international sympathy. The international community should by, no means, fall prey to these machinations and make optimum use of Sri Lanka's expertise to eradicate global terrorism.

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