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Sunday, 2 February 2014

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Opinion:

Bankrupt Opposition politicos support embargos against SL

It seems that some of the bankrupt Opposition politicians here are more interested in bringing UNHRC Resolutions and embargos against Sri Lanka than the United States, Canada or the UK.

The rebuilt Kinya bridge

Those who can't get a mandate from the masses and win elections now attempt to take shelter under the UNHRC Resolution to capture power through short cuts.

Knowing that the masses are strongly with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and that they could never challenge his popularity or beat the UPFA democratically, certain Opposition politicians now seem to be daydreaming of using the US-led resolution at the UNHRC as a tool to achieve their political fantasies.

It is a shame that some local politicians and activists go to Geneva as crybabies for the simplest thing. Instead of settling the political scores here on a democratic platform, some Opposition politicians are now trying to take undue political mileage out of the US-led Resolution to take undue political mileage and challenge a regime which they could not defeat at an election.

Effective tool

On the other hand, certain Western forces which are working overtime for a regime change, too have got hold of the opportunist Opposition politicians. Both the categories have a common objective - a regime change. While certain Western politicians wants to have a local leadership which dances to their melody, some of the local politicians in the Oppositions are under an illusion that the US-led resolution could give them something they could not achieve at successive elections!

Human rights has been an effective tool for Western powers to tame the regimes which do not dance the fandango to their whims and fancies. While allowing their allies and partners in 'crime' to do anything and everything under the guise of international terrorism, even the simplest occurrence in countries which does not dance to the Western melody are blown out of proportion. While turning a blind eye on gross human rights violations by their friendly countries, serious war crimes charges are being levelled to tame the regimes which do not sing hosannas to the West.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal appears to have jumped the gun, saying that the US does not have a set agenda against Sri Lanka. She has added that the US is compelled to take up certain issues due to the values upon which the US has been founded upon.

It is interesting to find out what these values the US is talking about. She has said that the values, as the US constantly reminds the world are upholding human rights, safeguarding the rule of law and encouraging good governance. Those were the founding values of the American Union.

Crocodile tears

Biswal has said that there is "growing frustration" in the international community due to the fear that Sri Lanka will lose the golden opportunity provided by the end of terrorism to move forward.


A suspect being tortured in Afghanistan on the orders of US soldiers

She will also travel to Geneva, for meetings regarding US's intention to sponsor a resolution on Sri Lanka in the March session of the UN Human Rights Council. This resolution will build upon previous resolutions in 2012 and 2013. Why should the US State Department strongly shed crocodile tears only on the final phase of the battle against terrorism, ignoring the thousands of brutal terror attacks the LTTE had carried out during its three decades of terror?

The State Department officials have gone on record that if Sri Lanka failed to address the civilian deaths in domestic investigation the US would be compelled to join other international players to initiate a global mechanism to probe the civilian deaths. Is this an indirect attempt to glorify the now defunct terror outfit and protect human rights of the LTTE terrorists killed in action?

None of these so-called godfathers of human rights ever uttered a word when 21 million people of Sri Lanka were at the reconvening end. Has any Western country voiced on those so-called values when the LTTE indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of people in broad daylight through mass-scale bomb explosions? Yet, the US and the UK are now talking about isolated incidents without proof to undermine the herculean achievements of Sri Lanka's valiant Security Forces.

Horrific experience

Where were these so-called prophets of human rights and values when the LTTE killed 98 people and injured over one thousand people by exploding a massive bomb targeting the Central Bank? As the nation marked the death anniversaries of those innocent victims, there are several others who are still suffering or being paralysed due to the attack.

The dead included 41 employees of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Of the 1,400 people injured in the central bank bombing were two US citizens, six Japanese and one Dutch national.

Eight adjoining buildings were also badly damaged and more than 100 people lost their eyesight as a result of the merciless bombing.

The country's financial hub was attacked by the LTTE crashing in through the main gates in a lorry carrying around 440 pounds of high explosives. As terrorists traded shots with the bank's security guards, the suicide bomber in the lorry detonated the powerful bomb killing and injuring bank workers and civilians.

A backup team followed the lorry with two more LTTE terrorists gunning down stunned civilians with automatic rifles and an RPG launcher. The duo, leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's right hand man Subramanium Vigneswaram alias Kittu, and Sivasamy Dharmendra alias Raju were arrested through tipoff's from the public. As we mark the 18th anniversary of that horrific experience, the LTTE rump is still trying to block the country's progress march by using various extraneous elements in the West.

But now, the countries such as the US are talking about values after thousands of soldiers had made supreme sacrifices to liberate the country from the clutches of terrorism.

It is an open secret that the West was heavily influenced by them as they strategically used the 'values' Biswal highlighted in Colombo, to effectively control the narrative that surrounded Sri Lanka issues.

Before talking about the values and pontificate Sri Lanka on human rights and accountability, the US should first and foremost investigate the human rights violations by the US-led NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. How many innocent civilians and children have been killed due to US drone attacks in Pakistan?

Isn't that 'values' story Biswal is narrating applicable to those drone attacks? Similarly, the UK too must address the war crimes allegations that have been levelled against the British Forces.

Let them clear the loads of rubbish that are there in their own backyards before pointing an accusing finger against Sri Lanka.

In early 1970's when the US used carpet bombing inside Cambodia, using the term Biswal used in Colombo, there was no 'agenda' for Cambodia but to stop the influx of North Vietnamese Viet Cong guerrillas to the Cambodian territory whose US-backed puppet regime of Gen. Lon Nol had a hard time facing.

There was no US 'agenda' to pave the way for the emergence of brutal Pol Pot regime in 1975. But that was the collateral effect due to the carpet bombing.

Let's take a closer look on the track record of these Western countries which are now trying to teach values to a country such as Sri Lanka with a proud history of over 2,500 years old. None should teach us on values as those have been inculcated with our proud history when these countries ever thought of civilisation. Has the US forgotten the 'values' which the British had 'assured' by killing thousands of people when invading countries such as Sri Lanka?

International obligations

Here is how Amnesty International, in its 2008 report, described USA's culpability to war crimes noted; "There is not a single fix that will bring the USA's actions on counter terrorism into compliance with international law. The violations in the "war on terror" have been many and varied, and the government has exploited a long-standing reluctance of the USA to commit itself fully to international law, including in relation to recognizing the full range of its international obligations with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

We wonder whether the international community is aware the fact that there are only 188 detainees in the Government's custody. This is out of 12,000 ex-combatants and LTTE terrorist surrendees since the battle against terrorism was concluded on May 18, 2009. This is compared to 160 plus detainees in the US detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, some for ten years and others close to that and that about 60-odd detainees are still incarcerated in Guantanamo despite US judiciary directed their release four years ago as there were no charges, criminal or otherwise, against them.

All 594 LTTE child combatants have been rehabilitated and reunited with their families within one year. 11,872 ex-combatants have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. Only 171 remain in rehabilitation following legal proceedings. All detainees have access to secondary, tertiary education and vocational and skills training provided.

In the area of institutional strengthening, democracy has been established in the North, replacing the LTTE's law of the jungle and the elections to the Northern Provincial Council was completed. A separate Ministry for law and order established while strengthening of the Official Languages Commission undertaken. Fully functional Courts in many parts of the Northern Province have been established with the exclusive use of Tamil Language implemented.

Over 96% of the area demined and currently, only 86 sq km remain to be cleared from a confirmed hazardous area of 2,061 sq km. A total of 297,000 persons housed at Menik Farm welfare village immediately after the end of the battle in 2009 are now fully resettled.

Menik Farm Welfare Village was closed on Sept, 24, 2012. Action has been taken to expedite resettling remaining 7,094 IDP families in the North and East. Of this, 5,585 are staying with host families.

The question is who in Sri Lanka is able to undertake the 'global task' of disseminating this information cogently to those in the West, their lawmakers and policy wonks? Why can't the West see the achievements of Sri Lanka which no other nation has achieved after a bitter experience in the battlefield?

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