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Sunday, 5 October 2014

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Opinion:

Why is the West blind to Sri Lanka's reconciliation efforts?

The United States has said that there has been no softening of its stand on Sri Lanka with regard to the human rights situation. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, denying recent news reports in this regard, has told reporters in Washington that only thing that he could confirm was that was right was that the US Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.


Anti-personnel mines recovered by the mining teams in the North

"He (Kerry) did so with the express purpose of conveying that US policy with regard to Sri Lanka has not changed and it certainly has not softened," she said in response to a question.

First and foremost, what we would like to point out is that Sri Lanka does not want to win the sympathy of the US, or any other player in the international community for that matter, as far as the human rights are concerned. Sri Lanka has nothing to hide and has told its true picture to the world in a transparent manner.

All what we want is a fair deal without being unfairly harassed, using the UNHRC as a stage to fulfill the whims and fancies of a few Western countries.

Record straight

We never begged sympathy from the international community regarding human rights as Sri Lanka has not violated human rights.

In fact, the Government has reinstated human rights of 21 million people who have been subjected to untold privations due to LTTE terrorism. Hence, we would like to put the record straight by telling the US State department that Sri Lanka does not need sympathy soften any stand but only want a fair hearing without being discriminated for no fault of its.

"We would, of course, like our relationship with Sri Lanka to achieve its full potential, but that will only happen if Sri Lanka builds enduring peace and prosperity for all of its diverse ethnic and religious communities. That's why the Secretary, in no uncertain terms, made clear that Sri Lanka needed to take meaningful steps to act like a country that is no longer at war and instead is now building a future that includes all of its citizens. So certainly it had the opposite purpose," Psaki was quoted as saying.

Untiring efforts

As much as the US, Sri Lanka too likes its relationship with the US to achieve its full potential. But we don't want to take any conditions from any country to build friendships. Such efforts should be genuine and sincere. Hasn't Sri Lanka taken numerous meaningful steps to act like a country that is no longer in the battlefield.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of President Rajapaksa, we are now building a future that includes all of its citizens belonging to different communities and religious faiths. Is the US totally blind to see these stark facts?

It is unfortunate that the US State Department seems to be unaware on the efforts made by the Government, under the leadership of President Rajapaksa, to strengthen peace and prosperity among all communities.

The Government has taken enough and more meaningful steps to strengthen ethnic harmony and build national reconciliation.

It is deplorable that some Western countries have not shown any interest whatsoever to come here and get firsthand experience on these landmark achievements of Sri Lanka since the terrorism was eradicated little over five years ago.

Human shield


Northern youth who joined the Sri Lanka Army undergoing training

We need not beg from the international community and plead for their sympathy vote at the UNHRC. We ask nothing but a fair hearing for Sri Lanka's sincere efforts to eradicate terrorism and save its 21 million people, rescuing of over half a million Tamils from the jaws of death as they had been held as a human shield by Tiger terrorists and the praiseworthy steps taken by the Government to rebuild the country's North and the East.

Those have set new world standards. No other country, after such a bitter battlefield experience, has done so much to resettle people in double quick time, finding them shelter and livelihood activities.

At the same time, preferential treatment has been given to the terrorism-affected areas in national development. Billions of rupees have been spent on infrastructure development in the North and the East.

All those efforts have been made to strengthen national reconciliation and build a peaceful atmosphere for all communities to live in perfect peace and harmony.

But the LTTE rump and the Tiger sympathisers have been projecting a totally different picture and some Western leaders seems to be either swallowing those concocted stories or showing a Nelsonian eye for reasons better known to them.

Trust

The government is taking measures to promote reconciliation and coexistence among communities as recommended by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

Various Government institutions are implementing programs and projects based on the recommendations of the LLRC from national level to regional level and the government plans to create a mechanism to regulate these programs implemented with the objective of ensuring mutual friendship and trust among communities.

The Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal made by the President to form a cabinet sub-committee on Social Reconciliation and Coexistence among Communities.

The President will preside over the sub-committee which will comprise ministers to monitor and facilitate the implementation of the LLRC recommendations aimed at strengthening of coexistence among communities.

The Cabinet also approved forming a Committee of Officers comprising Ministry Secretaries to assist the sub-committee. Secretary to the President, who functions as the Chairman of the Committee which supervises the implementation of the recommendations of LLRC, will preside over the Committee of Officers.

Iranamadu tank

The demining process is nearly 98% over and work to free the remaining land area from mine risk is progressing fast.

There is only about 80 square kilometers remaining to be cleared in comparison to the 5000 square kilometers of land mass that was left at the end of the war. The cleared areas were thoroughly inspected and assured by UNDP officials prior to the handing over of lands back to the civilians.

More than 68 percent if the de-mined was carried out by the Security Forces demining teams and the rest was de-minded by local and foreign NGOs. Only the forested areas remains to be cleared hence the delay in completing the work but it will be completed by the earliest possible date.

The LTTE rump is giving wide publicity in twisting stories to suit their agenda. the fishing issue at the Iranamadu tank is one of them. There are no restrictions imposed by Sri Lanka Army for fishing in the Iranamadu tank. However, the local fishery societies don't allow outsiders to fish due to long standing drought experienced in the area at present. This is how the Tiger rump attempt to discredit the Security Forces to woo international sympathy.

The efforts taken by the Government are honest and sincere steps to further strengthen ethnic harmony. Those needs the support by all peace-loving people in the country. But we are not prepared to dance to the Western melody and allow interested parties to rob Sri Lanka' hard-earned peace. The country's valiant Security forces scarified their life and the limb to get rid of the scourge of terrorism which had devastated our country for nearly three decades.

Double standards

We can't go back to that dark era once more to satisfy the LTTE rump or certain Western politicians with vested interests.

What LTTE failed through and armed struggle killing thousands of people could not be granted under the guise of reconciliation or human rights.

Unfortunately, none of those Western peace merchants utter a word on human rights of thousands of people killed by the LTTE.

But there are enough and more Western agents to talk on human rights of terrorists killed when confronting a legitimate army of a sovereign state. We reject these Western double standards in disgust.

Sri Lanka has set an example to other nations by meeting most of its responsibilities towards the country's child population.

Among the steps taken for the betterment of our children is making our country a safe and secure place for them. Thousands of children were brutally killed when the LTTE terrorism was at its best.

Young boys and girls in their early teens were dragged from their homes at gunpoint to be enrolled with the LTTE as child soldiers.

It was the Security Forces who ended all those under the directions of their Commander-in-Chief - the President. Most people have forgotten these, especially those who shed buckets of crocodile tears over human rights.

What Sri Lanka needs are sincere friends, who will lend a helping hand in the country's determined reconciliation drive and further development of the North and the East.

We need stakeholders in Sri Lanka's efforts to strengthen peace and development and not those who merely pontificate to us thinking Sri Lanka is still a colony of the West.

We are a sovereign state and enjoy the same rights as any other country in the UN. Hence, we will not tolerate discrimination and attempts to meddle in country's internal matters in the guise of human rights and reconciliation.  

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