Monday, January 26, 2009

Sri Lanka: Opinion - Those who sang the "failed state" chorus are silent

Republished for information and discussion only. This report does not necessarily reflect the views of Mike Hitchen Consulting

By: Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Source: Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order - Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

"We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." - 44th US President Barack Obama in his Inaugural Address - Jan 20, 2009

It was not long ago that apologists for the LTTE, in what was falsely labeled as a peace lobby, which included persons now revealed as earning millions from abroad for everything from "conflict resolution" to "media freedom" - the handmaidens of Velupillai Prabhakaran - and any related subject, were bashing Sri Lanka with charges that we were rushing ahead to be a failed state. The were highly exaggerated allegations about the humanitarian situation in the country, especially in the North, and the military operations were deplored, despised and scoffed at with the LTTE being held as an invincible fighting force.

And now there is a sea change of thinking about Sri Lanka. Those who sang the "failed state" chorus are silent; there are interesting revelations of foreign money being misused for "conflict resolution, "policy alternatives" and "media freedom"; there is a stunning silence from those who said the LTTE could or would never be militarily defeated, and the news breaks are about the "Sooriya Deivan" or Sun God in the Vanni, in the form of Velupillai Prabhakaran, planning to abandon the Tamil people he claimed to lead to liberation, and flee to the safety of a country that would allow his criminal person to be within its borders.

The LTTE proxies, especially in Tamil Nadu, led by a now somewhat frightened Chief Minister Karunanidhi, who were shedding copious tears for the plight of the Tamil civilians in the North of Sri Lanka, as well as Keith Vaz & Co - the MPs in the UK hungry for the votes of the Tamils of Sri Lankan extract in their electorates, and German policy makers and diplomats, who were making he most preposterous charges about the plight of the Tamil civilians in the North, are now effectively silenced. Interestingly, this is not a result of direct responses by the Sri Lankan Government but by others who were always ready with accusatory fingers pointed at this country and its Government.

The first major barrage on the LTTE's brutal treatment of civilians held in areas under its control came from Human Rights Watch, no friend of the Sri Lanka Government. This was soon followed by many others reports, with some international news agencies that sang hosannas for the LTTE, realizing they had better fall in line with reality. Earlier this week we had the United Nations, through its UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordination, calling on the LTTE to allow civilians in Sri Lanka's northern Vanni region to move into government controlled areas without keeping them as a human shield in the face of military advance.

Later this week, we had the UN Office of the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Colombo, calling on the LTTE to immediately permit all UN staff and dependents to freely move from the Vanni, warning that denial of safe passage is a clear abrogation of their obligations under international humanitarian law. Coincident was the demand by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy, no particular friend of the Sri Lanka Government either, urging the LTTE to allow all children and their families to move to safe areas away from the fighting, emphasizing that a significant number of LTTE fighters are children. So the truth is now coming to light, that the plight of Tamil civilians is due to the LTTE.

It will be too na‹ve to attribute all this change in attitudes on developments in Sri Lanka to be a new understanding of reality; but rather the acceptance of the fact that none of these organizations can anymore ignore or twist the realities of the Government's fight against terrorism, the successes it is gaining, and the most obvious yet ignored fact that there is no other country or government that continues with every means at its disposal, to care for the civilians in areas under terrorist control, accepting them as equal citizens of Sri Lanka, and entitled to all benefits of citizenship.

This is what makes President Rajapkasa's exhortation to Sri Lanka's Consuls abroad to go tell the world about Sri Lanka's rapid advance to democracy throughout the country, most timely and realistic. It came soon after the Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, in meetings with both the President and Foreign Minister said that relations between India and Sri Lanka had never been "so close, so warm and so deep".

To those who were enriching themselves with dire warnings of a failed state came the UNICEF statement last week said Sri Lanka's achievements in scaling up health services for mothers and infants and its success in slashing maternal and neonatal mortality rates has made the lower middle income country a model for other developing nations.

As for the invincibility of the LTTE and the great military strategies of Velupillai Prabhakaran, it appears that world opinion is now moving towards looking at Sri Lanka as an example on how terrorism could be fought and defeated, not at the negotiating table as many have been calling for, and not through cease fires as Mr. Gordon Brown still advocates, but through decisive military action. This was best stated in the "Wall Street Journal" last week, that opened its lengthy analytical piece on Sri Lanka's success in beating the LTTE stating: "For all those who argue that there's no military solution for terrorism, we have two words: Sri Lanka" - even recommending it for new President Obama vis-…-vis the Israel-Gaza conflict. One hopes the WSJ also had in mind the Sri Lankan military's Zero Civilian Casualties (ZCC) policy, in giving such advice.

As the realities of the LTTE's defeat unfolds and stories of Prabhakaran's moves to escape from his own people gain more currency, it is not surprising if one sees in President Barack Obama's statement at his inauguration that "those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you" much of what President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been saying for the past several months: that the resolve of Sri Lanka is to defeat terrorism within its territory, help defeat it in the region, and contribute to the world's fight against this menace to civilization. It may not be long before the Sri Lankan troops who are in the forefront of this battle, will be the most sought after force in the fight against terror.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits