Protect nations combating terrorism
Former United Nations' diplomat
Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala has stressed the importance of introducing a new
international protocol to safeguard Armed Forces fighting terrorism.
In his submission to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
(LLRC) in Colombo last week, the retired top UN diplomat said that the
legitimate Armed Forces of a sovereign nation should not be charged with
war crimes when they launch offensives against terrorists.
It is a well-known fact that certain countries and international
organisations brazenly interfere in the internal affairs of other
countries. They even go to the extent of aiding and abetting terrorism,
funding terrorists and promoting terrorism. Some of these countries and
INGOs are instrumental in channelling funds to support terrorist
organisations. In the circumstances, Dr. Dhanapala has stressed the
necessity of introducing a protocol to safeguard Armed Forces fighting
Sri Lanka is the best example in eradicating terrorism and the world
should take a cue from Sri Lanka as a role model and introduce a
mechanism to combat global terrorism. Instead of supporting Sri Lanka in
the reconciliation and development process after eradicating LTTE
terrorism, a section of the International Community is now attempting to
take Sri Lanka before international war crimes tribunals. Isn't this an
indirect attempt to support terrorism?
As disclosed by the former Chairman of the United Nations Disarmament
Committee, the bravery of Sri Lanka's soldiers helped avert the
holocaust of 300,000 civilians. The tragedy would have reached alarming
proportions had the Security Forces not exercised restraint in attacks
to avoid civilian casualties. Those soldiers faced major risks to avoid
a holocaust of 300,000 Tamil civilian deaths in the final stages of the
battle against terrorism.
Some countries and INGOs tend to ignore how the LTTE held thousands
of innocent civilians as a human shield and fired mortars at the
advancing Security Forces, who unilaterally gave up using heavy weapons
in the final stages of the battle. This was done by the Security Forces
to maintain zero civilian casualty rates but in doing so, they lost more
security personnel and suffered more casualties.
The tragedy would have definitely reached alarming proportions in the
event the Security Forces did not exercise utmost restraint in attacks
to avoid civilian casualties. The Government sent essential food and
medical supplies to those who were held captive by the LTTE, although it
knew that a major portion of it would go into the hands of the Tigers.
Thus, Sri Lanka was the only country to feed a terrorist outfit which
waged a relentless war against its Security Forces.
Taking a lesson from Sri Lanka's experience, the International
Community should implement a mechanism to protect countries combating
terrorism. The Armed Forces of an independent country should not be
charged with war crimes when they launch offensives against terrorist
organisations. Terror outfits and legitimate Governments should not be
treated on equal terms.
As Dr. Dhanapala has rightly said, it is the responsibility of the
International Community to protect nations victimised by the 'export of
terrorism'. The International Community should also take action against
those countries assisting terrorism in other countries. The UN should
declare that such interference is a clear violation of the principle of
non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
The concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) should be enhanced by
innovative ideas to assist vulnerable nations confronted with
difficulties in their fight against terrorism unleashed by non-state
actors. There is a number of Non Aligned Movement member countries faced
with this situation who will definitely support it if there is a move to
improve the provisions in the R2P concept to safeguard such nations.
Dr. Dhanapala has advocated that the Government enacts a Race and
Religious Relations Act to promote reconciliation. He has also suggested
that punishment should be meted out for hate speech and action against
acts or speeches against other races and religions.
At a time the Government is taking every possible step to strengthen
and foster ethnic harmony and build greater confidence amongst all
ethnic groups, the International Community must demonstrate its
sincerity in the well-being of the Tamils by supporting the development
and reconciliation efforts. Those who preach vociferously against
international terrorism and the need to eradicate it ad nauseum must
prove their sincerity. Sri Lanka has set an example to one and all by
becoming the first country to eradicate terrorism. This is the most
opportune time for the International Community to prove how genuine they
are with their clarion call to eradicate global terrorism.
The Government has set another example, worthy of emulation by
resettling the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in next to no time.
Certain countries and international organisations which shed crocodile
tears on the IDPs during the battle against terror did precious little
to help Sri Lanka's resettlement process and infrastructure development
of the North and the East.
Nevertheless, Sri Lanka, with the help of friendly countries, stood
on its own and found a safe haven for those innocent civilians who were
pawns in the hands of the Tigers. None of these countries or
international organisations spoke about those laudable achievements of
the world's largest human rescue mission.
As a responsible Government, Sri Lanka has paid much attention on the
rehabilitation of ex-combatants too. Under the direction of President
Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka has already initiated the rehabilitation of
ex-LTTE combatants and getting them absorbed into the country's
The Government under the direct supervision of Defence Secretary
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has drawn up a comprehensive program to rehabilitate
ex-combatants at the Rehabilitation Centres set up in Jaffna and
Vavuniya. Special education programs too have been launched for the
ex-combatants to pursue their studies and prepare them for the GCE
Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations. Is the United Nations
blind to such a sincere commitment by the Government?
Those countries and international organisations which attempt to push
Sri Lanka towards an international war crimes tribunal must first and
foremost evaluate all these factors before jumping to conclusions. They
must respect and commend those unparalleled achievements by Sri Lanka's
valiant Security Forces.