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Countering false propaganda

IMMEDIATELY after the 1983 July riots, the country’s image sank to its nadir. It took another battering during the 1988-89 insurgency.

The late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar spearheaded Lanka’s efforts to clear its name and paint a true picture of the governance and human rights situation.

He also unmasked the LTTE for what it really is - a ruthless terrorist organisation - which led many countries to ban it despite a concerted campaign by the LTTE propaganda machine to describe themselves as the liberators of the Tamil masses.

Right now, an international campaign has been launched against Sri Lanka by LTTE-backed individuals and organisations, including certain international Non-Governmental Organisations.

The thrust of their campaign is the human rights situation and the escalating conflict in the North-East. Some organisations have taken this campaign to the extreme, as in the case of Amnesty International’s ‘Sri Lanka Play By the Rules’ operation at the Cricket World Cup.

The Government has not been slow to react to these damaging manoeuvres. On the human rights front, the Government has appointed a High Powered Commission to probe several high-profile cases.

This is assisted by the International Group of Eminent Persons, comprising foreign human rights experts.

In another development, the UN Human Rights Commission did not go ahead with planned resolutions against Sri Lanka on alleged human rights violations at the recent sessions in Geneva.

On the military front, it must be borne in mind that it was the LTTE which arbitrarily attacked the Security Forces soon after the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in November 2005.

The subsequent closure of the Mavilaru anicut forced the Government to order the Security Forces to engage in a humanitarian mission to take over the anicut and release the water for farming.

Similarly, the LTTE’s use of civilians as a human shield compelled the Government to liberate them from the LTTE’s grip in areas such as Vakarai.

In any case, a 100 per cent human rights record would be very hard to maintain in a conflict environment.

Civilian casualties and excesses can occur on both sides, but it is lamentable that many human rights groups maintain a deafening silence when the LTTE is implicated in atrocities such as civilian bus bombings.

Amidst all these developments, the need for a comprehensive programme to counter the disinformation campaign is being acutely felt.

Responding to this need, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has said the Government would take immediate measures to develop a strategy to counter the disinformation campaign against the Sri Lankan Government with “clarity and credibility”.

Although the Government is conscious of the concerns raised by the international community on human rights and had indeed taken meaningful steps, this message is not being effectively communicated to the international community.

This has unfortunately led to a situation where the international community often falls prey to LTTE and third parties’ misinformation.

Under the new initiative the Government will seek to put to rest false allegations, investigate instances where credible evidence exists and institute modalities that would help prevent the occurrence of any incidents of concern.

A team of dedicated officers should lead this campaign from Colombo under the guidance of the Minister and the Foreign Secretary and our foreign missions should be deeply involved. Defence, Human Rights and Tourism Ministries too should actively participate in this exercise.

At the end of the day, a coherent, credible and accurate picture should emerge on any given incident or development to pre-empt the false propaganda spread by the enemy.

It should be sustained in the long-term, so that Sri Lanka can silence its critics and detractors and present the true picture to the world.

‘We have to be more imaginative in our enterprises’

IT IS very necessary that our country positions itself, uses its hub status, uses all those very favourable factors that we have to attract the highest amount of foreign investment, foreign trade and foreign inflows of capital which will then strengthen the rupee and thereby even help alleviating the cost of living. We have to manufacture more, we have to be more imaginative in our enterprise;

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Human Resources Development of Sri Lanka for the 21st Century

THE present complex situation requires our serious thought and consideration as we have to prepare the next generation for a different world, a largely a borderless world. It has been observed that more and more knowledge is produced and as estimates indicate the global knowledge now doubles in less than every five years.

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Nature’s most spectacular sights under threat

The scattered carcasses of dead turtles bake on the hot sand. Scraps of the white shells of turtle eggs surround a hole where stray dogs have dug up a nest.

Full Story

 

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