Positive action against terrorism
WE HAVE often heard the refrain
that terrorism cannot be defeated and the war cannot be won.
These statements do not tally with the recent achievements of
the Lankan Security Forces, which have resoundingly defeated
Tiger terrorists in the East and elsewhere, confining them to
Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi.
In fact, Sri Lanka has been one of the world’s foremost
campaigners against terrorism. It advocated global action
against terror groups long before 9/11 galvanised the rest of
the world into taking concrete steps to curb terrorism. It has
been fighting one of the world’s most ruthless terror outfits
for nearly two decades while other countries simply ignored the
This was the crux of Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s
message to the international community at the anti-terror confab
now on in Colombo.
Bogollagama noted that Sri Lanka can consider itself as a
‘success story’ in the battle against terrorism. Lanka’s long,
relentless and yet unfinished campaign against terrorism has
indeed given hope to other democracies affected by terrorism
around the world that terror groups can be fought and overcome.
The vigilance of the Security Forces and the public has been
another factor which enabled Lanka to gain the upper hand over
the terrorists on many occasions.
Fighting the terrorists per se has not been the sole
objective of Sri Lankan Governments. It has also encompassed
freeing the civilians in uncleared areas from LTTE tyranny. In
addition to keeping the civilians in primitive conditions, the
LTTE often used them as a human shield.
Liberating them from the LTTE was the main aim of the
humanitarian missions in the East that followed the LTTE’s
closure of the Mavilaru anicut. Now the entire Eastern Province
has been liberated from the LTTE. Development work is underway
in a province which has not seen much progress in two decades.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has stressed the need
to liberate the Northern masses from the LTTE in a similar
The Lankan Government alone cannot fight terrorism, which is
a global phenomenon. The LTTE has spread its tentacles
everywhere and is engaged in extorting the Tamil diaspora to
raise funds. It maintains close links with many other terrorists
groups around the world.
Sri Lanka has constantly called for cohesive global action
against terrorism on a variety of fronts. It is now up to the
international community to respond positively to this call,
bearing in mind that terrorism anywhere affects humanity
Action against people smuggling
OUR FIRST editorial focused on
the scourge of terrorism, which manifested in a most horrendous
form in Pakistan yesterday. But there is an equally disturbing
phenomenon which is yet to receive the world’s attention. That
is the menace of human trafficking, in which many terror groups
and organised criminal gangs are involved.
Almost every week we hear of instances where these people
smugglers desert their charges on the high seas. Asians and
Africans lured by the prospect of a better life in the West fall
prey to their machinations and pay thousands of Dollars for an
illegal passage. They are forced to travel thousands of
kilometres in almost subhuman conditions in cramped rust buckets
passing off as ‘ships’.
Most of them never realise their dreams as law enforcement
authorities in the intended destinations round them up well
before reaching the shore and detain them in camps. Only a few
are ever granted refugee status.
Rather than letting that happen, most countries are now
taking action to catch would be illegal migrants at home. Sri
Lanka regularly rounds up Sri Lankans and other South Asians who
seek to literally take the plunge to the West at several ports
and fishery harbours around the island.
An even more effective step would be creating awareness among
would-be illegal migrants on the dangers of undertaking a
perilous journey into the unknown. This is exactly what the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has been doing in
collaboration with the Police.
It is thus heartening to note that the US Government has come
forward to help the IOM in their effort to stem human
trafficking by training 500 law enforcement officers.
In the long run, Sri Lanka should develop a national policy
to combat trafficking in persons and formulate programmes with
Western and affluent Asian countries to secure more jobs for
Lankans so that avenues would be opened for legal migration. In
the meantime, vigilance must be maintained to stop those seeking
illegal passage to greener pastures.