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Unsettled no longer

There is an unfortunate tendency among sections of the international community to single out the last few weeks of the humanitarian operation against the LTTE in 2009 by the Sri Lankan security forces, for the purpose of criticizing the Lankan state on what they make out are accountability issues. The factual position with regard to these allegations, of course, is that many civilian lives were lost in the North when the LTTE used these civilians as human shields against the advancing security forces. It is quite some time since the state put the record straight on these issues.

However, there is this obsessive concern with the last few weeks of the security forces' operation which strikes one as a curious fixation on the part of the state's critics, whereas the fact that the conflict raged for some 25 years in this country with the LTTE figuring as a marauding mass killer, is, apparently, all too easily forgotten. Why not assess the human costs of the terror campaign launched by the LTTE over the entire 25 tragic years? Why not evaluate what those long years of terror meant for the whole of Sri Lanka? Why not focus on the mind-numbing destruction mercilessly unleashed by the Tigers?

These are questions that would occur to any impartial observer of the conflict in Sri Lanka. We do not see how accountability could be apportioned in this situation without these questions being answered satisfactorily. However, an impartial and objective appraisal of the long-drawn conflict would reveal the Lankan state's undeniable right to defend its geographical integrity and its compulsory duty to protect all its citizens from dangers of all kinds - whether man-made or otherwise. During those long 25 years the state was exercising its sovereign right to protect its territory and citizenry from a terrorist organization which was fiercely intent on dismembering the country and doing unthinkable harm to its people.

We believe that it is the ordinary people of this country who should be doing most of the talking in the face of these allegations brought against Sri Lanka by the aforementioned sections of the world community. What further evidence is needed of the huge relief and happiness experienced by the people of this country than the total freedom with which they now go about their daily chores? What more evidence would one need of the peace and happiness in the hearts of people than the lively and colourful conduct of national events, such as, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, in even the once chronically conflict-hit North?

If the so-called ordinary people are asked for their opinion on these and connected questions they would answer that they are glad to be rid of the oppressive worries of the past which stemmed from the LTTE's terror campaign. At one time, no-one could say for certain if he or she would come back home alive after a visit to the metropolis or other places which attract people. This was because the LTTE terror campaign had spread its ghoulish reach to every nook and corner of this country. LTTE bombs and bullets spared no-one and were wiping out life and limb everywhere.

But go to even the farthest reaches of the North and East and ask the ordinary citizenry whether or not they are safe and contented now, and they would answer with readiness in the affirmative. They are spared the torture of wondering whether they would live to see another day. Likewise, their relief is great that they could go on with their normal lives.

Thus is the humanitarian nature of the security forces' operation revealed. Sri Lanka's social stability and future well being was secured in May 2009 and this is the boon which the whole country is enjoying today. The communities of this land could today not only go about their businesses without fret or fear but unreservedly exercise their rights and engage in the cultural activities unique to them, in the freest manner. In short, the land is breathing the wholesome air of contentedness.

Given this backdrop, it is most unlikely that the generality of the public would look favourably on any attempts by the aforementioned sections of the international community to hold Sri Lanka to account on any score. There is no doubt that they would stand united on any attempts to rob Sri Lanka of its sovereign rights. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Today, Sri Lanka is stable and contented and no-one could deny that state policy has been right all along.

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