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President’s focus on deceit and duplicity against Sri Lanka

The Rotary Conference in Colombo last Sunday saw what must have been the largest gathering of business persons from South Asia, and other parts of the world too, learn of the new situation in Sri Lanka, in post-conflict development, as a place of peace, an increasingly attractive location for investment, and a country that can teach others on how terrorism can be defeated.

‘The Express Tribune’ of Pakistan quoted key speakers at the conference on ‘Development and Cooperation’ who spoke of the lessons that could be learnt from Sri Lanka today, with Kalyan Banerjee, and Indian who is the current head of Rotary International stating that “South Asia is looking again at the Sri Lankan model... (that) continues to lead the way for the rest of us to follow.”

Another key speaker was reported stating: “There is much to learn for Pakistan and not just in terms of human indicators. For one, President Mahinda Rajapaksa says that the war against terrorism was won by his government without the backing of world powers and without the billions that have been poured into the effort in other countries”

‘The Express Tribune’ also reported the observations that: “It is clear that the security forces in Sri Lanka are better trained and equipped than Pakistan - an irony given that it was Pakistan that first trained and helped them. After 20 years of conflict, what we see is a force that had defeated one of the most efficient terrorist outfits in the world and brought peace to the land”.

Humanitarian law

The major Rotarian event in Colombo was also the venue when President Mahinda Rajapaksa come out most strongly not only about the pride of Sri Lanka in having defeated the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world (vide US State Department analysis) and as a country that had also made South Asia safer from terrorism.

After a considerable period of facing continued attacks on Sri Lanka from a range of sources that took no trouble to consider the depth of the crisis and tragedy that Sri Lanka had gone through under nearly three decades of terror, President Rajapaksa made his strongest criticism of these voices of ranged against Sri Lanka from governments and institutions that had little time or regard for the truth about this country.

In the context of those who are carrying out this well orchestrated attack on Sri Lanka, with the decibels rising as important international meetings of UN and other related organizations are due to take place, and the litany of unproven allegations of war crimes and violations of humanitarian law heard louder, the President made what can be considered the strongest criticism of the ‘deceit and duplicity’ of these accusers.

Arab Spring

In a statement that had considerable weight and pulled no punches at the accusers he said: “We now stand proud as a nation that has eradicated terrorism from our country. In doing so, we have made South Asia too, safer from terrorism. We have achieved this with much less of the assets, and none of the deceit and duplicity of those who have been waging a War on Terror for more than a decade; those with much more economic and fire power than we had and many more allies than we ever had, but are still caught up in the killing fields made by un-manned drones and other lethal devices that attack civilians, too. “It is regretted that the very individuals and institutions that point their fingers at us for our defeat of terror seem to be unaware of the truth about our prolonged battle against terrorism, and the very nature of those terrorists.” The targets that President Rajapaksa had in mind in making this studied response to the organized chorus of accusers are not difficult to identify.

The President went further and drew attention to how these very accusers, who today are in the forefront of supporting the Arab Spring that is thawing the winter of four decades when they all supported autocrats and dictators and still support ruthless monarchs, had been in fact supportive of the terrorists that threatened the very existence of the Sri Lankan State.

His words were clear and the message left no room for doubt or confusion. “We are now being warned that the same terrorist groups are rapidly raising funds for their bloody cause. Many of those who fault us today are harbouring those who funded terror in our country, and still raise funds for this brutal cause.

“They were also glad to give safe haven to the very theoreticians of terror in Sri Lanka. Have they no concern for the truth about Sri Lanka’s agony and the humanitarian actions that under-scored our battle against terror? Have they no interest in the truth?”

These observations on deceit and duplicity have greater relevance today as we see the revelations each day of how these countries and their intelligence organizations have been carrying on what was obviously a very cozy relationship with the leaders and brutal intelligence organizations of the countries that are now coming under the sweep of the Arab Spring. The countries still calling for the extradition of the Lockerbie Bomber were quite happy to have the closest intelligence sharing with Libya, before and after the release of the ‘bomber’.

Terrorism suspects

David Cameron is now having a very hard time trying to explain the relations that the British Intelligence organizations MI5 and MI6 had with Libyan Intelligence and what they really did in collusion. There are also important questions coming up, that may require much more than a committee to advise the UN Secretary General on the entire question of ‘extraordinary renditions’ of alleged terrorism suspects, to countries that are known to have systemic torture in interrogations, under the rule of the authoritarian or dictatorial leaders that were well funded and supported by the West, and are now falling down too fast for the comfort of the West and its duplicitous leaders.

The latest ugly stain that the UK has difficulty in wiping off is the damaging blow to the British Army’s carefully cultivated image, following a high-level public inquiry finding the conduct of its soldiers who served in Iraq ‘appalling’ and said ‘corporate failure’ allowed them to use banned interrogation techniques, often bordering on torture.

These observations were on the death of an Iraqi hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, while in British Army custody in Basra in 2003, following confirmed allegations of beatings and torture he suffered at the hands of British soldiers.

The inquiry on a limited scope of this single killing concluded that his treatment which included hooding, brutal beatings and kickings contributed to his death.

Iraqi detainees

Although the inquiry did not make any charges against the British Army for this brutality, there are increasing demands for a much wider public inquiry into the entire treatment of Iraqi detainees by British troops during their period of operation in Iraq. One would expect Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch et al to add their voices to such demands, even with half the vigour they show in making often unfounded allegations against Sri Lanka, and pass judgment on the situation here based on biased hearsay evidence.

What President Rajapaksa did last Sunday was to tell the world, through a non-political audience of entrepreneurs and business leaders not only that Sri Lanka was fully open to business, but that there was much more to be told of the truth behind our defeat of terrorism, and the deceit, duplicity and overall hypocrisy of those who are at the ready to point their fingers of accusation at Colombo, with the least regard for the truth.

One hopes there are more such forceful and compelling statements from the President that can give new strength to the diplomatic initiatives and responses that Sri Lanka is carrying out in many fronts worldwide today.

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