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Monday, 12 March 2012

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Winning hearts and minds in Geneva

Winning decisively the hearts and minds of the moderate majority, both locally and globally, emerges as a number one priority for the Sri Lankan state amid indications that those sections of the West which are hostile to this country would be pressing ahead with what are described as accountability issues against Sri Lanka. Indeed, this has always been a challenge for the Lankan polity over the years in the context of the issues surfaced by the conflict, and it could be said that failure in these efforts helped in no small measure to perpetuate the conflict.

There is reportedly heavy lobbying by the LTTE rump, its supporters and some NGOs in Geneva and the state side too would need to step-up its lobbying to ensure that Western opinion is turned decisively in Sri Lanka’s favour. It is the revelation of the factual situation in Sri Lanka which would prove crucial and our diplomats and other concerned sections would need to counter the propaganda which is adverse to Sri Lanka with reports of our ground realities which fly in the face of the untruths which are unleashed against this country. Therefore, countering the anti-Lanka propaganda mill calls for an abundance of preparation.

Political extremism has been a bane of this country over the decades and the undeniable truth is that such extremism would prove to be intractable in Geneva too, especially if INGOs and local NGOs luxuriating in an abundance of greenbacks too are behind the anti-Lanka propaganda onslaught. Accordingly, converting die-hard pro-LTTE opinion would prove a challenge but the state’s aim should be to ensure that moderate opinion, which is in the majority, would be with this country.

As could be seen, the ‘silent majority’ sees considerable merit in the LLRC report. There is no better way to solidify such a support base than by the state systematically implementing the more practicable LLRC recommendations. This process needs to unfurl swiftly if the conviction is to fully dawn on opinion here and abroad that normalization in this country is taking place smoothly and with a high degree of commitment.

However, these achievements would need to be liberally and forcefully showcased to the world if those sections of global opinion which are being approached by the LTTE rump and its supporters are to be fully secured by Sri Lanka. Besides, the country’s achievements thus far with regard to nation-building and reconstruction would need to be constantly brought to the attention of moderate opinion, both locally-based and abroad.

Regardless of what its detractors may try to make out, Sri Lanka has been making some progress in the direction of reintegrating former LTTE cadres into the larger society and this should be sufficiently dwelt on. The same goes for the development drive in the North-East. On this score too, the achievements are considerable and the collective memory of the world community would need to be regularly refreshed in this regard.

Meanwhile, it is very important that our allies in the developing world are kept constantly with us and this is where the efforts of External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris prove invaluable. Exercises comparable to his awareness-raising efforts in the African continent need to be initiated and sustained among other developing regions if the pro-Lanka support base is to be expanded and consolidated.

If the developing world is convinced that the Lankan state was acting well within its rights by eliminating terror and making Sri Lanka a safe place for all its communities, hardly any convincing would be required to enable it to perceive that attempts are afoot to harass it for doing what is most legitimate.

It is but a short step from this realization to the conviction that sections of the West are in an attempt to victimize and humiliate this country. The ‘Empire is striking back’ in the most vengeful fashion, one is compelled to state.

It also needs to be perceived, locally and globally, that what is at stake is this country’s national interest.

Securing the national interest is the driving force behind most states’ policy making and actions. If the national interest could compel some big powers to engage in prolonged and wasteful military operations in far off lands, how could one fault the Lankan state for eliminating a savage internal enemy which was sparing almost no-one?

Draft national policy on reconciliation - Part II:

National integration as a prime need

With regard to specific grievances of Sinhalese in villages adjacent to former conflict areas, the LLRC Commission notes that the government has tended to overlook those who lived in villages such as Weli Oya, Moneragala and Kebethigollawa, who survived the terror perpetrated by the LTTE. The people in these villages continued to live under tremendous threats to their lives without migrating to safe areas in the South.

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Peaceful development of China's Tibet

Chinese Tibet is known as the 'Roof of the world'. The average height of the country is over 15,000 feet. From the days immemorial, Tibet has been a part of China, from the time of emperor Yuan in 1279. Whole of Tibet was under Chinese rule by the beginning of the 20th century. The British imperialists entered Tibet and tried to distance it from China.

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Well-known contributors of the past

What the special article has achieved:

The 'Special Article' was a feature new to journalism in Ceylon when the 'Daily News' entered the field a quarter of a century ago. There were writers of causeries, skits and feuilletons but the daily special article on the leader page was an innovation. The Daily News has published well over ten thousand articles by various contributors, persuasive and protestant, local and foreign, on subjects topical of 'sub specie aeternitatis.'

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The problem about suspended sentences for rape

I was recently sent an article which suggested that in Sri Lanka sexual offenders went scot-free. Coincidentally we had been discussing this matter at the last meeting of the Task Force of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on implementing the National Action Plan on Human Rights that I convene, given the seriousness of the matter.

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