President strengthening democracy - Rohitha Bogollagama
There is rule of law and equal opportunities
for the people in this country because we countered terrorism. We are
only trying to strengthen democracy. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has
strengthened the democratic polity of this country, rule of law etc.,
said former Foreign Minister and Kotte SLFP Chief Organizer Rohitha
Bogollagama during an interview with the Daily News.
Here are extracts of the interview:
Q: What do you think about the human rights crusade now taking
place in Geneva against Sri Lanka?
A: This is nothing new. There was a joint declaration earlier
about Sri Lanka's standpoint in addressing the reconciliation process
along with a domestic procedure. The government rightly appointed the
LLRC and its report was released a few weeks ago.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama
The rush in Geneva in terms of bringing Sri Lanka on the agenda is
unnecessary. A section of the international community with the US are
now trying to pressurise Sri Lanka to implement the LLRC
recommendations. Sri Lanka has already clearly shown its competence,
capacity and commitment to implement the LLRC recommendations in a
comprehensive manner. Putting pressure on the Sri Lankan government to
accelerate the implementation of the LLRC recommendations is beyond the
mandate of any group or country.
Q: Where, how and why did this originate? Who is behind it?
A: This is a culmination of several factors. Today we have
been able to eliminate terrorism in Sri Lanka. Prabhakaran and the LTTE
managed to drag on its armed confrontation against the conventional army
of the country for 30 years because of the support they received from
The LTTE was not confined to Sri Lanka. They had a very well
organized, able network which was well financed. Their active armed
operations in India was well demonstrated when the LTTE killed former
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Former Sri Lankan President R.
Premadasa was killed by the LTTE on the streets. Tamil scholars like Dr.
Neelan Thiruchelvam and politicians such as Amirthalingam were murdered
by the LTTE.
But in the middle of all these assassinations and violence, the Sri
Lankan government continued negotiations with the LTTE which started
from Thimpu. It reached Geneva in 2006. A section of the international
community backed the LTTE and identified them as a group that had to be
dealt with through negotiations.
Then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe entered into a ceasefire
agreement with the LTTE. We offered negotiations, peace and ceasefire to
the LTTE and in return we received only death and destruction. How did
the LTTE manage to go this far, if not for their international network
and support system. Though the LTTE is inactive in Sri Lanka in terms of
the armed movement, it is alive in the world as strong campaigners
against the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka.
They keep their front organizations, support groups, the LTTE section
of the Tamil Diaspora that has given value to the LTTE development and
formed a strong support group with the electoral strengths of some of
the Western countries. Some of their groups matter to a lot of
politicians in the Western world.
We have seen continued targeting of Sri Lanka without leaving room
for the Sri Lankan government to implement its own findings and rushing
to put Sri Lanka on a multilateral agenda.
Q: What will be the future of this human rights crusade
against Sri Lanka?
A: The danger here is that certain sections of the
international community could keep on addressing the Sri Lankan domestic
issues through multilateral platforms.
That could be a possibility because since we defeated terrorism it
did not take long for this to be discussed in the international scene.
Now the positive side is that we have always been resilient against
pressures and have a very clear cut path to proceed in terms of a
domestic process and now our own findings which has been acknowledged by
the LLRC should be made a vehicle for political consensus and
acceptance. Anything that gets implemented must be sustainable. It
should not be just for the sake of implementation and to avoid pressure.
This is what President Mahinda Rajapaksa explained. There is no rocket
science to find what is just. What is just for the Sri Lankan society
should be understood by Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan society is mature enough
to carry this through within our framework.
Q: What do you think about the operation of INGOs and NGOs in
developing countries against democratically appointed governments?
A: The issue here is not the procedure associated with how to
control NGOs. The globalized network of operational arms is in line with
the R2P doctrine. No matter whether there are INGOs or NGOs, there are
people who can be made to act as agents by certain vested groups who
have ulterior motives on certain countries.
This is a trend that has emerged in the 21st century. Therefore, it
is sometimes difficult today with modern technology, such as, the
Internet to create public opinion.
A lot of anti-government organizations can benefit from
fundamentalist groups who have agendas to serve themselves. So any
government in any country must be cautious.
Good and responsible mass media can make a significant difference in
this regard. Then the people will always stand by the governments than
get carried away by the myths fabricated and spread by these
Q: How do you interpret 'New Colonialism'?
A: It is independence against dependence. It is about managing
the economy. If a country's imports depend on foreign markets certain
dictations find their way into the system. Technology etc. has to be
obtained from outside. But the dependence can be minimized if we develop
our own resources and if resources are being put to optimum use.
We can meet our food demand by developing the agricultural sector. We
can develop our milk industry to meet the country's entire milk
requirement. Then we won't have to send housemaids to other countries
and make Sri Lankans work in other countries for money which is
virtually living with colonialism.
Then we will not be a labour exporting country. When Sri Lanka
becomes a destination/hub for health services, logistics, etc. we will
need all skilled workers to work here and they will not need to go
Q: Who is trying to link the Arab Spring and Sri Lanka, and
A: The Arab Spring is about countries which had dictatorships.
Those countries did not have elections for many decades. Libya did not
have elections for 42 years.
Yemen did not have elections for 22 years. Leadership was passed on
to the son from the father in Syria. Ours is a country with the rule of
law and democracy. Elections are held on the due dates at every level.
There is no comparison between Sri Lanka and those countries. We have
nothing to do with the Arab Spring.
There is a very good summer in Sri Lanka in terms of democracy, in
terms of the rule of law etc. There is rule of law and equal
opportunities for the people in this country, because we countered
We are only trying to strengthen democracy. President Mahinda
Rajapaksa is trying to strengthen the democratic polity of this country,
rule of law etc. He is the only strong leader who can do this on behalf
of all Sri Lankans and achieve all our goals. This is because he has the
support of the South and the North, and every other section in the
The President has already proved that he can deliver by completing
the humanitarian operation and bringing normalcy to the lives of all Sri
Lankans. He eliminated terrorism and created a just and safe society in
this country for all ethnicities.
This is what the world should acknowledge. We have to take this
message to the targeted sections in the world in the strongest way
Q: What are the responsibilities of the political leaders and
the public at this juncture?
A: I think the public should be conscious about international
pressure because once a country is put on an international agenda, the
citizens' space to enjoy liberty and sovereignty is compromised.
Therefore, the people of Sri Lanka must rally round the government, who
is the custodian of the people, to avoid such developments finding their
way into international platforms against the interests of the country.
There is no politics in that. It is a just and reasonable stand that all
must collectively and unitedly take.
As politicians, this is not only a matter for President Rajapaksa.
The polity of Sri Lanka is equally mature and fashioned in the highest
democratic traditions. The polity must come to safeguard the interests
of the country and in doing so we are enriching the domestic agendas to
cater to our own needs rather than giving into outside pressures. This
is an ideal opportunity for the polity to demonstrate to the world that
we are united in terms of Sri Lanka's pursuit in creating a reconciled