Sri Lanka’s Post-Conflict Development – What the World Leaders Saw and Said
If North or East Sri Lanka had not seen development of the kind it is presently witnessing after a stop gap of 30 years, that fault lies entirely with the LTTE. The fault lies partly with foreign Governments and International Humanitarian and UN Agencies whose offices were virtually next door to the LTTE offices. What begs an answer is why none of LTTE’s calculated, premeditated murders never went beyond a standard diplomatic statement while in stark contrast no sooner LTTE ground force and leader were eliminated these same entities unable to openly mourn a friend next opted to punish the nation that destroyed terrorism. Thus the decry of human rights violations, civilian deaths, war crimes with even the UN Secretary General jumping to appoints a panel of experts to appraise him of ONLY the final phase of the war, LTTE-funding documentaries which are screened across diplomatic missions and UN and becomes the benchmark for war crimes investigations against Sri Lanka! Did these entities not have sufficient evidence of LTTE crimes far more than the evidence-lacking allegations they are currently throwing at Sri Lanka? If so, why did they not do anything except to continuously push the Sri Lankan Governments to sing lullabies to the tiger and watch it devour people cold-bloodedly? Be that as it may scores of foreign leaders and delegations visited the North and so did UNHRC head Navi Pillay while all others praised the development she singularly concluded ‘authoritarian rule’!
World Leaders knew of LTTE crimes – But did nothing
Sri Lanka’s terrorism was never in isolation. From the first killing, to the recruitment of children as child soldiers, forced ‘voluntary’ recruitment of Tamil civilians to the LTTE, extortion and monthly donating to the LTTE in addition to the network of international crimes that the LTTE was involved in – world leaders and Governments were well aware of LTTE’s terrorism, but chose to do nothing. Prevalence of LTTE left room to advance their individual agendas.
Despite bombings becoming a daily occurrence and deaths treated as just commonplace, the foreign orders was to continue with peace talks, ceasefires and negotiations. This charade continued for 30 odd years leading the country or people nowhere except LTTE going from strength to strength acquiring weapons and ammunition that even the Sri Lankan army did not possess. It was having weathered 30 years of terror and after the failures of endless peacetalks that the know-it-all prescribed that the people demanded Sri Lanka’s Government end terror once and for all. Mavil Aru became LTTE’s Waterloo leading to its demise. Ending Terror became the mandate on which the incumbent President was elected. The war victory came with the loss of close to 30,000 brave men laying down their lives. Close to 5000 soldiers died in the final phase and wikileaks reveals that the war would have been over with far more civilian casualties had the armed forces not taken care to protect civilians by adopting a zero casualty policy (this meant that they would do whatever in their power to avoid civilians being compromised) It is no fault of the armed forces if the LTTE compromised its own people and then used media to bemoan their fate for UN itself has acknowledged that LTTE was keeping civilians to be used as either human shields or as combatants.
Baseless allegations lacking iota of evidence vs Sri Lanka saving close to 300,000 civilians
When allegations accuse the armed forces of killing 125,000 civilians – numbers that spring to mind without being able to give names, birth details, residence details etc cannot take away the fact that physically the Sri Lankan soldiers saved close to 300,000 Tamils and brought them to safety. No LTTE supporter paid to emotionally cry ‘genocide’ ‘human rights war crimes’ etc over tv and stages can take away the 300,000 rescued civilians against their evidence-lacking empty allegations. That these civilians were under nourished and without medical attention showed how well LTTE had looked after them, even Prabakaran’s parents whose identities were revealed became targets of Tamil animosities with army officials having to look after them in an undisclosed location showed how within and amongst Tamils the differences prevailed. Moreover, let it not be forgotten that the push to end the conflict was delayed in order to allow the Indian Congress Party to win the state elections.
Likewise, plenty of ‘sentiments’ of others were taken into consideration (which directly contributed to the loss of military lives) before the LTTE were finally eliminated – but this elimination came about after LTTE refused to release civilians, refused the amnesty twice offered by the Sri Lankan President and claimed they would fight till the last man. We cannot help it if the LTTE had deals with foreign governments to keep them alive. If so, these very governments are equally accountable for every person the LTTE killed. Where in a war is there no casualties, does America not put all casualties as ‘collateral damage’ and have any of these ‘damages’ been questioned? The war came to an end fair and square and Sri Lanka has not had a single terror incident since May 2009. That speaks volumes.
Sri Lanka has developed North even if Tamils cannot be thankful
Moreover, Sri Lanka’s North that never saw development though many humanitarian agencies had been fooling kind hearts abroad to donate money for this that and other initiatives have only after May 2009 seen what real development is all about. There were no roads built by the LTTE, no schools, no buildings except luxury bunkers, some districts never had electricity because it served LTTE’s interest to keep people in the dark, no houses except houses for the Mahavir families and LTTE had USD300million to even purchase foreign parliamentarians! Even the TNA was dead scared to enter North Sri Lanka and the present Chief Minister Wigneswaran would not have even dreamed of contesting had LTTE been alive – we don’t expect them to be thankful because that gratitude will never come but the fact is that more Tamils had to shut up in silence when LTTE was alive and now they have all the freedom to point fingers and find fault with everything and anything. That is the freedom that they have achieved and who should they thank?
Why no Panel of Experts for US, UK and NATO crimes?
US, UK and NATO (on behalf of the corporate elite that run their Governments) planned to invade and occupy Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya not to bring democracy and freedom and liberate the people. The world condoned this violation of international law but the US. UK and NATO went ahead and not only invaded these countries but virtually destroyed infrastructure, civilian installation and killed many civilians as a result of the carpet bombings. It is these violations that should have warranted the UN Secretary General to appoint a Panel of Experts to appraise him of the international violations committed by US, UK and NATO upon these nations forcibly invaded using the doctrine of R2P. Why is it only for Sri Lanka that Ban Ki appointed a Panel of Experts that concluded LTTE was a ‘disciplined’ organization making a mockery of all the reports compiled by the UN itself over the years on the LTTE.
Iraq invasion and occupation was a violation of international law. Sri Lanka applied JUST WAR after 30 year conflict, 5 rounds of peace talks, countless ceasefires and negotiations all leading nowhere as LTTE continued to kill inspite of ceasefires. There were no peace talks, ceasefires or negotiations with Al Qaeda, Osama, Saddam, Gaddafi. Now these nations are worse off then when these ‘dictators’ were alive.
Sri Lanka’s Great Victory over Terrorism – a feat no country has accomplished
Nevertheless, what no one can take away from Sri Lanka despite the colossal amount of pressures and unprecedented allegations is the fact that LTTE terrorism was finally defeated. We cannot help that the defeat has angered pockets of local and international players who had been benefitting by the existence of the LTTE. Terrorism cannot exist for a handful of people to make merry while others are blown to bits. Now these same players have found making allegations of human rights and war crimes the new oxygen to fill their pockets and keep them in the limelight.
Be that as it may scores of leaders came forward to congratulate Sri Lanka within days of the fall of the LTTE, ironically apart from the US none of the nations that had been playing a role vis a vis LTTE applauded the defeat of terror.
By May 21st 2009 the congratulatory messages received by Sri Lanka were from
RUSSIA – ‘Russian government welcomes the historic victory achieved by the Sri Lankan security forces against LTTE terrorists, resulting in the restoration of Government control over the entire territory of the country and the freeing of civilians held as human shields by the LTTE.
PAKISTAN – felicitated the Sri Lankan government on the achievement of the “great victory over terrorism”. It stated that Pakistan has always been a steadfast friend of Sri Lanka and strongly supported the country’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity and re-affirmed Pakistan’s continued cooperation with Sri Lanka in countering terrorism. Pakistan government congratulates Sri Lanka on the defeat of terrorism, which is indeed a great victory for all peace loving people in the country,
IRAN – warm congratulations to the President, and the Sri Lankan government on the success achieved by Sri Lanka in defeating LTTE terrorism.
MALAYSIA – Malaysia felicitates the Sri Lankan government for unifying the entire country and liberating the areas which were under the control of the LTTE for the past 27 years.
JAPAN – Japan welcomes the defeat of the separatists Tamil Tigers and the end of hostilities in Sri Lanka. The Japanese Prime Minister said he would like to see Sri Lanka build infrastructure, adding that Japan would support Sri Lanka’s efforts as much as possible.
USA – “we are prepared to work with the government to provide for the basic needs of all of its citizens, and abide by its commitment to return the majority of [displaced persons] to their homes by the end of this year. To heal the wounds created by terrorism, requires the government to work toward building a democratic and economically viable nation that is tolerant and united and works for social justice for all its citizens”.
‘Come See for Yourself’ Policy of Sri Lanka
The best policy for all critics has been the invitation to come and see for themselves the change that the North and East have seen since the past 4 years in comparison to ZERO development – ZERO freedoms or rights under LTTE defacto rule.
Thereafter, delegation after delegation desired to arrive in Sri Lanka to view for themselves the post-conflict development. There was no such delegations wanting to arrive to see the devastation caused by the LTTE upon villages, civilians and children in 30 odd years. It displayed to us the imbalance in the expressions of sympathy and the reality that the playing field was never even.
The flip side is that scores of foreign dignitaries did arrive in Sri Lanka, they travelled to the North and saw for themselves what the Government and the armed forces were doing. Even though some like the UNHRC head would not like to openly admit they had nothing to complain about. Every visitor would have inherently realized in their conscience at least the unfairness and injustice the policies they were adopting to showcase a different version to the realities.
The statements below will further accentuate our argument that when the UNHRC head said Sri Lanka was moving towards ‘authoritarian’ rule she has been and continues to be biased and the background to that bias is nothing that we need to point out for it is a customary practice that anyone remotely linked to an issue especially emotionally, genetically, ethnically is taken out or bows out before being told about the conflict of interests that prevails.
|Jan 2013Australia – Opposition Parliamentary DelegationDeputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishopimmigration spokesman Scott Morrisonborder protection spokesman Michael Keenan.
“We were impressed by the progress that has been made,” Bishop said during a discussion with President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees. “Your country is to be congratulated.”
|Feb 2013Her Excellency Crete Lochen, Norwegian Ambassador visits Jaffna“We are aware of the great efforts made by the government and non- government partners who have jointly put up lot of hard work to improve the living conditions of the communities emerging from conflict”,
|April 20136 member Indian Parliamentary Delegation led by Sushma Swaraj, leader of the BJP Opposition / Lok Sabha‘“The pace of development was good given that whole infrastructure was destroyed’
|May 2013Head of the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Agnes Asekenye-Oonyu accompanied by the deputy head of the mission, Mark Prasopa-Plaizier.
|June 2013six member BJP-led delegation led by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.“This is another achievement of Sri Lanka that many foreign delegations including the opposition party members of INDIA also started visiting Sri Lanka in Post-war era of the country.”
|July 20136 Member British Parliamentary Delegation led by Conservative MP Eleanor Laing“There is a lot of hope for the future. We are very positive about Sri Lanka’
|Aug 2013EU Parliamentarian visits North – Mr. Phil Bennion, MEP, ALDE / UK from the EU Parliament Phil Bennion has said the international community can now witness for themselves the successful development process of Sri Lanka
|Aug 2013French Senator Nathalie GouletThe role played by the security forces in the development process in the North is impressive
|Aug 2013Canadian Embassy delegation visited Jaffna and Killinochchi and had talks with political parties and civil society members.The Canadians also visited the Uthayan newspaper office in Jaffna and had talks with the management and Editor.
|Jan 20129 member British delegation visits Jaffna led by Conservative MP James Wharton ‘solution to the Lankan ethnic question should be found within the country and no solution could be imposed from outside’
|Jan 2012Canadian Parliamentary delegationHon. Chungen Leung (M.P.), Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and MulticulturalismDeputy Minister of the Government of Canada, Hon. Joe Daniel (M.P.), andMarlene Gallyot Special Assistant to Hon. Joe Daniel (for Sri Lanka)
“the human rights situation in Sri Lanka has greatly improved and it was understood that there is no discrimination against Tamil community in Sri Lanka”.
|May 2012A team of US State Department representatives and USAIDRegional Refugee Coordinator from the office of Population, Refugees and Migration, US Department of State Ms. Amanda Jacobsen, Regional Advisor for South Asia Ms. Andrea Tracy and Disaster Assistance Officer of USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in the USA along with two other officials
|Sept 2012Representatives of the African National Congress Progressive Business Forum (ANCPBF) led by Deputy Minister Ms Hlenglwe Buhle Mkize
|Sept 2012Delegates of 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)New Zealand National List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi said the resettlement process in the North was impressive and the government’s approach in the development process in the area was in the right direction.Bakshi said the houses given to IDPs were of a high standard and it was important the IDPs had a good home.South African Parliamentarian Patricia Mahlo said the Northern development process was excellent and the government was doing a commendable job.
Canadian Parliamentarian from Calgary North-East, Devinder Shory said sections in Canada say the Security Forces in Jaffna outnumber civilians here, but from what he witnessed the Forces’ presence was minimal
|Nov 20128 member Czech Parliamentary Delegation led by the Chairman of the foreign Affairs committee of the Czech Republic David Vodrazka MP Czech officials also called on the Bishop of Jaffna Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundaranayagam and the Northern Province Governor Major General (retd.) G A Chandrasiri.
|Dec 2012UN delegation led by Japan includes permanent representatives from Nigeria, Romania Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York and top diplomats of Italian, Brazilian and South Africa’s missions in Colombo visits north to view progress
|Feb 2011Leader of the South Asia Delegation of the European Parliament, Mrs. Jean Lambert (Greens/UK) commended the Govt. on the “tremendous efforts and progress made by the Government to remove the legacy of the conflict”.
|Jun 2011British Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Mr. Mark Gooding expressed satisfaction on the role played by the Army in the North
|Sept 2011Australian High Commissioner Her Excellency Cathy Clugan 3 day visit to Jaffna expressed her satisfaction about the welfare measures launched by the Army for Jaffna civilians.
|Sept 2011US House of Representatives Sub-committee Chairman on the Middle East and South Asia, Congressman Steven Joseph Chabot expressed their satisfaction about ongoing developments in Jaffna.
|Oct 201035 Member team delegation was led by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.India was for the peaceful coexistence of all the people in the island, and the Tamil question should be solved entirely by Sri Lanka, while India could only play a supportive role.
|Nov 2010Leader of the German Delegation, Ms Petra Ernstberger (CDU/CSU) thanked the GoSL for the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the progress made in Sri Lanka, and confirmed their overall impression, following visits to the North and the East of the country that “many good things had been done”.
|Oct 2009Singaporean envoy George YeoI congratulate His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, for his very courageous leadership and thank the Chiefs of the Defense outfit who supported him with deep commitment and self-sacrifice.
‘If there is any genocide – it is by the LTTE’ – Lord Naseby. Lord Naseby is the Chairman of the All Party British Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group.
Lord Naseby said that the creator, recruiter and organizer of Tamil child soldiers in Sri Lanka, Mrs. Adele Balasingham lives comfortably in Southern England. “Tamil civilians who tried to escape were shot in the back by the Tamil Tigers. It was the same Tamil Tigers who refused to allow food and medicine convoys from the UN and the government to enter by road and then tried to sink the relief ships. Finally, they refused to surrender preferring to plant their heavy artillery next to the Field Hospitals”, Lord Naseby noted.
With Heads of State from the Commonwealth countries, international journalists and numerous other dignitaries in Sri Lanka they must come without the prejudice fed to them from various parties overseas and see for themselves how peaceful Sri Lanka is minus the LTTE – it is peace that had been elusive for Sri Lankans for 3 decades.
Shenali D Waduge