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Who is helping Internally Displaced People in Sri Lanka?

"The Sri Lankan government was successful in militarily eliminating the LTTE terrorism. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka seems lost is momentum in its communication and the diplomatic struggle against fault propaganda and maintains its true image since military operations ended. There is a lot to do to bring peace and harmony between various groups within the country."

By Sunil J. Wimalawansa

(September 29, Washington, Sri Lanka Guardian) Defeating the LTTE terrorist is one thing, but overcoming the remaining worldwide LTTE sympathizers’ political aspirations and demands, is another. These Eelamist lobbyists overseas are currently making desperate attempts to come up with alternate and camouflaged arrangements to pursue their campaign of subversion against the country and its democratically elected government. Due to political contributions, these lobbyists have close connections to politicians of various political stripes in several countries in the West and they take full advantage of it; in fact they continue to exploit these politicians to get what they want.

Pro-LTTE lobbying activities:

These LTTE agents continued to exercise a great deal of influence in the respective western countries. Unfortunately, this is exacerbated due to the lack of coherent actions by the Sri Lankan governmental representatives abroad. These lobbyists continue to operate in places such as the UN, US Congress, and the EU, particularly the Brittan. Nevertheless, Sri Lankan must not bow to any politically motivated threats from the West, in support of the LTTE cause. Meanwhile, the fundraising for terrorism is still continuing, now under different name tags, but for the same cause; separation and terrorism. While all these things are happening at this time, LTTE is emerging again under several different names (e.g., instead of using TRO) and escalated fundraising worldwide using fancy names to disguise their true identity.

It is apparent that the aim of these LTTE-lobbyists is to intensify international pressure on the Sri Lankan government to disperse all civilians in temporary welfare villages in the north and east and allow them to return to their villages, without any security clearance. Shrewdly, this is done in the guise of Human Rights violations in the IDPs. If this is allowed, then an estimated over ten thousand of LTTE hardcore cadres hiding among these IDPs will become free. And they will be free to re-organize, re-arm and be ready to re-commence violence. Sri Lankan government is determined that this will not happen.

Costs of resettling the IDPs:

From the Sri Lankan perspective, there is a need to eradicate terrorism for ever. This cannot be successfully achieved without identifying those killers among the thousands of civilians currently in these IDP camps. Nevertheless, this must be done fairly, but quickly as possible. In spite of the lack of financial stability, it is estimated that the Sri Lankan government is spending about 1.7 billion rupees a month to maintain these temporary IDP welfare villages in the North. This is a demonstration of an unequivocal commitment by the Sri Lankan government to the welfare of these displaced people. The leadership of the country must see the urgency not only from humanitarian perspective, but also as an urgent economic measure. Hence these IDPs must be helped to return to their homes as quickly as possible.

Ironically, the Sri Lankan army continues to seize large amounts of destructive LTTE weaponry from the recently captured areas. At the same time the army continues successfully de-mine these areas as well; faster than any other country has done to-date after such conflict. The latter operation is crucial, for the safety of the IDPs themselves before they could safely return to their homes. In addition, the government must establish the basic human needs (such as water supply, sanitary facilities, electricity, schooling, etc.) in these areas that were previously destroyed by the LTTE terrorists. These are the services that the concerned individuals, potential donors and foreign countries must be asked to get involved in. Rather than criticizing the Sri Lankan government by the UNHRC on unfounded and fabricated human rights issues and blocking incoming funds, UNO should unconditionally help these IDPs in collaboration with the Sri Lankan government.

The role of the West in helping IDPs:

If these foreign entities are really interested in helping, they should work together with the government to assist the remaining 230,000 or so IDPs and facilitate them getting back to their homes. In order to carry out this mammoth task, the Sri Lankan government needs funds and seeks development assistance from donors. Involvement of the foreign governments and INGo’s in any activity other than this should be considered as playing political games.

Ironically, while hundreds of people are killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by friendly fire, and massacres in Palestine and Lebanon, no one in the Western world speaks about Human Rights violations and there are no UNHRC investigations. Yet, due to the lobbyist-driven agendas of the Western countries, unjustifiably, Sri Lanka has become a prime target for such unfounded allegations from the West of human rights violations.

US, Brittan and the EU should also help Sri Lanka to establish and speed up the process of conducting locally held tribunals (special courts) to hear cases of alleged LTTE terrorists. During the past few years, these countries went through similar legislative processes of having tribunals on captured terrorists such as Al-Qaida. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, and hence the Sri Lanka should seek to adopt these already formulated rules and strategies to expedite these hearings and trials. This initiative should further expedite the process of resettlements of these IDPs.

What is lagging behind?

The Sri Lankan government was successful in militarily eliminating the LTTE terrorism. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka seems lost is momentum in its communication and the diplomatic struggle against fault propaganda and maintains its true image since military operations ended. There is a lot to do to bring peace and harmony between various groups within the country. However, this is not a free ticket to ignore escalating corruptions, bribery, favoritisms, or violence. Politicians from both sides are to be blamed for many of these irregularities. The Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka has a strong constitution and well-established laws. Based on these principles, the law and order must be re-established and maintain. No one should be above the law of the country. Meanwhile, it is also essential to establish the individual and the media freedom of expression and guarantee the same without government interference and intimidation.

The government must recognize that fighting an unseen enemy (currently, the LTTE sympathizers located worldwide, who continue their campaign to re-group the LTTE and its brutal and vicious activities), is likely to be more difficult than defeating the LTTE militarily. In this regard, the government does not seem to have a strategic plan to combat these emerging threats. It is high time to stop victory celebrations and seriously engage in the issues facing the country from within, and outside the country. Many are also concerned with the lack of transparency with reference to management of funds and activities that the government is involved. This must be corrected to gain credibility locally and internationally.

The importance of communication:

Moreover, in the current climate with many Western governments raising their voice against Sri Lanka, it is suicidal for the Sri Lankan government to do blunders such as replacement of key diplomatic positions abroad with political nominees (i.e., non-career diplomats with no real communication and diplomatic skills). It is apparent that Sri Lanka must establish a high-level skills training center to train our own diplomats, rather than expecting them to be trained, while on the job.

Moreover, it must stop sending unqualified people as diplomats to any country especially to key posts in the West. These including retired military leaders who may have been excellent in the battle fields, but have no clue of what diplomacy is about. This is the time to communicate; this is the time for action, not complacency. Sri Lanka must work with the UNO and get international support and funds to re-deploy the IDPs, and also give fair and expedited trials to those hardcore terrorists.

The progress made:

Since the end of the war in May 2009, the Sri Lankan government quite rightly has speeded up the process of rehabilitating the IDPs. It is encouraging to see that about 80,000 IDPs are resettled over the past four months; again faster than any other country has successfully done before. Nevertheless, it is a fallacy to expect it to fix all these carnage and the destruction done by the LTTE terrorists over the past three decade in few months. Rather than continue criticizing and penalizing the government by the UNHRC, it should provide adequate quantities of material and funds to facilitate this rehabilitation process.

The inability of the Sri Lankan governmental to work in such a collaborative fashion may lead to disastrous consequences for the country in the long term. This is not to say that Sri Lanka needs to beg or succumb to the unfair threats of the West. Both sides have much to offer, and via direct dialogue they need to quickly establish a strategy leading to a win-win situation. However, both sides must have honest and an open agenda to achieve these goals.

These logical steps in the right direction would certainly help the successful resettlement of the IDPs quickly, facilitate eradication of terrorism, and country will move into a right development track socially and economically, leading to much needed stability. We sincerely hope that the West will open their eyes soon and do the right thing for the right reason, rather than making a mockery by listening to one-sided biased party.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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