International Crisis Group The Latest Critical Voice Against Sri Lanka

Following is a link to the entire ICG Report on Sri Lanka:

Following here are  two eloquent rebuttals:

Intentionally or not, the ICG report on Sri Lanka is a complete callous attempt to “finding solutions” for a country which was recently ravaged by conflict. What is my reasoning behind this assertion? The report fails to acknowledge that Sri Lanka is a country in a fragile state as it continues to recover from the wounds of violence and hatred inflicted on its people for the last 27 years. Against such a background, when the ICG and other international entities put little faith in the government of Sri Lanka and its mechanisms to rebuild, the little hope of a better future in the eyes of its people is diluted into emptiness.

Hope is the main source of motivation to rebuild; that incentive is much needed for success as the government cannot do it alone without the support of the people, some of whom live abroad. The ICG needs to urgently recognize the ethnic tension that existed among Sri Lankans were largely the result of over sell and propaganda by the LTTE to further their cause. This does not mean Sri Lanka never had ethnic problems and grievances of its minority communities. However, it is important to give the past and present governments of Sri Lanka due credit as they have taken and continue with measures to prevent the reoccurrence of ethnic tensions. Sri Lanka has successfully adopted constitutional procedures, such as the 13th amendment in order to give minority communities necessary protection within a democratic frame work.

The concept of devolution of power has given local authorities much say in the governance of their immediate communities. The local governments are mandated to carry out its legislative responsibilities in a language that is commonly spoken in the particular area. Civil servants are required to be fluent in Sinhala, Tamil, and English as they execute their duties and responsibilities. At present there are many former LTTE leaders/members that have joined the democratic process to advance their goals and aspirations. At the recent regional elections, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) took the lead in the North and the Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, and gained regional authority to represent its Tamil voters. The recent defeat of the LTTE was a step towards taking a definitive stand against terrorism. The FBI itself described the organization as one of the “most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world”. The Sri Lankan military’s victory not only puts an end to this ruthless organization but is a significant victory for democracy and progress.

The government made significant attempts to find a peaceful resolution with the LTTE in the past and it turned out to be futile. It only resulted in high costs to life and property. The terrorists did not see race, religion, or creed. They did not hesitate to eliminate anything that stood in their way. They murdered both blossoming and established Tamil and Sinhala leaders that opposed the organization or held a moderate view point on the issue. The LTTE did not hesitate to kill on foreign soil; the elimination of the Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is among the ruthless examples. Additionally, they systematically eliminated all other racial groups living in the areas under LTTE control and took away all liberties and freedoms of its people, while conscripting to fight a war that most did not believe in.

These ‘facts’ may be difficult to stomach to those who supported the organization, but LTTE’s noble cause for equality soon disappeared as its leadership’s greed for wealth and power grew. If this was not true that Sri Lanka would have resolved its conflict much sooner and with much less casualties. . The LTTE used fear to control, and this included the government of Sri Lanka for the longest time. The military offensive which ended the war resulted after endless efforts to end the conflict through negotiations by successive governments since 1985, including with the intervention of international mediators were rebuffed by the LTTE. Therefore putting an end to the ruthless terrorism only opened doors for a potential future of peace and prosperity in Sri Lanka.

It is uncomfortable, but is hard reality that there is no country in the world that is free of racial tension. The difference between a country with internal conflict and one without, on the grounds of racism, is how the law and the government address the issue. I am quite confident in stating that it is clear that Sri Lanka has learnt its lesson in that respect and are making significant strides to attend to the ‘ethnic’matter. The ICG report, however has indicated otherwise as it claims “the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse has refused to acknowledge, let alone address, the Tamil minority’s legitimate grievances”.  What evidence does the ICG have to offer that the government is practicing selective discrimination? It is useful for such assertions to be backed by fact.

Use of such strong language by the ICG only goes to prove that we live in a world of contradictions. It took the United Kingdom 7 years after the invasion of Iraq to appoint a commission to look in to “failures of intelligence?” Contrastingly Sri Lanka appointed a commission, the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission), not more than a year after the end of the war in order to address a whole range of issues. Why are certain players of the international arena still unhappy? One could only conclude that Sri Lanka’s positive measures towards reconciliation stand in the way of their ulterior motives. Terror and violence is a profitable industry, and it has been so for nearly three decades with regards to Sri Lanka.

Therefore all I urge the IGC and the rest of the international community is to have much more faith in Sri Lanka and its government to resolve their internal predicaments, because so far they have accomplished much for a state that is recovering from 27 years of terror. This is a slow process and words of encouragement and other means of support are more constructive than ineffectual criticism.

Janathri Nanayakkara (New York).

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