Sri Lanka stands up for its sovereignty - Gulf News

Sri Lanka stands up for its sovereignty - Gulf News

July 5, 2010   07:25 am


By Tariq A. Al Maeena


In the quest for power or the expansion of distorted ideologies, wars invariably target the poor and oppressed. Often killed or displaced in the hundreds of thousands, these helpless victims are quickly forgotten in the heat of the battle. Such was the case in Sri Lanka for over three decades.



The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), a separatist organization, had been involved in such a conflict since 1976, with the purpose of creating an independent homeland for its Tamil members in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

In the course of this conflict, hundreds of thousands of Tamils, Muslims, Christians and Sinhalese people either lost their lives or were stripped of their possessions, displaced and ferreted to refugee camps.

Finally in May 2009, after a fierce battle involving the full might of the Sri Lankan Army, the LTTE was defeated and all talks of separatism faded. In the aftermath of the event, accusations have been leveled against the Sri Lankan government for its heavy handedness in putting an end to the conflict that laid waste to this beautiful island for more than 30 years, and cries of war crimes echoed from several western countries.

Last month, the Sri Lankan government refused the issuance of visas to members of a United Nations panel created to look into the possibility of war crimes, and turned down conditions by the European Union for relaxed trade concessions.

Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris flatly stated that, ““We will not issue visas to the panel. We don’t think we need them,”“ adding that such charges were the malicious fabrications of LTTE supporters.

No credibility

Ban Ki-moon, the South Korean Secretary-General of the UN was obviously not impressed. Ban and his toothless organization have lost credibility when it comes to regional matters that affect us most.

While Iran and its nuclear program seems to occupy him and members of the Security Council most, very little merit is given to calls by regional governments to free the region of all nuclear arsenal, including those held by Israel.

And why should the Sri Lankan government accommodate his request? Has he or his organization ever demanded a similar probe against the continuing war crimes being perpetuated by the Israelis against the people of Palestine?

Crimes that are witnessed by most of the free world on live television, and yet remain ignored on the agendas of the UN body?

Or are there separate rules for Israelfrom the rest of the world?

In his eagerness to investigate Sri Lanka, does not Ban believe that that there are far worse instances of atrocities that have been carried out in recent memory by the Israelis, such as the Sabra and Shatila massacres spearheaded by Ariel Sharon, or the indiscriminate bombings and use of incendiary explosives against the civilians of Lebanon in 2006, or the tortures and theft of people and property in the occupied Palestinian territories for the past six decades?

Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka can be brought out onto the carpet and full investigations be demanded, while a rogue regime with the most recorded acts of war crimes in recent history such as Israel remains immune to such UN-sponsored investigation.

Bravo, Sri Lanka. Maintain your sovereignty and carry out independent and impartial probes into such allegations yourselves. For the thousands of refugees including Tamils who were displaced from their homes, it is imperative that they understand that they belong to the island state of Sri Lanka and not remain burdened as refugees withering in some squalid camps and facing an uncertain future.

Efforts to provide basic living amenities such as jobs, housing, electricity, water and education for children must be accelerated to secure a lasting peace.

It’s time now to heal wounds and move ahead. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa must act quickly to ensure that participation in the country’s political and economic process by all Sri Lankans including minorities should be treated as an immediate priority.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

(Source: Gulf News)

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