Plus - Letter to the editor

Showing the way with strong leadership

By Lt. Col. Anil Amarasekera

A democratic country like Sri Lanka, though a small sovereign nation, needs political leaders who should and must work according to the will of the people and not on the dictates of foreign nations, however powerful they may be. We have at long last found a President who has the backbone not to listen to such dictates and who had the courage last week to tell David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, the Foreign Secretaries of Britain and France respectively, "The government is not ready to enter into any kind of ceasefire with terrorists. It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don't need lectures from Western representatives." Well said Mr. President, you were elected democratically by the people of this country to look after their interests and not those of foreign countries.

The people of this country and more so the security forces will never forget how a former President J.R. Jayewardene yielded to pressure exerted by India and recalled the victorious army under the distinguished leadership of General Denzil Kobbekaduwa from the Jaffna peninsula in 1983, when they were poised to defeat the LTTE. The Indian intervention with the so called "Parripu drop" violated the air space of our nation, which India said was based on humanitarian concerns. India then forced our country to accept the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. It was this course of action that ultimately resulted in the resurrection of Tiger terrorists.
Bernard Kouchner and David Miliband with President Rajapaksa

The subsequent destruction to life and property, despite two cessations of hostilities and a ceasefire agreement was unprecedented. It is an irony of faith that the person responsible for sanctioning this unwarranted Indian intervention in the internal affairs of our nation had to be killed by an LTTE woman suicide bomber. Buddhist scriptures would identify this as Ditthadhammavedaniya Kamma (Immediately effective Kamma)

The choice of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in selecting his brother Lt. Col. (Rtd) Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as the Secretary of Defence is proving to be correct many times over. The strategies adopted by him though heavily criticized by certain quarters, have proved effective in defeating the LTTE, which perhaps is the most ruthless terrorist organization the world has ever known.

When Bernard Kouchner, the Foreign Minister of France requested that the United Nations organization be given access to the civilian zone held by the LTTE, he promptly refused permission saying no one was safe in that area and that the government could not guarantee anyone's safety. Kouchner next requested permission to visit the area himself. He said that he was willing to take the risk and go there. Gotabhaya replied, "The LTTE is so desperate that you too would be taken hostage". Not taking no for an answer Kouchner responded, " I don't mind that risk." It was at this point that Gotabhaya told Kouchner, "My problem is not what the LTTE will do to you, instead it is that should such a thing happen, we would not be able to take Prabhakaran as planned!"

The decision taken by the Secretary of Defence not to allow civilians to visit the IDP camps is also timely and welcome. There is a tremendous response from people, business establishments and social service organizations in the rest of the country to help the internally displaced Tamil people in the north. If all of them were allowed to visit IDP camps for distribution of donations they have painfully collected, the authorities managing the IDP camps will be faced with a difficult if not impossible task in organizing an equitable distribution. Making arrangements for such distribution will need much time and effort and the authorities will be left with little or no time to attend to the more pressing needs of the internally displaced people. If, however, all donations are received by a centralized collection point, sorted out and taken for distribution to the IDP camps based on the requirement of each camp, a more equitable and efficient distribution system could be organized.

As always the Sinhala Buddhist organizations in this country are the first to get mobilized to help people in distress, irrespective of ethnicity, class, creed or religion, when there is a disaster in our country. This fact was made evident to the world soon after the December 2004 tsunami. We see a repetition of such an effort by the Buddhist organizations to help the Tamil people in distress now flooding into IDP camps.
One of the first such organizations to visit the Manik Farm on April 26 was Success Colombo, a Buddhist organization.

A team of doctors and apothecaries under the efficient leadership of Dr. Anula Wijesundera worked throughout the day at the Manik Farm to treat the sick and wounded people and to provide them with free medicine. It was with great difficulty that the members of Success Colombo were able to distribute the donations that they had taken with them. It was a virtually impossible task to control the people who were rushing in to collect what was being distributed. However, the authorities had organized the distribution of dinner packets in a more orderly manner. Therefore after this experience, it is recommended that the authorities be allowed to undertake this task, to make the distribution more equitable.

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