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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Vote of Confidence in Sri Lanka

The triple diplomatic triumph achieved by Sri Lanka at the just concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, is a veritable Vote of Confidence in this country by the majority of Commonwealth countries, and constitutes a high moment in this country’s international relations.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, who is quoted extensively on our front page today, elaborates on the nature of this triple triumph and it would be superfluous to go into any further detail on these victories in this commentary but suffice it to know that Sri Lanka’s most trenchant critics have failed once again to prevail against her in one of the most prestigious of international forums.

The general consensus of the Commonwealth of Nations seems to be that Sri Lanka must be given a chance to forge ahead on the path of reconciliation and national rejuvenation, without being compelled prematurely to answer this or that allegation on issues seemingly growing out of the humanitarian operation of May 2009, and the fact that Sri Lanka did not suffer any deeply embarrassing moments at the CHOGM, seems to bear this out.

The consensus seems to have held that Sri Lanka should be given the opportunity to sort things out on the domestic front by herself, without being pressurized into doing the bidding of international actors who may not be acting out of disinterested motives.

This is the reason why the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission should prove an effective rebuttal of the allegations that are being levelled against Sri Lanka. Its recommendations and prescriptions should prove ideal answers to the ills which have been afflicting Sri Lanka over the decades. If the Report reaches these standards and lays the basis for durable reconciliation and normalcy, Sri Lanka’s domestic and external critics would be completely rebuffed and end up with no case against this country. Therefore, much with regard to this country hinges crucially on the ‘fool proof’ nature of the LLRC Report.

It also would not suffice for the recommendations and remedies of the LLRC to be merely impressive ‘on paper’. The more crucial aspect would be implementation. These recommendations for the furtherance of reconciliation and normalcy should be implemented ‘on the ground’ and that too in double quick time if some of the sting is to be taken out of the allegations that Sri Lanka is facing internationally. Therefore, while Sri Lanka’s current diplomatic victories should be fully savoured, there is no getting away from the need to put into practice our most effective domestic remedies.

While efforts by some Commonwealth members, to put in place a human rights monitor seem to have suffered a setback, this should not be a cause for complacency. This should not be taken as proof that the Commonwealth and other sections of the international community would be going slow on human rights and democratic development in general. It would be in the interests of the totality of developing countries to forge ahead on the road to development, while preserving the fundamental rights of their populations.

What all this boils down to is that Sri Lanka must forge steadily ahead with its nation-building process. Ideally, the Parliamentary Select Committee process too must be activated urgently and the national reconciliation effort put into top gear. All this and more the country needs to do in its national interest.

That said, Sri Lanka could not have some ill-informed critics, internal and external, pontificating to it self-righteously either. Sri Lanka has successfully fought a ruthless enemy of democracy and human rights in the form of the LTTE to the ground. If the LTTE was allowed to continue on its destructive course, a section of our people would have been condemned to lifelong subjugation. Thanks to the Lankan state, the LTTE has been militarily defeated but its rump is very much alive and breathing internationally. And it is the critics of Sri Lanka who are providing this rump the needed breathing space to be alive and about.

This is food for thought for Sri Lanka’s international critics. Rather than provide the LTTE rump with a lifeline by denigrating Sri Lanka for doing what is right by defeating the LTTE militarily, they must join hands with Sri Lanka to enfeeble and defeat these anti-Lanka elements which are in a desperate attempt to damn this country. This need could be met to a degree, by the relevant foreign governments cracking down hard on the LTTE rump which is also triggering law and order issues for the states concerned.


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