From a land of principles to a land of interest!
Rumblings on Sri Lanka's record on human rights have been aired in
the US and it is Robert O' Blake, the former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka,
again. According to AFP report dated April 6, Blake, addressing the
Foreign affairs Committee of the House of representatives is reported to
have said, "Sri Lanka government's worrying record on human rights, its
weakening of democratic institutions and practices, and the way in which
it conducted the final months of its conflict against the LTTE Tigers,
hamper our ability to fully engage."
It is with a sense of sadness that we in Sri Lanka note the lack of
empathy in Ambassador Blake's statement. For 30 years this country was
mired in conflict where it confronted the 'most ruthless terror
organization in the world' losing more than 100,000 lives in the
process. The average Sri Lankan, at the moment is experiencing a new
beginning with an immense sense of relief that 'hopeless' period is now
behind us as a nation.
Robert O’ Blake
Human rights violations
As for human right, the situation then was where accountability for
human rights violations was blurred in a muddled atmosphere with claims
and counter claims from parties to the conflict. The situation now is
quite the opposite with the Government's writ in place throughout the
country with accountability sans pockets of anarchy.
America faced a similar situation and that was when they experienced
the 'War of Confederation' back in 1861. At that time America had a
leader who was complete in all the required qualities to be a statesman
and his name was Abraham Lincoln. Unlike today, when cohorts of
delirious power hungry politicians are camouflaging in their thirst for
power by verbose facades of many hued socialistic pretension, Abraham
Lincoln illuminated the political values of his time with the
recognition of gross equality of all human beings irrespective of their
colour, creed and what have you. He declared war on separatism and
maintained that "if it has to be war that is required to unify America,
so be it!" When Lincoln finally overcame separatism they counted 435,000
war dead on both sides of the conflict.
If Lincoln stood out as a man of boundless humanity, he was rarely
been equaled as an orator. His famous Gettysburg address made on the
occasion of the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery to the war dead
has not only stood out as a masterpiece of oratory but also embodied the
best definition of democracy given so far. Those were ideals for which
Lincoln lived and died. Those ideals, which could be expanded in to
volumes, have been contracted into an address of two minutes' duration
by Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg address.
"Four scores and seven years ago, our father brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a
great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived
and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of
that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as final
resting place for those who gave their lives so that, that nation may
live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we shall do this. But in
a larger sense, we cannot dedicate: we cannot consecrate: we cannot
hallow, this ground. These brave men, living and dead, who struggled
here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here. But it
can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather to be dedicated here to the
unfinished work, which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining
before us: that from these honoured dead that we take increased devotion
to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion;
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain:
that the nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that
this Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not
perish from the earth."
Thus Lincoln has not minced his words in what he wished to proclaim
to the American nation in particular and to the whole world in general
as to where he stood in that war of separation. He fought to finish that
civil war even though it cost America 435,000 lives over a period of
four years. In the end his declaration made it clear that the human
price of war was well worth its reward, democracy.
In Sri Lanka, we preserved our democratic system, overcoming the
biggest threat by a group that called themselves 'the sole
representatives' and styled themselves in absolute tyranny. The irony
however is that Ambassador Blake has lost sight of our reward and keeps
bickering over the price.
The dubious charges of 'allegations during the last stages' is a
small price compared to the horrendous stages of sheer misery and
despondency the nation has been through over 30 years.
When America concluded the Second World War, inflicting 45,000
casualties on Japan there were no allegations of 'violations at the
final stages' but instead the USA was crowned as the de-facto leader of
the 'Free world'.
Lincoln's America was a land of promise, upwardly mobile and a nation
On a contrasting note the present day America is suffering from a
never ending recession, an unmanageable public debt and worst still its
founding principals today are found to be adhered more in the breach. Is
this a harbinger to suggest that American civilization is increasingly
becoming a part of human history!