A bold assertion | Daily News


A bold assertion






All patriotic Sri Lankans, no doubt, would have wholeheartedly endorsed the emphatic declaration by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he would on no account leave room for attempts to discredit and destroy the dignity of the country’s war heroes, whose sacrifices brought peace to the Motherland. He also said, for good measure, that he was prepared to withdraw from all international organisations that were baying for the blood of the Security Forces, during his address at the ‘Victory Day’ commemoration on Tuesday.

As the Defence Secretary during the decisive phase of the war and a soldier himself for 20 years, President Rajapaksa could not be faulted for being emotional on this issue concerning his brethren who fought alongside him in the war, knowing firsthand the nature of their trials, tribulations and monumental sacrifices. The Government Forces had to fight according to the rules against a foe not hampered by such niceties. To say that the Security Forces were thrust into an unequal battle was no exaggeration considering that they had to for the most part fight a Guerilla war.

In short, they had to fight a faceless enemy who took the war outside the theatre of conflict to wreak havoc and destruction on civilian targets and the epicentres of the economy. The Forces had to fight with their hands tied to their backs and not so the terrorists. Our Forces had to fight a war constantly looking over their shoulders, lest there be accusations of human rights violations and ‘war crimes’ by International Rights Groups. This, while the terrorists were branded as freedom fighters.

Besides the severe odds encountered by the Forces, they were also made to suffer other ignominies and indignities. At a crucial stage during the war, when it appeared  our men were gaining the upper hand and victory was only a matter of time, an olive branch was extended to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran by the then Government in the form of a ‘Ceasefire Agreement’ that confined our valiant men into barracks while the terrorists roamed freely. The ‘Peace Talks’ that followed were taking the country towards separation putting paid to the sacrifices by our war heroes.

This was preceded by that phase of the war which saw the advent of a foreign army in this country that robbed our Forces of their dignity and honour in making them play second fiddle. Few, no doubt, would forget the blackest episode in the Eelam war when some 600 policemen in the East were ordered to surrender to the terrorists at the instance of the powers that be, only to be ruthlessly gunned down in cold blood.

It is against being at the receiving end of such barbarism, humiliation and ordeals on the one hand and accusations of human rights violations and ‘war crimes’ on the other  that out heroic Forces  had to fight a war already declared ‘unwinnable’ by many so-called military analysts and experts, both local and foreign.

It is taking into consideration these realities, no doubt, that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made his assertion that he would stand by the heroic war heroes, not permitting any action or moves that would compromise their dignity and honour. President Rajapaksa certainly is justified in making his stand clear at this stage since there still is a concerted effort by those who opposed the war to get even with the Government by other means.

One can only picture how foreign envoys of powerful Western countries descended on Sri Lanka in their droves while we were on the cusp of victory to dissuade the Government from hammering the final nail, so to speak, even offering  safe passage for Prabhakaran to flee the country. Sri Lankans also remember how the then UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon, arrived in the country at the conclusion of the war to elicit an undertaking from the Government that devolution of power would be implemented in toto.

It is strange though how the UN Human Rights Council that accuses the Lankan Forces of ‘war crimes’ and Human Rights violations failed to take note of the signal gesture of our men in rescuing tens of thousands of Tamil civilians from the jaws of the terrorists, in one of the greatest humanitarian acts witnessed anywhere in the world and paving the way for their rehabilitation and livelihood support. However, international bodies are silent on the atrocities committed by powerful nations in various theatres of war around the world.

From all appearances, these international bodies backed by powerful countries have not let up on their quest to get their own back against Sri Lanka to teach it a lesson. It is in furtherance of such efforts that attempts are being made to haul our valiant men before international tribunals and have them tried by foreign judges. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s unequivocal assertion on behalf of our war heroes could therefore not have come at a more appropriate time. “Hands off my men”, indeed. He deserves the Nation’s salute for these words.

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