When President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, it was reported:
« The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House, in Times Square and at the Ground Zero site, waving American flags, cheering, shouting, laughing and chanting, “U.S.A., U.S.A.!” In New York City, crowds sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Throughout downtown Washington, drivers honked horns deep into the night.”
We Sri Lankans can understand it but when our people in Sri Lanka broke out into similar “outpouring of emotions” on the killing of the terrorist leader, the Western media called it triumphalism. It is strange how the reaction of the people of two worlds on similar issues could be seen differently one as an out pouring of emotions , and the other as rude triumphalism.
It is good to be a rich powerful country to rid of terrorists and be happy that there would be no one to “question how did it end ? ” but just peace and happiness thereafter. But regrettably a developing country which gets rid of terrorism is not allowed to enjoy that peace after terrorism, without quickly being accused for war crimes.
In Sri Lanka we suffered 30 years of ruthless terror our innocent villagers were massacred, our Security Officers assassinated, 600 policemen who surrendered to terrorists were all massacred, innocent village men, women and children were killed by suicide bomb blasts, and snipers, our Ministers, Parliamentarians and Presidents were killed or disabled for life, our school children were massacred in trains, innocent travelers in buses were bombed, a bus load of our Buddhist priests were butchered inside a bus, our children were kidnapped to be trained as terrorist suicide bombs, our airports were bombed and terrorism restricted our daily existence.
But yet when we finally eliminated terrorism and saved the suffering of the people and loss of our valued leaders and heroes, the very same America that rejoices today the death of a terrorist who was the prime mover for the massacre of innocent Americans, “ just on one day ” through utter terror, accuses Sri Lanka Government and Armed Forces for war crimes and violation of human rights, for eliminating that group of terrorists who practically every day for thirty years killed and massacred over 70 000 of our people in side our own country.
Where is justice, and why is it that suffering through terrorism is understood only when it happens to the big and powerful, and not when the sufferer is not oneself but others poorer and less powerful.
It was 10 years ago in a September that the American people were attacked , and the American Government sent its Army to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in search of the perpetrator and finally he was hunted and killed. But in Sri Lank the attacks were a daily happening and the perpetrator was helped by the West and the Tamil diaspora living in America and other foreign countries who collected funds to allow the terrorist in Sri Lanka to keep on killing the innocent people.
When Sri Lanka finally caught the perpetrator in his den and killed and removed terrorism from the country, and the Government started a massive rehabilitation project and cleared the areas held by the terrorists and removed the mines and re-settled the displaced Tamil people back in their villagers, the West comes round along with the Human Rights activists, Amnesty International, UN and Ban Ki Moon, Navi Pillai, investigation Panels, Robert Blake , and American State Department to pontificate to us how we should have carried out the elimination of terrorists, and accuses the Government and the Army for war crimes.
No one can assert that there was no Zero civilian loss in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan through out the hunt for Osama Bin Laden during the past 10 years. Will the American State Department advise Ban Ki Moon to appoint a panel of investigators to look into any violation of human rights in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through intense bombardments and drone attacks in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, as it was done for Sri Lanka Government and Armed Forces ?
We agree with the President Barrack Obama when he says , “And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts. “
Yes that was 3000 citizens lost to a country and fathers, mothers, and children lost to families. We suffered these losses more frequently for 30 years and in all it was more than 70 000 of our citizens, and fathers, mothers, children, and some time the only “bread earner” to the families.
May be in the rescue operations and the elimination of terrorism some of our citizens may have died in that effort but those civilians who also died in the hunt for Osama bin Laden may be countless though they are from families poorer than those in America and whose loss are not felt by any one in far away America.
It was worst for us in Sri Lanka because it was not hunting and eliminating terrorists in a foreign land. Sri Lanka soldiers had to face the terrorists face to face, and had to rescue the innocent civilians (our own people) who were herded by the terrorists to be their human shield and that was the most difficult task that fell on the shoulders of the poor soldiers to avoid being killed, avoid killing the civilians, but kill the terrorists, what happens in such an effort only a soldiers in the midst of it would know.
That onerous task cannot be understood by Ban ki Moon or his advisory panel, Robert Blake, David Milliband, Hillary Clinton, Amnesty International, human rights activists , UK Channel 4 or numerous critics of Sri Lanka, it has to be one inside doing the difficult task of a soldier, who would know what it was like, it could be explained by this one sentence of the President Barrack Obama, “And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. “
It was the same with our President Mahinda Rajapakse when he announced the death of the terrorist leader Prabhakaran, it marked the “ most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat terrorism in Sri Lanka”.
As much as the President Barack Obama asserted to his people:
“As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-Qaida has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
our President Mahinda Rajapakse also said very clearly that his Government and the Armed Forces were not and never will be at war with the Tamil people… that the war was not against the Tamil people, and that Prabhakatran was not a leader of the Tamil people, he was a mass murderer of his own people and the rest of the communities of Sri Lanka. His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
We appeal to the President Barrack Obama to understand that, as he said no country “……..will ever tolerate its security being threatened, nor stand idly by when its people have been killed. All countries will be relentless in defense of its citizens and friends and allies.” ,and request his State Department, and other countries sympathetic to terrorist front Organizations of the Sri Lanka Tamil Diaspora, and Ban Ki Moon of UN to get off the “back “ of Sri Lanka, and stop threatening to take it before a war tribunal for the elimination of its terrorist under those very difficult conditions, and “ understand the cost of war.”