Making Sri Lanka’s Independence more meaningful
Sri Lanka yesterday celebrated her 64th anniversary of Independence with pride and dignity as a sovereign nation and the country is marching forward towards new socio-economic horizons.
This year’s Independence Day celebrations take on added significance in our nation’s history as Sri Lanka is progressing in all spheres. The annihilation of the LTTE leadership and the liberation of over half a million people held forcibly by the Tigers ushered in a true independence for all Sri Lankans.
It was, indeed, most heartening to witness the resettled Tamils in the North and the East celebrating Independence on a grand scale in a spirit of camaraderie with their fellow countrymen in the South under one banner. The people in these two provinces have opened a new chapter in their lives and have already become stakeholders in the country’s booming economy.
Sri Lanka’s future was uncertain with a fast eroding economy until the country’s valiant Security Forces liberated the country from the jaws of LTTE terror. The Security Forces fought a ruthless terrorist organisation – the LTTE, which had an unquenchable thirst for blood, for almost three decades.
The earlier regimes either bowed to foreign pressure or made a lucrative business out of war. Thanks to the true patriotic son of our soil, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the fifth executive President of Sri Lanka, all citizens – Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Burghers – could now hold their heads aloft under his illustrious leadership since 2005.
Despite eradicating terrorism, Sri Lanka continued to provide top priority to its national security and President Rajapaksa would, by no stretch of the imagination, ever compromise matters relating to the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The LTTE’s terror rule denied Tamil politicians of the right of practising democracy. Rather, they were constrained to abandon their democratic politics and give tacit approval to all the barbaric acts of terrorists. The moderate Tamil leaders who opposed LTTE terror were brutally assassinated by the same people who claimed to be the sole representatives of Tamils.
When veteran Tamil politicians in the North were gunned down, one after another, like nine pins by the LTTE in broad daylight, the remaining Tamil politicians had no option whatsoever, but to join the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) bandwagon – set up under LTTE patronage. Since then, the TNA leaders, who abandoned their political ideology following death threats, were more or less remote-controlled by the LTTE leadership in the Wanni.
The LTTE eventually brainwashed almost all the TNA leaders. The only moderate Tamil leader who withstood LTTE terror, save Minister Douglas Devananda, was TULF leader T. Anandasangaree. The TNA continued to be the Tiger proxy and turned a blind eye to the LTTE’s brutal killings.
The TNA, which the LTTE established, is now attempting to disrupt the prevailing peace. The TNA demands do not reflect the true aspirations of the Tamils living in the North and the East. The TNA leaders seem to be living in a world of make believe created by the LTTE and continue to dance the fandango round LTTE sympathisers abroad, disregarding the wishes and aspirations of the Tamil community in the North and the East.
The majority Tamils in these two provinces are more concerned about their economic progress and better living conditions rather than police or land powers for Provincial Councils which the TNA now demands. The TNA has a good opportunity at present to prove its sincerity and demonstrate to one and all that they are genuinely concerned in the well-being of the Tamils.
Hence, the TNA leaders should grab the opportunity before them and continue its dialogue with the Government and other political parties, rather than putting down pre-conditions for talks. All political parties should make the country’s independence more meaningful by setting in motion a common dialogue, based on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
It is only through their joint efforts that Sri Lanka could successfully face international conspiracies hatched by those with vested interests on foreign soil. It is abundantly clear that these ‘agents’ are sharpening their swords to take on Sri Lanka lock, stock and barrel at the forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) sessions, perhaps purely for the ‘sin’ of becoming the only country to crush terrorism.
The UN or UNHRC members should bear in mind that Sri Lanka by no means committed any war crimes as alleged by a certain section, but merely exercised its right as a sovereign nation to protect its hapless citizens from terror. Those who pontificate on human rights violations and media freedom must first and foremost make an assessment of their own conduct.
The LLRC Report provides the ideal platform for national reconciliation that meets the aspirations of all communities here. The international community should exercise patience and give Sri Lanka adequate time to put in place its own home grown solution, based on the LLRC Report and the recommendations of all political parties in Parliament.
Meanwhile, the 84th birthday of the Sunday Observer coincided with yesterday’s Independence Day celebrations. Sri Lanka’s English newspaper with the largest circulation was founded some 20 years prior to gaining independence from British rule. Coincidentally, this too was on February 4. Hence, the twin anniversaries of the Sunday Observer and Sri Lanka’s independence are celebrated on the same day.
Sri Lanka’s flagship Sunday English newspaper has served generations. Its contribution to the socio-economic development in the pre and post-independence eras has been immense.
Let’s reminisce with profound gratitude all past editors and journalists on this historic occasion and all those who made a tangible contribution towards the success of Sri Lanka’s No.1 English newspaper in every aspect, be it circulation, readership, quality or quantity. We also pause to remember the founder of ANCL, the late D.R. Wijewardene, with gratitude and commend the role played by him and successive managements as well as all employees of Lake House in protecting the country’s oldest newspaper house.