|SAARC opposition to terrorism, support and concern for citizens|
|Tuesday, 16 September 2008|
by: Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
The Peace Secretariat welcomes the statement by the Defence Minister of India regarding concerns about civilians in the North. Recently, in an interview with the BBC, the question was put as to whether the comments of NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along with the position of the Indian government, suggested that the Sri Lankan government was being isolated.
My response was that, whilst the general approach of HRW and the particular approach now of AI were apparent, and had been dealt with, there was no disparity between the position of the Sri Lankan and the Indian governments. As far as the Sri Lankan government was concerned, our Tamil fellow citizens were sacrosanct, terrorism was not, and had to be dealt with firmly. This as far as one could understand was the position of the Indian government too.
Defence Minister Antony seems to have confirmed this, in saying quite clearly now that ‘While taking action against the LTTE, steps should be taken to protect the civilian Tamils in Sri Lanka and ensure their safety and security.’
This is obviously true, which is why the government continued throughout to provide social services to civilians under LTTE control, why it continues with the assistance of the UN and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance, why it has requested the ICRC to stay on to monitor the situation, trusting that the experience of the ICRC will enable it to better withstand LTTE pressures to abuse aid and equipment.
India Defence Minister Shri A K Antony
Unfortunately, many other commentators, whilst urging for civilians the concern the government has throughout manifested, have failed to make it clear that the struggle against terrorism must continue. The Indian Defence Minister has made clear that that should not be abandoned. Such understanding of the difficulties Sri Lanka faces confirms our sense of the commitment of our SAARC neighbours from which we have benefited. Recently, at a briefing meeting in Geneva, the representatives of both Pakistan and India made clear their support for Sri Lanka in its current difficulties, the latter noting that India expected Sri Lanka, in its current role as SAARC Chairman, to take the lead in the struggle against terrorism.
We will strive therefore to fulfil the humanitarian expectations of our friends, as well as of those international agencies whose primary concern is our suffering people. We trust that none of them will lose sight of what should be our joint objective, a democratic pluralistic country free of authoritarianism and terror.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
|< Prev||Next >|