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Sri Lanka, a valuable model for international community - President to Philadelphia Inquirer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - 04.45 GMT

Sri Lanka`s struggle is a victory for global democracy and demonstrates that a workable model exists for eradicating terrorism, a model from which the international community may yet gain valuable insight, states President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an Op- Ed published in USA`s Philadelphia Inquirer of Sunday 10 Jan. 2010.

Now the hard work of reconstruction begins. We are redoubling our efforts to rejuvenate democracy across our country, revive the economy, and reconcile any differences. As the global community watches, Sri Lanka recognizes the need for transparency of action. Our aim is to deliver a prosperous and peaceful future to every Sri Lankan, whatever their race, culture, or religion, the President further stated.

We have demonstrated our commitment to and respect for human rights by ensuring freedom of movement in the temporary centers for internally displaced people. Sri Lanka intends to close all centers by Jan. 31, said President Rajapaksa.

But we must remember that the war did not just end lives; it decimated communities and destroyed homes. We believe a guaranteed right of return for every Sri Lankan affected by the conflict is critical to our goal of justice for all. Reconciliation will be a multifaceted task, and it is important to look at the many aspects of nation-building through a broad lens, rather than a narrow one, he added.

Following is the full text of the Op - Ed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

How Sri Lanka defeated terrorism

The island-nation fought it for 25 years, now attention is turning toward winning the peace.

After more than 25 years of combating terrorism, Sri Lanka finally achieved peace in May 2009. But the costs - more than 75,000 deaths - were high and the struggle arduous. To this day, few acknowledge the difficulty of defeating what the FBI had described as "one of the most dangerous and deadliest outfits in the world."

Although the world too easily ignores the importance of Sri Lanka`s achievement, some of America`s elected officials are starting to understand. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, issued last month, hailed our victory as "one of the few instances in modern history in which a terrorist group had been defeated militarily."

Sri Lanka`s struggle is a victory for global democracy and demonstrates that a workable model exists for eradicating terrorism, a model from which the international community may yet gain valuable insight.

Now the hard work of reconstruction begins. We are redoubling our efforts to rejuvenate democracy across our country, revive the economy, and reconcile any differences. As the global community watches, Sri Lanka recognizes the need for transparency of action. Our aim is to deliver a prosperous and peaceful future to every Sri Lankan, whatever their race, culture, or religion.

After decades of trauma, we continue to deal with a humanitarian crisis in parts of the country and face many challenges in the transition to peace. America knows only too well the political challenges and economic needs that come with shifting to a post-conflict state.

Having overcome the terrorists, Sri Lanka undertook decisive measures necessary to ensure the peace. The need to temporarily house people from the conflict zone was born out of the need to stabilize the region and provide a haven for the displaced. Vast areas of the country that were destroyed by fighting and rendered uninhabitable because of land mines are now being carefully cleared and infrastructure restored, allowing our people to return in safety. Despite these tremendous obstacles, fewer than 100,000 of the original 300,000 displaced Sri Lankans now wait to return home.

We have demonstrated our commitment to and respect for human rights by ensuring freedom of movement in the temporary centers for internally displaced people. Sri Lanka intends to close all centers by Jan. 31.

But we must remember that the war did not just end lives; it decimated communities and destroyed homes. We believe a guaranteed right of return for every Sri Lankan affected by the conflict is critical to our goal of justice for all. Reconciliation will be a multifaceted task, and it is important to look at the many aspects of nation-building through a broad lens, rather than a narrow one.

In the last few months, we have heard from our friends abroad urging us to speed the pace of reform. We have listened to their ideas and have taken their concerns to heart. However, integrating and reconciling a nation in a post-terror era while ensuring a lasting peace, after nearly three decades of war, will take time.

Sri Lanka is part of the family of nations. Suggestions from other countries are welcome. But we need help as much as scrutiny.

We appreciate assistance that enables us to find and eliminate land mines. But we also need increased investment, trade, and economic-development support. We have much to offer countries worldwide.

As we move forward, the world will see democracy in action with our Jan. 26 election. This will be a significant event in Sri Lanka`s history and will encapsulate our goals of reconciliation by developing our political process. Encouraging the political engagement of communities who boycotted our last elections, at the height of the terrorist war, is a key goal to which we remain committed. As America understands so well, democracy is as much a process as it is an event.

The memory of terrorism remains strong. The deaths and destruction it caused remain indelibly etched into Sri Lanka`s collective memory. But Sri Lanka will thrive because of the indomitable will of our people and more than 2,000 years of history.

I am confident that Sri Lanka, our island of unsurpassed natural beauty, diversity, enterprise, and, now, a hard-fought peace, will take its rightful place in the world. This could only have been achieved through the decisive action taken last May for the long-term benefit of all Sri Lankans.

   

 

 
 
 
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