Have US-NATO soldiers been honored by Terrorists as Sri Lanka’s Military Officer has?
No accolade is enough for Col. Ratnapriya or the rehabilitation locally designed & implemented under the previous government which after 9 years reaped results in the manner that one single officer was honored by an entire village of former LTTE cadres & their families by carrying him on their shoulder. These former LTTE cadres including their families were seen unabashedly crying as they bid farewell to him. The images have certainly shook the world in particular a large number of con artists who have been enjoying perks & privileges claiming to know how to enforce reconciliation for post-conflicts. Thus, the incident immediately questions every reconciliation program that is being forcibly shoved down Sri Lanka’s throat & all of the pundits who claim to be veterans at rehabilitating terrorists. In just 9 years one soldier has made an entire village of LTTErs cry – how the hell did he do it without foreign intervention, foreign templates & foreign reconciliation models?
Reconciliation in Afghanistan
In 2001 the US & NATO invaded Afghanistan and they have been in Afghanistan since. After 17 years occupying Afghanistan what is the reconciliation US & NATO troops can boast of?
Professor Amin Saikal implored policymakers in 2007 not to ‘cave into the Taliban.’ While Professor Maley believed the solution lay not in talking to the Taliban. In 2008, reconciliation principles were drawn up by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Policy Action Group (PAG).
What have they achieved from the initial zero-sum rhetoric of ‘you are either with us or against us’ branding the Taliban as evil?
A Multi-billion dollar Program Takhim e-Solh (Strengthening Peace, commonly known as PTS) which has given dollars to Afghans to give up arms! 11,077 militants were paid to lay down their arms. With so many experts in psycho this & psycho that, so many templates that are designed by NGOs spending millions all that was eventually done was to hand over money in exchange for giving up arms & now the money is not enough but the Afghans are enjoying the dollars!
Reconciliation in Iraq
Iraq was invaded & occupied by Western troops since 2003 (15 years)
Mrs Lindborg president of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) says reconciliation is people's necessary "mechanism for discussing what is the divide in their community without resorting to violence."
However, Iraq was illegally invaded. There was no weapons of mass destruction, There was no ISIS or Al Qaeda in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule. The world was told Saddam was a dictator, ‘rebels’ were imported to create the dissident voice of the people & that was how Saddam was ousted & ultimately died by hanging in a kangaroo court.
What are Iraqi’s supposed to reconcile with? What if there was never any ethnic or sectarian conflict & everything was politically contrived raising ethnic/sectarian slogans. No wonder the US imposed the Shia-Sunni-Kurdish political formula since 2003 has increased sectarian rifts. If Sunnis ruled under Saddam, the West placed Shia minority to rule over Sunnis & its total chaos. How can a minority rule the majority? (we do not wish the same to happen in Sri Lanka) Why has West left out Iraq’s shattered infrastructure from reconciliation. The West has bombed Iraq to the cave age!
Reconciliation in Libya
Following a military intervention, Libya has been occupied by Western troops since 2011 and resulted in the killing of Libya’s leader M. Gaddafi ‘We came, we saw, he died’ is what former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said laughing.
In 2015 national reconciliation framework was launched by the UN brokered Libyan Political Agreement. However, the leaders of Libya are not chosen by the Libyans but by foreigners so how can the General National Accord set up by UN function without the buy-in of the people succeed?
In all 3 cases the template has been the same – change the existing constitution, change penal codes, change law & order mechanisms, change internal systems, place foreigners into key roles & in their absence replace with locals who will do as the foreigners pay them to do and while all these changes are taking place to the structure & foundations of a country by parties that helped create the chaos more chaos is taking place because more chaos needs to be manufactured & people kept busy until the real objectives that brought the external forces into these countries are fulfilled. So reconciliation has become a beautiful word battered on paper & by statements uttered by every foreign envoy, every UN official, every foreign paid civil society & NGO representative – simply to fool the masses. Reconciliation term has been prostituted more than its value.
The farewell by LTTE families to a military officer is poignant for many reasons
1. It shows there is no one template or manual for reconciliation that the UN or its NGOs can plug & force upon countries or people.
2. Human compassion has no limits, has no definition, has no strings. A soldier showed humanity & the human element in the terrorists was tapped & they reciprocated. He didn’t follow any book with step 1, 2, 3. It came from his heart & the response came from the heart of the receivers.
3. It completely destroyed all the bogus ‘We will look after our Tamil people’ chanted by the Northern Province Chief Minister Wigneswaran, the TNA in particular the Opposition Leader Sambanthan & especially the very rich LTTE Diaspora. None of them had done anything for these families except use LTTE for their own political gain.
4. It also brought to the surface all of the supposed NGO development programs, NGO initiatives that they highlight on their websites in appealing for funding for in reality what have they been doing with the money kind-hearted people have donated?
5. The manner that the TNA & LTTE Diaspora as well as the UN, foreign envoys & local NGOs have digested the incident is also worthy of mention. Starting out with Sivajilingam the incident is not being appreciated but is being attacked probably because all of their lies have become exposed not only locally but internationally too. People are all asking ‘why have the TNA not looked after these people’ ‘with so much money in the LTTE kitty, why have LTTE diaspora neglected these former LTTE cadres’ ‘if a soldier can make an entire village of terrorists cry, do we need foreign NGO templates or proposals’ … these are what the people are now asking and it is a hell of a slap to all these con artists.
6. LTTE cadres were rehabilitated according to a plan devised by the Sri Lankan Army. The soldiers & officers were well aware that rehabilitation was one thing but every terrorist needed to walk out into society. Did they have livelihood options, would Tamil society accept them… that their own people did not accept LTTE cadres & that a soldier was ready to empathize with them, help them triggered their response. The politicians, TNA, Wigneswaran, foreign NGOs, LTTE diaspora did not help them form dance troupes, music groups, sports, employment opportunities – but Col. Ratnapriya did. There was the difference and those that didn’t help are now so jealous & envious of what he achieved.
7. When means of self-employment & jobs were given what was the NGO response – to claim that the military-run livelihood programs were exploitative! So much for constructive criticism. While all of these entities who did not help have all the time to shower criticisms & will probably try their best to stop such programs in the future, one human rights activist Shreen Saroor says it is the Government & not the Military who should be delivering - Col. Ratnapriya spent 9 years treating the LTTErs with dignity & respect.
8. Not only did Col. Ratnapriya uplift the hearts & minds of these LTTE cadres but he in no way devalued Tamil culture. He was able to turn them to think of Sri Lanka first was seen in the manner they sang the National Anthem in Sinhalese!
What the incident seen in Vishwamadu & the reconciliation in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya all boils down to is that there is no set model or menu. The UN & the entire NGO system need to wake up & realize they cannot give themselves means of livelihood to design fancy models & templates that are irrelevant & cannot be forcibly plugged into every country. None of these foreign modules have worked – if so the US-NATO soldiers should be getting garlands & carried by Islamic terrorists too. No Islamic terrorists have cried for any US-NATO soldier’s kindness.
These are good lessons for the Sri Lankan politicians who are made to feel anything foreign has to be applied simply because it comes with carrots of money for them & assurances that they can remain in power if they agree to implement them through their decoys.
Shenali D Waduge