Swift action taken to restore normalcy | Daily News

Swift action taken to restore normalcy

President Maithripala Sirisena met the Ambassadors and High Commissioners based in Sri Lanka, Resident representatives of United Nations and affiliated organisations and Head of other international agencies at the Presidential Secretariat on April 23 in the aftermath of the  Easter Sunday attacks.  Picture by Sudath Silva
President Maithripala Sirisena met the Ambassadors and High Commissioners based in Sri Lanka, Resident representatives of United Nations and affiliated organisations and Head of other international agencies at the Presidential Secretariat on April 23 in t

The obvious double standards of the Western media in reporting events in Sri Lanka became evident when the most prominent international media correspondents rushed to Colombo soon after the Easter Sunday bomb blasts by Islamist terrorists. When they interviewed President Maithripala Sirisena, the first question they asked was, ‘why didn’t the President resign after the bomb explosions?’

The President, instead of replying direct, posed a question to them. “Why didn’t President Bush resign after the Islamist terrorist attacks on Washington’s Pentagon, the Defence Headquarters and New York’s World Trade Centre, killing more than 3,000 people? Why didn’t British Prime Minister step down after London bomb blasts by the same Al Qaeda? Why didn’t Prime Minister of Spain resign after the Madrid bomb attack by Muslim insurgents killing over 200? Why didn’t Indonesian President resign after Bali attack by Islamist terrorists and why didn’t Indian Prime Minister step down after Mumbai attack on Taj Hotel by Muslim terrorists?” Then he himself gave the answer stating that a true leader would not run away from the battlefield, but would face the challenge and destroy this brutal terrorism, which has now become an international menace.

President Sirisena’s swift action to control Islamist terrorism is quite successful and within the last 12 days the Security Forces managed to arrest over 100 terror suspects, including some potential suicide-bombers and confiscated large stocks of weapons and explosives in addition to publicity material of IS terrorists cells.

Islamist terrorism

Congratulatory messages for the success of the operations and offer of help to assist the long term strategies of totally eliminating Islamist terrorism from Sri Lanka came from many affluent countries in the West as well as from the Asian giants, including India and China.

These could be summarized in the signal from the World Body. The United Nations Under Secretary General for Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Angle Moratinos applauded President Sirisena’s swift and decisive action to control the situation after the Ester Sunday terrorist attacks. Moratinos, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain has arrived in Sri Lanka as Special Representative of UNSG and called on President Sirisena at the President’s Office on Tuesday (April 30).

The UN Under Secretary General praised the President’s efforts and said that the international community is solidly behind these efforts to eliminate Islamist terrorism. He said that UNSG would send a team of counterterrorism experts to assist Sri Lankan military officers by providing expertise and knowhow. The former President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) also said that his country Spain, too, came under a terrorist attack by Islam terrorists of Al Qaeda in 2004 and added that both Spain and Sri Lanka are peaceful and tourist-friendly countries and expressed his grave concern over such countries becoming targets of terrorists.

Moratinos said UN Alliance of Civilizations has been entrusted with the task of compiling a UN report on protection of places of religious worship and sought President Sirisena’s proposals for inclusion in the report. He said all forms of heinous attacks on places of religion are considered most barbaric, inhumane attacks on humanity and the entire world condemns such attacks.

President Sirisena thanked the UNSG and the Under Secretary General for the support extended at this difficult occasion and called for assistance to curb terrorism. He said that foreign expertise and other assistance are required. However, he emphasized that Sri Lankan forces are quite capable and the country does not want foreign troops for these operations. “Our Security Forces have 30 years’ of experience in counterterrorism and they possess enough skills and capabilities to handle this challenge,” he said.

President Sirisena called for an urgent probe into the alleged non-action by the then Defence Secretary and Inspector General of Police on the intelligence report received from a neighbouring country. He appointed a Special Investigation Committee on April 22, 2019 to conduct investigations into the series of bomb blasts and the commissions and omissions on the part of the law enforcement bodies. The Committee is headed by Supreme Court Judge Vijith K. Malalgoda and former IGP N. K. Ilangakoon and former Law and Order Ministry Secretary Padamasiri Jayamanne have been appointed as members of the committee and they were instructed to complete their report within two weeks.

Anti-terrorism legal clauses

The Committee expeditiously conducted its probe and an interim report has already been handed over to the President, who sent it immediately to the Attorney General for early action. The Committee has recorded statements from several high ranking state officials including the former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and outgoing IGP Pujith Jayasundara. His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith also volunteered to meet the Committee.

The government gazetted the anti-terrorism legal clauses to be effective under emergency law to empower Armed Forces and Police to take effective measures to safeguard security of the people and the country. The National Security Council made a thorough probe on the issues pertaining to the organisations responsible for bomb blasts and following that operations were commenced to arrest of terror suspects and those who assisted them. The President has instructed the Police and Tri-forces to take every possible action to destroy terrorism unleashed by the members of Islamist organisations with links with International Islamists (IS).

During investigations by intelligence agencies, they have uncovered that there were international organisations behind these acts of local terrorists. Hence, President decided to seek international assistance for investigations.

In the meanwhile President Sirisena took early steps to reassure the business sector, especially the tourism industry that the government would work towards recovering and reestablishing the tourism industry and the hotel chains and other businesses that were badly affected due to the terrorist attacks.

“A Cabinet Sub-Committee was appointed to inquire into the future steps to be taken to upgrade tourism”, said the President. He further said that discussions will be held at the next Cabinet meeting on providing monetary aid under more flexible systems and providing reliefs.

President Sirisena assured that terrorism can be defeated. It will be firmly done and there is a potential to do so. Terrorists are being tackled islandwide and measures are being taken to eradicate terrorism. The President added that he has full faith in our Security Forces and the missions carried out to wipe out terrorism. There’s no need to panic unnecessarily and daily activities of the country are being carried out in a normal manner, he emphasized.

President Sirisena also said that if there is a need for the security within the field of business, the government is ready to launch a security programme. The fullest assistance and facilities will be provided to those who are involved in the business field to recover their businesses. Any request regarding that can be made by meeting him personally, said the President.

Challenges for business community

The business community presented certain suggestions regarding how to recover the country from this chaotic situation and came up with suggestions and steps to be taken to recover the tourism and hotel industry.

Business tycoon Harry Jayawardena said that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world that has successfully faced this terrorist attacks that were strongly connected internationally. He expressed his pride over the leadership displayed by President Sirisena and the quick actions taken by him and the heroic Armed Forces to control the situation within few days. He expressed confidence that terrorism will be completely eliminated from Sri Lanka.

Jayawardena, who appreciated how the President faced this challenge, expressed his gratitude to the President for the direct steps taken to curb terrorism. He further stated that such quick action was what the world wanted to see.

The President of Hotels Association of Sri Lanka Sanath Ukwatte, Business leader, Dhammika Perera, and others representing the business community presented ideas and was thankful to President Sirisena for being supportive under this critical situation.

All these finely show that every required step has been taken to recover from this setback and take the country back to the development path as early as possible.


 

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