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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2648

Sri Lanka’s Strategy for Combating Terror Recognized by US State Department

Sunday Discourse by Philip Fernando in Washington D.C.

"The multi-pronged approach for combating terrorism was a tremendous success in Sri Lanka," said Dayani Panagoga, Director (Policy) of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) at a high powered seminar conducted by the Near East and South Asian Strategic studies (NESA), at the Carnegie Foundation in Washington D.C.

Attendees to that Near East and South Asian Strategic studies forum were convinced that Sri Lankan anti-terror strategy had great potential for everyone. They wanted to know more and Panagoda had to continue her presentation before the State Department for an additional day. Dayani Panagoda presenting her paperDayani Panagoda presenting her paper

The compelling case made by Panagoda to convinced the participants of Sri Lankan’s success was that Sri Lankan army does not have a single child recruit, the Eastern Province was rid of the LTTE hegemony and a democratic administration headed by Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chanthirakanthan alias Pillaiyan now functions there.

A network of legal, administrative and enforcement mechanisms are now in place for fighting terror as well as a viable government and private sector participation to combat terrorism. Panagoda spoke to Asian Tribune giving details of Sri Lanka’s success in combating terrorism.

Excerpts of Dayani Panagoda’s interview with Asian Tribune is given below:

Asian Tribune: Is your success story overstated? Are we not constantly
reacting to LTTE propaganda rather than taking the fight into them-we seem
to be losing the propaganda war!!

Dayani Panagoda: Definitely not. We set high goals for ourselves and set up
programs to counter LTTE propaganda. Legislatively, we have an array of laws
in keeping with the international requirements. More importantly,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government of Sri Lanka set the stage
for achieving major gains not only militarily but also in crucial areas like
economic development, settlement of refugees and overall humanitarian goals.
Comprehensive peace is attainable.

The Eastern province is a good example. No where else in the world do you have a former terrorist group give up arms and successfully enter the mainstream and embrace democracy in a meaningful way as we saw in Eastern Province. A former combatant is now the Chief Minister.

Asian Tribune: The LTTE seems to be still having the edge over Sri Lanka Government?

Dayani Panagoda: Not at all. We have turned the tables on them effectively. We came out with a multi-facetted approach. Remember LTTE was described as the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world spreading its fangs into weapons purchase, narcotics, credit card frauds and ruthless killings and kidnappings. Those have been substantially reduced. Internationally, we took the fight right into them. US, Canada, UK, France, Italy and many others have arrested and indicted LTTE agents. Their find raising has suffered tremendously. We are working closely with outside agencies to combat the LTTE’s nefarious practices effectively.

Asian Tribune : Aren’t we still hearing charges of humanitarian violations against the Government of Sri Lanka — what about those stories of killings and kidnappings?

Dayani Panagoda: We have continued to enforce laws against any type of
humanitarian violations. We can state unequivocally that there are no child recruits with Sri Lanka armed forces-none whatsoever. They are the ones who bumped off leaders like Laksman Kadirgamar, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, and many others. The list is very long. Spates of ruthless LTTE killings have received international condemnation. We have tightened the legal rules and strengthened enforcement mechanisms to deal with cases of kidnappings. SCOPP has taken the lead in ensuring that all aspects of the legal, administrative and enforcement mechanisms are coordinated well.

Asian Tribune: So you believe that you have got a handle on these matters now?

Dayani Panagoda: Definitely. What we achieved were exhaustive inroads into the areas of conflict and brought about a vibrant public-private partnership to effectively answer the LTTE era of terror. There is a clear vision for the upliftment of the people in areas of conflict. This is quite visible in the East. There is a Rs. 800 million farmer development program run by the Ministry of Nation Building,

World Bank, Cargills and Hayleys Agro runs a program to instill effective technology into the agricultural sector in the East. The list is impressive. Road building, school construction, farming, and completion of infra-structure programs are going on as we speak. Health and education areas where action is being taken now.

- Asian Tribune -

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