Nearly one year has elapsed since the end of war on terror but we still have the last battle being fought in some quarters. On the political front, both the government and the Opposition are using the war victory to score points over each other. The UPFA is marketing President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s leadership for the war effort in his capacity as the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, while the UNF is trying to go places by highlighting the role played by former Army Chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka in the successful war.
Even those who opposed the war tooth and nail and went all out to scuttle it are now trying to bask in the reflected glory of the army and its former commander. They ridiculed Gen. Fonseka and even refused to congratulate him, when Kilinochchi was taken back but today they are telling us that he led the war from the front! They should have defended him so ardently while he was under scathing attacks from the LTTE sympathisers, some local politicians and Tamil Nadu politicians! A prominent Opposition member publicly stated that Gen. Fonseka was not fit to lead even the Salvation Army!
Some members of the international community still do not want to put the final battle behind them. They are the ones behind the on-going war crimes witch-hunt against the Sri Lanka army as well as the moves that the UN is making to appoint a panel of experts to advise its Secretary General on Sri Lanka.
After next week`s parliamentary polls, the war victory will cease to be a factor in local electoral politics and elections will have to be contested on some other issues. The country seems to have already forgotten Prabhakaran! But, the Diasporic Tigers and their western allies will not let the final battle be forgotten. Their anti-Sri Lankan campaign will have to be countered at political, diplomatic and propaganda levels if their canards are to be nailed effectively.
The question that the critics of Sri Lanka need to be asked is: If the army had done nothing but commit massacres during the war, how is it that thousands of LTTE cadres happened to be captured alive and rehabilitated. On Thursday, another batch of rehabilitated LTTE members numbering 1,300 was released in Vavuniya at a ceremony graced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They were reunited with their parents who may have given up hope of seeing them ever again.
There were, no doubt, civilian casualties in the war, but if the army had committed massacres of trapped combatants like the `Turkey Shoot` which the US troops in Iraq indulged in leaving thousands of fleeing Iraqi soldiers dead, how could so many LTTE cadres have survived the war?
By the time the war ended in May 2009, the number of LTTE cadres in custody including those who had surrendered stood at 12,000. Of them, 3,000 have been released in batches after rehabilitation.
Among those released on Thursday were 178 university students and 175 children the LTTE had forcibly recruited. Today, they are free!
If the LTTE`s military muscle had not been crushed last May, those children would still have been under Prabhakaran`s jackboot, deprived of freedom and their right to education.
Sadly, the government is not making use of its successful rehabilitation programme to silence Sri Lanka`s detractors who are disseminating diabolical lies overseas to keep their secessionist movement alive. Thursday`s event could have been used to give the world the real picture of the situation but it is puzzling why it was held in Vavuniya, of all places. It should have been held in Colombo with the participation of human rights activists, the international media and the foreign envoys whose countries are behind the war crimes witch hunt against Sri Lanka.