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We stand with Theresa May and the British people

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24 March 2017 12:00 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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First of all let us express our heartfelt condolences to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in London, those who were injured, the families of those who died and all the citizens of the United Kingdom. We add the last because any act of terrorism in any part of any country, impact each and every citizen. It is not a happy thing to live your days under the shadow of terrorism. It is not a happy thing to be wary all the time. It is not a happy thing to worry if you’ll see your loved ones ever again once you’ve said goodbye to them in the morning as they left for school or work.   


British Prime Minister Theresa May has correctly described the attack as ‘sick and depraved’. She has been firm in her response: ‘let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values (democracy, human rights and rule of law) through violence and terror is doomed to failure.’   


Brave words. Necessary words for a nation that is only seeing sporadic acts of terrorism on its soil. So far. History however has shown that such things, when not nipped in the bud, can grow enormous and that much blood has to flow before they are finally defeated.   


May believes that the terrorists targeted the British Parliament because the aforementioned values command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. The good Prime Minister seems a bit naive on this.   


Terrorism is not necessarily about attacking symbols of values that are not subscribed to. Still, she has stated clearly that she is determined to defeat the architects of that attack. It is not exactly a reiteration of the ‘Zero Tolerance of Terrorism’ policy that did the rounds after 9/11, but the writing is no less clear. If the attacks become more frequent and widespread, and we fervently hope they will not, then word and tone will no doubt change.   


We say this, because we know.   


What happened in London was for many years something close to our daily bread. Unpalatable but nevertheless forced down the collective throat of our citizenry. Prime Minister May may or may not know, but from the get-go of this country’s tryst with terrorism and even until the last days in May 2009, the recommendation regularly rolled out was a simple word: ‘negotiate’.   


It was tried. It was a monumental failure. With each round of negotiations the problem became worse. Finally, Sri Lanka decided on a course of action that went against what was said to be ‘conventional wisdom’. Thanks to that effort, the world has a splendid example of how terrorism could be defeated. Perhaps it shocked the world so much or rather surprised the advocates of ‘negotiations’ that it is hard for them to believe. Worse, it may have bruised their respective egos. Perhaps a lot of the invective directed at the one country that successfully defeated a terrorist outfit can be attributed to this.   


May is in a better position. Britain is not Sri Lanka. Britain has got away with a lot of horrible things. And we are not talking only about the times of the empire. Britain doesn’t have to say ‘excuse me’. Britain does not have to fear admonishment from Washington or in Geneva.   


What Britain might lose in all this is the right to be self-righteous in various human rights forums. For all the rhetoric about cherished values, if May called for all the manuals used by the British military on the treatment of prisoners, she might be embarrassed. Rest assured, the unwritten will be put into practice if the heat becomes less amenable to dismissal through a crisp post-attack statement.  
We will not tell Theresa May to negotiate with the terrorists. We will not say ‘there must be some underlying reasons for the rise of terrorism and therefore you have to address those issues’. We know that terrorism can be divided into two categories, corrigible and incorrigible, but that these semantics aren’t worth a penny when it comes to national security. We urge Britain, instead, to acquire as soon as possible the intelligence that was resisted and was vilified for decades here in Sri Lanka.   


And the next time Britain plays classroom monitor (no, we didn’t say ‘bully’) in various forums where Sri Lanka is discussed, we will not say ‘your time will come’. That time has come and we recognize it as a tragedy and we stand firmly with the citizens of Britain as they fight the scourge of terrorism. We have a simple message: do not be naive for it can cost you dearly.   


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  Comments - 1

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  • Chris Friday, 24 March 2017 04:39 PM

    Thank you. Well written.I hope some British paper will copy this.Proud to be a Sri Lankan.


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