Bush Administration's South Asian Affairs Chief Richard Boucher's idea of Democracy seems to be lopsided.

By Charles.S.Perera

The Bush administration's South Asian Affairs Chief Richard Boucher who lead the United States observer mission to the SAARC , said that while Washington fully recognised the terrorist threat Sri Lanka continued to face from the LTTE, it should continue acting like a democracy and protect all its citizens.

This is a strange comment, which makes it difficult understand Mr.Boucher's concept of a democracy. Sri Lanka is neither under a dictatorship, nor under a military junta. But it has all the trappings of a democracy, as normally understood, with a government of the elected representatives of the people. The government has been elected for a constitutionally stipulated period of time. The system of government follows a separation of power, where the legislator is separated from the judiciary and the executive. What more does Mr. Boucher wants us to have for our government to be a democracy ?

Sri Lanka provides its people a respectable governing system. The Government defends its people with an Army, Navy and an Air Force, each under a Commander. The President is the Commander- in- Chief in whose name the Armed Forces of the Government, defend the people and the territory. At the moment the Armed Forces are engaged in fighting a terrorist group determined to break the unity of the people, and divide the country.

In that effort the civilian population in the affected areas are put in to dire difficulty, and their safety cannot unfortunately be totally assured by the government. The war against terrorism cannot provide complete protection of the rights of the people in the areas under conflict.

In the midst of this there are criminal elements, that use the situation, to kidnap, hold to ransom innocent people, and murder their victims, for which the government uses its police force to investigate and bring the criminals to justice, as any responsible government. However, it has recently been discovered that a group of men coming in a white van to kidnap rich businessmen, to claim ransom, is a political manoeuvre by highly placed persons of the opposing, to discredit the President, and his government.

The government has left the police forces to provide security to the people. Thus the government of this small sovereign state despite enormous difficulties, coming from the terrorists, and its opponents, with the International Community awaiting to pounce up on it for an exaggerated violation of human rights, carries on the duties of a democratic sovereign state.

Under these circumstances, one fails to understand what more Mr.Boucher of the Bush Administration wants Sri Lanka to do, to continue acting like a Democracy. But Mr.Boucher, should know better that his own country, and its political allies the European Union, champions of democracy, have failed in their relation with the rest of the world , to extend noble sentiments of democracy, to some of the countries in its periphery of influence. They rather act as affluent dictators threatening, holding to ransom, or withholding aid to developing nations endangering their economic development programmes. Do you then think Mr. Boucher that your country and its allies are acting as democracies ?

The people of Cuba have been made to suffer due to the economic, commercial, and financial embargo by USA since 1962. The embargo was on the ground of bringing democracy to the Cuban people. The world has changed since then but the mentality of the American State Department remains the same, since 1962, and the Democracy as pronounced by the American Mr. Boucher is a meaningless empty word.

The people of developing countries have laid their hope in the UNO, which stands as it was set up by its founding fathers, as a sentinel to watch over the world to ensure peace, and harmony among the people of the world. But the America overlooked the UNO and its security council to declare war on Iraq on false ground of Iraq having an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Does that show that America acted as a democracy ?

The Geneva Convention has laid down rules to protect the rights of prisoners of war. But , Mr. Boucher, what is happening in Guantanamo, the torturing of prisoners in Iraq, and water boarding are shameless violation of human rights, These violations of human rights by the USA have been described in detail by Andy Worthington in his book 'The Guantánamo Files'. Is all that a part of being a democracy ?

The EU is using human rights as an issue to withhold psp+ concession to Sri Lanka on which thousands of garment workers depend for their lively hood. Is that, Mr.Boucher, a sign of EU being a democracy ?

Boucher has also said that Sri Lanka military force cannot solved the terrorist problem. That is because Mr.Boucher is speaking from American experience. As America failed in all its military efforts to stop the enemy in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, Boucher, thinks that our Government Forces will also fail in their effort. But the Government of Sri Lanka is on the verge of its victory over terrorism, which for whatever reason, the American State Administration, the EU, and number of humanitarian activists, appear to be doing their best to thwart.

America has failed in its wars as , it is fighting a different type of war, different from the "war" of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Security Forces are fighting to save their own mother land, in their own home ground. The American soldiers are dying for a war out side their home land, fighting an invisible terrorist force. The American military is fighting a war not to protect its own homeland, that is why there is so much of difficulty in winning the American war in Iraq, despite the sacrifice of over 3000 young American Soldiers.

We Mr.Boucher, in Sri Lanka have a democratic government- in our own terms, and we live up to the ideals of our own democracy, perhaps different from the outward pretence of the democracies of the government Mr.Boucher, and those of the IC represent.

Mr. Boucher yours is a powerful economically and technologically rich country. You interfere into our affairs giving us one set of rules, while you follow a different set of rules. The paramilitary is the problem of Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lanka government understands them better than you, and will set up a mechanism to demobilising them when it is the proper time to do so.

As much as you are , we are also concerned with the problem of child soldiers. One has to look at the problem, with more intelligence. The terrorists, do not follow rules and regulations, and they listens to no body. In that situation , the question of the child soldiers with the terrorists could be settled only with the elimination of terrorism.

As the terrorist leader Prabhakaran did not attack America, you do not accept him as a terrorist. Therefore, you as a powerful rich country dictates to us, that there is no military solution to our terrorist problem, and that we should come to a political settlement with the terrorists.

If that is your way of thinking with regard to terrorism in our country, why do you continue to carry on a war in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop Osama Bin Laden from organising a terrorist attack in America, when it is more convenient for you to come to a peace settlement directly with Osama Bin Laden, as you propose us to do. As Osama Bin Laden did not attack us, we presume, thinking along with your logic that Bin Laden is not a terrorist.

He did no attack Sri Lanka, therefore we think as you do, and advice you as you advised us that there is no military solution to your problem, and that you should come to a peace settlement with Osama Bin Laden. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Because America is not confining there war to Iraq and Afghanistan. They have now extended the war in Afghanistn, and dropped bombed on the Pashtung territory in Pakistan, killing civilians including children. All Pashtungs are not Talibans, therefore you are violating the human rights of the people of Pakistan. Is that acting like a democracy ?

Mr. Richards concept of acting like a democracy is not only lopsided, but it is also ridiculous. Therefore, Mr. Boucher should re-examine his stance, and let the Government of Sri Lanka complete the good work it had commenced for the elimination of terrorism in Sri Lanka. We only ask you and your allied democracies to do that.

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