Placing ‘Defeating Terrorism: Sri Lankan Experience Seminar’ in a critical light

Admirably, the Government was kind and open enough to provide a live web feed of the proceedings of the three day Defeating Terrorism: Sri Lankan Experience seminar, held in Colombo. This allowed for non-invitees and non-participants like us to monitor the saccharine presentations via the web, flagging inconsistencies as well as inconvenient truths that were unsurprisingly left out or marginalised in the proceedings.

Often tongue-in-cheek but flagging serious issues and concerns, our updates over Twitter and on this site were anchored to content presented at the seminar by a range of government and army representatives. We published a key address by Australian counter-terrorism expert David Kilcullen on Day One and, given it’s official stance, rather surprising comments by the US Embassy’s Defence Attache on Day Two. On day three, the final day of the seminar, we listened in real time to the presentations by Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor of the Central Bank, Lalith Weeratunge, Permanent Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka and Chairman of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and the closing remarks of the seminar by Rohan Gunaratna, who according to Wikipedia is “an international terrorism expert”.

Most of our live tweeting occurred today listening to these presentations, where we pointed out the divide between what was presented and the reality on the ground plus stories and information that placed in context some of the false or misleading assertions that were made, particularly regarding economic development, the use and spread of ICTs, the rehabilitation of former LTTE cadre and the conditions in Menik Farm immediately after the war.

All our updates are presented below for easy reference. We also did a screencast of the video presentation made today on the Sri Lankan army’s contributions to UN Peacekeeping missions.


  • Jamie

    Why are you so obsessively anti-defence seminar? Get a grip.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Rubbish Jamie. We loved it. Oorah!

      • wijayapala

        How did it compare to civil society seminars? Better or worse organised? Food?

    • Danushka

      @Jamie: That’s called playing to an audience.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    Dear GV,
    Given the normal stance of all SL governments which is authoritarian, top-down control, Big Man is always right, everything is perfect on Paradise Island etc, this was actually a bit of a revelation. OK, so Gota was Gota sounding angry as usual. What did you expect?

    If you want to see a really professional cringing, grovelling, fawning, obsequious, ask-no-hard questions Q&A session, no-one beats the BBC’s recent PR fluff job for Obama when he visited London. It makes Rupavahini seem like a model of hard-hitting objectivity. http://tinyurl.com/3dxfj6m

    Some of the other presenters like Dr Ahmed Hashim had genuinely interesting things to say about media management, post-war issues etc.

    Everyone’s being very coy about which Western govt was trying to bail out VP & his top team. Why and which country was it?

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      LOL. Thanks for the link to the video – the blog post was rather rambling though. You’re right of course, Obama should have been grilled, but it’s telling he wasn’t and indicative of a ‘special relationship’ resulting in extraordinary protection from the most probing questions. As for which country tried to get good ‘ol VP out, some commentators have come out and said Norway (http://www.lakbimanews.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1542:norway-planned-to-take-away-prabhakaran&catid=35:news-features&Itemid=37) but as you say, if this is true, no one has stepped forward to admit it. That said, we don’t recall Norway denying the charge either, so…

      • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

        @GV,

        Obama could start eating babies and they [UK media/BBC] would blame the babies for being so tempting and tasty:)

        I wish they’d sent Stephen Sackur in mufti to ask Gota a few questions :)

        If it was Norway, why isn’t it being trumpeted? On the other hand GoSL needs Norway more than vice versa, so I suppose it makes sense not make a big deal about it.

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    It is my hope that the leaders of Sri Lanka and Syria will not be granted immunity for the crimes they are alleged to have committed against innocent civilians in their countries. The arrest in the past few days of Gen Mladic must cause added discomfort for others alleged to have committed serious war crimes.

    Judge Richard Goldstone, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13618967

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    Co-sponsored by China, Sri Lankan Army’s anti-terror conference touted the island’s model of counterinsurgency. Major Generals continuously referred to Eelam War IV as a “humanitarian operation” but could not clarify how exactly Prabhakaran died.

    See http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?272102

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    A notable omission from the agenda was any initiative to pare back Sri Lanka’s now bloated armed forces. Instead, the government is finding new things for them to do.

    The Economist, http://www.economist.com/node/18775481