Groundviews

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.