The Sunday Times Editorial

6th October 1996

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People's role

The call for blood recently for the soldiers wounded in operation Sathjaya III brought about a tremendous national response with hundreds of ordinary people thronging blood bank all over to make their small sacrifice.

Firstly we must say despite the censorship, when the Army said it had to halt operation due to the lack of blood for the wounded soldiers, it sent the clear message that all was not well at the battlefront and the statistics of the wounded trickling through the tight censorship was pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.

We have always felt that the true picture must be portrayed to the public that this is people's war against a small group of terrorists. That the national health services had to stop normal nonemergency operations suddenly because of the blood requirement also indicates two things - the casualty figure were higher than expected and there was little coordination between the military and the Health Department on the war effort.

But on the brighter side, the general public's response was most encouraging , to say the least. It showed public enthusiasm in supporting the valiant effort of our soldiers, even though it came to recruitment the Army could not attract the number required.

Reports indicate that those who donated blood came from all strata of society. All people are commonly affected by the rising cost of living that is being influenced by the escalating war budget. But what we must stressed is that there must be greater involvement of the people in the national effort to preserve the national's unity and integrity.. the people must be informed of what is really going on. We repeat the need to call of the censorship immediately and to have closer dialogue or communication among the government , the military and the media. In this context we welcome the dialogue initiated this week by General Anuruddha Ratwatte and the service chiefs with the media. This should not be a one-off discussion and we would like to see the building up of a relationship of trust with the parties committed to seeking the highest national interest.

Save our children

More than 12,000 Sri Lankan children, mainly boys between the ages of seven and twelve, are known to be used as sex slaves mostly by foreigners who come here in search of the flesh of children. Some 10,000 foreign paedophiles, a majority of them from Scandinavian states such as Belgium are known to come to Sri Lanka every year for perverted or sadistic sex with the little boys. After being physically and emotionally sexploited by perverts, these children suffer permanent personality deformities that render them unfit for decent human coexistence.

Recently Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar discussed this scandal with his Belgian counterpart when they met during the UN General Assembly sessions in New York. After The Sunday Times on August 25 published a shocking report on child sex abuse here, the Presidential Secretariat called to say it would like to discuss the matter with journalists so that the government and the media could take joint action. That is how it should be - cooperation instead of confrontation.

According to reports, illegal orphanages in Sri Lanka are providing 'toy-boys' to foreign child rapists and some of the children are even smuggled out for further use abroad. Thousands of children, the future generation of this country, are being dehumanised and we hope that urgent and effective action will be taken to stop the rot.

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