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30th August 1998

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Britain is waking up at last

Though justice delayed has had disastrous consequences, we welcome British Prime Minister Tony Blair's move to summon an emergency session of the House of Commons to introduce tough new anti-terrorist laws which even border on the Draconian.

The new laws, among other matters will prevent organisations like the LTTE, from making Britain a safe haven or using it as a base to raise funds or otherwise conspire against a foreign government.

Unfortunately, as we have been saying for a long time, western nations often wake up only when a bomb explodes in their backyards. It was a similar pattern during the Second World War. While Britain and countries in Europe, Asia and Africa were fighting Germany, it was only the attack on Pearl Harbour that galvanised an isolationist and self-centred United States into action. In recent years, the US appears to be confusing terrorism with human rights till New York's World Trade Centre and Oklahoma bombings made the sleeping giant wake up to the realities and to its responsibilities. The recent brutal attack by the Real IRA at Omagh with some 28 people including children dying in the worst ever act of terrorist carnage in the Irish conflict has spurred Britain into action against global terrorism.

Prime Minister Blair has vowed that the senseless brutality of Omagh would be the last act of horror and that the new anti-terrorist laws would end the reign of terror by a few maniacs.

We in Sri Lanka often wondered how Britain which had close ties with us could yet be so insensitive to our complaints regarding fund-raising activities of the LTTE in Britain. We often had LTTE media statements from London and Paris carrying the Eelam logo.

Britain and other western countries were guilty of indifference if not double standards when they claimed that if no laws are contravened in those countries then any group, even terrorists, could bat on.

But now they've realised that terrorism is a serious international threat to world peace and economic stability and it requires a collective international solution. While we welcome Britain's long delayed move we also ask what other countries like the United States have tangibly done after they banned the LTTE.

When Amercian interests are threatened, the US establishment takes unilateral and arrogant decisions to violate the territorial integrity of sovereign states like Afghanistan and Sudan. But in dealing with the LTTE, the laws have plenty of loopholes and could be liberally interpreted as was seen when a federal court recently upheld a petition by an LTTE front. Now they must be collecting all the money they need and doing all the subversive devilry while the ban exists largely in the law books.


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