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News  


 

Wake-up call for ‘foreign office’

We need communication strategy - Prof. Gunaratna

By Tharindu Prematillake in Singapore

The cancellation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Oxford Union speech and the events leading to that controversial decision is a good wake-up call for the External Affairs Ministry to get their act together to develop a proper communication strategy and plan, international terrorism expert Prof Rohan Gunaratna said.

“I think this is a good reminder to the Sri Lankan Government that the country needs to develop proper counter propaganda strategies. They also need to develop a proper communication strategy and plan, to bring out the reality of what happened in Sri Lanka. They can point out that the civilian deaths in Sri Lanka is much lower as a percentage compared to the civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan by US and British troops,” he said.
According to the professor, the first step in the strategy is to dismantle the Global Tamil Forum.

The second step should be to disable Nediyavan’s organisation, which is operating in Norway with considerable strength and expanding influence, he added.
And thirdly, he said the Sri Lankan Government should engage the NGOs.
With the demise of the LTTE’s military wing, Prof Gunaratna said the ‘public face’ of the terrorist group had become quite active in propagating their ideology in western countries, and they were mainly doing it through NGOs.

“Up till this day, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry does not have an NGO division. You must create a specialist NGO division because today NGOs are very powerful in the international system. And if the government continues to resist the NGOs, the LTTE and its fronts like the Global Tamil Forum will keep engaging these NGOs, and getting what they want,” he added.

He also said Sri Lanka should handle international relations very delicately and pointed out that when some of the British leaders visited Sri Lanka they faced a difficult time here.
“When those politicians returned to their home country the Tamil Tigers very cunningly adopted them as friends, and it is those British leaders who were humiliated in Sri Lanka earlier, who are now playing an active role against Sri Lanka.”