Fortifying National Security in a time of Crisis

by Gayanga Dias

Published on Ceylon Today on 06th July 2022

The tragedy of attacking the non-violent protest at Galle Face Green by a mob opposing the protesters left a black mark in the records of Sri Lankan history. The situation escalated and caused a tragic moment on the 09th of May 2022 and it shattered the image of Sri Lanka further in the international context, which was already facing negative criticism with the false allegations on Sri Lanka by LTTE diaspora on human rights violations and genocide accusations. While the current crisis in Sri Lanka is the spotlight over all other situations; dark shadows of threats that can strike the country are on the rise. The Government inclusive of responsible authorities must be vigilant to confront possible threats and must advocate for tight security measures. As of now, SL is at a crossroad constitutionally, politically, economically and socially. Some countries suggest that SL is on the verge of becoming a failed state. In such a backdrop the Intelligence agencies, civil security forces, tri-forces, the responsible government authorities and most importantly the citizens have a colossal responsibility in achieving social cohesion to confront threats that can emerge amidst this crisis.

Shadows of Terrorism

Sri Lankan armed forces ended the brutality of the LTTE terrorists on May 18th 2009, opening up the country to an era of peace building and reconciliation. Although the physical threat in the Sri Lankan soil has been wiped off, the ideological threat of creating a ‘Tamil Eelam’ still remains intact with the LTTE international network. Given the current unstable situation, Sri Lanka must be highly concerned about its security in the context of possible acts promoting the revival of the terrorists; LTTE.

Risking the country’s security further in the prevailing unstable era, on 18th May 2022 the Liberal MP at the Canadian Parliament, Gary Anandasangaree presented a motion stating that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”. The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion which gives the international recognition to the false news that genocide has occurred in Sri Lanka. Focus on this consequential threat has diminished due to the much greater issue Sri Lanka is facing at the moment. The international acceptance will firmly project a greater pressure on the UK and other European Union states to change their stance on LTTE. Although the current situation is critical, such threats must not be neglected and the public should be acquainted with the same.

Few weeks prior to 18th May 2022, the Indian intelligence had warned of a possible attack by the ex-LTTE to plan and attack Sri Lanka. This is another eye opener for Sri Lanka to consolidate its security aspect in the backdrop of a political uncertainty and an economic downfall.

Drugs & Crimes

The geographical location of Sri Lanka between the golden crescent and golden triangle, two main drug production regions in the world has influenced the inflow of drugs into the country. The prevailing instability of the country can provide a comfortable space for drug dealers to act within the country. However, it is appreciable that the Sri Lankan Navy triumphed in raiding many of the sea routes of drug inflow in recent history and these raids must be expanded further to curb the drug threat. In the same way, the drug networks inside the country must be dismantled.

When a state falls into instability, the criminals take advantage of the situation. Drugs, crimes and violent behaviour can intensively spring out as a result. Certainly, at some levels criminal leaders can sponsor vulnerable parties in creating further tragedies to reap the full benefits. Sri Lankans need to comprehend these influences and act accordingly to detach from them to secure the community at all levels. In a time of uncertainty, crimes can escalate drastically. This is a predictable situation for Sri Lanka and necessary steps must be taken by the civil security forces and the law enforcement authorities to swiftly monitor situations and to take necessary decisions to tackle crimes and related acts. Individuals can tend to follow criminal activities, robberies and gang formations will become a threat to human security; influencing national security. As citizens of Sri Lanka equally passing a rough patch, we all have a responsibility to act intelligently; supporting each other while demanding for efficient policies to come out from the catastrophic situation the country is facing right now.

External Intervention?

When a country is destabilised and is in a state of chaos, external interference cannot be ruled out; especially with the crucial geopolitical location of Sri Lanka. Presently, India is giving a supporting hand, hopefully in good faith. But, it is a regional power and will not want a destabilised Sri Lanka posing a threat to its own national security. While China on the other hand has huge investments and is watching India's increased footprints in Sri Lanka with concern. The last thing Sri Lanka expects now is external interference in the country.

Adhering to Responsibility

Sri Lanka faced immediate challenges like the Easter Sunday attack 2019 and Covid 19 pandemic, which were direct causes escalating the current economic crisis. Today, this crisis has become a turning point in the country’s economic, social and political anatomy. At this point the policy shifts are encouraged to address the issues swiftly and citizens and governing authorities need to embrace this as a positive change. In that way as a country Sri Lanka can move forward, away from the catastrophe, towards a better nation fortifying its national security.

Each and every nation faces threats; only their contexts differ. The field of national security safeguards a state against such threats. National security protects not only citizens but also a vast array of subject areas such as economic, social, political, environmental, energy, terrorism and extremism aspects etc. One of the core responsibilities of national security is to identify potential dangers and readying the right response in order to protect its citizens. To achieve national security, government as well as the citizens have a major responsibility. The government has the responsibility to make rational decisions in policy making in order to control the current crisis and the public unrest due to the issues by providing them necessary concessions.

The public needs to act responsibly to stop the eruption of violence and to maintain a peaceful society in dire times like this. Violence will only pamper threats like terrorism, extremism, drug inflow and crimes to grow, creating further chaos in the country. Hence, it is the responsibility of every citizen to act rationally and emerge as a crisis free nation.

* Ms. Gayanga Dias is a Research Assistant at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), the premier think tank on National Security established under the Ministry of Defence. The opinion expressed is her own and not necessarily reflective of the institute.