28th August 2017 14:57:28 Hours
The first session of the ongoing Colombo Defence Seminar at the BMICH in Colombo under the theme ‘Violent Extremism’ got underway on Monday (28), chaired by Prof. Amal Jayawardane, Senior Professor at the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) soon after the inauguration was over.
Prof. Amal Jayawardane as the Chair introduced the panelists to the sessions, Senior Colonel Guo Xinning, Deputy Commandant, College of Defence Studies, National Defence University, People’s Liberation Army in Beijing, China, Mr. Phil Gurski, President and CEO, Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd, Canada and Mr Muhammad Abbas Hassan, the visiting faculty member, National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan and Senior Research Associate at Centre for Regional Stability, Pakistan.
Senior Colonel Guo Xinning adding his thoughts to the panel discussion under the assigned sub topic ‘Challenges and Dilemmas; National Perspectives - East Asia’ admitted that ‘Violent Extremism’ is an affront to the purpose and principles of the UN which in turn undermines peace, security, human rights and sustainable development. “No country or region would be immune from its impacts,” he stressed.
“Since entering 21st century, international terrorism and violent extremism have gone rampant, seriously endangering human-being and social order, posing threats to international peace and stability, and thus becoming a common enemy of the international society. Enhanced international cooperation against violent extremism is the appeal of the times and an important way to maintain international peace, security and stability.”
Giving an introduction to the main features in global ‘Violent Extremism’ in a visual presentation, he had this to say;
Extremism is neither a phenomenon that is peculiar to a certain religion or a certain country, nor one that only occurs to contemporary world. Violent extremism is closely associated with terrorism. Some international observers believe that violent extremism certainly runs into the realm of terrorism while extremism does not, the Chinese delegate said.
Bringing extremism and its prevention under five categories such as ‘Repellent in objectives’, ‘Expansionary in development’, ‘Random choice of targets and means’, ‘Correlative in actions’ and ‘Uncompromised in position’, he pointed out that all those ‘violent trends’ will gradually run into the ‘realm of terrorism’ unless they are addressed properly.
Similarly, he touched on the subject of ‘Challenges and obstacles in countering violent extremism’ in which he claimed that absence of a comprehensive strategy at global level would jeopardize countering efforts.
“The international society has made relentless efforts in containing the spread of violent extremism. Countries in the world have implemented individually or jointly actions. In January 2016, UN Secretary General Ki-moon submitted to the General Assembly Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, in which recommendations on preventing violent extremism were proposed. But yet, the fight against violent extremism, to a fairly large extent, is a systematic work in which new phenomenon and new development constantly appear. The efforts or measures adopted by individual nations or joint efforts under the framework of the UN or regional organizations have shown their constraints.”
Senior Colonel Xinning further elaborating on the difficulties in countering this menace said that complicating roots, different definitions and understandings, conflicting interests and double standards are continuing to bother nations.
Dwelling on ‘China and international cooperation against violent extremism’, the Senior Colonel went on to say the following;
“As compared to other regions in the world, there are very few violent extremist groups in East Asia. The notorious groups include Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese doomsday cult, and east Turkestan extremist and separatist groups that have been active in Central Asia. Aum Shinrikyo is a Japanese doomsdaycult founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. At its peak point of development, it has more than 9,000 Japanese members and 40,000 foreign followers. After its founding, Aum Shinrikyo began to engage in a series of crimes and terrorist activities. On 20 March 1995, Aum members released sarin in a coordinated attack on five trains in the Tokyo subway system, killing 13 commuters, seriously injuring 54 and affecting 980 more.”
“China has been most affected victim of terrorism and violent extremism in East Asia. The most notorious groups are east Turkestan separatist forces as represented by East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The forces have been spreading violent extremist doctrines and committing terrorist crimes, seriously undermining the security of China and Central Asian countries.”
“He further appealed to all, if serious to avoid double standards and selectiveness in tackling violence. Secondly, for the prevention, seek both temporary and permanent solutions and thirdly, give full weight to the coordinating and leading roles of the UN and regional organizations. As the fourth option, he highlighted the importance of stability in relevant regions.”
More importantly, the Senior Colonel wanted dialogue and communication to build trust and confidence be enhanced among nations.
“The future will be bright but the road to the future will zigzag”. It will be the same with the process of international efforts against violent extremism. The future of international peace and stability will come after painstaking efforts to overcome various difficulties and obstacles.