Call to tackle terrorism of all sizes and forms

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 22 Feb 2003

SOUTH American countries, still counting the high social cost of fighting terrorists funded by drug traffickers for decades, have called on NAM to condemn terrorism of all “sizes and forms.” 

With 41% of its population living in poverty and 17% unemployed, Colombia has used not only internal resources but also foreign aid to fight terrorists claimed to be fighting for social justice but armed by lucrative drug-related networks. 

Planting car bombs, kidnapping well-known personalities, including election candidates, disrupting utility supplies and turning negotiation venues into killing fields were among the terrorist acts committed in the country. 

Colombian Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs Haime Giron Duarte said the problem had plagued the country for 40 years and strained resources for social and economic development while foreign investors were scared away. 

“Terrorism should not be narrowly associated with only certain groups or regions. The definition of terrorism has raised debates as some suggested distinctions to be made between real terrorists and so-called national liberation movements. 

“The debate is still on going for the international community although everyone agrees that there is no such thing as good or bad terrorism. 

“Apart from condemning terrorism, we should also set up an international mechanism to ensure no terrorist can seek safe haven in another country,” Giron, who participated in the NAM working group on terrorism, said in an interview. 

Giron said Colombia would propose that NAM adopt an international instrument to combat terrorism, including ex-change of intelligence. 

Another South American country, Peru, also had its fair share of terrorism – financed by drug-traffickers who used social unrest to destabilise the government. 

Peruvian Foreign Ministry Multilateral Affairs undersecretary Dr Jose Luis Perez Sanchez-Cerro said some 30,000 lives were lost before the situation was brought under control in the late 1990s. 

“We are now looking into reducing the military budget to channel funds to social development in education and healthcare, eradicating poverty and creating jobs.  

“South American countries have vast resources, ranging from oil, minerals, water to fisheries, but an estimated 50% of the people in the region are living in poverty. The unemployement rate in Peru is 18%. 

“We need more foreign investments,” he said in an interview.  

He added that Peru would have a bilateral meeting with Malaysia after the NAM summit to enhance commercial relations.  

Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Hamidon Ali, who chaired the NAM terrorism working group, said the discussion was centred on the macro level rather than subdividing into regional or micro problems faced by member countries.  

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