External solutions not for Sri Lanka – Defence Secretary
*People reaping the rewards of peace
*SL one of most secure and stable countries
Sri Lanka as a sovereign nation with a rich culture and a proud
heritage does not need external guidance to achieve post conflict
reconciliation. This will be achieved through an organic, local effort
consistent with our culture and our values, and not based on external
ideals imposed by others, Defence and Urban Development Secretary
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.
He was delivering the keynote address at the inaugural National
Conference on Reconciliation at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of
International Relations and Strategic Studies yesterday.
“It is evident that cultural norms differ from country to country.
People living in the United States of America, or Australia, or Canada,
or the United Kingdom, or any other country, have no proper
understanding of the ground situation in Sri Lanka nor do they
understand our current cultural context. It is not for outsiders to
impose their values or their judgments on Sri Lanka.” he said.
“Sri Lankans who suffered from the war for 30 years and who are now
reaping the rewards of peace will find solutions to our national issues.
But outsiders have no idea about the post war situation in Sri Lanka,”
the Defence and Urban Development Secretary said.
“Presently, the country is striving to achieve prosperity on the
foundation of peace resulting from the defeat of terrorism.
Reconciliation is an essential part of this endeavour, and it is one
that will be achieved. As we step forward into a peaceful and prosperous
future, I have every confidence that all of us, irrespective of our
ethnicity, religion, caste, gender or political affiliation, will put
aside our differences and work and live together. We will first and
foremost be Sri Lankans,” he said.
Further he said that Sri Lanka’s experience with terrorism began in
the 1970s. By the time President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed office in
December 2005, terrorist activities in the country had continued for
nearly thirty years. They did huge damage to the country’s
economic,social and cultural development. They killed approximately
9,800 civilians and grievously wounded more than 10,000.
He also noted that the LTTE’s skill at political assassinations was
another defining feature of its campaign of terror. Starting from Jaffna
Mayor Alfred Duraiappa the LTTE killed seven Cabinet Ministers, 37
Parliamentarians and more than 50 office-bearing political figures
during its terror campaign. Its intention was to undermine Sri Lanka’s
democracy. They also assassinated democratic leaders and intellectuals
in the Tamil community in order to style itself the sole representative
of the Tamil people the leaders of other armed groups in the Northern
and Eastern areas.
“The overall impact of the LTTE’s terrorism was devastating. In
addition to the thousands of casualties it caused, the aura of fear and
uncertainty it created had a severe impact on all Sri Lankans. In areas
outside the LTTE’s control, ordinary peoples’ day-to-day lives were
transformed. Parents did not travel together in the same vehicle for
fear of orphaning their children by getting caught in a bomb blast.
Students’ school attendance dropped every time rumours spread about
impending terrorist attacks. Law and order deteriorated as terrorism
fostered crime and corruption. The underworld became more powerful and
its members gained access to arms and ammunition from various armed
groups operating in the country at large. An entire generation grew up
under a veil of fear.” he said.
Today, Sri Lanka is a nation at peace. As a result of the
Humanitarian Operation to defeat terrorism, the primary obstacle to Sri
Lanka’s prospects—the LTTE—has been removed. In looking back at what has
happened over the last two years, the benefits this country has gained
through the dismantling the LTTE are very clear. The senseless killing
has stopped. Irrespective of ethnicity, religion or political
affiliation, all Sri Lankans are reaping the rewards of peace. The
quality of life has improved tremendously. With the constant threat of
terrorism removed, people can live their lives in full and without fear.
Sri Lanka today is not only one of the most secure and stable countries
in Asia but in the entire world,’ said the Defence Secretary.
The economy is also showing marked signs of improvement. With
thousands of acres of arable land once again accessible, and key
irrigation infrastructure being restored, agriculture is poised to
expand significantly in the coming years. With the removal of the
restrictions that had to be enforced due to terrorism, the fishing
industry has already rebounded and registered tremendous growth. With
the withdrawing of adverse travel advisories and the knowledge that the
country is finally at peace, tourist arrivals have increased
significantly. Local and foreign investment is on the rise, and new
commercial activity is starting to take place in previously ignored
areas. Sri Lanka is finally in a position to realize the economic
potential that has been pent up for so many years,’ he said.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G L Peiris, Singapore ICPVTR Head
Prof. Rohan Gunarathna, Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivad Cabraal, MP
Rajiva Wijesinha, Jaffna GA Emelda Sukumar and other distinguished
persons were present at the event.