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President's views on War, Peace, People

The people of this island have been sandwiched between war and peace for nearly three decades. Always, a group of people who claimed to be the aggrieved party ended up waging war and espousing violence against successive governments. Though Governments changed at regular and irregular intervals, those who suffered were the people of this country. When we look back to 1971, we had the first insurrection of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. In 1976, violence erupted in the North.That violence led to the formation of many Tamil militant groups. As violence perpetrated by those groups continued, again in 1988 we experienced the second uprising of the JVP. Governments of the past had no option but to quell these uprising which were violent in nature. However, the modus operandi which quelled such uprising by the then governments is open for debate.

Law and order

Sri Lanka as a country has not declared or waged war as a nation on any exterior force since the nineteenth century. However, armed groups within the country have declared war on Governments forcing retaliatory action by Governments to maintain law and order. In the years gone by, we witnessed many an armed group giving up violence realising that violence was not the method to resolve problems. All Tamil groups except for the LTTE entered the mainstream of democratic politics. The JVP too embraced democracy. Today, there is only one armed Tamil group, the LTTE that continues to wage war. It had continued since 1976 for thirty long years.

The LTTE has rejected solutions proposed by successive Governments. The Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has not given up hope to bring them to the democratic frame. The LTTE treats President Rajapaksa in the same manner it treated his predecessors. One could analyse that Rajapaksa is being treated in a more vicious manner by the Tigers. The President was not even given space to breathe after assuming office. Within three weeks, the LTTE started to explode claymore mines. No other President of the past had experienced such a trauma within three weeks in office. But, the President acted with much caution and restraint to save lives of the people. Viewing patience of the President as a weakness, the LTTE decided to intensify attacks on unarmed security forces personnel. The President as Defence Minister and the Commander-in-Chief had no option but to direct defensive measures to save life and property. Given this position that speaks of LTTE atrocities in the past and present, President Rajapaksa looks to be more keen on restoring peace as a matter of priority.

Last Friday, the President met the Editors of Lake House with its management and the trade unions to discuss certain issues pertaining to general operations of the newspaper establishment.

There he spelt out his views on the current situation. He was much concerned about the sufferings of the people as a result of the war situation created by the LTTE. Very truly he said that violence and war could affect a government but, it could survive. "Those who suffer are the people of this nation", the President lamented. He explained that his Government had not declared war on anybody."The Tamils are people of this country and they are my people", he stressed adding it was the duty of the majority to protect all minorities. Than speaking of war and counter actions, the President looked more relaxed on discussing peace initiatives.

Peace initiatives

He told the gathering that despite provocations by the LTTE, the Government has made every move to ensure that the peace measures were in place. The President spelt out the success notes achieved at the All Party Representative Committee level.

It seemed that he wanted to end the sufferings of the people at the earliest. But, for that, all parties should extend their cooperation, if we are to achieve peace early. The President's focus on the discussion was disturbed when a Presidential aide brought a message to him which said that an exposition had occurred inside a bus at Nittambuwa. The death toll at that time, according to the message, stood at four, with ten critically wounded. The President immediately directed authorities to request the Inspector General of Police to take speedy remedial measures to help the affected.

Early settlement

The views expressed by the President with regard to the plight of the people if violence was permitted to escalate, indicated that he wanted an early settlement to the crisis. He urged all sections to think as one people to overcome the current crisis situation. If the thinking of the President could be turned into reality with the cooperation of all political parties, certainly peace would not be at a distance all the time. We, have now, only to battle one enemy from inside.

That is the LTTE. We must also realise that every Tamil is not a Tiger. Unlike in the past, the present Government has been able to achieve much in its efforts to combat terrorism and violence. Today terrorism looks weakened. Let us weaken it more. Then peace will be at hand. The need of the hour is unity amongst all. The troops are on a journey -'Together for all'.

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