President's address an eye-opener
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's address to the
United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday should be an
eye-opener to the international community. It projected the right
picture, on the latest developments in Sri Lanka.
His forthright speech won the hearts of many as he became the first
world leader to address the UN General Assembly in Tamil as well.
The President reiterated his Government's commitment to a political
solution to the genuine problems of the people in the North.
Undoubtedly, that will serve to allay the fears of certain parties who
seemed to believe that the Government's wave of military successes
during the past couple of years would shelve a political settlement.
President Rajapaksa chose the highest world forum to assure his
Government's commitment towards a peaceful solution and enlightened the
international community that the Government would always respect the
rights of innocent civilians, especially those in the Northern and
On the other hand, the President's speech dealt a crucial blow to
certain elements who try to portray him as a hardliner who does not
compromise and banks completely on a military solution. The firm stand
of the President and his Government has always been clear - a military
solution to terrorism and a negotiated peaceful solution to the genuine
grievances of the people living in the North and the East.
President Rajapaksa firmly believes that this two-way process will
enable all communities to co-exist in peace and harmony. As the
President emphasised at the UN, the Government has declared its policy
of engaging in dialogue and discussion with the democratic leadership of
the Tamil community, a people who have lived in harmony with other Sri
Lankans for centuries.
There are Tamil leaders holding responsible ministerial and other
influential Government positions. But the so-called sole representatives
of the Tamils who indulge in terror acts would not stand any chance and
would be eliminated militarily.
The killing of S.P. Thamil Selvan and the election of the new Chief
Minister of the Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias
Pillayan are two classic examples of the two-track solution to the
conflict. Any terrorist who lays down arms and joins the democratic
mainstream could live as a loyal citizen.
More significantly, the restoration of democracy in the East was
achieved in less than one year of the province being freed from the
clutches of the LTTE terror rule which keeps innocent civilians as human
Global terrorism has not only been a scourge even for the superpowers
but has also become a threat to world peace. Like many other countries,
Sri Lanka too has not been spared of this global menace-exploiting
perceived ethnic grievances, that must and can be addressed through
political means, the vested interests of a well-knit terror group and
the LTTE indulging in blatant and brutal acts of terrorism.
As the President pointed out at the UN, the Government has expressed
its willingness to address the causes of these issues and effectively
implement political and constitutional solutions to meet the aspirations
and rights of all communities.
A legitimate Government could by no means let an illegal and armed
terrorist group such as the LTTE hold a section of our population, a
part of their own Tamil community, as hostages to such terror in the
North and deny these people their democratic right to dissent and free
The international community should pay serious consideration to the
various peace efforts made by successive Governments since the late 80s
under the then President - the late J.R. Jayewardene. Since then, all
successive Governments have endeavoured to resolve the national problem
for over twenty-five years; through Norwegian facilitation and the
international Co-Chairs overseeing a so-called peace process that was
treated with contempt by the terrorists.
The LTTE was not genuine in the peace talks and only used it to
reinforce and regroup to strengthen their terror attacks against the
Security Forces. Whenever the talks were held seeking peace, the LTTE
walked out over the flimsiest of excuses and stepped up terrorism of the
worst kind, targeting innocent civilians.
President Rajapaksa is the only leader who did not fall prey to
Velupillai Prabhakaran's ploys. Having given him a few opportunities to
talk peace, President Rajapaksa decided enough was enough when the LTTE
denied innocent civilians of their basic human need of water in Mavil
Ever since, the LTTE has been at the receiving end as the Security
Forces have shown no mercy whatsoever to the Tigers. Nevertheless, at
the same time, the Government has always given top priority to the
genuine problems faced by innocent civilians. The Government resettled
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fast and even restored democracy in
the Eastern Province after 14 long years.
The provincial administration is now headed by a former LTTE leader
who has abandoned the bullet and joined the democratic mainstream,
realising the true power of the people.
The LTTE has not only taken successive Governments and the
international community for a 'good ride' but has also deceived the
Tamil Diaspora, which funds them.Projecting themselves as the sole
representatives of the Tamil community, the LTTE has been raising
billions of dollars over the past several years from Tamils living
abroad. But at the end, Prabhakaran has offered nothing but only
inflicted misery not only on the relatives of those Tamil people funding
the LTTE but also to all other communities living here.
As President Rajapaksa quite rightly said, the Government would be
ready to talk to the LTTE only when the illegal armed group gives up its
illicit weapons and dismantle its military capability, and return to the
democratic fold.Giving a clear message to the UN, President Rajapaksa
said a democratically elected Government cannot and will not permit any
person or section undermining the territorial integrity of the sovereign
UN Member State of Sri Lanka and the division of its territory.