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Sunday, 28 September 2008





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Government Gazette

LTTE terrorism should be crushed - Wimal Weerawansa


The National Freedom Front (NFF) accused Western countries for ‘secretly’ trying to halt military offensives in Killinochchi to ‘save’ the LTTE from defeat.

The NFF Chairman Wimal Weerawansa, in an interview with the Sunday Observer, said the conditions put by the European Union to grant the GSP+ were unreasonable as the country was waging a war with the world’s most ruthless terrorist organisation. “They wanted the government to dance to their tune and when they failed to achieve their motives, now they are trying to punish us through the GSP+”, he said.

The party, formed with 12 breakaway JVP Parliamentarians, invited patriotic Sri Lankans to rally around the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government to defeat the LTTE as well as the foreign forces which wanted to interfere in the country’s domestic problems. “As patriotics we will not allow any foreign element to interfere in the Government’s decision to crush LTTE terrorism”, Weerawansa said.

Excerpts of the interview:

* The NFF will fully support the Government to destroy the LTTE.

* The co-chairs are now trying to interfere to halt the military offensives to save the LTTE.

* The co-chairs are no more valid as there is no CFA.

* The NFF discussed the plight of civilians under the grips of the LTTE with diplomats.

* The foreign policy is not adequate to make more friends.

* The Western countries prefer the existence of LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka.

* The UNP and JVP are trying to gain petty political mileage when the country is facing international pressure.

* If counted, the number of countries that the Foreign Minister has visited, all the countries should be our friends.

* The State expenditure for FM’s foreign trips has not brought desired results.

* NFF is the third force in the country.

* The JVP leadership is not matured enough to do present politics.

* No room for young politicians to bloom within the JVP.

* More JVPers will join the NFF.

Q:The NFF was formed to free the country from international pressure. Do you think the NFF will be able to do so?

A: We are a patriotic political party. Our main responsibility is to contribute towards the elimination of LTTE terrorism. We have also a responsibility to work towards good governance and social development. The NFF will support the Government in any activity to destroy terrorism, but will not help their decisions which affect the people of this country. And that does not mean we are going to align with the Opposition. We will strongly oppose international pressure which affects the country’s sovereignty. Still we are not fully independent from foreign forces.

Q:The co-chairs met to discuss the present situation in the country. How do you see their recent meeting?

A: It is questionable that why the co-chairs, who did not meet for sometime, had a sudden meeting to discuss the issues in Sri Lanka. I think they are influenced by the pro-LTTE groups as the LTTE is facing its worst ever defeat in its history. These people thought the LTTE will retain its stronghold in Wanni though they lost the Eastern Province. What we feel is that the co-chairs are now trying to interfere to halt the military offensives so as to save the LTTE.

The other factor is these co-chairs are not valid to the present context where the Ceasefire Agreement is no more. The concept of co-chairs emerged after signing the CFA to assist us to carry out the peace process forward. These countries do not give us financial support other than Japan. The NFF sees this new move by the co- chairs as a means of trying to make a come back to save the LTTE. We firmly believe that the Government should not leave a space for them to interfere now and should not respond to their statements.

Q:You said that though the NFF is a patriotic political party, it serves all the communities. How do you think the NFF can help to free the civilians forcibly kept by the LTTE as human shields?

A: It is not a new tactic by the LTTE. The same tactic was used in Vakarai and in all other areas where people were liberated by our Security Forces. But the security forces captured the LTTE controlled areas while saving the lives of thousands of Tamils. So, in Wanni also they are trying to use civilians as human shields and the NFF has already voiced itself against this and we are collecting the necessary essential food items etc. throughout the country for the benefit of the IDPs coming from those areas. NFF has taken steps to enlighten the diplomats and already raised the issue with the British High Commissioner. We are also educating Tamils to voice themselves against the LTTE for using Tamils as human shields.

Q:You are talking about making the international community aware of the present situation in Wanni. Are you satisfied with the propaganda carried out by the Government to meet this task?

A: ‘Api Venuwen Api’ (we are for us) is not adequate to face these international challenges. Other countries should be with us to support us in crucial times or we should make the other countries voice for us. We do not see that this is taking place under the present foreign policy. We have not received a single statement supporting us from our international friends. That is not their fault, but it is due to our failure to tap their support yet.

The EU is trying give us the GSP+, if they are allowed to have an investigation on three issues including torture and children’s rights. This is the time that we need some international friends to voice for us and tell the EU that these issues are not applicable to grant the GSP + facility. If Sri Lanka use child labour in projects to boost the economy, the EU can reject us for the GSP+. But we are fighting with the world’s ruthless terrorists. So it is not fair for the EU to impose conditions for Sri Lanka to grant GSP+. If we cannot get the support of some friendly countries to support us to get the GSP +, it is the failure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At this moment we need true international friends to face this nature of issue. But according to the present foreign policy, we want every country to remain with us as friends. This policy is an outdated foreign policy which is ineffective to address the present issues.

These countries do not want us to end terrorism as they can control us. The only way to keep Sri Lanka under their wings is when the LTTE is in existence. But, we should appreciate that this government has taken a very bold decision to crush terrorism and no one will be allowed to interfere in this decision. So they try to control us using several tactics like meeting with co-chairs and through the GSP+. But what we have to say is that we are not ready to take an inch backward in our battle to destroy the LTTE. We may die of hunger but as patriotics we will not allow any foreign element to interfere in the Government’s decision to crush LTTE terrorism.

Q:Do you think that we are patriotic enough and united to face these external forces?

A: No, We have a very pathetic situation with regard to patriotism. Especially some politicians are waiting to gain petty political mileage and are enjoying when these issues arise against the country. The JVP justifies international pressure by saying that the international community tries to so influence due to failures of the Government. The UNP too has a similar notion that the Government violates the human rights and that has led the Western countries to pressurise the Government. Everyone knows that the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is trying to gain his political agenda when the international community pressurises the Government. But it is sad to see that the JVP is too going in a similar path with the UNP now.

Q:The Government always reiterated that the country does not need international community to be a partner to solve domestic problems. Don’t you think that this policy has led to losing many foreign friends?

A: From the beginning the EU wanted us to end the war through negotiations. If we accepted the proposal by the EU, it means that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had rejected the wish of the majority of the people of this country who want to crush terrorism. People have endorsed it at all the elections - East, North Central and Sabaragamuwe Provincial Council elections. The Government did not listen to the EU. Therefore, the GSP+ is the punishment that they are giving us now. These countries want the Government to dance to their tune, but as the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government is not heeding any of their rulings, they want to punish us by imposing certain conditions.

Unpatriotic political parties in the Opposition can be happy with these conditions imposed by the EU. What we need at this juncture is that we should be united despite our political agendas. If somebody thinks that this is to protect Mahinda Rajapaksa, it is not so, but it is to save the country. The main problem is we are not successful in implementing our foreign policies to identify Sri Lanka’s true foreign friends. For example, Venezuela while opposing the US, is having close relationships with Russia and China. Otherwise Venezuela cannot remain strong.

Our opinion is that when the Government is reacting differently to the Western world, we should have close relationships with other countries. This has not happened so far.

Q:But we have a Foreign Affairs Minister who kept a record as the foreign Minister who has the highest number of foreign visits. So you mean to say all his trips are just foreign visits which failed to strengthen bi-lateral relationships with those countries?

A: Yes, if we count the number of countries that the Foreign Minister has visited so far, the whole world should be with us. I think he is on the sky more than the ground. Even, we the MPs see him rarely here. It is sad to note the amount he has spent for these foreign trips and the results gained through the visits. There is a huge gap. We have failed here as we have not addressed our foreign matters properly and adequately.

Q:The Government says that the country has its old foreign friends, but you have claimed that the Government has failed to keep the friendship alive. So, are we internationally isolated or not at this moment?

A: When you talk about Western countries - the US, UK and the EU - we are facing an isolation. But we are not alone as we have the support of the other countries. Fortunately, India is still with us. If we are sidelined by the Western countries the Government should have plans to be more friendly with the rest of the world. The Government has taken certain steps like strengthening bi-lateral relationships with Iran. But it is not enough and the Foreign Minister should travel to countries which are willing to support us, rather than going abroad on adhoc plans. .

Q:But ordinary people suffer due to high prices. Are you planning to pressurise the Government to give some relief for the people?

A: I agree people are suffering. Like the Security Forces, the ordinary masses have also sacrificed their lives by tolerating the high prices as the Government is going ahead with military offensives successfully. People suffer a lot. That is why the Government and all the politicians have a greater responsibility not to stop the war against the LTTE.

Q:Once you had complained about the non-transparency and dictatorship in the JVP leadership. Will the 12 of you re-join the JVP if there is a change in the party hierarchy?

A: The change in the JVP leadership does not mean that there should be another instead of Somawansa Amerasinghe. The JVP leadership is its political Bureau. This leadership of the JVP is good until the party grows from its tender years to teens. But after it reaches its youth, the party does not have a brain to match its body. It did not develop to that stage. Therefore, now there is just a body and it is suffering from many ailments. The present leadership is not capable enough to handle its own internal affairs. If there is a change, the entire Political Bureau should be changed to have a new leadership.

Q:Are there JVPers who are capable of catering to the new leadership?

A: I believe that there will be one or two JVPers who can lead the party. But even under that new leadership we - the 12 MPs of the NFF- will not cross over to the JVP. That chapter is over. What we say is that we can work together as two separate political parties in national issues.

Q:Does that mean that Wimal Weerawansa will never join the JVP?

A: Yes, never. I can swear that I will not join the JVP ever again. But under a new leadership as I told you earlier, I am ready to work jointly with the new JVP leadership while being with the NFF.

Q:Which one is the third force in the country, is it the JVP or the NFF?

A: The JVP is no more the third force in the country as the NFF has already reached that point. The JVP has shown its position among the people during the last election. Now the JVP does not have 80 percent of votes.

Q:Where is the NFF now. Is it in the Government camp or alone?

A: Those who are aligned with the UNP claim that the NFF is with the Government. As the saying goes when a ship is sailing and meets a rock, the ship takes a different turn not to protect the rock but to save the ship. Likewise, when the country faces challenges we are with the Government to protect the country from international forces. Here, somebody can tell that we are trying to save President Rajapaksa. No, our intention to be with the Government is to protect the country.

We are a patriotic political party and we would take the side of anyone - whether it is the present government or any other force, and are ready to work together with them if they are willing to defeat the LTTE. The country is facing several problems, but the main issue is solving the national problem by destroying the LTTE. So, we have to prioritise the needs considering the national interest. The Government is successfully defeating the LTTE and the NFF gives our fullest support to the Government to resolve the national problem.

Q:If the JVP is to start from the beginning what do you think that the JVP should do?

A: Firstly, the JVP should realise that they do not have a matured mentality to face the present political context. They still practice the outdated political theories. The JVP leadership was capable of bringing up the party which was at zero level.

But, the present leadership is inefficient to lead it towards a victory. The JVP leadership can not identify the present socio-economic issues and international issues and the ways and means to address those issues correctly. If the JVP wants to rise again they should give the opportunity for the young who are capable to lead the party. The same political bureau remains for years and still they have not filled the vacancies created after we formed the NFF. This is purely because the present leadership is afraid of talented JVPers.

Q:Some claim that the NFF is trying to grab more JVPers? How many JVPers are to join your party?

A: Why should I drag them to the NFF. We don’t do that, but when they realise the reality they come to us. What I can say is that more JVPers would join the NFF soon.


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