Sri Lanka president vows to protect Tamil minority
In the wake of a comprehensive victory against the world’s most powerful terrorist group, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has vowed to protect the Tamil minority saying the war against the LTTE was not a war against Tamils.
“This is our country. This is our mother land. We should live in this country as children of one mother. No differences of race, caste and religion should prevail here ,” he said in an address to parliament on Tuesday. “Over the last thirty years, the LTTE has killed many people Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims – many have been killed .”
Speaking in Tamil, the president said: “The war against the LTTE is not a war against Tamil people.”
In the speech, the first since the LTTE was wiped out, Rajapaksa attempted to allay the fears of the Tamil population that had once lived in the LTTE controlled areas.
The LTTE was mostly comprised of Tamils who have argued the Budhist majority on the Island nation had marginalized the minority Hindu population since independence from Britain.
The LTTE was seeking an independent Tamil nation in the north-east of the country to be called Tamil Eelam. The LTTE controlled a vast chunk of territory and ran its own government complete with civil administration including policing and justice.
Hundreds of Tamil expatriates living in Canada and in England have demonstrated against the Sri Lanka army offensive to wrest full control of the north-east.
“Our aim was to liberate our Tamil people from the clutches of the LTTE Our heroic forces have sacrificed their lives to protect Tamil civilians The victory we have gained by defeating LTTE is the victory of this nation, and the victory of all people living in this country,” said Rajapaksa.
“Protecting the Tamil speaking people of this country is my responsibility. That is my duty,” he said. “All the people of this country should live in safety without fear and suspicion. All should live with equal rights That is my aim,” said the president.
Rajapaksa said it was only through the goodwill of Sri Lanka that some of the aid that went to the LTTE-controlled areas was given safe passage.
Alluding to the dead Tiger’s chief Prabhakaran, he said: “The government saw to it that we did not shirk our responsibilities even to the people who were under the yoke of the LTTE. In brief, the terrorist leader who was killed yesterday, until that time had his meals with the food and drink that the government supplied.”
Rajapaksa noted that when he became president in 2005, the LTTE controlled 15,000 sq.km of territory – roughly one fourth of Sri Lanka and one-third of its coastline.
The LTTE had become a formidable power, he recalled.
“They had acquired ships, aircraft, submarines, and the most advanced weaponry in the world. They controlled city administrations, international frauds and scams, banks, web sites and radio stations, and had also issued currency,” he said. “There is no one yet able to fully measure their assets. The word had so far not seen such a powerful and large organization.”
“What terrorism draws from politics is racism. It builds an economy through drug trafficking. What it draws from technology is the manufacture of explosives. The defeat in Sri Lanka of the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization in the world that is made up of all these deadly qualities can be considered second to none,” said the hawkish president.
Rajapaksa said no school of military thought had even begun to wonder how an organization as sophisticated and large as the LTTE could be dismantled.
“There was no school of war in the word that could face up to the savage military strategies used by the terrorists of the LTTE,” he said.
“The world had not seen military sciences able to face a combination of land mines, claymore mines, small suicide vessels, light aircraft that can evade radar, and suicide killer jackets.”
Rajapaksa also said a military solution to the ethnic divide is not the final solution and he said he would accept help from foreign countries to rebuild the war-torn nation where some 70,000 have died in 30 years of conflict.