Peace brigades proposed to defeat saboteurs
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 20 November 2002, 19:32 GMT]
A senior minister in the United National Front government said Tuesday that peace brigades should be formed to defeat some elements that are actively engaged in sabotaging the peace initiatives commenced in 1994 and 2001.
"Unity developed through sports among various communities will give a tremendous boost to ending the ethnic conflict," said Minister for Lands, Mr.Rajitha Senaratne, at the conclusion of the four-day North-South Peace Sports Festival held at Kalutara Tuesday evening. The planners said that the next Peace Sports Festival would be held in Jaffna in 2003.
The festival was the brainchild of Minister Senaratne, who is a Member of Parliament from the Kandy district. More than one thousand and four hundred sportspersons from Kalutara and eight districts of the northeastern province participated. The Kalutara district emerged as champions and the Jaffna district were runners up. The third place went to the Ampara district in the northeastern province.
"The Peace Sports Festival held in Kalutara has not only been identified as a sports event but also considered as a beacon to the success of the peace," said Minister Senaratne, "Sports unites the nation regardless of caste, creed, race and any other differences. Peace has become an imperative for the development of the country. I appeal to the sportsmen and women of the northeast province to carry the message of peace of the southerners to their areas."
Speaking at the event, Power and Energy Minister Mr.Karu Jayasuriya said," It is heartening to note the confidence building up among all the communities in the country since the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the UNF government and the LTTE. Leaders of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims fought for the independence of the country together as one family. During the era of gaining independence, Sri Lanka was second to Japan in terms of economic stability. However the twenty two year old war has made the once flourishing country as one of the poorest nations in the South and Southeast Asia."
Minister of Sports Mr. Johnston Fernando said at the festival that the Prime Minister had already instructed him to implement a special sports development programme to develop the skills of the northeast sportsmen and women who “have proved beyond doubt that they possess national-level talents.” Measures would be taken to provide all facilities including playgrounds, training centres and other assistance needed at district level to promote sports, the Minister said. “However, for
the successful implementation of this scheme we must first ensure permanent peace in the country.”