Feature Article

‘Biggest betrayal and greatest tamasha’

[TamilNet, Friday, 18 June 2010, 11:53 GMT]
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa who presided over 'Victory Day' celebrations in Colombo on Friday, marking one-year of the victory by the Sri Lankan forces in their war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, described the attempts to bring disrepute to the armed forces by saying that they shot at ‘terrorist leaders who came carrying white flags,’ as biggest betrayal. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lankan armed forces, came with the greatest tamasha of his career so far by saying that his troops went to battle carrying a gun in one hand and the Declaration of Human Rights in the other. The Sri Lankan President also came with a warning aiming at diaspora Tamils: “What those from abroad who seek to strengthen separatism are really doing is, to once again corral the people of the north into camps.”

Mr. Rajapaksa was targeting former Sri Lanka Army Commander General (retd) Sarath Fonseka who ran against him in the presidential election.

The Sri Lankan president was speaking after staging a military parade at the Galle Face Green in Colombo to celebrate the first anniversary of the ‘victory’ over the war against Tamils.

The event was held at Galle Face sea front promenade in Colombo with the participation of the armed forces commanders, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, government ministers and other political leaders.

The victory parade which was scheduled a month ago, on May 18 was postponed due to bad inclement weather and heavy flooding in the Western Province including in capital Colombo.

Highlight of the parade was the participation of disabled soldiers in wheel chairs. Major General Kamal Gunaratne was the Commanding Officer of the entire parade. Sri Lankan Commanders of the Vanni, Northern, and Eastern theaters commanded their respective contingents. The parade displayed over 9,000 troops from the three armed forces, the police, and the Civil Defence Force representing their units involved in the military operations against the Tamils last year.

Opposition MPs including UNP's Sajith Premadasa, John Amaratunga, Rauf Hakeem were among those present.

Extracts from the speech of Mahinda Rajapaksa follow:

“Friends, the strategies to divide our motherland were not limited to the battlefield. This had entered not only our parliament but also factories, schools and even our homes. For thirty long years our people faced this threat in the midst of many obstacles. On some occasions our people even had to face international sanctions.”

“The effort of the terrorists to change our hearts through the pursuit of terror for thirty years did not meet with success. Our children were deprived of their right to learn the history of our nation.”

“The name of King Dutugemunu was demeaned even worse than during the reign of King Elara. Many were the efforts made to make us forget that we are a people who in the past had defeated the most powerful invaders.”

“The determination of the heroic youth of Sri Lanka was blunted by those who spread the belief that going to war against terrorism was a dangerous and unwise task. Films were screened all over the world seeking to humiliate heroes who were disabled in the war. As much as our language, our intellectuals too, were totally ignored. Sons of Sri Lanka were been made to be temporary lodgers in their homeland.”

“We must be proud that our people did not allow the nation to be divided despite all these challenges that lasted thirty years. The mere recruitment of youth in large numbers to the armed forces and strengthening the forces with more arms was not sufficient. It was necessary to consider this land as part of ourselves. It was necessary to instill the confidence that the nation belongs to the people themselves.”

“A government that sells the national assets of the country to foreign racketeers, that degrades our national history, that pays no heed or respect to our national language, traditions and values, is not capable of winning such a struggle. Heroism cannot be imported from abroad- it lives in our history and tradition.”

“The people should have complete faith and confidence that the land that was liberated from terrorism through great sacrifice of life will not be handed over to the forces of separatism again.”

“Friends, a year has passed since that glorious victory. But there were attempts to tarnish that victory in the recent past. You are aware of the attempts at the biggest betrayal of bringing the armed forces to disrepute took place. It is an insult to the heroic troops who shed their blood and gave their lives for the country in this great humanitarian operation to say that they shot at terrorist leaders who came carrying white flags. Our armed forces comprise those who went to battle carrying a gun in one hand, the Declaration of Human Rights in the other, as well as taking food for the liberated people of the North and full of human kindness in their hearts.”

“It is only those who have hatred towards the country and nation can betray such heroes. The beneficiaries of such a great betrayal will only be the separatists.”

“Friends, we are aware that some countries being battered by terrorism have taken strength and courage from these victories won by Sri Lanka. It is time for the countries facing the attacks of terrorism to look back and see where they have gone wrong.”

“It is a grave error of judgment to think that while been opposed to terrorism targeting you, to believe that terrorism that is no threat to you is good.”

“The world has so far trod on this wrong path. Terrorism remains unvanquished because of this incorrect thinking. I must state that the countries that show sympathy towards terrorism and separatism will be the victims of terrorism. This is the lesson of the history.”

“Friends, what those from abroad who seek to strengthen separatism are really doing is, to once again corral the people of the north into camps.”

“Friends, the problems of the Tamil people, Muslims and all others who are born and live in this country cannot be a burden to those outside. It is our own responsibility to solve the problems of our people. It did not take us long to restore normalcy to the East that was affected by terrorism. We shall next resolve the problems faced from terrorism by the people in the North, by the end of this year.”

“Many who went to the North are satisfied with the work done by the government towards the welfare of the displaced people. We have already appointed an Independent Commission to inquire into the causes that led to terrorism, the lessons we can learn from this, and reconciliation. It is our intent to make the people in the North be the most pleased by this victory over terrorism. It is understood by all that we carried out this great humanitarian operation only to eliminate terrorism. We left no room for even one bullet to be fired against ordinary citizens. Therefore, we consider this day as one which unites all our people.”

“We are not ready to accept aid under conditions that will betray the freedom of our land and people. We must be ready to end the era of dependence on aid.”

“Friends, it is not to idly waste our time that we liberated this land. It was not to hand over the country to thieves, crooks, the corrupt and those of the underworld and also not to waste our time in lethargy.”

“Friends, you should be well aware of the challenges that lie ahead. We went to battle under the slogan, 'Api Wenuwen Api'. Similarly, in building the nation and country we must line up under the slogan, 'We for the Country'.”

“We, who have astonished the world through success in our humanitarian operation, must do so in development, too. We must surprise the world through the unthinkable.”

“It is only those of us who are born in this country that have the will to build this country. People of our country have the strength and courage to build this country. What is only needed is the will.”


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