Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has welcomed the appointment of Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as “Karuna“ as a Member of Parliament, calling it an epoch making event which would go down in the annals of Sri Lankan history, signifying the culmination of the metamorphosis of a member of the LTTE, who was previously committed to the dismemberment of the Sri Lankan State, renouncing violence and embracing democracy.
full text of the Message...
The Minister made this observation while delivering a statement on the floor of the House today (07th October 2008). At the outset, he condemned in the strongest possible terms, the suicide bomb attack by the LTTE yesterday (06 October 2008) in Anuradhapura, which claimed the lives of Major General Janaka Perera, his wife Vajira Perera, Dr. Raja Johnpulle, and his wife Dr. Jenny Johnpulle, as well as several others, and expressed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, who lost their loved ones in this cowardly and brutal act of terrorism.
At the outset, I wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms, the suicide bomb attack by the LTTE yesterday (06 October 2008) in Anuradhapura, which claimed the lives of Major General Janaka Perera, his wife Vajira Perera, Dr. Raja Johnpulle, and his wife Dr. Jenny Johnpulle, as well as several others, and express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, who lost their loved ones in this cowardly and brutal act of terrorism.
Gen. Janaka Perera not only had an illustrious career in the Sri Lanka Army and led his troops from the front in winning many decisive military victories, but also served the motherland with distinction as our High Commissioner to Australia and subsequently as Ambassador to Indonesia.
The loss of Dr. Raja Johnpulle and his wife Dr. Jenny, both leading medical practitioners, who served the people of Anuradhapura with utmost dedication for several decades, will be greatly felt by the people of the area. Dr. Johnpulle was a stalwart of the UNP and served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union under the J.R. Jayewardene administration.
As the Foreign Minister, I wish to pay my humble tribute to these two former envoys of Sri Lanka for their distinguished service to the nation.
Yesterday’s attack makes it crystal clear that the LTTE is firmly and irreversibly entrenched in the path of violence and terrorism. This is not the time for recrimination or finger pointing. No attempt should be made to whitewash the LTTE and throw it a life line, as it faces imminent and certain defeat at the hands of our valiant security forces. All political parties who subscribe to democracy should unite and join hands with the government to once and for all rid Sri Lanka of the scourge of terrorism. This barbaric act of terrorism also demonstrates the need for the people to remain eternally vigilant, since the LTTE is hell bent on wreaking death and destruction on the people of this country.
At the same time, the onus is on the international community to support Sri Lanka, by taking concrete and tangible measures to combat terrorism. While we do appreciate significant steps taken by our friends who have proscribed the LTTE and helped in interdicting the supply of arms and ammunition to the terrorists, much more needs to be done to pursue front organizations of the LTTE, posing off as charities and humanitarian aid organizations, which openly engage in raising funds for the LTTE war chest.
While our security forces are engaged in their present humanitarian operation to free our people from the fascist and dictatorial control of the LTTE terrorists, who are now confined to their last strongholds in parts of the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts, critics of Sri Lanka and sympathizers of the LTTE are attempting to portray a misleading and totally false notion that the government is opting for a military solution to address the problems of the minorities. It is unfortunate that some of our friends too have been influenced by this malicious propaganda.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York last month, made it amply clear to the international community that the Government of Sri Lanka is firmly committed to a political solution. President Rajapaksa said, and I quote “Exploiting perceived ethnic grievances, that must and can be addressed through political means, the vested interests of a well organized terror group, the LTTE indulges in blatant and brutal acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings to seek negotiating leverage, political recognition and legitimacy”. – unquote
The President went on to say, and I quote “Our Government has always been ready to address the causes of these issues and effectively implement political and constitutional solutions to meet the aspirations and rights of all communities. What the Government would not, and could not do is to let an illegal and armed terrorist group, the LTTE, to hold a fraction of our population, a part of the Tamil community, hostage to such terror in the northern part of Sri Lanka and deny those people their democratic rights of dissent and free elections. Through our past actions, we have proved it”. – unquote
Those who criticize the government for terminating the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE, should be reminded that it was precisely the ending of this farcical and non-existent truce, in January this year, that ended the LTTE monopoly of Tamil politics and paved the way for the breakaway faction of the LTTE in the Eastern Province to transform itself into a recognized political party, the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP), which contested two elections and won a popular mandate to govern the region.
We have witnessed today, a momentous and landmark event in the history of our Parliament, namely the entry of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as “Karuna” to the supreme national legislature of Sri Lanka. It is truly an epoch making event, which would go down in the annals of our history, signifying the culmination of the metamorphosis of a member of the LTTE, who was previously committed to the dismemberment of the Sri Lankan State, renouncing violence and embracing democracy.
It is still not too late for the LTTE cadres, remaining on the battle front, of whom more than half have been forcibly conscripted as child soldiers to give up this futile cause of carving out and ethnically cleansed separate State in Sri Lanka, and come forward and lay down their weapons. This would spare them their own precious lives, and indeed minimize the unnecessary bloodshed and hasten the end of the conflict.
The Government of Sri Lanka is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation of civilians in the uncleared areas, as the military operations enter a decisive phase to free these areas from the terrorists. As a responsible government, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration is acutely conscious and aware of its responsibilities towards all citizens of Sri Lanka. This is why, even as there is intensification of the military strikes against the LTTE, there is remarkably minimal collateral civilian casualties. This has not occurred by chance or a fortuitous turn of circumstances, but rather in pursuance of the government directive to the military to adhere strictly to a policy of “zero civilian casualty”, in combating terrorism.
The absence of civilian deaths in the Eastern Province clearing operations last year, except in one isolated incident where the LTTE used civilians as cover to fire at the military, is a manifestation of the success of this strategy, which we are confident, will be replicated in the ongoing operations in the North.
The Government’s sincere objective is to enable the people of the North to enjoy the benefits of the democratic processes and to ensure that political freedom and the fruits of economic and social development that the people of the Eastern Province are now beginning to benefit from, can be experienced and enjoyed by the people in the North of Sri Lanka as well. As a Nation we take modest pride in the fact that we have achieved the difficult but essential task of building democracy in the Eastern Province by empowering the people, and we are confident that it can be done in the North too. And we firmly believe that such reinvigoration of the democratic processes in the North and the East can lead towards a lasting political solution to issues of concern to all citizens of Sri Lanka and for securing fundamental rights and preserving and protecting the multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural fabric of Sri Lankan society.
Hon. Members may also be aware of reports of the National Security Advisor of India, Mr. M.K. Narayanan expressing concern on the situation in Sri Lanka. In this regard, I wish to reiterate Sri Lanka’s policy of maintaining a close dialogue with India, with whom we have a time tested relationship based on mutual goodwill and trust.
The Government attaches the highest importance to the humanitarian needs of displaced persons and civilians in the areas affected by the conflict. This is an obligation and responsibility which the Government has assumed since the inception of the conflict. In order to ensure effective adequate and safe delivery of humanitarian supplies, the Government has been working closely with UN agencies, ICRC as well as a number of local and international NGOs. The Government coordinates this effort at several national as well as ground level mechanisms, overseeing the progress of deliveries and distribution of supplies and assessing needs in affected areas on a round the clock basis.
In recent months, the Government has found it necessary to relocate the hub for humanitarian operations from Kilinochchi to Vavuniya with a view to better supplying the civilians and IDPs from a secure location. The Government has obtained the concurrence of the UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations and a new humanitarian hub has been established in Vavuniya. The Government has also encouraged civilians trapped in Wanni by the LTTE to come to Vavuniya where their safety and welfare could be effectively ensured. Leaflets and flyers were dropped by the Sri Lankan armed forces informing the civilians to move out of the Wanni to Vavuniya and other cleared areas.
It is highly deplorable that the LTTE is cynically exploiting the plight of innocent civilians kept prisoner against their will, for propaganda purposes. The Government welcomes the statement of 23rd September 2008 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference on the humanitarian situation in the North. In particular, the CBC stated, and I quote “It was noted that the LTTE is not permitting the civilians to come out of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. This is a very unfortunate situation. We ask the LTTE not to hinder the innocent civilians from proceeding to safe areas as the war is escalating and the lives of these innocent people are greatly endangered. The innocent civilians must not be used as human shields.”
Mindful of the Government’s paramount responsibility and indeed its sacred obligation to protect the lives of civilians, and that the LTTE will not permit them to leave for the safety of government controlled areas, the military has identified two safe zones in the uncleared areas.
In order to ensure that humanitarian supplies reach civilians and IDPs moving North-East of Kilinochchi, on 2nd October, the Government dispatched a convoy consisting of 51 trucks carrying 650 metric tons of food, which proceeded to the area via A-34 route. This convoy departed Vavuniya on 2nd October, carrying essential food commodities (rice, flour, sugar, dhal and vegetable oil) and entered Vanni through Omanthai exit point. The food cargo was delivered at Kandavalai, Dharmapuran, Puthukkudiyiruppu (PKD) and Mulliyavalai.
The warehouses in these locations are identified in order to ensure that the food is delivered to the places where the people are largely located. In future, there will be a pre-notification of food delivery schedules in order to ensure maximum distribution on the ground. On 3rd October, 29 trucks had been already unloaded. The convoy was accompanied by 7 UN international staff members.
NGO national staff remaining in the Wanni, who are attached to the GAs as volunteers, were deployed to assist in the distribution as worked out by the respective GAs. The convoy turnaround time anticipated, should be as fast as possible and the respective GAs and the WFP officials had been directed to expedite unloading within one night and return the following day.
The Government has planned to send in similar convoys every week carrying 750-1000 metric tons to ensure the existence of a 5000 metric tons buffer stock in uncleared areas of the Wanni. These are in addition to 15-20 lorries sent per day carrying consumer goods and supplies for the general population in the Vanni which includes food items, clothing, animal feed, fertilizer and kerosene. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) will facilitate the expeditious return of the empty trucks through Omanthai to enable a regular and sustainable flow of humanitarian supplies.
To ensure that sufficient commercial trucks are available for the subsequent WFP convoys, the GAs of the respective Districts have been directed to ensure upto 200 lorries are available at Vavuniya so that no delays are sustained for having to wait for the return of the 30 commercial trucks from the first convoy.
It is very important that all those who are concerned about Sri Lanka including the welfare of the Tamil community should perceive the marginalisation of the LTTE in the correct light. LTTE does not represent the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. Therefore, military action against the LTTE should never be perceived as action against our brethren, the Tamil community. We are concerned about them and will work with them to ensure their welfare, security and aspirations since they are our fellow citizens.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
October 07, 2008