|Govt responsible for the welfare of every citizen - President|
|Tuesday, 21 October 2008 09:47|
"Our primary responsibility as a government is to look after all our citizens. I carry out this responsibility to the fullest especially with regard to the people who are temporarily displaced in the North, due to the ongoing military operations to defeat terrorism. There is a wrong impression created in Tamil Nadu that this not been done. This is furthest from the correct position. All these are our citizens and we take every measure to look after and provide for them."
So said President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing Sri Lankan media heads and editors at Temple Trees today (Oct 21).
The President said there are inflated figures of number of IDPs from the current Wanni operations. He was aware that some misconceptions were created by reports in the Tamil newspapers which were under pressure not to report the facts as they were. He added that recently when the World Food Programme (WFP) turned back a convoy of essential supplies to IDPs because of damage to a culvert, within two days the government agencies had ensured that the supplies were delivered. At present there are food supplies for two months in the affected areas where the IDPs are not more than 150,000.
"We continue to supply food even to the LTTE because our responsibility is to the civilians, the farmers and the rural producers of the region who are trapped by the LTTE," he said.
In response to a question President Rajapaksa said that the friendly relations between Sri Lanka and India remain very strong. India had always helped us when necessary and supported us in international fora. He was aware of the political pressures in India at the moment, especially considering the reality of coalition politics and the diverse interests that surface in such situations.
In response to another question President Rajapaksa said that in the telephone conversation with the Indian Prime Minister there was no reference to the stopping of military operations against the terrorism of the LTTE. He [the President] had made it very clear that the operations were against the LTTE.
President Rajapaksa said these were launched when the LTTE attempted to extend its hold on territory at Mavil Aru, Sampur and Muttur. They did not understand the language of negotiation. Therefore, the operations will have to be continued on behalf of the people. He had made this clear to India and the international community.
President Rajapksa added that he did not believe in duplicitous language but was very frank in what he said. The international community was not opposed to the defeat of terrorism and those who sought to break up this country.
Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan MP (Karuna Amman) spoke of his 22-year relationship with the LTTE and recalled his own training in India with other militant groups after 1983. He had met Indian leaders together with Prabhakaran, where they explained that they are not supportive of separation but supported devolution of power to regions. He had discussed this with IPKF too. It was Prabhakaran who broke the understanding with India, resuming war and not stopping at that proceeded to kill Rajiv Gandhi in India.
He said that one could understand the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu been supportive of the Tamil people here, but this should not be support for the LTTE. If they do so they will soon face different problems in Tamil Nadu through the LTTE. He asserted that Prabakaran was not for any political solution.
President Rajapaksa had already begun implementing the 13 Amendment which was proposed by India. The East had been liberated from terror and the need there was for developement. With his experience in the Wanni, he was aware that the people in the North too wanted freedom and development as in the East. In seeking development we should win the hearts and minds of the Sinhalese and other communities. If we ask for police powers now it could lead to suspicion, he said.
Mr. Muralitharan added that the military operations in the Wanni could not be stopped immediately. With his own experience in fighting it was his understanding that India could not bring an immediate stop to the fighting in Cargil in the Kashmir dispute. He said that if the Tamil Nadu government and political parties there wish to support the Tamil people, they could do so by sending aid to them through the Sri Lankan government.
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama explaining the recent developments in Tamil Nadu said the recent activities there did not reflect the policies of New Delhi. He explained that in yesterday's incident at Rameswaram involving persons from the film industry, although the demonstrators had shouted pro LTTE slogans including making a hero of Prabhakaran, the police had intervened to prevent the LTTE flag being raised. This showed that although there were pro LTTE politics in Tamil Nadu, the official position was different. The IDPs in Sri Lanka were been used as a tool to putting pressure on New Delhi. The message of New Delhi has been that it stands for the rights of the Tamil people and against the LTTE.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in response to a question said operations in Wanni were going ahead satisfactorily and in keeping with the overall strategy of the military. (PRIU)
Policy Research & Information
October 21, 2008