|Statement of Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Parliament on 28 November 2008|
|Friday, 28 November 2008 12:16|
On behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, I wish to make this Statement on the multiple terrorist attacks in Mumbai on 26 November 2008.
As Hon. Members would be aware, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has vehemently condemned this terrorist outrage. The President in his Statement has drawn attention to "the urgent need for concerted action by all countries to eradicate terrorism, wherever it is, and whoever the leaders and manipulators of such violence may be."
In my own message to my Indian counterpart, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, yesterday, I have expressed Sri Lanka's willingness to stand "shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against this menace, with resolve, which poses a clear danger to international peace and security."
In this moment of great trial, the thoughts of the people of Sri Lanka are with the families who have lost their loved ones in this terrible tragedy and we hope and pray for the speedy recovery of all the innocent civilians who have been injured. We are confident that the Indian security forces will be able to secure the safe and early release of all hostages being held by the terrorists.
The fact that the terrorist had deliberately chosen "soft" targets such as hotels, hospital, a commuter railway station and other public locations, proves beyond and iota of doubt, their evil and criminal intent in causing maximum civilian casualties and also to instil fear and panic in ordinary people with a view to disrupting normal life in this vibrant and bustling commercial and financial nerve centre of India.
The methodology and well-coordinated precision of these savage attacks are reminiscent of the terror tactics employed by the LTTE against innocent civilians and vital infrastructure in Sri Lanka. I have no doubt in my mind that terrorist groups the world over, study and mimic the modus operandi of each other to cause maximum death and destruction.
We in Sri Lanka are all too familiar with the stark reality of the cruel hand of LTTE terrorism which has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians over the last 25 years, as we have seen many times over in our country.
Leaders around the world have closed ranks to denounce this terrorist outrage with one voice, which has been described as "India's 9/11". We are greatly encouraged by US President-elect, Barack Obama's message to the Indian Government, wherein he says and I quote "These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism." Unquote.
President–elect Obama has revealed his firm commitment and determination as well as that of the incoming US Administration in the global struggle against terrorism, when he went on to say and I quote "The United States must continue to strengthen our partnerships with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks." Unquote. Thus, we can rest assured of continued US leadership in the fight against this universal menace which has become a common threat to humanity.
It is in this context that we in Sri Lanka are confident that Velupillai Prabhakaran's overtures to India contained in his latest message yesterday will not find accommodation. After all, was it not the LTTE that brutally assassinated one of India's greatest sons and an outstanding Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May 1991 in Sriperumpudur in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu? Rajiv Gandhi had to pay the supreme sacrifice for his unshakable stand on supporting Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity and his outright rejection of the LTTE's separatist and fascist agenda.
It is all the more reason that the New Delhi High Court in a recent ruling had upheld the Central Indian Government's decision on 14 May 2008 to ban the LTTE. The Court had in its ruling agreed with the Centre's submission that "The LTTE continues to use Tamil Nadu as the base for carrying out smuggling essential items like petrol and diesel, besides drugs, to Sri Lanka." The Centre had also argued that "The Government of India is apprehensive that unless the ban of the LTTE continues, acts of aggression on Indian soil are likely to occur."
However, all is not lost for the LTTE. Even at this late stage, I reiterate President Mahinda Rajapaksa's call for Prabhakaran to lay down arms, renounce terrorism and enter the democratic path, in order to be part of the political process that is already underway, to evolve a sustainable solution that will bring lasting peace and stability to our nation.