The best tribute we can pay to the war heroes is to safeguard the undivided nation they achieved with great sacrifices, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“The freedom has been brought to the country through the sacrifice of thousands of lives of war heroes. Therefore, we should protect that freedom, without betraying it,” he said.
The President was addressing the gathering of the Victory Day celebrations held in Matara this morning (May 18)
“It is easier to take decisions when peace and understanding between the communities increase. Solution without peace is temporary. As such some people are trying to wrest this peace,” he said. “If you respect those war heroes, you must protect the peace won by them with the sacrifice of thousands of lives.”
“Remember, they departed to save an undivided nation. They bid farewell to their lives to build a nation where people will live together. Let us determine to live in our Motherland without betraying the freedom won by our war heroes with sacrifices of their eyes, heads, flesh and blood as well as their lives,” President said.
Full text of the speech:
This country was united as a free country on a day like today (May 18), in 2009.
Every inch of our country and the two thirds of the coastal line was regained for our mother Lanka on a day like today, exactly five years ago.
Peace, stability, real democracy and every freedom were offered to Sri Lankan people on a day like this.
You can see the war heroes who sacrificed their limbs and eyes to gain this victory, are walking in this parade. The officers and other ranks, regiments who joined the humanitarian operation, are also walking along in this parade with their regimental flags.
Today we exhibit you the various kinds of weapons used to defeat the ruthless terrorist.
The troops that forged ahead in the battle front, defeating the enemy are walking in this parade. Are not we feel a pride when we witness them?
We achieved this victory through the contribution of Tri Forces, Police, Civil Defence Force, Intelligence Services, Buddhist monks who went to camp by camp, chanting pirith to bless soldiers, the Catholic priests, Muslim and Hindu priests and civilians who offered prayers and blessings at their places of worship.
You know that I made your expectations a reality by giving the leadership with great attention and great determination, without any uncertainty, without being conquest by anyone, as the leader of this country as well as the leader of the Armed Forces, according to the mandate people gave me in November 2005, to bring peace to this country, defeating terrorism which engulfed this country for decades.
I believe the victories which Government gained in Presidential Elections, Parliamentary Elections and Provincial Council Elections are the mandates offered us, again and again by the people for executing our duties properly. I categorically state that I will face every challenge against our country in future as I did in the past and as I am doing at present, honouring the people’s confidence.
You are aware that I recognize the issues of the people and find answers to them without any fear. The biggest problem was the terrorism which has been lasting for thirty years. We solved it in a short period of four years. Then the development which has been missing, is now being carried out continuously by us with a long lasting vision.
We didn’t wait until the terrorism to end to build the country. We started developing the East while starting the humanitarian operation to liberate the North. We stared the development in the South. Therefore, the war heroes, after liberating the North came to their villages through the areas with developed infrastructure.
We like to ask the persons who born in the South and joined the armed forces and police at that time whether the same Matara they witness today.
We have build highways, ports, airports, fisheries harbours. We spent millions of rupees to develop infrastructure facilities. We have build new hospitals and improved facilities at most of the existing hospitals. We have provided drinking water. We have established Mahindodaya technology and computer laboratories in 1000 schools. We have taken steps to teach science, mathematics and computer science as well as English and Tamil to school students. We have recruited thousands to the public service. We took steps to make the country self-sufficient in rice. We have improved the production of maize and several other food crops and developed flower, cinnamon, tea and other agricultural crops..
This country that has been freed, belongs to you and your children. We have solved the historical problems faced by the country.
Furthermore, the efforts made by us to restore democracy and restore freedom cannot be underestimated. We have succeeded in holding the elections for the Northern Provincial Council and restore democratic rights of the people.
We have liberated the country without imposing media censorship and we even allowed the media to visit the front during the conflict. That freedom has been further strengthened today. If there is any protest against the government anywhere in the country, today the people can witness live without any restriction. When talking about democracy, it should be reminded that one should consider the situation before the elimination of terrorism too.
Today, there is confidence among the people in the world about our Motherland. At that time only 400,000 tourists arrived annually. Now the tourists arrival has gone up to 1.7 million per year. In addition, another 2 million Sri Lankans travel abroad and return to the country annually. Then, the terrorist were to decide if an international game of sports could be held or not by issuing death warnings. We have organized the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting with the participation of 49 countries last year. Recently we hosted the World Conference on Youth. Now Sri l
Lanka has become a favorite venue for international conferences. The world now recognizes that we have not only the peace but also the strength to host such international gatherings. Similar to raising our national flag, we have also raised our country high.
We do not have anything to hide. Hence, we opened our doors to the world. But some people with vested interests try to use this openness for other purposes. Some people want to pay homage to the burial place of the most ruthless terrorist who killed thousands of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims kept the people as hostages. Nobody wanted to pay respect to thousands of people who were killed under the orders of this terrorist leader.
Nobody wants to remember and pay homage to those who were killed by the LTTE such as Alfred Durayappa, Amirthalingam, Neelan Thiruchelvam, Ravi Raj, Kadirgamar, Sam Thambimuttu and P. Dharmalingam, father of TNA MP, Dharmalingam Siddharthan. They all are victims of terrorism. Those who value peace should pay homage to such people who sacrificed their lives.
Currently, media highlights the the kidnapping of Nigerian children by the terrorists. For 30 years, the terrorists abducted many children in Sri Lanka. Over 600 abducted children were rescued by the armed forces during the final stages of the battle. We have handed them over to their parents so that they could go back to school. We took steps to provide them equal facilities as other children of the country. Some countries are blind and deaf to these. They are opposed to our victory day celebrations.
This is not a victory of war, but a victory of peace. No mercenaries came to fight and sacrifice their lives for peace. It was our armed forces that liberated hundreds of thousands of people kept by the terrorists as hostages. To celebrate this great victory is a duty of a grateful nation that gives utmost consideration to human values. Hence, irrespective of objections from anyone, irrespective of who participates or not, we should celebrate this great victory forever.
Today there are recruits to the armed forces from the North. Those who involved in acts of terrorism and killed people and those who left the country due to the treats from the LTTE have joined the diaspora today and their attempts to revive terrorism is the biggest crime against Tamil people in this country. This negligible number of persons who receive dollars are doing a great harm to the country. We have established a Parliamentary Select Committee has been appointed for a dialogue and that is the best forum for discussions on a national issue. It is the duty off all political parties to join this Committee and discuss this.
The Tamil people came to the South for protection, then. Even today most of them live in the South. 58 percent of the Tamil people live outside North.
Our communities want to join. The fear and mistrust lasting 30 years must dispel. We are aware that every year the number of persons visiting North from South increases. This is a new country, which is being built.
It is easier to take decisions when peace and understanding between the communities increase. Solution without peace is temporary. As such some people are trying to wrest this peace.
If you respect those war heroes, you must protect the peace won by them with the sacrifice of thousands of lives.
Remember, they departed to save an undivided nation. They bid farewell to their lives to build a nation where people will live together. Let us determine to live in our Motherland without betraying the freedom won by our war heroes with sacrifices of their eyes, heads, flesh and blood as well as their lives.
Wish you all a bright future!