Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that peace exists because the President had the political will, the determination and the courage to see the military campaign through to the very end.
“Peace exists because the Armed Forces carried out an extremely difficult operation through immense hardship for three and a half years to defeat the terrorists. During this time, more than 6,000 brave soldiers gave up their lives and 25,000 more suffered serious injury to win our freedom from the LTTE’s terror”, he further said.
He made these observations addressing the "Momentum Event" yesterday (17) in Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.
Following is the text of the speech :
“The question we must all ask ourselves at this point in time is whether we are willing to risk the future of Sri Lanka by weakening our resolve to protect what we have legitimately achieved. Can we trust those whose past actions were dictated by external pressures to do what is best for Sri Lanka in the future?
The most critical thing for Sri Lanka today is the maintenance of stability. Ensuring that our present momentum does not falter requires continuity above everything else. All of the problems caused by three decades of terrorism and lax governance of past Governments cannot be solved in just five years. The sheer range of issues is far too great to have been dealt with comprehensively in such a short span of time. In fact, in consideration of how vast these challenges were, the progress that has been achieved by the incumbent Government since the end of the war is truly remarkable.
Between 2006 and 2009, the Government’s focus was on ending terrorism and bringing peace to Sri Lanka. From 2009 to date, its focus has been on maintaining that peace, stability, and security whilst creating an environment conducive to sustained economic growth. As we go forward, I am absolutely certain that all the remaining issues we face as a nation, including issues of national reconciliation and good governance will be systematically addressed and solved by the Government. This will contribute to the creation of a resurgent Sri Lanka that can stand proudly and independently as a peaceful, stable, fast growing, sovereign state in the community of nations. If this is to be the case, we must not stray from the transformative path we have been on for the last several years. Instead, we must continue on the journey we have been on together. It is both our duty and our privilege to sustain our present momentum as a nation and achieve all that we can for Sri Lanka and all Sri Lankans.
Because of this misreading of the nature of the LTTE threat either through innocence or wilful ignorance, and also as a result of certain geopolitical agendas, some influential foreign governments did not quite support the Government’s decision in 2006 to pursue a military solution to the terrorist conflict. Although several friendly countries had banned the LTTE, not all of its activities in the international arena were stopped. For example, the LTTE continued raising funds through various means and very successfully procured its weapons from overseas. Members of LTTE linked groups also built significant pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to stop the Humanitarian Operation. They intensively lobbied foreign governments, organised large public protests, and used their influence with the international media to make various allegations against the Sri Lankan military.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not cave in to this pressure and the Humanitarian Operation continued until terrorism was defeated in Sri Lanka. However, in the years after this defeat, these same LTTE linked elements have redoubled their efforts in the global arena. Their new strategy is to claim to be human rights activists who are working to bring the Sri Lankan Government and it’s military to justice for alleged crimes and human rights violations during the Humanitarian Operation.”
It is largely because of these efforts that despite the end of the conflict five years ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council continues to keep Sri Lanka high on its agenda. An investigation whose justification and legitimacy has been categorically rejected by the Government is now being carried out through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This is in spite of all the efforts made by the Government through official publications to demonstrate that the Humanitarian Operation was conducted in accordance with international norms. This is despite conclusive evidence put forward to show that mass killings did not take place. For example, a comprehensive professional census was carried out by the Department of Census and Statistics, using Tamil speaking enumerators from the North and East, in 2011. This Census has conclusively proven that the total number of lives lost during the Humanitarian Operation, including those of LTTE cadres, is a fraction of numbers that are being alleged abroad. The majority of the deaths, in fact, were of LTTE cadres who died during the fighting.
Despite all of this evidence to the contrary, the notion that the military acted against civilian interests is being given a lot of support at multilateral forums because of the work of certain LTTE influenced individuals and organisations. There is also credible evidence that a concerted campaign has been undertaken by the LTTE and its sympathisers to fabricate evidence against Sri Lanka for use in the international investigation. Blank complaint forms signed by resettled civilians have been found in the possession of an ex LTTE cadre working in concert with a prominent ethnocentric political party. It is overwhelmingly likely that these forms were to be submitted to the international investigation after being filled out by third parties. Many more such blank signed forms no doubt exist. One can only assume what accusations will be found on these pre-signed blank forms once they are filled in and submitted to the international investigation. Yet, unfortunately, this is what is being claimed as credible evidence by these agencies. It is particularly disturbing to note that a Spokesperson of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has even indicated that evidence submitted after the deadline would not necessarily be rejected. This shows the extent to which basic principles of due process and fair play have been ignored in the rush to have an international investigation into Sri Lanka.
Notwithstanding these issues and the falsity of the allegations being made, and despite the sad irony of LTTE cadres and operatives being allowed to make accusations against the military, the Geneva process could have serious repercussions. Sri Lanka’s sovereignty could be gravely affected unless the Government remains strong and stable. It is only if the Government remains strong that it will be able to take the decisions necessary to secure the best interests of the country. Sri Lanka must strongly and consistently maintain its principled rejection of the international investigation. We must also continue to actively muster the support of friendly nations in the international community. In this regard, it is important to bear in mind that the pressure mounted against Sri Lanka comes only from certain parts of the world. It is by no means reflective of world opinion. As long as the Government remains strong and stable, actions detrimental to Sri Lanka cannot be easily carried out through international processes. Above all, the Government must remain able to reject demands from various quarters that are inimical to the national interest. This is a serious issue that all Sri Lankans must take note of and be vigilant about.
Peace exists in Sri Lanka today as a result of the Humanitarian Operation. Peace exists because His Excellency the President had the political will, the determination and the courage to see the military campaign through to the very end.
Peace exists because the Armed Forces carried out an extremely difficult operation through immense hardship for three and a half years to defeat the terrorists. During this time, more than 6,000 brave soldiers gave up their lives and 25,000 more suffered serious injury to win our freedom from the LTTE’s terror. Our peace, stability and security—our very future, in fact—was won at immense cost. We must never forget that, and we must never allow these sacrifices to be demeaned or diminished because of international pressure or because of political convenience.