Mahinda in New York - Condoles the demise of Wijetunga and swear to liberate the north
New York, 22 September, (Asiantribune.com): President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in New York yesterday to attend the 63rd session of the United Nation General Assembly. When he arrived at the John F Kennedy Airport, New York in a scheduled flight, he was met on arrival at the airport by representatives of United Nations Protocol Division. Later at the Hotel he was received by Rohitha Bogollagama, Sri Lanka’sForeign Minister, Jaliya Wickramasuriya - Sri Lankan Ambassador in Washington, H.M. G. S. Palihakkara - Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka’s UN Mission and the staff of the New York Mission. At the entrance to the hotel he was garlanded by four Sri Lankan children from New York.
After arriving in New York, earlier yesterday, President made a statement on hearing the demise of D. B. Wijetunga, the third executive president of Sri Lanka.
Mahinda Rajapakse said, "I m deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of Mr. D. B. Wijetunga."
He added "Entering politics in the pre-independence period, Wijetunga rose from small beginnings to hold the highest offices in the country."
President went on to say, "He will be best remembered for his firm attitude against terrorism, that had been appeased by immediately precedent state policy, and the need for it to be eliminated; and, for the feeling of freedom he brought to Sri Lankan society after many years of authoritarian rule, the violence of an armed insurgency, the government’s reaction to it, and restoring faith in democracy among the people."
President Rajapaksa, conveyed his deepest sympathies at demise of Wijetunga to his daughter.
He also directed the Government to take all action, in consultation with the family of the late Wijetunga, for funeral arrangements befitting a former Head of State and true patriot.
Later in the day, Mahinda Rajapakse visited the New York Buddhist Vihara. The visit to the Vihara was rescheduled to take place yesterday late afternoon and Sri Lankan expatriates were invited to the Buddhist temple. That was the first official function for the President in New York.
While speaking in the midst of the worshippers and well wishers, President Rajapakse said,
“I have been elected as the President of the entire country; of its entire people, irrespective of language or religion. I consider myself responsible for all children of our country, whether they are in the South or in the North; Trincomalee, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Batticaloa, Badulla, Colombo or anywhere else. I see them all as my own children. It is because of this that we need to proceed with liberating the Tamil people of the North and their children from the clutches of the LTTE.”
He said that with the liberation of the East, the Government had been successful in bringing a person who had been recruited to the LTTE as a child soldier, and served for 15 years in that terrorist outfit, to accept the democratic system. Similarly, the government was keen to give the Tamil people of the North too, the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms of democracy, elect their own representatives to local bodies, provincial councils and parliament, and thereby manage their own affairs.
Such liberation which would end terrorism, prevent the separation of the country and make it a single unitary state was the mandate he received when elected President. That was the expectation of the people, and he was ready to fulfill these aspirations.
President Rajapaksa said that Sri Lankans, who lived abroad, separated from their country, did not often get the correct picture of events at home. There were distortions by the media and other interested forces. The fact was that the Security Forces were now only a few km away from Kilinochchi, and very soon they would capture that too.
There was a wrong impression created that Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu were administered by the LTTE. In fact it was the government that provided the food, medicines, doctors, teachers and all other essentials for the people there, including pensions to the retired. This was because the government was of the view that these two districts were part of the country, and had to be administered by the Government. The government carried out this humanitarian exercise with full knowledge that the LTTE was extorting a considerable part of the essential goods provided to the Tamil people, for the use of its own cadres. The medicines sent to civilians in these areas were taken by the LTTE to treat its own wounded who returned to fight the troops. Yet the government continued its humanitarian work in the best interests of the Tamil people.
It as well known today that the LTTE was using the people of Kilinochchi & Mullaitivu as human shields. For this very reason the Government had given clear instructions that in carrying out military operations there should be no harm or injury to civilians. This was the policy successfully followed by the Government in the battle to liberate Vakarai in the East.
The governed was fully conscious of its humanitarian obligations, and would act in a manner as to best uphold and carry out these responsibilities. “We are not a government that is committed to military action. We do not believe in battle. Yet, when the forces of terrorism refuse to negotiate, and remain committed to violence and terror, the government is compelled to meet this challenge in the appropriate manner to eradicate terrorism, without deliberate harm to the civilian population; who too wish to be liberated from the forces of terror, the President said.
He thanked the Sri Lankans of New York and also in other parts of the world for the keen interest they were showing in the battle to defeat LTTE terror, and said the government was committed to rebuild the country with their help, so that in future they would be proud to see the country of their parents and state with pride that this is our motherland.
- Asian Tribune -