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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

Sri Lanka Foreign Minister urges Lankan expatriate in Australia to unite to build a prosperous nation

Colombo, 18 October, ( Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has underlined the fact that Sri Lanka was home to Tamils just as it was for Sinhalese, Moors and other ethnic groups and exhorted all Sri Lankans living in Australia to join together in building a prosperous Sri Lanka. He made this call during the course of his speech last Wednesday (15 October 2008) at the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL) of the University of Sydney on the theme ”From Terrorism to Democracy, Rule of Law and Development: Eastern Province of Sri Lanka”

In an address, the Minister traced the history of the conflict in Sri Lanka, beginning with the assassination of the Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiappah in 1975, the various attempts by successive governments for negotiations, commencing with the Thimpu talks of 1985, up to the ceasefire agreement of 2002. One strand that ran through all these talks, Minister Bogollagama stated was the consistent lack of genuine commitment and interest by the LTTE towards a negotiated settlement.

The Foreign Minister provided a succinct overview of the Eastern Reawakening Programme, which has at its core, the rehabilitation of infrastructure, provision of livelihood and the restoration of democracy. He elaborated on the successful conclusion of elections in the Province and the emergence of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, a one-time child soldier of the LTTE as the democratically elected Chief Minister. He also cited the entry into Parliament of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna, a former LTTE leader, as yet another significant development. Today, he said, the rule of law had taken root in the Province with the judicial system and the police being fully operational.

Minister Bogollagama stated that as a result of all these developments, investments from the private sector were also flowing into the Province. He said that it was the Government aim to mirror the developments in the Eastern Province in the North once terrorism is overcome and normalcy is restored. A vibrant question and answer session followed, with Foreign Minister Bogollagama clarifying a range of issues raised by the audience.

Answering a question raised on Internally Displaced Persons, the Minister stated that the Government had zero tolerance towards civilian casualties, similar to its policy on child soldiers. Therefore, the military is moving slowly to clear the rebel held areas in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts. Further, he added that an alternative route to the A9 had been available for the people to leave these areas and to move into the camps in government held areas.

The Minister explaining to the audience that safeguarding human rights was enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka stated that the Government had appointed a Commission of Inquiry to look into the allegations of human rights violations. However, progress is slow due to the judicial process involved.

In countering terrorism, Minister explained, while engaging the LTTE with a view to establish liberty of people, quoted President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent statement “whilst countering terrorism, other issues will be solved only through political solution. There are no military solutions in this regard, only political solutions.”

- Asian Tribune -

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