Thursday, September 25, 2008
"We will not let the Tamil community succumb to Tiger terrorism," says President
"The Government would not and cannot let an illegal and armed terrorist group, the LTTE, to hold a fraction of the population a part of the Tamil community, hostage to such terror in the Northern part of Sri Lanka and deny those people their democratic rights of dissent and free election", said the President during his address to the UN General Assembly, Wednesday (Sep 24).
The Government will only be ready to talk to the LTTE when it is ready to commit itself to decommissioning its illicit weapons and dismantling of its military capability, and return to the democratic fold, President Mahinda Rajapaksa further asserted, in his speech.
Following are excerpts of the speech delivered by H.E the President at the 63rd UN General Assembly on 24th September, 2008.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday.
Picture by Sudath Silva
"The Government has also made it clear that the elected Government cannot and will not permit undermining of the territorial integrity of the sovereign UN Member State of Sri Lanka and the division of its territory. We are clear in this message," President Rajapaksa said.
Our Government has always been ready to address the causes of these issues and effectively implement political and constitutional solutions to meet the aspirations and rights of all communities, the President added.
"The complex situation in Sri Lanka needs to be addressed and resolved through an appropriate process of deterrent law and order action and patient political efforts of consensus building.
We have achieved the difficult but essential task of building democracy in the Eastern Province and are confident that it can be done in the North as well."
"What the Government would not, and could not do is to let an illegal and armed terrorist group, the LTTE, to hold a fraction of our population, a part of the Tamil community, hostage to such terror in the northern part of Sri Lanka and deny those people their democratic rights of dissent and free elections. Through our past actions, we have proved it.
"The Government has therefore declared its policy of engaging in dialogue and discussion with the democratic leadership of the Tamil community, a people who have lived in harmony with other Sri Lankans for centuries. Today, there are Tamil leaders holding responsible ministerial posts in my Government," he remarked.
The President stressed that all successive Governments have endeavoured to resolve the problem for over 25 years, including through Norwegian facilitation and international Co-Chairs overseeing a so-called peace process that was treated with contempt by the terrorists.
"On each occasion that talks were held seeking peace, the terrorists walked out on the flimsiest of excuses and reverted to terrorism of the worst kind, indiscriminately targeting innocent civilians.
"The Government's objective is to enable the people to enjoy the benefits of the democratic processes and to speed the development activities in those areas where there was a heavy presence of terrorists. This would be similar to the fast tracking of economic development taking place in the Eastern Province, where former terrorists now function as democratically elected Provincial Councillors, and a former child soldier conscripted by the LTTE is now the elected Chief Minister, having abandoned terrorism and embraced democracy. Significantly, the restoration of democracy in the East of Sri Lanka was achieved in less than one year of it being freed from the clutches of terror, the President noted.
"The Government has also sought and received the cooperation of the United Nations, ICRC and other agencies to help us in providing humanitarian assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other affected civilians.
"The Government of Sri Lanka continues this humanitarian policy even today although we know that the terrorists seize a good proportion of these humanitarian supplies.
"This is not all, the Government also purchases the paddy and other foodstuffs produced in those areas. I do not think there is any country in the world where there is a Government that provides such humanitarian assistance to terrorists that attack it.
Our Government considers the supply of humanitarian relief to its people as its prime responsibility."
Turning his attention to one of the prime topics of the General Assembly, the President said Sri Lanka will contribute to the goal of increasing food production, investing more in agriculture and research, and sharing technologies and best practices. Sri Lanka sees self-sufficiency as the answer to overcoming the food crisis and giving strength to nations.
"We also must find solutions to the energy crisis that are both equitable and pragmatic. Energy supplies must be diversified by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective technologies, for both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. We need to engage in energy conservation and accept the reality of dependence on fossil fuels for much longer."
He lamented that most Millennium Development Goals are behind schedule. "The slowing down of global economic growth, financial turmoil and speculation, rising food and fuel prices and the impacts of climate change are clear and present obstacles.
Also, based on their political role, sanctions imposed on the leaders, and the leadership of some countries following some protests, are in fact targeted at the innocent people of those countries." He called for determined and concerted actions to enable progress towards the realisation of the agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
The President also spoke of the need for UN reforms.
President first world leader to address UN in Tamil :
Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapaksa created history yesterday (24) at the United Nations by addressing the General Assembly briefly in Tamil. This is the first time that any world leader has spoken to the world body in Tamil.
Last year, he became the first Sri Lankan leader to address the UN General Assembly in Sinhala. This year, he addressed the forum in both Sinhala and Tamil.
"While my mother tongue is Sinhala, let me elaborate a few thoughts in Tamil. Sinhala and Tamil are the two languages of the people of Sri Lanka. Both these have been used through the centuries, are rich in literature, and are widely used in my country, with recognition as Official Languages. We will march towards a richer freedom and lasting unity that await us as a nation," were the sentiments he expressed in Tamil.
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