Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama underlined the fact that Sri Lanka was home to Tamils now as it was for Sinhalese, Moors and other ethnic groups and exhorted all Sri Lankans living in Australia to join together in building a wealthy Sri Lanka.
He made this call during his speech last Wednesday 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."
The Minister traced the history of the disagreement in Sri Lanka, beginning with the murder of Jaffna Mayor, Alfred Duraiappah in 1975, and various attempts by successive governments for negotiations, commencing with the Thimpu talks of 1985, up to the truce agreement of 2002.
One strand that ran through all these talks, Minister Bogollagama stated was the reliable lack of genuine commitment and interest by the LTTE towards a negotiated settlement.
The Foreign Minister provided a succinct impression of the Eastern Reawakening Programme, which has at its core, the rehabilitation of infrastructure, stipulation of livelihood and the reinstatement of democracy.
He elaborated on the successful end of elections in the Province and the appearance of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, a one-time child soldier of the LTTE as the democratically chosen Chief Minister.
He also cited the entry into Parliament of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, a former LTTE leader, as yet another significant development. Today, he said, "the rule of law had taken origin in the Province with the legal system and the police being fully operational."
Minister Bogollagama stated that as a result of all these developments, savings from the confidential division were also flowing into the Province.
"It was the Government aim to mirror the developments in the Eastern Province in the North once terrorism is overcome and normalcy is restored," he said.
A vibrant question and answer session followed, with Foreign Minister Bogollagama clarifying a range of issues raised by the Spectators.
Answering a question raised on Internally Displaced Persons, the Minister affirmed that the Government had zero broadmindedness towards civilian casualties, alike to its policy on child soldiers.
Therefore, the military is moving slowly to clear uncleared areas in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts.
He additional that an alternative route to the A9 had been available for the people to leave these areas and to move into the camps in cleared areas. Minister Bogollagama explained to the audience that safeguarding human human rights was enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka stated that the Government had appointed a Commission of question to look into the allegations of human RIGHTS violations.
However, progress is slow owing to the judicial process involved.
The Minister explained that while engaging the LTTE to liberate the people, other issues will be solved only through a political answer as emphasised by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
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