- Says 11 years on goal is still to create country where every citizen can live in peace, harmony and dignity
- Calls on public to work towards this target as tribute to war heroes
- Says will not hesitate to withdraw SL from any intl. organisation besmirching military
- President hails all those who laid down their lives to end war
- Recalls lives and property lost, praises MR for giving leadership to end conflict
Marking 11 years since the end of the conflict, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday called on all Sri Lankans to work on creating a country where every citizen can live in peace, harmony and dignity as a tribute to all those who laid down their lives.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaking at the 11th National War Heroes Day commemoration ceremony
President Rajapaksa said peace has been established in Sri Lanka where people of all communities can live free of fear and insisted he will not hesitate to withdraw Sri Lanka from international organisations critical of the military. Delivering a speech at the ceremony to mark 11 years since the end of the conflict, the President said 19 May remains an important milestone in Sri Lanka’s history as it was the date when the Tamil Tigers were defeated after the end of nearly 30 years of conflict. He also praised Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for giving leadership as Commander-in-Chief when he was President.
“With the end of terrorism, an environment where people could live without fear or anxiety and enjoy their human rights freely was created. After a period of 30 years, we ensured democracy and built an atmosphere where free and fair elections could be held. The atmosphere where people can travel freely without any restrictions to any place of the country was restored.”
“Our war heroes and their families made immense sacrifices to usher in peace to the country which was engulfed in terror. War is not a bed of roses. The war heroes had to especially face numerous bitter experiences and difficulties when battling one of the most ruthless terrorist organisations in the world which did not respect the law.”
President Rajapaksa also warned that under his leadership no organisation would be allowed to tarnish the reputation and respect accorded for the military and he would withdraw the country from any organisation that attempted to do so.
“I assure you that under my administration, we will always take every measure to protect the dignity of our heroic forces. It is a national responsibility to ensure their rights. In a situation where even leaders of powerful countries have emphatically stated that they would not allow any action against their war heroes, in a small country like ours where our war heroes have sacrificed so much, I will not allow anyone to exert undue pressure on them or harass them.”
“If any international body or organisation continuously targets our country and our war heroes using baseless allegations, I will also not hesitate to withdraw Sri Lanka from such bodies or organisations.”
He recalled that during the war, many innocent civilians were killed and much property was lost. A larger number of lives were also lost due to suicide attacks that were carried out in busses, trains and other critical landmarks.
“The prime objective of the Humanitarian Mission was to bring lasting peace to the country. Because of the exceptional sacrifices made by our war heroes, today we have the opportunity to live in peace and harmony in a unitary state.”
“Our country, nourished by Buddhist philosophy, possesses a form of administration that is an oasis for all religions and all nationalities. Throughout its history, people in this country including Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher have had equal rights.”
He recalled that the motive of the Tamil Tigers was to divide Sri Lankans and warned that if they had been successful, history would have taken a different course.
“Sri Lanka could have become a country where communities hate each other and engage in continuous battles for borders. The honour of liberating the country from this catastrophe should be given to all our heroic troops who fought for the peace in our country for a long time.”
“We remember with immense gratitude all the war heroes including General Kobbekaduwa and General Vijaya Wimalaratne who fought for this victory for more than three decades and laid their lives for the country. As an officer who was engaged in active service for around 20 years, later as the Secretary Defence for 10 years as well as a citizen, I am very well aware of the sacrifices made by our war heroes.”
President Rajapaksa noted that the pain of war was familiar to him and therefore he would not allow any room for attempts to “discredit and destroy the dignity of war heroes” who made countless sacrifices to bring peace to Sri Lanka.
He went on to observe that the entire nation pays tribute to all war heroes and their families who contributed to the battle against separatism for three decades.
“The highest honour that can be bestowed on them is to transform this country, which was protected by them by laying down their lives, into a land where every citizen can live in peace, harmony and with dignity. At this War Memorial, I invite all patriotic citizens to make your fullest contribution towards this endeavour.”