By Mahinda Rajapaksa –
Today we have the fourth opportunity to celebrate with dignity the great victory of our Motherland. Today we also commemorate another great moment in the history of Sri Lanka when our Motherland was united. It is also great the great moment when Sri Lanka was freed from the deadly fear of terror. With great sacrifice of lives by our people, we were able to liberate the largest number of hostages in the world held by the forces of terror. Today we remember all of this.
We must bear in mind that thousands of heroes like this sacrificed their lives for the country to obtain this great victory. Many lakhs more offered their blood, sweat and tears and lost their eyes and limbs for this land. I am pleased to state that we have elevated all of you as high as the national flag flies to give you the honor you deserve.
In the midst of efforts by some to take our war heroes to an international scaffolding we have provided welfare benefits such as housing, schools, scholarships, income sources, facilities such as the Mihindu Seth Medura and Abimansala for the benefit of their families, their children and their parents. We have carried out such services for our war heroes to encourage those citizens in the future who think of making a commitment to the future of the country, and to give them the confidence and strength to do so.
If one is to fully understand the great service provided by these heroes we must recall how the people of this country lived before May 2009. There was no freedom at that time to walk freely at Galle Face Green where you are gathered today. It was the time when even the Galle Face Green was also closed. The LTTE was able to destroy the Central Bank building that you can see from here,and also send a bomb laden lorry right before the residence of the Head of the State. The hotels around this area were destroyed by bomb attacks.
We recall that the Tigers who attacked the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura in 1985 later came to Colombo and attacked with bombs and killed the NayakaThero at the Fort Buddhist temple. In 1990 the Tigers killed hundreds of worshippers at the Kathankudy mosque, and their ability to strike and spread throughout the country that 19 years laterthey attacked a religious procession at the MataraGodapitiya mosque. Minister MahindaWijesekera who was a victim of that attack is still bedridden.
Most places in this country were then identified by recalling bomb attacks by the LTTE such as the junction where ParamiKulatunga was killed, the place where Navy Commander Clarence Fernando was killed, the junction where Major Muthalif was killed, the street where Mr. Premadasa was killed, the place where Minister C. V. Gunaratne was killed and the house where Mr. Kadirgamar was killed.
At that time this was a country where fear of death was brought by a parcel that had no owner.
The Tigers were able to do as they wished at any place in the country. There was no place to escape or be safe from the Tigers.
There was no one who came to save the people of this country.
In 1977, the first Executive President of the country who had the power of a five-sixth majority told the people when they were under attack by the Tigers that they must look after their own safety . The next President who took office, ordered 700 policemen to surrender and betrayed them to the Tigers. They were killed by the Tigers. The Tigers were also given arms. He was also killed on the road.
The Tigers also killed in Tamil Nadu the Prime Minister of India who brought them for peace talks and gave the LTTE leader a bullet proof vest.
Subsequently, although a ceasefire agreement was signed with the intervention of several foreign countries, and a part of the country was betrayed to the forces of terror, those who were responsible for that agreement could not prevent bomb attacks in Colombo. All those who ruled the country at that time acted in this humiliating manner because they believed that the Tigers could not be defeated.
We were also told by the entire world not to clash with the Tigers. We were told to give what they wanted. If we too were so fearful and lowly we would still be living in a country where one is afraid of a parcel on the road.
Yet, we had complete faith in the heroism and strength of the youth of our country. That faith is in you. We had trust in the heroes who were born from the wombs of the mothers of our land and love the country. We believed that our young heroes had the strength to take this country from shame and defeatism to heroism. That is why this country is today a great nation that is free of the fear of death.
Whatever anyone forgets, or tries to make us forget, there is one thing I believe in. It is that this great victory was best felt in the hearts of our small children.
The children of the people in what were then called border villages, who sheltered to save their lives at night under the large leaves of habarala plants, and the children of the mothers who guarded the gates of their schools under the scorching sun, will take this story to the new generations. Our children will never let this part of our history be forgotten.
My dear children,
We know that those who had ceasefire agreements that betrayed the country to the Tigers are making every effort to make us forget the heroism of this nation. It is those who betrayed the country with the ceasefire agreement that during the same period, in 2003 proposed to the World Meteorological Organization that the name of our great king Mahasen who built 16 tanks should be used to name a great storm. All international media have mentioned cyclone Mahasen. Will those who sought to insult King Mahasen who was known as “MinneriDewiyo” for building the MinneriyaWewa, allow your great service to the nation to be recorded in history? Are we ready to forget such action?
This era should be not go down in history as an era when we were warring, but an era when war was ended. Not as an era of murder and bloodshed, an era when tyre pyres were burning at every junction, but as an era when bloodshed was stopped. Similarly, this era should go down in history as one that carried out a major transformation to prevent the occurrence of war again.
It is the people in the North and the East who would and should feel this most. Today, in the north and east of the country, there are twelve political parties carrying out their activities freely. However, all political parties that attempted to function freely at that time had to face the Tiger’s bullet. EROS, PLOTE, EPRLF, EPDP and TELO — all of them suffered the same fate. The former leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front saved his life by living in Colombo. From Duraiappa to members of Parliament such as Amirthalingam, Sam Thambimuttu and his wife, and Raviraj – all were silenced forever.
Prabhakaran and his cohorts destroyed the erudite society that could build the culture of the Tamil people of the north. Just as Prabhakaran, the political parties that are propping up the Diaspora are still engaged in an effort to drag Tamil society to destruction. As long as these groups exist the Tamil people need no other enemies.
The time has come for the people of the north to have a good understanding of the honesty of those who claim to speak on their behalf.
You will know that after thirty years, we have given the opportunity to the fishermen of the north to earn their livelihoods freely at sea. However, when the fishermen of north go out to sea there are others who come and grab the fish that is found at that area. It is those who grab this wealth of the people of the north who seek to bring pressure on governments on behalf of the Tamil people of the north. The people of the north should be on their guard in the future too against such sinister protectors.
When three lakhs of hostages among the northern people came seeking their freedom there was no one to give even a packet of food to them other than the security forces, you and the government. The Diaspora that collects billions supposedly for the Tamil people did not come to serve their people at that time,they did not come to help the Sri Lankan Tamil people at that time.
The opportunity has now been provided for more that 11,000 persons who were with the LTTE to be rehabilitated and live freely. These are people who had committed offences that could keep them for many years behind bars. Those whose crimes could take them the scaffold. In no other country will those who were associated with the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world obtain the pardon as they have received in Sri Lanka. I am aware that the youth in the north are happy about this pardon. Fair thinking people are also pleased with this.
As of now nearly 4000 Tamil youth have joined the Civil Defence Corps. They are now launching cultivation in thousands of acres of land and participating in the country’s economic development. Several thousand more are waiting in line to join the security forces and the police. Initially, it was not those in the South who opposed Tamil youth being taken to the Armed Forces. It was some persons in the north and leaders who were abroad who declined this. Thousands of youth in Kilinochchi recently took to the streets against the decision by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This is a victory of victories.
I understand well and recall the hearts and minds of the people of the north and east. History shows that in the Presidential Election of 1982 the Tamil people of the north defeated Ponnambalam who stood for a separate state and elected Kobbekaduwa who was from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
I believe that the feeling that we should all live together in a single country is once again emerging in the hearts of the Tamil people.
The armed racist terrorism that existed for several years was used to control our country in the way that external forces wanted to. Foreign forces and pressures, foreign invasions are not new to us. In the four years since this great humanitarian victory there were many strategies tried out by these forces to rule our Motherland. These included the Arab Spring, greasedemons, the independent of the Judiciary, media freedom and human rights. There were attempts to make us file answers to such charges almost every six months. It is these sinister aims that are put forward as the protection of human rights and democracy. However, what is hidden below this is the expectation to break up this country. Today we have a Sri Lankan nation that is sufficiently matured to understand this. Through the entirety of the past four years we had to struggle with these forces. It will be so in the future too. We will not allow a single inch of the land that you won by the sacrifice of your life to be taken away. There will be no room for separation.
Before me today I see brave sons and daughters of Sri Lanka who are ready to sacrifice their lives for our Motherland. It is with great pride that I recall that through thousands of years past there were hundreds of thousands of brave people ready to sacrifice their lives for the Motherland. Even if all of us lose our lives for our Motherland, there will be thousands more who will come to take our place and sacrifice their own lives for this cause. This is the cause of our freedom and independence.
I recall here the two lines of a poem I read this morning in a newspaper to be published tomorrow to mark this Humanitarian Victory Day. It said “Never did we know what fear was. Never were we bothered about life, but for our land.”
I pray that my Motherland will achieve victory through the strength of this truth.
*President Rajapksa’s speech at the Humanitarian Victory Parade at Galle Face green this morning