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Sunday, 5 December 2004  
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Sri Lanka always stood for Palestinian cause - Kadirgamar

by M. P. Muttiah

Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said that the governments of Sri Lanka, of whatever hue, had consistently and firmly supported the long and bitter struggle of the Palestinian people to realise their rights, legitimate aspirations and their yearning for statehood.

Sri Lanka had recognised the State of Palestine and continuously expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and supported their cause internationally.

He was speaking at a function held on November 29 at the Sri Lanka Institute of International Relations to mark the UN-declared International Solidarity Day with Palestine.

Referring to late President Yasser Arafat, Minister Kadirgamar said that the Palestinian struggle was led, symbolised and personified by him. He was reviled in some quarters and adored in others.

If one were to single out one quality that Yasser Arafat intensely projected that was visible and palpable at all times, it was his tenacity. He kept alive the hopes and dreams of his people for a state in which they could live with justice and dignity.

There had been difficulties, and they would continue to prevail, detrimental to the people of Palestine, the Foreign Minister said. Pointing out that Sri Lanka had always supported the Palestinian struggle, Kadirgamar said that Sri Lanka had since 1968, as chair of the United Nations Special Committee on Israeli Practices affecting Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, had been one of the most significant voices at the United Nations on the subject of the unfortunate conditions of the occupied territories.

Kadirgamar said that the political will required of major international actors with the power to help in forging an honourable settlement was absent. With the demise of Arafat, his dream was unfulfilled, but the struggle of his people would continue. He expressed hope that peace and security would dawn on Palestinians.

Guest speaker J. R. P. Suriyapperuma said that it was time for the world to decide whether the cause Yasser Arafat stood for was justifiable or not. He said Arafat was a legendary freedom fighter, who fought not only for Arabs but also for the oppressed of the world.

Suriyapperuma said Yasser Arafat continuously challenged the conscience of the world confined in his Ramallah headquarters. It was a solitary challenge. He fought valiantly and handed over the responsibility to the new generation.

The Middle East was like a volcano and it would burst at any time. The United States had allocated an annual allocation of three billion dollars to Israel. He forewarned President Bush before taking any new steps against Palestine.

Referring to the wall that had been erected, Suriyapperuma said that no wall could keep people divided. He said that it was a primitive idea. He urged on the 57 Islamic countries and 22 Arab countries that were silent, to support the Palestinian cause.

Minister Athauda Seneviratne, Parliamentarian Karu Jayasooriya Palestinian Ambassador Attallah Qubia also spoke. Western Provincial Governor Alavi Mowlana, diplomats from Cuba, India, Libya and several other countries too were present.

Seylan Merchant Bank Limited

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