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DateLine Sunday, 20 May 2007

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Government Gazette

Liberation and development in Eastern Province

When the Government launched a series of operations in the Eastern Province, some interested elements both here and abroad tried to paint a different picture. They raised issues such as human rights, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and war mentality in a desperate bid to help the LTTE terrorists.

However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government had a clear cut vision. The aim of those limited operations was purely humanitarian. Lanka's brave security forces battled to liberate innocent civilians in the Eastern Province from the clutches of the LTTE terrorists.

The so-called sole representatives and the saviours of the Tamil community even denied a basic need such as water to their own people. Not only the Tamils, but even Muslims and the Sinhalese underwent untold hardships in the Eastern Province. The Tigers did everything possible for their survival. They used civilians as a human shield to the very end in Vakarai. But our forces liberated all of them in a highly professional manner.

The successes in Mavil Aru, Vakarai and Sampur took the wind off the sail of Tiger power from the Eastern Province, pushing the remaining terrorists to the dense jungle in Thoppigala. Many thought the story ended.

But the real battle started thereafter. The Government had to meet the challenge of looking after thousands of IDP's. At the same time, the Government had to clear all mine fields, reconstruct roads and develop infrastructure facilities. Reconstruction and building of houses and other public places had to be done in next to no time.

Under the able assistance of all relevant Ministries and officials concerned, the Government was able to meet this gigantic task. The resettlement process is now taking place at a rapid pace.

Though the LTTE and some INGOs made a big hue and cry about a large number of IDPs, it has not been proved as those figures were highly exaggerated.

It has now been proved that the Government has made a sincere effort to liberate innocent civilians who were living in the East under numerous hardships. The LTTE showed no mercy whatsoever to them and only used those poor people as a shield for their terrorist activities.

Thanks to the valiant efforts of the brave sons of this land, those Eastern civilians now enjoy an atmosphere where they could hold their heads high. All they knew previously was the so-called liberation of the LTTE terrorists. But now, they have understood what real liberation means.

The Tiger terrorists, together with their sympathisers, now spread the rumour that the resettlement process is taking place forcibly. This is a cooked up story of the LTTE to mislead the international community. Civilians moving to re-developed Eastern villages are doing so on their own accord. They are highly impressed with the resettlement program.

In the aftermath of losing the East, the LTTE is running out of options. They know only too well the same could befall the North as well. All what they are now tying to do is to prevent a similar scenario. The LTTE has to satisfy the Tamil Diaspora or else they would lose their international funding.

It is due to their sweat and toil that Prabhakaran is enjoying a luxurious life and provides foreign education to his children. While innocent minors are being forced to take to arms to back the LTTE, Prabhakaran and his family enjoys a cosy life.

The day the international Tamil community realises these double standards is not far. The liberation and resettlement of Eastern civilians would send a clear signal to people in the Northern Province. The Northern Tamil community would no longer believe Prabhakaran's prattle.

The Government did not wait for international funding to develop the East. While accepting the international contributions, the Government quite rightly understood that the development of the East cannot be ignored.

Be it people in the North, East, South or West of the country, they belong to the Lankan family. It's the duty of the Government to look after all communities. The Government has never shirked this responsibility.

True enough we need a great deal of money in a major redevelopment drive but at the same time, the Government is making every endeavour to meet this challenge. By these humanitarian acts, the Government has unequivocally proved its sincere efforts to treat all communities alike.

While the Security Forces continue to liberate innocent civilians from blood-thirsty LTTE terrorists, the quest for a negotiated settlement would continue. The Government has always proved that it is making a sincere effort to find a solution at the negotiating table.

But the LTTE terrorists continue to harass their own people and keep more faith on the bullet. They have not only been a threat to Sri Lanka but also to neighbouring India and world peace.

The time is now opportune for the international community, if they are genuinely interested in a negotiated settlement to use all possible channels to woo the Tigers from their Wanni jungles to a peace forum. The Government's efforts alone to find a peaceful solution would not be fruitful without the LTTE's participation.

We fervently hope the co-chairs and all the big players in the international arena would induce the LTTE to open a dialogue that would lead to a negotiated settlement.

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