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Destroy Prabhakaran for peace - Minister Douglas Devananda

Social Services Minister Douglas Devananda, commending on the government's decision to relocate UN agencies and other INGOs in Vavuniya, said that civilians who were forcibly kept in Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi would cross to government controlled areas soon breaking the orders of the LTTE.

The Minister, who has escaped death 13 times and witnessed a suicide bomb blast targeted at him from his sophisticated cameras at his Colombo office, said that the only way to bring peace is to destroy Prabhakaran. "Until the LTTE leader is alive Tamils cannot win their rights", he said.

In an interview with the 'Sunday Observer' he said that he was confident that India would not listen to the TNA and the days of the LTTE were numbered.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q:The government has reiterated that taking care of the civilians in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu is the responsibility of the government. Don't you think that this will obstruct the on-going humanitarian assistance programs?

A: The government took this decision mainly considering the security of the UN and INGO staffers. We do not want any unfortunate incidents to happen like in the past. We want to give the fullest care for these workers who came on government invitation.

But as a representative of the people, I believe that until Prabhakaran is alive he does not allow anyone to live in peace. He will carry out all sorts of violence to disrupt normalcy. The only way to bring peace is to destroy the LTTE leadership.

The LTTE has forcefully taken civilians with them without honouring people's rights to choose where they want to live. The LTTE had used similar tactics in 1997 in Jaffna using civilians as human shields but the LTTE was able to retain only one third of them. Then, in the East the same thing happened and people fled to government controlled areas.

What the government should do is to get these civilians to our side.

Otherwise they have to suffer at the hands of the LTTE.I personally believe the decision to relocate these agencies will bring good results. When they are in Vavuniya, civilians will somehow cross to the government controlled areas. I hope people will break all the barriers and laws by the LTTE and cross to our areas soon.

Q:Reacting to the government decision to pull out the UN agencies and other INGOs from Wanni, civilians have protested in front of their offices demanding them to stay. Do you think that people genuinely wanted these INGOs to stay with them?

A: No. This is purely motivated by the LTTE. They have staged that protest because of the LTTE's threats and pressure. These civilians are helpless and most of them wanted to cross to the government controlled areas.

Q:According to information how many civilians are estimated to be trapped in these two districts?

A: I am unable to give you these details officially as various segments give different data. We mainly depend on the statistics given by the GAs. At the moment it is still a grey area.

Q:There are several serious accusations against the INGOs for helping the terrorists. Will their past records be evaluated before allowing them to engage in humanitarian activities in future ?

A: I do not want to reach an assumption targeting all the NGOs by tagging them as helping the LTTE or misusing public money. It is true that there are some serious allegations against them.As the Social Services Minister what I want now is their true commitment and contribution to develop the lives of these people who witnessed only terrorism.

Q:The government claims that the present military offensives are the final blow to the LTTE which is fast losing ground. What is your assessment now?

A: The first priority should be given to defeat the LTTE to bring back democracy in these areas where Tamils live without their rights for development and peace and facing immense hardships under the clutches of the LTTE. The way the Security Forces are attacking the LTTE shows that the days of Prabhakaran and his terrorists are numbered. He is losing his cadres and the territory daily and it will be very difficult for him to hold his territory soon. The troops are taking correct targets to destroy the terrorists.

Q:It seems that the Tamil politicians are pulling each ones legs in your rat race to top each other and there is no unity among the Tamil politicians against the LTTE. Your comments?

A: I agree to that partially as there are Tamil political parties which do things just for their survival. There are differences among us. The war, for an example, we have diverse opinions. There is a saying that Douglas Devananda is plucking coconut after climbing the

tree but Ananda Sangaree does the same using a pole. This says all. But now I think we are playing together in the correct path. However, they are doing their share to defeat terrorism. That is a good sign. The only problem is with the TNA. It is not fair for us to expect help from them to defeat the LTTE as they are the mouth piece of the LTTE.

I must tell that the TNA will too join us soon when the LTTE is fully defeated. When we talk to them privately except for a few TNA MPs, majority of them are against the LTTE and they are helpless as they could not express their views openly in fear of threats.

Q:The TNA is going around the world to get sympathy by putting forward the suffering of the civilians in Wanni in the on-gong military offensives. Will there be any international pressure to stop

offensives at any point?

A: Everyone knows who is TNA. It is the 'Tiger Nominated Agent'. Their survival is there only when the war is there. Their mentality is to see people suffer. In Tamil there is a saying that "some pinch the baby and rock the cradle", and that is so with the TNA. So, their politics is based on gaining their benefits from all sides and leave their people in the lurch.

Q:Is there any chance for India to interfere to stop military offensives?

A: No, they do not want to involve themselves in this issue because, India knows very well about the LTTE. They will advise us for the interest of the people and not for the interest of the LTTE. We are confident that India will give us their fullest support to crush the LTTE.

Q:You have strongly voiced the need of eliminating the LTTE and its leader to solve the problems of Tamils. Do you still take the same stance?

A: Yes, it is obvious that as long as the LTTE leadership is alive, Tamils cannot get their grievances solved in an united country. He only wants a piece of land from this country. He is a dictator and he cannot survive in a democratic political framework.

Before the Indo- Sri Lanka agreement the situation in the country was different where the politicians had different views about the problems of the Tamils. They did not agree that there were problems for Tamils. But after that, their attitudes have changed.

However, the Tamil leadership which came through arms struggle or a democratic means did not use this opportunity properly. The Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was a golden opportunity but no one solved it. Then, talks during late President R. Premadasa's time and then President Chandrika Bandaranaike's and then when Ranil Wickremesinghe was a P.M. and even with President Rajapaksa, successive governments announced that they would like to solve the issue through negotiations. But, Prabhakaran failed to handle it genuinely.

I strongly believe that if the LTTE leadership is destroyed, the national problem would be solved overnight. There should be an end to the LTTE atrocities which killed Tamils more than the war. Therefore, the LTTE is the main obstacle to resolve the national problem.

Q:As the troops are now nearing Prabhakarans hide-out in Kilinochchi, will he flee to another country or will he bite a cyanide?

A: I do not bother to know wether he is injured or ill. The truth is that the Tamils can breathe fresh air when he is killed. I do not think that any other country will accept him as he is a murderer. He will commit suicide.

Q:The government has claimed that IDPs from these areas will be given all the facilities and as the Social Services Minister what are the plans that you have in hand to help these people?

A: Not only as the Social Services Minister, but as a Tamil representing them I want to give better facilities for my people who suffered a lot under the LTTE dictatorship. Yes, people are suffering and it is normal in this kind of a war situation where the civilians are not allowed to step out of their territories. However, if I am given this task, I will do that.

Q:But the task has already been given to you and you are the Chairman of the Northern Task Force. Do you think that you are not given any authority yet?

A: No, I did not mean so. Plans are there and once the North is librated I will implement my plans.

I have had several discussions with the people and I know what they want.

When its come to my powers the sky is the limit. So I consider President, the sky.

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