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Government Gazette

President ready to talk with LTTE if it lays down arms - Minister Rajitha

KOTTE: President Mahinda Rajapakse has repeatedly declared that he would be ready to start negotiations sooner the LTTE puts down arms, said Minister Dr Rajitha Senarathne in Parliament last Thursday.

Minister Senarathne in his speech said.

Today we are discussing a sort of tragedy faced by the Tamil people, according to our Tamil Members of Parliament as a priority item. The first news we got was that 45 bus loads of Tamils were forcebly evicted from Colombo.

Some people alleged that kidney and cancer patients too were taken away. I was really shocked to hear the disturbing news. I even told Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle as well that we could not permit this type of thing to take place.

Though you had alleged that these people were taken to Batticaloa, later on our inquiry we were told that only once bus had gone to Batticaloa. I also contacted the IGP and DIG to verify matters. I was told this, operation was handled by COC and not the Police.

Later, I got all the details which I later presented to the party leader’s meeting. It was not 202 as alleged but 302 of which 260 were males and 42 females. They were taken in 9 buses. At that time none of us were aware of the actual situation when I inquired from the Security Forces. I was assured the operation was undertaken with adequate reasons.

On my inquiry, the Security Forces told me that there were about 15,000-20,000 persons staying in the lodges. So it is only 302 out of 15,000! There people admitted they had no business to be in Colombo any longer as they had already furnished their transactions.

I used to discuss there problems at the Cabinet, and before the President. As Ministers, we have better forums to speak about disappearances, abductions and so on. I urge all Ministers to do so.

I say there are two alternatives to the national conflict. One is to be in the Opposition and engage in Satyagraha and other movements to overthrow the Government. Following that method for how long we are going to carry on.

How much more are to be killed or their limbs damaged? How many buildings are to be raised to the ground? To destroy the economy and drive the people into eternal suffering and cause malnutrition?

The second is to join the Government. MP, Srikantha asked Minister Hakeem to leave the Government. That is the easiest. Then what happens to the Government?

President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power with the support of the JHU and JVP. However, the President invited the UNP to join him. When the UNP declined, we joined hands with the Government.

MP, Radakrishnan, Minister Chandrasekaran and I got together and met the President. Parents of the alleged to have disappear were provided the occasion to explain their grievances to the President. MP, Radakrishnan, Minister Chandrasekaran, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dulles Alahapperuma, Abdul Faiz and myself became members of a committee and decided to continue our work.

Some parents thanked the President for summoning them for discussion. You have elected to rescue the Tamils from the tragedy to which they were subjected. Your leaders are getting killed.

These gentlemen talk of human rights. I am asking the Opposition Leader whether the suspects of the 1971 JVP insurrection too were brought before the courts, as he said this morning?

I have the hansard before me wherein I find the statement made by the Opposition Leader (Ranil Wickremesinghe) on the killing of Richard Zoysa. Chandrika Kumaratunga and myself came to watch the debate. This is what he said about the human rights.

“You are under the impression that the European countries are going to shout. We are not going to change. The Government always takes this stand. We are not going to change that. And those countries are free to decide whichever way they like. That much I can tell.

I do not know what they are going to do. But since you all are very friendly with some of these embassy personnel tell them to find out from their respective foreign ministries and they can let you now by the end of next week whether we are getting aid next year or not.

We will manage without aid. We can manage without aid. We will do that. We have other plans. So do not think that dancing around with the ambassadors and all is going to get you anywhere. In fact you may be an embarrassment to some of them. That is not our problem.”

This is the position he took up when the Government moved against the JVP.

“You are going around trying to make human rights an issue. You go to embassies. You are trying to get some tickets to go abroad. This is politics that you are playing. You are entitled to do that.

I am not disputing your right to do that - (interruption) I am not disputing your right on that. You can do whatever you want. You can make charges against us. You can call us murderers, anything.

“Politics you can shout. You can call us murderers, you can call us angles, you can call us anything you want. We are not worried about that.... You are accusing the Government of murder and killings. I say, go to the country and do it. You can do that. You can have your mother’s front, your sons’ front or any front, or back front, anything. We are not worried about that.”

That is not all. What was his reaction when a debate was asked? Finally, what I would like to say is that human rights won’t go side by side with the war.

That is what Ranil Wickremesinghe says. That is right. What he says today is not correct. That is why I said when there is terrorism, there are no human rights. You can’t safeguard the human rights and simultaneously face terrorism as well.

Please see what is happening in Iraq. These gentlemen go to Europe and allege that our Government violate the human rights. Let us say the aid will be suspended in view of these allegations of human rights violations.

What are these European Union countries? They are US, Germany, France, England and Japan. Who are there in Iraq at present? Are they not the advanced armies? How many have disappeared in Iraq up to date! Six lakhs of people have disappeared!

The LTTE is the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world. They day Sadam Hussain was overthrown I spoke from the Government benches. I spoke at the Cabinet as well. Rauff Hakeem supported me.

When a particular Minister supported USA, Rauff Hakeem thanked me. I said, “American armies could go to Iraq but no return. It will be the second Vietnam.” What is happening in Iraqi today?

Finally Sadam was hanged on the allegation of killing 140 people. Who says so. They are the biggest European countries. They are the people who advise us to prosecute the war whilst protecting human rights.

By change of government you cannot restore peace. The solutions is for the two major parties to get together and involve in the peace process. It is not the question of replacing Gotabaya with Janaka Perera as stated by the Opposition Leader. But I told him the solution lies in the restoration of peace.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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