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DateLine Friday, 30 January 2009

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Government Gazette

Burying a dark history

The special emphasis made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the need to foster communal harmony at a time the country is on the verge of being united under one banner once again should be taken cognizance by all citizens. Now with the war clouds gradually disappearing in the horizon there is a need to completely wipe from the slate all the causes that gave rise to division and friction that tore the country asunder.

There is now a compelling need to put behind the past and begin anew where all communities could live in harmony and identify with each other harking back to the immediate post Independence era where all considered themselves children of one mother Lanka. This no doubt is the ultimate vision of the President - to see the country emerge from it's communal hangover of the past, and develop and prosper as a single nation with no barriers of race, religion or ethnicity.

In a refreshing development the President himself gave the lead the other day by addressing the estate Tamil community in Tamil. Inherent in this gesture is his desire to see all barriers that hitherto divided the communities dismantled and allow all communities to view each other in a common denominator.

The President followed it up by telling Editors of national Newspapers to take steps to foster communal harmony at a time there is a feeling among all communities of belonging to one nation with the national flag fluttering in all homes irrespective of race, community or religion.

"Therefore at this juncture please do not write to encourage communal hatred but use your pen to foster communal harmony," the President went on to stress at the meeting with Editors.

It is hoped the President's appeal will be heeded by all whatever the temptation to pander to majority sentiments in the midst of the present euphoria, by certain segments. If the President with his deep Sinhala roots and overwhelming majoritarian appeal could show the way in this regard it certainly behoves on the others to follow suit.

Inherent in the President's appeal is also a need for moderation and to do away with all forms of extremism that had given rise to the present bloodshed and a country riven with communal strife.

True, to the eternal credit of the majority community it had not committed the mistakes of the past despite the most grave provocation following the aberration of July '83. But it is foolhardy to believe that the misgivings and suspicion among the minority communities have dissipated altogether. There is a vestige of ill feeling that has not yet been entirely banished. The President's intention no doubt is to assure the minorities that they need not harbour doubts any more. He has taken pains to stress this in all his public rallies with his constant refrain that the 'Tamils are our brothers and sisters... the war is not against the Tamil community but against terrorism.

It is therefore the responsibility of all to back the President's quest for communal harmony when the country is on the verge of turning a new chapter offering the prospect of peace and reconciliation among all groups and communities, burying once and for all the dark chapter of the past.

It behoves on all religious leaders, civil society groups and organisations to come forward to add weight to the President's appeal by providing their own inputs to bring communities together and foster goodwill and harmony.

A country united is the best harbinger of development and prosperity.

Counter false and damaging propaganda

With the Security Forces on the verge of annihilating the LTTE there is clearly a sinister move to bring discredit to the Government and blight the reputation of the troops in the eyes of the world community. If not how could one explain the false story circulated in the international media and among Colombo diplomats claiming there were 300 deaths and 1,000 injured among IDPs in the Mulaitivu district when the very source quoted in the story had denied contact with any media.

The story was craftily disguised as an urgent appeal to the Government, the ICRC and the UN and the international community for medical supplies and for medical teams to be sent to Mulaitivu.

Dr. Varatharaja to whom the story was sourced vehemently denied he made such an appeal and disowned the contents therein. Responding to the report Health Director Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage has refuted the charges of a shortage of drugs and personnel saying he was in constant touch with the other side on the needs and had dispatched all the necessary drugs and personnel. Besides, according to Dr. Varatharaja there were only six deaths and 15 wounded following shells falling into the Pudukkudiyiruppu hospital and he was not sure if these were fired by the Forces or the LTTE. Anyway the LTTE cadres were fighting in civilian clothes and there was no knowing if they were civilians or LTTE cadres.

With the Security Forces juggernaut rolling in for the final kill there certainly could be last ditch attempts to bring pressure on the Government to slow down or call off the offensive through such tactics.

Hence it is incumbent on the Government to take effective measures to counter such false and damaging propaganda spread by destructive forces to thwart the battlefield gains.

Death anniversary today:

Mahatma Gandhi’s weapon was Satyagraha

Mahatma Gandhiji’s technique of spirituality in action and his teachings will undoubtedly redeem millions of people from violent, hatred, fear and tension.

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William Gopallawa

First President of the Republic of Sri Lanka

His Excellency William Gopallawa was born on September 17,1897 at Dullewa Maha Walauwa in a beautiful village, Asgiri Udasiya Pattuwa in Matale district. Tikiri Bandara Gopallawa, from Gokeralla, a village in Kurunegala was his father.

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Defence Column

The bell tolls for LTTE

LTTE on the run

Forces advance further

Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, when deciding to close the sluice gates of Mavil Aru in July 2006, would never have thought that it would precipitate the end of their terror campaign against the Sri Lankan State to reach its illusionary Tamil Eelam by facing such a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankan Security Forces.

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A view from across the straits

What after the LTTE?

Where is the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam V. Prabhakaran? Where are the civilians of war-torn northern Sri Lanka? Who will speak for them now? And what role will India play?

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
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