Victory against terrorism and not against a minority - Sanath
Sanath Gunatileke. Picture by Tennyson Edirisinghe
With the dreary three decade period of terrorism coming to a close
the nation took to the streets to celebrate. It was a day of triumph and
rejoicing for all citizens sans ethnic, religious or racial barriers. As
waves of anticipation, rejoice and relief sweep over the communities,
the Daily News spoke to seasoned actor and filmmaker, Sanath Gunatileke
about his views and aspirations for the nation.
“This is a victory against terrorism, not against a minority or
another civilization. Some falsely believed that the Sri Lankan army was
fighting against the Tamils. This is not and had never been the truth.
As a civilized nation we too, do not spend our time engaged in conflicts
with each other.
We may possess different ideologies but if a conflict is created
especially by using arms, then I’m sure that a majority will appose
that. Peace need a vital factor for the development of the country,” he
Questioning on why the group of terrorists needed to embark on
terrorism Sanath said some believe that decisions made by politicians to
sideline the minority instilled the need for separatism. However, the
result was that innocent civilians in both parties suffered as terrorism
spread its wings to cloud the nation with gloom, pain and destruction.
What started off as a small group expanded as more joined in,
voluntarily as well as by force. Some foreign nations aided them due to
political reasons and out of fear that the country will develop rapidly
because of its location and abundance of resources.
“If you look at the situation without bias, I’m sure that all past
leaders who ruled the country would have loved to restore peace. That’s
why President J. R. Jayewardene wished to hold discussions with the LTTE.
He nominated his own brother, H. W. Jayewardene, to lead the Sri Lankan
delegation to peace talks held in Thimpu during the early 1980s. This
signifies that President Jayewardene took up the matter seriously,” he
Unfortunately the discussion was futile and as a result several
blasts occurred in Colombo. He appealed to India for aid and the Indian
Army was sent to the island to settle the matter. Later President
Ranasinghe Premadasa came to power and he too was a strong believer in
the fact that the matter could be resolved through discussion.
Thus, he sent the Indian army back amidst protests from some of his
colleagues and initiated discussions. Tragically he met his death at the
hands of terrorists.
President D. B. Wijetunga embodied the view that the best solution
for the problem is to undermine the minority group.
This proved to be an advantage to the terrorists because they used
those statements to win favour of the Tamil civilians in trying to
convince them into believing that the Government does not treat them as
equals. President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga too negotiated with
the terrorists and sent a delegation to Jaffna for discussions.
However, she too failed in her efforts and when President Mahinda
Rajapaksa came to power he too looked towards peace talks by sending
some of his senior cabinet colleagues. The terrorists engaged in the
discussions but at the same time violated the rules. There was no proper
agenda to solve the problem.
“President Rajapaksa had observed all the incidents of the past and
noted the errors. He had followed the situation from the beginning and
it was only after the Mavilaru incident that he decided to take on the
terrorists. He extended his full support to the forces. His biggest
asset was his brother, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is
well versed in the subject,” he said adding that the President’s clear
thinking lead the country to victory.
“He had learnt from the lessons of the past. His clear thinking was
the real victory that we celebrate today. Hereafter we must think as one
nation. If we think as separate communities a similar situation can rise
We need to think on equal terms as we lived together in the past. As
artistes we went to Jaffna and Trincomalee for shooting and the people
have always treated us with love and respect. We exported some of our
goods like onions and potatoes from the North and some Sinhalese even
had Tamil names during the 1950s and 1960s.”
He elaborated that the next step is of utmost importance for the
“We should not give anybody the opportunity to stir up terrorism in
the country again. Our country is in a very good location. We can profit
economically through exporting goods.
It is a port for ships which pass by in the Indian ocean. Therefore I
feel that a lot of powerful countries would like to have a base in our
country. At the same time I feel that they do not like to see a strong
leader taking over the reins.
They wish for us to be dependant on them. Therefore, I have a
question in my mind whether it is purely the LTTE which were behind
terrorism in the country. As Sri Lankans we should ponder this question.
We overcame a very difficult hurdle so for a better future we need to
negotiate and have a kind of policy which will benefit all the parties
as well as religions in the country,” he added. He also said that as
artistes, they hope to deliver the message of peace and brotherhood.
“We need to go to areas which had been invaded by the terrorists and
look towards the basic needs of the people. We need to meet up with the
youths and encourage them towards making use of their talents. There
needs to be a program to develop their skills so that their mind are
healed and their talents will emerge,” he concluded.