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Victory & Beyond | dailynews.lk

Victory against terrorism and not against a minority - Sanath Gunatileke



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.

Different ideologies

“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 expressed.

Why terrorism?

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 stressed.

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.

Biggest asset

“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 again.

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 country.

“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.

Better future

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.

 

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