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GL refutes anti - Sri Lanka propaganda

The impression sought to be generated in some quarters that a war against the Tamil people had been waged by the Government of Sri Lanka is false and mischievous, Export Development and International Trade Minister Professor G.L. Peiris, told a well-attended meeting of the National Press Club in Tokyo recently.

Minister G.L. Peiris

"A considerable section of the legitimate Tamil political leadership had been destroyed by the LTTE, and one of the urgent tasks of the Government at present is to provide the space for the re-emergence of a democratic leadership representing the Tamil people", he said.

Drawing a clear distinction between the Tamil people and the LTTE, the Minister said that the military action assumed the character of a humanitarian operation which served the purpose of enabling the Tamil people, no less than all other sections of the Sri Lankan public, to exercise their democratic rights and freedoms without fear or intimidation.

Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Japan Jayantha Palipane accompanied the Minister.

Even as far as the LTTE was concerned, the Government had made every effort to engage them in negotiation directed towards a political solution.

During the first seven months after his election as President in November 2005, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sent two delegations to Europe to talk to the LTTE, but this proved to be of no avail because the LTTE showed no commitment, even at the basic level, to work with sincerity towards a political objective. On one occasion, they refused to come into the room where the Sri Lankan delegation was awaiting them.

It was only after the LTTE cut off water from the farmers of the Eastern Province that the Government commenced military action to enable the people to continue earning their livelihood. The charge of callous disregard of the rights of the civilian population during the final stages of the military action is untrue, Prof. Peiris said.

Another false charge, the Minister continued, is that the Government has no interest anything other than the defeat of the LTTE.

Far from this being the case, the Government is now engaged in the implementation of a multi-pronged humanitarian and economic strategy, the Minister continued.

The first priority is to cater for the immediate needs of the displaced people. Criticism that fails to take into account the practical difficulties of looking after more than 250,000 people, is both unfair and unrealistic, he pointed out. A determined effort is being made by the Government, with the support of several countries to provide food, accommodation and health and sanitation facilities.

It is necessary, however, to ensure that the LTTE does not infiltrate the camps. The fact that the LTTE used suicide bombers to come with refugees to Government areas, causing considerable destruction, makes this a practical requirement.

Government attaches high priority to the resettlement of displaced persons and the restoration of their livelihoods. Several Governments as well as the private sector in Sri Lanka are involved in initiatives to revive economic activity in such fields as agriculture, fisheries, tourism and small and medium sector industry, Minister Peiris continued.

Responding to a question whether the Government would agree to an international investigation, Prof. Peiris said that this was totally unacceptable.



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