|AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES POST - CONFLICT
FUTURE FOR SRI LANKA
Presents Prospects for a Strong Business Climate to
Mr. Curtis Mack, President, Los Angeles World Affairs
Council with Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya
During remarks Monday with the World Affairs
Council in Los Angeles, the Ambassador for Sri Lanka to the U.S.,
Jaliya Wickramasuriya, presented his views on a post-conflict
future for Sri Lanka and the prospects for a strong business climate
for U.S. investors.
"We will rebuild the north," said the
Ambassador, "by using a plan that worked well in our eastern
province. We call it the four Ds, which stands for: de-mining,
de-militarization, democratization and development."
Concerned about land mines and other remnants
of militarization, the Ambassador warned about the need to de-mine
and de-militarize before proceeding with democracy and development.
Citizens in the Northern provinces of Sri Lanka - similar to those
in the East prior to 2007 - have not had the opportunity to democratically
elect their representatives for decades.
"We would love for democracy to be at the
top of that list," he continued. "But the machinery
of war must first be dismantled to make sure that the fighting
never returns. We have before us the hard work of removing mines
and disarming. We will then begin the work of democracy, bringing
the rule of law to places where violence was customary."
The Council members were buoyed by the prospects
of peace taking hold in the North and East and multiplicity of
businesses rising in war-torn areas, through a live give-and take
session about the situation in Sri Lanka.
Consuls General from many Asian countries such as Thailand, Pakistan
and Bangladesh, Los Angeles County representatives, health care
specialists and educators, as well as many management experts,
attended the Ambassador's address to the Council. Described as
a clarion call to would be investors to take a close look at the
emerging investment climate in Sri Lanka, the two-hour long presentation
and question and answer session was presided over by Chris-Vigeria
Crabtree, Director of the Council.
The Ambassador's main theme was that after decades, the Sri Lankan
government was now putting post-development into top gear in Sri
Lanka. Noticeable and quick-paced growth in the liberated Eastern
province - where a Tamil Chief Minister is in charge - was also
highlighted. The Ambassador explained how the country had worked
hard to re-develop the areas in the East formerly infested with
LTTE terrorist groups and is now returning to normalcy. That work
began two years ago, "after Government Security Forces liberated
our civilians from the Tiger terrorists," he said.
Answering questions about the success in dealing
with terrorism, he said, "Since the fighting stopped [in
the East], we have resettled 150,000 people - 80 percent of those
forced out by the war. We have also cleared thousands of land
mines. Land mines, used exclusively by the LTTE, are just one
of the challenges that we will soon face when reconstruction begins
in Northern Sri Lanka.”
He added that the LTTE has refused to surrender,
or to release the 70,000 civilians it forcibly holds in the conflict
zone. The government was now closing in on the last vestiges of
resistance by the LTTE. The United Nations, the International
Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch all report that
the LTTE is using Tamil civilians as human shields, which is a
Regarding democratization in the East, five Council Ministers
have been elected - two Tamils, two Muslims, and one Sinhalese.
One former child soldier and former LTTE regional leader, who
came forth for democracy, was even chosen as the province's Chief
The Government has also sought to include Tamil
leaders - there are now 12 Tamil Ministers in office. Earlier
this month, the Government even appointed a former top LTTE deputy
as a Minister.
The Ambassador said the renewal efforts in the
North will include construction, the implementation of a rural
development initiative and a national infrastructure development
The Ambassador also praised the trade relations that Sri Lanka
and the United States have shared for two centuries. He is hopeful
that partners - in the private sector and in government - will
be able to visit and invest in Sri Lanka.
He said the time for Sir Lankan Tamils, Sinhalese
and Muslims and others in the North to live in harmony like they
do in the rest of the country is drawing near. It is time for
a fresh start. He stated that "for inspiration we, of course,
look to the United States - history's best example of a civil
society that honors the rule of law and true freedom among its
citizens. We can hope no less for Sri Lanka.”
Embassy of Sri Lanka
31 March 2009