SRI LANKA’S AMBASSADOR NOTES PRESIDENT
RAJAPAKSA’S ELECTORAL POPULARITY AND THE END OF TERRORISM
Ambassador says President Mahinda Rajapaksa
is fulfilling the wishes of the people as a Democratically Elected
Sri Lankan Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya
told a May 6 gathering of the Atlantic Council, a Washington,
D.C. think tank, that a ceasefire with the cornered Tamil Tigers
in Sri Lanka will only lead to more terrorism.
Speaking in a program entitled “Sri Lanka:
Beyond Terrorism,” Ambassador Wickramasuriya outlined the
government’s ambitious plans for reconstruction and reconciliation
in northern Sri Lanka, where government forces have trapped the
last remnants of the Tamil Tiger force.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya noted that the Tigers
are holding 15,000-20,000 civilians as a human shield, and that
the government’s advance has actually allowed 111,000 of
those civilians to flee the Tigers.
In response to a question about allegations that
the government is shelling civilians, Ambassador Wickramasuriya
replied, “We 100 percent deny shelling,” people trapped
in the conflict zone. Ambassador Wickramasuriya also addressed
a question about the role of a United Nations brokered ceasefire.
There are fears, he said, that a third-party negotiator will simply
be held hostage by the Tigers, “and then we will have a
A ceasefire, he said, will only allow the Tigers
to “rearm, regroup and reposition,” among civilians.
A video that Ambassador Wickramasuriya showed displayed Tiger
terrorists taking positions among civilians encampments in the
small, 2-square mile conflict zone.
“There is no guarantee that a ceasefire
will cause the release of the trapped civilians,” he said.
“Those innocent people are right now the best weapon the
Tigers have. They will not give it away. They have already said
so. The Tigers have also said that they will not surrender.”
“The Tigers know they are finished, so
the lifeline of a ceasefire will only bring more years of terrorism
in Sri Lanka.”
The Atlantic Council’s program reflects
Washington’s heightened interest in the conflict in Sri
Other guests asked about post-conflict elections
in the north -- Ambassador Wickramasuriya noted the country’s
positive experience with regional elections in the Eastern Province
-- as well as Sri Lanka’s request for reconstruction aid.
The Ambassador noted that de-mining will be a
priority in the north, where the LTTE has sown thousands of landmines
around villages. He noted that damaged water and sanitation facilities,
roads, rail lines, bridges, hospitals, schools and government
offices will be repaired, along with 80,000 houses.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya also discussed the
role that the U.S. Agency for International Development has played
in Sri Lanka, and the hope that five vocational training centers
will be established with USAID help in the five regions of the
“Sri Lanka is the oldest democracy in Asia,”
he said. “We have never had a military government. Our President,
Mahinda Rajapaksa, is doing what the people of Sri Lanka want.
They have suffered enough. They have lost their loved ones. They
are tired of terrorism.”
Embassy of Sri Lanka
07 May 2009