President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared yesterday that it would not be possible to remove military camps from the North.
“We must ask if we are in a position to remove the armed forces camps in the North and reduce our attention to national security. That is not possible,” President Rajapaksa said in an address to the nation to mark ‘Victory Day’ -- the third anniversary of the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Flanked by the Commanders of the three armed forces, the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Defence Staff, President Rajapaksa inspected a guard of honour at the ceremony held at Galle Face Green.
Besides the celebrations of the victory, it was also a time to recall, the heroism of the men and women who sacrificed their lives to bring to an end a 30 year old conflict.
Cabinet Ministers, MPs, members of the diplomatic corps and senior military officials were among those who attended the celebrations to mark Victory Day. “It is necessary to ask those who call for the removal of the armed forces from the North whether the ‘Diaspora’ and Eelamists have stopped their work although the country has returned to normal,” the President said.
He said the people were aware that the armed forces did not participate in the administration of the North or East and the regions were administered by the public service and the police. “Despite this there are many who shout that the security forces camps in these areas should be removed. They ask us why they are not removed. But no one asks whether those who make such demands are not seeking to achieve what Prabhakaran failed to obtain through the use of ship loads of arms, aerial attacks, Sea Tiger and human suicide bomb attacks through 30 years of a war of terror. Are they now not asking this through different means?” the President queried.
President Rajapaksa said he could not allow the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which was appointed to bring about reconciliation among the people to be used to create divisions among them.
“We appointed the LLRC with great expectations of bringing about reconciliation among communities. We are already carrying out what we can agree to and can implement among the recommendations of the LLRC. This is not due to pressure from anyone,” the President said.
He said the countries of the world should understand that the Government would not shy away from its responsibilities when they see the service that had been rendered in three years to the Tamil people of the North, whose freedom had been restored.
The President said that in spite of the end of the war, the armed forces still had a responsibility. “Once peace has been established, the heroes who brought us freedom have a similar responsibility. It is the task of rebuilding the country and adding to its beauty.”
He added that the restrictions and obstructions through 30 years which people lived with were now gone. “Today, the country that faced such restrictions has returned to normal. We have systematically removed from our vocabulary the references to refugee camps, landmines and villages under threat. There is no State of Emergency today. There are no high security zones.”
He said there were no militias operating, especially in the North and East and all such groups had now been disarmed while limitations placed on fishermen were no more. “The era of the underworld and drug racketeers is ending. Today Sri Lanka is a country free of restrictions and obstacles,” he added.