Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Lanka rejects calls for withdrawal of troops

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Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today rejected international calls to withdraw troops from the country’s former warzones, warning that LTTE diaspora had not given up separatism.

“Some are shouting remove military camps from the north and east,” Rajapaksa said at a ceremony to mark the third anniversary of crushing of the Tamil Tigers, claiming “the LTTE diaspora had not given up their separatist ideas.”

“We cannot jeopardise national security by removing camps,” the Lankan President declared in sharp comments, hours after US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton said that Colombo should demilitarise the Tamil dominated embattled north and do more to protect human rights.

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister G M Peiris had a 45-minute meeting with Clinton in Washington after which he told reporters that Colombo will carry out its own investigation into the rights abuses during the final phase of the island’s civil war.

The UN, the US as well as India has stressed upon the Lankan administration to demilitarise the former conflict areas and to carry out a national reconciliation.

A recommendation to de-escalate military presence in the north and east also figures in Rajapakasa’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report. Rajapaksa rejected conjectures that his forces were involved in the civil administration in the Tamil-dominated north.

“What the Eelamist terrorists could not do through decades of war, they are now trying to achieve through other means,” Rajapaksa said.

But in an olive branch to the west, the Sri Lankan President asked them to see the progress of the country since the end of the three decades old armed conflict in “positive light”.

“We are a nation who sit equally with other members of the United Nations. We treat them equally. We have the strength to solve our own problems,” Rajapaksa said.

The Sri Lankan leader said the international governments must appreciate the services of his government towards its communities since the war ended.

“We will not abdicate our responsibilities. We have already implemented (recommendations) what we can agree with (in the LLRC). He said his government would not waste the opportunity to make use of the peace prevailing in the island after 30 years of bloody clashes.

The country marked the ‘victory day’ with a grand military display by Air force jets, steam passed by naval craft and a parade by the army.

With over 12000 security forces personnel on display, this was the biggest military show since the end of the civil war in which 32 Sri Lankan fighter jets were on display and 72 warships steamed past.

The President presented 15 ‘parama veera vibhushana’, the nations highest gallantary awards to the next of the kin of soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in the battle against the LTTE. (PTI)

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