As Sri Lanka staged an impressive military parade to mark its victory over the LTTE, President Rajapaksa today told his troops that it was now time to win over the hearts of the minority Tamils who should be able to live without "fear and mistrust".
"The war fought against the LTTE was not a war fought against the Tamil people. Our heroic troops sacrificed their lives to save the innocent Tamil people from the clutches of the LTTE," Rajapaksa said in his address to the 'Victory Day Parade' organised here to pay tributes to security forces following the "defeat of terrorism."
Rajapaksa, who spoke briefly in Tamil before reverting to Sinhala language, said the Sri Lankan armed forces astonished the world by their skills in war, discipline, efficiency and valour while taking on the Tiger rebels.
"We cannot forget the great service rendered by them. The victory we gained defeating the LTTE, is a victory for our entire land," he said.
"The war against the terrorists is now over. It is now the time to win over the hearts of the Tamil people. The Tamil-speaking people should be protected," he said.
The Tamils should be able to live "without fear and mistrust," the President said. "That is today the responsibility of us all."