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Sri Lanka marks anniversary of LTTE's fall

Last updated on: June 18, 2010 20:48 IST

Sri Lanka marks anniversary of LTTE's fall

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Under international flak for his handling of the Tamil issue, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Friday that nations who sympathise with separatism are bound to become the victims of terrorism, as Sri Lanka celebrated with pomp a year of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's military defeat.

A delayed victory parade celebrated the first anniversary of the defeat of Tamil Tigers with the Sri Lankan military marching in a pompous display of artillery, tanks and multi-barrel rocket launchers in Colombo. In an apparent reference to nations who have demanded an international probe into alleged human rights violations by Sri Lankan security forces during the last phase of the war, Rajapaksa said sympathising with terrorism would not help them. "I must state that the countries that show sympathy towards terrorism and separatism will be the victims of terrorism," Rajapaksa said in his speech on the Victory Day.

Rajapaksa, who is the commander in chief of the armed forces, also presided over the parade in which hundreds of Sri Lankan soldiers, armoured vehicles and dance troops marched past the well decorated Galle Face area in Colombo.

Image: Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa inspects a parade in Colombo
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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Hypocrisy boosts terrorism, says Rajapaksa

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Amid a clamour for an international probe, Rajapaksa who was re-elected to the top post with a thumping majority, in a veiled attack blasted Western nations for their dual approach to terror. "It is a grave error of judgement to think that while being opposed to terrorism targeting you, to believe that terrorism that is no threat to you is good," he said.

The President said the world would do well to learn from the "lesson of history" that such hypocrisy would actually boost terrorism. "The world has so far trod on this wrong path. Terrorism remains unvanquished because of this incorrect thinking. The countries that show sympathy towards terrorism and separatism will be the victims of terrorism. This is the lesson of history," Rajapaksa said.

The Victory Day celebrations were earlier scheduled for May 18, the day the military had announced the wiping out of most of the LTTE leadership, including its chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran. However, heavy rains that flooded a large part of the capital, forced the celebrations to be delayed. The President said some countries, battered by terrorism, had actually taken strength from the victory won by Sri Lanka against the LTTE. "It is time for the countries facing attacks from terrorism to look back and see where they had gone wrong, whereas Sri Lanka has succeeded," he said.

Image: Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa (front), commander of the air force Air Vice Marshal Roshan Gunathilake (L) and army commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya (2nd L), Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe at the parade
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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'Our guns were not fired at a single civilian'

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Artillery, tanks and multi-barrel rocket launchers went past the Colombo's main thoroughfare facing the Indian Ocean as warplanes and helicopters flew over and navy gunships sailed along the coast. Strongly defending the human rights record of his military, Rajapaksa said his troops "carried a gun in one hand and a copy of the human rights charter in the other". "Our guns were not fired at a single civilian," he said.

Rajapaksa said his government had already appointed an independent commission to inquire into the causes that led to terrorism, "the lessons we can learn from this, and the path to reconciliation". His comments came a day after UN Undersecretary- General for Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe said the world body plans to appoint a panel of experts to look into human rights issues in Sri Lanka. Pascoe said he expects Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to announce the appointment of the panel early next week.

"As long as we remember that those who sacrificed their lives now rest in the soil of our land, I declare with pride that our people shall not leave room for anyone to divide this motherland of ours," Rajapaksa said.


Image: Disabled army soldiers take part in the parade in Colombo
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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'We will return normalcy to the East'

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Rajapaksa said the people should have complete faith that the land that was "liberated from terrorism" will not be handed over to the forces of separatism again. "What those from abroad who seek to strengthen separatism are really doing is to once again corral the people of the north into camps."The world should look into what happened to all the aid that was given as relief for the Tamil people of the North.

For 30 long years they did not see the development of roads, electricity and schools," Rajapaksa said. He also promised to resolve the problems faced by the people of the war-torn North, "by the end of this year". "It did not take us long to restore normalcy to the East that was affected by terrorism," he said.


Image: Women police officers march at a war victory ceremony in Colombo
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
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