The Sunday Leader

Irrespective Of Race Or Religion All Must Celebrate War Victory – Patali Champika

By Camelia Nathaniel

Minister of Megapolis and Western Province Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka says that the people should be grateful for the freedom that we are enjoying today and we should all celebrate the war victory irrespective of race or religion. In an interview with The Sunday Leader he said that the Tamil people need not feel betrayed and bitter as they too are enjoying the fruits of this freedom. According to Minister Ranawaka, during the war it was the Tamil people who suffered the most and now that there is peace in the country, they should be the ones who are most happy.  He said celebrating the war victory does not mean that the Sinhalese people are insensitive to the losses or suffering of the Tamil people, but as a country we should be relieved that we no longer have to live in fear and uncertainly.

Following are excerpts of the interview:-

Q: It’s been seven years since the end of the war and do you think that justice has been done to the Tamil people and those affected by the war?

A: The whole country suffered due to the war. Especially the Wanni area was badly affected as the terrorists had established an unofficial self-rule in those areas. Hence the people in the North and east are backward in education, living standards and in general in relation to the rest of the country as they had been deprived of many opportunities during the war. Although the LTTE claimed to be the liberators of the people in reality what has happened is that the people of the North and East have in fact been pushed back in everything compared to the rest of the country. For example around 1980, the poverty level in Sri Lanka was around 35%, but now it has been reduced to 6%. However the poverty level among the Muslim communities in these areas that were affected by the war is around 6%, but in the affected Tamil areas poverty is around 12%.  In some areas in the North East and Monaragala, the poverty level is higher than the rest of the country.

However the sad part is that in spite of the hardships that the Tamil people have had to go through, there still are some parties who are trying to once again take the Tamil people on the same destructive path. This is the sad part.

 

Q: The celebrating of the war victory, is seen by some as digging the wounds of the Tamil people who have suffered the most. What do you think?

A: No I feel that the whole country has been rescued from the terrible war and today we all live in peace. Hence I don’t think that anyone should get hurt over the war victory celebrations as we all benefitted from that victory. During the war the Tamil people know how much they had to pay for their basic food items, but today they too are enjoying the benefits of this freedom. Therefore I don’t think that we should think that way and the whole country should celebrate the ending of the war and its suffering. Today they have better facilities like electricity, roads etc and the freedom to travel and live. These were all deprived even to the Tamil people by the terrorists. Hence this victory belongs to the whole country and no one should look at it from a negative perspective. For example Russia celebrates the day they entered Berlin and in England they celebrate the D Day. This does not mean the German people must feel sad or upset over it because the majority of the world received freedom on that day. Similarly the Tamil people should see the greater benefit in winning the war instead of taking it in a negative manner as a defeat for the Tamil people. We should be thankful that we all have the freedom to live in peace. Look at the world today and how many people are affected by terrorism. These countries are now living in fear that terrorists can strike at any moment. Hence we should be thankful that we are now from this fear and uncertainty. If anyone is unhappy about this, then they should have some connection to those who were responsible for creating that instability and fear. At the time it was only the LTTE while the rest of the country was made to live in fear. So I think that we should celebrate this victory irrespective of cast or race as Sri Lankans and be thankful for the peace that we have earned.

 

Q: Although terrorism was defeated within the country, there are still fears that the terrorists could regroup and came back. Do you think this is a possibility?

A: Invariably this sort of terrorist organisation will not abandon their ideologies immediately and in spite of their leaders all being killed, they will try to regroup and reorganise. In the past there were minor incidents where these terrorists made such attempts, but our security forced countered these attempts and prevented any incidents. Hence the Tamil people too have a responsibility to be vigilant of such terrorist activities and keep the security forces informed if any suspicious activities are taking place and safeguard the peace in the country. So far the Tamil people have helped to safeguard peace.

 

Q:  The government promised to remove the military camps and release the land to the people. However so far this has not happened. Why?

A: During the war we have to increase the military camps especially due to the LTTE artillery attacks. But gradually we released these lands and during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure too around 26,000 acres of land was released to the people. Hence I believe that the military’s policy now is to retain the essential lands needed to maintain security and return the rest of the lands to the people. This will be done gradually.

However there is one aspect that no one is talking about and that is the lands that were taken over forcibly by the LTTE. What has happened to these lands? The Muslims and Sinhalese living in the North were chased off. The LTTE also chased off anyone who opposed their policies. The LTTE members took over these lands and they shared these lands among them. So will these lands be returned to the people? Wigneswaran should answer this question too. Just like they are talking about the lands taken by the military these same people should talk about the lands that were taken by the LTTE too.

 

Q: The security forces personnel feel that while they were considered as heroes during the war, today they are being targeted as criminals. Is this true?

A: This is true. This depends on the society’s gratitude. It was because 26,000 security personnel sacrificed their lives that over 20 million people gained their freedom and similarly many sacrificed their limbs so others could walk freely. Others sacrificed their eyes and arms so others could benefit. So we should be grateful to those who sacrificed much to ensure our safety. We should not forget what they did for us.

 

Q: What is the progress made with regard to the disappeared?

A: The Paranagama commission and the Udulagama commission were appointed in order to investigate those who were reported missing or had been abducted during the war. They have received around 15,000 reports of persons who had gone missing. Of this figure around 5000 are members of the security forces. Today no matter what the international community tries to imply the Tamil people know who abducted their children and who forcibly recruited their children to fight in the war. Hence we need to look at this situation openly and honestly, instead of being prejudiced and trying to point fingers to one party.

 

Q: With regard to the political prisoners, why has the government still not resolved this issue?

A: Although some may accuse the government, after the war around 12,000 LTTE cadres surrendered to the security forces and they were released. In comparison there are only around 280 of these political prisoners left. The 12,000 were released under a common amnesty. Of the rest there are only a very few whose cases have not been filed while the rest are having their cases heard. However taking into consideration the time they have served in prison, their cases should be taken up and their immediate release should be ensured. This should be done soon as they have suffered enough.

 

3 Comments for “Irrespective Of Race Or Religion All Must Celebrate War Victory – Patali Champika”

  1. trunket

    The German/Japanese Mourn and British Veterans decisive Allied victory is greeted.

    What is this hegel egghead clamouring for.

    The Vanquished and the ones left of the war still have no rights or human dignity.
    While immigrant islam minority rules the nation 48 with the convenience of eggheads.

    where has the immigrant Sinha-le taken the population of the island to??

    From Begging bowl to plunder looting lying murdering.
    How long can you go before you become the cannibal you are?

  2. John Appaswamy

    Dear Mr. Minister,

    Although I am willing to concede that in your mind, you have only gratefulness when you state that the ‘War Victory’ should be celebrated, I can almost swear an oath that the thoughts in the minds of 70% of the 72% Sinhalese in the country will be ‘triumphalism’.

    Not all your pious pontifications can remove this dear Minister, much as you may wish for it.

    Don’t you think that, with a view to achieving the peace & reconciliation that this Govt. is trying for, it would be a better idea to forget the WAR & the VICTORY. Even the media should be prohibited from mentioning these words, in relation to Sri Lanka, so that ALL people can forget that disgraceful period in our history. Otherwise it will be a case of having WON THE WAR (against the LTTE) and LOST THE BATTLE (to win the hearts & minds of the Tamil people)

  3. Just Society

    Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka is not incorrect to state that war is over but he must acknowledge that peace is yet to come to the Tamil people in the North and East. If he is the child of a Tamil mother then I suppose then he could comprehend the loss.

    If the war was won with practically minimum civilian casualties then all the peoples of Lanka can celebrate the end of war and the beginning of potential peace. but that was not the case; 100,000 Tamil lives were lost during the last days of the war. Unless the Tamil people are sick, they cannot celebrate the killing of thousands of their brethren.

    Let them mourn the loss peacefully and recover. Till then let there be a good governance to reap the benefit.

    Meanwhile Minister Ranawaka must recognize that Tamils, native children of Ceylon over two thousand years, have been incrementally and systematically persecuted, supplanting the British colonialism on them with ethno-colonialism. That must come to an end for a durable peace.

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