Lanka’s right to celebrate triumph over terrorism cannot be disputed - GR

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said yesterday that Sri Lanka’s right to celebrate the eradication of terrorism couldn’t be disputed. He said that the government would not under any circumstance succumb to international pressure to do away with the annual Victory Day parade.

Defence Secretary Rajapaksa was speaking to The Island shortly after the conclusion of the victory day parade held in Matara, yesterday.

Commenting on a recent statement attributed to Canadian High Commissioner, Shelley Whiting in The Island, the Defence Secretary said that the Canada’s decision to boycott the Matara parade was inimical to bilateral relations between the two countries.

Canada also skipped the Commonwealth Day celebrations on April 26 in Colombo.

The Defence Secretary said that the Canadian envoy had obviously misinterpreted the vanquished as Tamil speaking people. "The victors are the people of Sri Lanka-the Sinhalese and the Tamil speaking and the vanquished were the separatist LTTE. If the Canadian government conducted a survey of Canadians of Sri Lankan origin, it could easily establish the number of victims of LTTE terror," Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said. Such a survey could also help identify those affected by internecine fighting among Tamil groups, as well as the LTTE’s war with the Indian Army, he said.

The Defence Secretary said that those who had been distressed by the LTTE defeat was a rather small group hell-bent on politicising the issue. Had the army failed on the Vanni front, thousands of more men, women and children would have perished during the past five years, he said. The LTTE would have continued to use child soldiers as cannon fodder, he said. Parents were among those who have been delighted over the LTTE’s defeat, because they knew what would have happened to their children if Prabhakaran had survived.

The Defence Secretary said that Canada was among countries which annually celebrated battlefield victories. Annual celebrations of Allied D-Day landings seven decades ago was a case in point, he said.

The army had lost nearly 6,000 officers and men during eelam war IV, he said. Of them over 3,000 had died on the Vanni front in some of the bloodiest fighting during the conflict, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said, noting that the UN as well as some countries had been concerned about the size of the military. The size of the forces as well deployment would be the prerogative of the government of Sri Lanka, he said.

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