October 26, 2016

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Defends Returning Land To Tamilians

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena also said his government has taken “every step” to ensure the national security. (Reuters file photo)

COLOMBO:  Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has defended his government’s decision of giving back miltary-occupied lands of Tamils, saying the community has waited 27 years for it.

“We are being accused of giving back lands of the Tamil. I ask you if your own property is held by the military, how would you react?” he said yesterday while addressing the Sri Lankan community in Japan.

“They have waited not one or two years but 27 years to get their lands back,” Mr Sirisena said.

His remarks came in reaction to criticism from Mahinda Rajapaksa’s followers who accuse the Sirisena government of appeasing the Tamil minority by relaxing some of the stringent security measures that prevailed under his predecessor.

His government has released some of the Tamil civilian land held for military purposes during the 30-year conflict.

Despite the defeat of the LTTE through military means, the root cause of the Tamil conflict still remains, he said without elaborating, and so his government was keen to ensure there is no repetition of an ethnic separatist conflict in the island.

He also said his government has taken “every step” to ensure the national security.

“There is no threat whatsoever. We have taken every step to ensure the national security” despite rumours spread by political opponents, he assured the community. He was attending the G7 summit as a special invitee – the first time ever Sri Lanka’s head of state had been invited for the same.

“Since our government came in, we have had excellent cooperation from all our friendly nations. The countries who had sidelined us have welcomed us with hands of friendship. As you know our defence sector training has come from India, US, Britain and Pakistan. These things have improved now,” he said.

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