A decade of peace, which was an occasion worthy of celebration, has been marred by the resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka which has impacted all of us once again, former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.
In a message on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the victory over terrorism, Mr. Rajapaksa said several events which were planned to commemorate the anniversary had been postponed due to the terror attacks.
“While we had planned several events to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the ending of the war against terror, we have postponed same in light of the despicable terror attacks on April 21, so that we may devote our efforts to those affected,” he said.
Mr. Rajapaksa said the resurgence of terrorism was a direct result of the lack of vision and short-sightedness of the leaders, who carried out an unwarranted witch-hunt against the war heroes and thereby, disabled the intelligence structure.
“I strongly condemn the most despicable and cowardly terrorist attacks carried out on April 21 and call upon you to act with determination to ensure such acts of terror will not be experienced in Sri Lanka again,” he said.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of victory over terror, he said he wished to extend his sincere gratitude to all the War Heroes and their families, for their immense sacrifice and contribution to bringing peace to our Motherland, so that we could together, stand strong in unity and dignity as one nation under the shade of our national flag.
“I am pleased to share my thoughts with all patriotic citizens of Sri Lanka today, which marks the 10th anniversary of successfully eradicating terrorism, which had engulfed our nation and its people for 30 years. As an officer of a combat regiment of the Sri Lanka Army and subsequently as the Secretary of Defence, I fulfilled my duties with commitment, based on the immense love and respect I have for my country and its people.
While serving as the Secretary of Defence, I was privileged to give leadership, motivation and logistical support to the victorious armed forces of Sri Lanka, in annihilating the scourge of terrorism that had plagued our nation and to ensure terrorism will not burden our future generations and its shadows will never darken our lives again.
More than 12,000 youth who were members of the LTTE were rehabilitated through a complex program conducted by the Sri Lanka Army and were successfully reintegrated to society as responsible and productive citizens of Sri Lanka. More than 29,000 officers and soldiers from the tri-forces, police and Civil Defence Force, laid down their lives for their motherland.
Thousands more are missing in action and around 10,000 are permanently disabled and are confined to their beds or wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. I remember their sacrifices with heartfelt gratitude and honour them for their sacrifices to give us a life free of terror.
I also pay tribute to their beloved parents, wives and children who are to date, grieving for their loss. Programs such as “Api Wenuwen Api” were launched to support the families of those who died or are disabled, and wellness centres such as “Abhimansala” and “Mihindu Seth Madura” were established for the disabled, so that they could live their lives in dignity, as respected citizens of Sri Lanka,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.