Civilians killed in war can be remembered: Rajitha

2018-05-17 06:45:46

If the JVP commemorates its members died fighting the Police and the Armed Forces at two terror campaigns in 1971 and 1989 – 90 period, no one must have any ill-will or resent, when parents of those who died at war in the North–East did the same, Cabinet Spokesman Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne said.

He added that not only the LTTE but the JVP also fell in the category of terrorists because the LTTE launched a civil war to divide the county and establish Eelam and the JVP tried to topple the democratically elected Governments.

In response to the media at the weekly Cabinet news briefing at the Information Department Auditorium yesterday, Minister Senaratne asked whether it was wrong when the parent and relatives of war dead to engage in religious activities to commemorate their loved ones, who died in the war.

The dialogue between the media that ensued during the news briefing is as follows:

Journalist: Are you saying that the JVP also was a terrorist organization during their campaign against the Government, like the LTTE?

Minister Senaratne: Absolutely, because both, the LTTE and the JVP had launched a civil war in the country and both were terrorists in their actions.

Journalist: Does the Government permit to hold Maveerar Day on May 18 and 19 in the North-East?

Minister Senaratne: The Government permits only to commemorate civilians, who became war victims by their families and relatives.

Journalist: That insinuates that civilians died during the conflict.

Minister Senaratne: Yes, of course. Civilians of both sides died in the war.

Journalist: But the Sri Lankan Government maintains that there were no civilian casualties at the final phase of the war.

Minister Senaratne: That is the most unrealistic comment on the civil war in Sri Lanka. Can any right-thinking person say that there were zero casualties at the humanitarian operation?

Journalist: Are you saying that armed forces deliberately targeted civilians at the humanitarian operation?

Minister Senaratne: Not at all! What I am saying is that it is impossible to prevent collateral damage in any armed conflict. We became a laughing stock when we said there were zero casualties at the final stage of the war. This claim of Zero Casualties seriously affected the credibility of Sri Lanka. Whether it was a war waged by Dharmasoka or Alexander the Great, preventing collateral damage is impossible. That is the nature of the war. We cannot blame any side of the divide for civilian casualties but the war itself.

Journalist: Should our armed forces take responsibility for civilian casualties if any.

Minister Senaratne: Absolutely not. Don’t forget that it was a separatist war waged against a democratically elected Government. The LTTE terror campaign also challenged the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Therefore, our armed forces did not have any other option but to crush the terror campaign using its full might. In that endeavour, they never targeted civilians but militants. Therefore, no one can blame our armed forces. Did the US and the EU killed only IS and other Middle East terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan when they bombed those countries?

Journalist: Does the Government commemorate war heroes this year?

Minister Senaratne: Yes, at the Parliament grounds on Saturday.

Journalist: Does the Army prevent if there were ceremonies to commemorate dead LTTE cadres?

Minister Senaratne: Commemorating dead terrorists is against the law of the land. But there is no problem in commemorating dead civilians.

A journalist from Military Spokesman, Brigadier Sumith Atapattu:

What do you have to say about this?

Brigadier Atapattu: No comments.

(Sandun A Jayasekera)

  Comments - 6

  • Racism Thursday, 17 May 2018 11:39

    Very sensible answers. Whether saint or sinner a dead person should be allowed to be remembered by anyone especially by the close relatives and friends. SL should understand that one man's food is another man's poison. Remember late Nelson Mandella. Was he a terrorist or a freedom fighter ? The South African whites say he was a terrorist. The SA blacks say he was a freedom fighter against racism

    Reply : 43       53

    ransam Thursday, 17 May 2018 12:34

    racism and killing innocent people for separate state are two different things

    Reply : 11       59

    lanka Thursday, 17 May 2018 15:30

    Rajitha is nothing but an idiot? You cannot compare JVP rebels who fought for the poor masses (even if it was maligned) and LTTE Tamil terrorist murders who abducted underage Tamil children and held the country to ransom for 20/30 years! Their aim the division of the Sri lankan nation and creation of an Eelam state. You were a coward who did absolutely nothing like joining the forces and taking part in the battlefront. You and you family were safe guarded by our gallant armed forces personnel. For Tamils all LTTE terrorists were and are Tamil civilians. Brigadier Sumith Atapattu should have let this idiot know that he talks SxxT all the time.

    Reply : 28       25

    Death Thursday, 17 May 2018 15:55

    What is wrong in remembering those who killed or died during the war, They can be civilians, Security personnel or terroists. After all they are all human beings and their parents, brothers and sisters have the right to remember the dead ones.

    Reply : 12       27

    Antony Thursday, 17 May 2018 16:20

    For the first time in the history, a Sri Lankan Minister has spoken wisely and respectfully. It is the kind of speeches that all responsible ministers should present in addressing interviews and the public. This will open the path for true reconciliation.

    Reply : 25       32

    Gayan Thursday, 17 May 2018 17:31

    Remembering the dead is one thing. Remembering it on May 18th the date Praba died is another.

    Reply : 3       26

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