For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa says the LTTE rump is exploring every avenue to avenge Prabhakaran’s killing on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon last May.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says anyone seeking to undermine Sri Lanka’s sovereignty should be treated as a traitor regardless of his or her position.
It will be a grave blunder on the government’s part to pave the way for the so-called international community to interfere in Sri Lanka, he says.
The Defence Ministry says that any Sri Lankan promoting an agenda which is detrimental to the country is nothing but a traitor who should be ready to face the consequences.
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa told The Island in a brief interview that traitors deserved capital punishment and no one should shed crocodile tears over them.
He emphasized that the armed forces had paid a heavy price to bring the LTTE to its knees last May and nothing could be as loathsome as producing officers, who had spearheaded the offensive before an international tribunal.
He said that a recent statement, which had been attributed to Oxford Chancellor Chris Patten as reported in yesterday’s issue of The Island, underscored the need to be vigilant to external threats. The last British Governor of Hong Kong is reported having said that the UN should have intervened politically and diplomatically under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Sri Lanka’s campaign against the LTTE.
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that former Army Commander General Fonseka, in the run-up to January 26 presidential election, alleged the Army had executed LTTE cadres, who gave themselves up on the Vanni front. Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said: “Although Fonseka had subsequently said that the Army did not massacre surrendering LTTE cadres, though being ordered by me, it paved the way for international intervention.”
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa alleged that those bent on destabilizing the country would now exploit Fonseka’s parliamentary privileges to fast track their sinister campaign. Now that terrorists no longer retained a conventional fighting capability, the LTTE rump would strive to isolate the country, he said. The fastest way to achieve their goal was to use MP Sarath Fonseka to justify their baseless allegations, he said. He emphasized that anyone throwing his or her weight behind an anti-Sri Lanka conspiracy would be considered a traitor and people should be naïve to believe such behavior could be tolerated.
Responding to a query by The Island, the war veteran said that the conclusion of the war last year had brought a sense of relief to all communities. Although petty minded politicians may not realize the ground situation as yet, in the absence of the LTTE factor, the Opposition would be powerless, he said. The bottom line is that the Opposition may not have an issue big enough to exploit as a rallying point except unsubstantiated war crimes charges.
During the war, interested parties, including the media, had accused the Navy and Air Force, too, of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and in some instances Indian fishermen. Had they bothered to follow the media coverage of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, they would accept Sri Lanka’s extraordinary efforts to minimize civilian loss of life. He said that even at the height of the war on the Vanni front, the ICRC was allowed to evacuate the wounded out of LTTE-held territory. He said that the government could have finished off the LTTE in a much shorter time if the military ignored the civilian factor.