In a major speech delivered in New Delhi on 12 September, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa reached out to the Tamil community and said that the war of 2009 was against terrorism of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and not against the community.
Rajapaksa hit out at his international critics and said that allegations of human rights abuse against the victorious Sri Lankan Military are ‘false.’
“We did not at any time, wage an ethnic war: the military action was certainly not directed against the Tamil community. It must not be forgotten that the reach of this terrorist organization was not confined to Sri Lanka, but extended to Indian soil, where they assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and many others,” Rajapaksa said at the speech organized by the Virat Hindustan Sangam led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy. The speech dealt in detail with the war that began after peace negotiations between the Sri Lankan Government led by Rajapaksa, and the LTTE broke down in 2006.
“Eradication of terrorism was not for the sole benefit of one community, or even for one country,” said Rajapaksa, arguing that not completing the military campaign that led to the killing of LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, would have amounted to the “betrayal of coming generations.” He said that the Sri Lankan Military saved 300,000 Tamil civilians, who were trapped in the last stage of the war, from a narrow strip of land in the East.
Earlier, introducing the speaker, Dr. Swamy said: “Rajapaksa is the frontrunner for the next Government, and hopefully he will be the President of Sri Lanka soon. He took decisive action against terrorism and cleaned up the country. As a result, Sri Lanka is today a favoured destination of international investment.”
Rajapaksa criticized the Government of President Sirisena, saying that it undermined the sovereignty of his country, and said that Colombo (under the present Government) cosponsored a move at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, blaming Sri Lanka and its armed forces for the consequences of the conflict.