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Rajapaksa slams nations staying away from victory celebrations

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa on sunday slammed countries that stayed away from the celebrations to mark
President Mahinda RajapaksaColombo:  President Mahinda Rajapaksa on sunday slammed countries that stayed away from the celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of Sri Lanka’s victory over the LTTE, and called them “blind, deaf, and dumb.”

He accused them of being ignorant to the progress Sri Lanka has made since the end of the war with the Tamil Tigers in 2009.

“Some governments are blind, deaf and dumb. They are opposed to our celebrating this victory,” he said addressing a victory parade in his birthplace in the Sinhalese heartland of Matara in the south.

Most of the western envoys, including that of Canada who had said she would decline an invitation to attend the parade, stayed away from the event.

Canadian High Commissioner Shelley Whiting had said that the parade was inappropriate because the government should be concentrating on reconciliation.

“Five years after the end of the conflict, the time has arrived for Sri Lanka to move past wartime discourse and to start working seriously towards reconciliation,” she had said.

Rajapaksa said despite views expressed by some quarters that Sri Lanka must not celebrate the event he was determined to carry on with the celebrations.

“This is something we should celebrate forever.”

“We celebrate the victory of peace and not victory of war. Best way of respecting war heroes is keeping peace.”

Over 8,000 troops were on parade with the military paraphernalia which contributed to the victory that ended the nearly-three-decade conflict with the rebel outfit.

“Let us be committed to defend the peace won through great sacrifice of lives. Don’t allow any force to use our openness,” Rajapaksa said.

Sri Lanka said the ceremony was a tribute to some 30,000 forces personnel who had made the sacrifice to rid country of terrorism.

But UN has estimated that at least 100,000 people died in the entire conflict, about 40,000 of them in the final months of fighting.

Sri Lanka, however, has denied such claims and resists calls for an international probe into rights abuses during the fag end of the war.

The conflict effectively ended in 2009 when troops killed LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in the northern town of Mullaittivu.


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