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Sirisena defends return of land to minorities

Maithripala Sirisena

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has defended his government’s move to return private land acquired by the security forces during the civil war to its legitimate owners as part of reconciliation efforts with minority communities, including Tamils.

In an address to the nation yesterday on the completion of 100 days of his government, Sirisena said that it was “regrettable” that some political opponents were using the Internet and media to spread false information that the armed forces are to be reduced or removed from the North.

He said these people are spreading rumours that land had been given to the LTTE cadres in Sampur and more rights had been given to the Tamils and Muslims than to the Sinhalese.

“Such stories are entirely spread by extreme racists. Please do not give such false information to the world. This leads to large-scale misleading of Sri Lankans living abroad,” he said.

“I wish to clearly state that during the time of the armed conflict the armed forces took private land for their use not only in the North and East, but also in the city of Colombo. Therefore, is it wrong to give these lands back to their original owners?” he asked.

“Should we not return the large extent of private property acquired in Colombo Fort near the President’s House, around Temple Trees without any compromise on national security or weakening of and security camps? However, there is wrong publicity given about this,” he said.

Sirisena said he wants to create a secular Sri Lanka through national reconciliation.

“I want to see a country where all ethnic communities lived peacefully. To this end I have opened a national secretariat for reconciliation,” he stressed.

“In order to build a strong democratic and equitable nation it is necessary to promote unity, friendship and coexistence among those who follow different religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and also among communities such as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers. Reconciliation and brotherhood will eliminate mistrust, doubt and fear among people, Sirisena said.

“Having understood the internal problems we face as a country we must take every action to prevent situations that led to the armed conflict that lasted three decades. For this the friendship among all people is essential,” he said.

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