UNP Colombo District member T. Maheswaran, joining the debate, said that the government was harassing Tamil civilians while claiming it was fighting the LTTE. There was no objection to the war against the LTTE, but thousands of innocent civilians of the North, who had come to Colombo on legitimate business, were rounded up by the police and detained without any valid reason.
He said, he appealed to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to release these detainees immediately as they had come to Colombo informing the authorities in the North of the reason for their coming. There was no grouse against the government for attacking the LTTE, he had the highest regard for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, but had to protest strongly against the senseless detention of Tamil civilians including women.
Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Areas Development, Dinesh Gunawardena said defeating terrorism was defeating separatism. The country has to be freed from any group taking up arms to achieve either of the two objectives.
The Sri Lanka army is a competent force and had proved it was possible to defeat terrorists. While the country needed such a force, a more powerful and technologically advanced navy to protect the country and its territorial waters was necessary.
The government had been patient with the LTTE for nearly one and a half years, even with the LTTE`s continued provocations. But after the attempt on the life of Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and the assassination of Chief of Staff Parami Kulatunga, the government had to counter terrorist action. Though some members were trying to defend the LTTE, they have made a number of covert attempts to kill leaders in the South even after the government offered to hold peace talks. But finally, as a responsible leader, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to defeat the terrorists who were strengthened by those who signed a Ceasefire Agreement secretly, the Minister said.
Mano Ganeshan (Western People`s Front) said the Supreme Court had held on many occasions that detention of persons without following correct legal procedure, cannot be allowed. But the government had detained thousands of Tamil civilians without a valid reason, just because they happened to be Tamils. The war will not solve any problem other than causing the deaths of our people, but the government seemed to have opted for the war and not for a political solution.
Ganeshan said the Tissa Vitarana proposals for a political solution were presented to the government. But, there seemed to be no response from leaders of the government. The only way to solve the problem was to find an acceptable political solution to stop the armed conflict.
N. Srikanthan (TNA) Jaffna District said the TNA condemned killing of unarmed civilians in the South and the North. People of the country whether they were Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim did not opt for a war but wanted peace.
The Tamil people of the North and East were denied their rights when the British gave independence to the country in 1948, though they had their own areas of habitation for hundreds of years in these regions. When they made efforts to regain their territories, successive governments denied it to them. The Constitution of 1972 failed to recognize the rights of the Tamil people. Therefore at the 1977 elections, the Tamil people had given a mandate to the TULF to work towards their self determination rights, Srikanthan said.
He said the solution to the problem could only be found by a negotiated political solution, but the war against the LTTE cannot be won. The All Party Conference was also not working. It appears the government is not going to find a political solution but continue with the war which could bring more problems.
Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Keheliya Rambukwella said all Tamil political leaders who did not agree with Prabhakaran were killed. The TNA should tell us whether those leaders were wrong. The LTTE leader did not wish to tolerate other Tamil leaders, and the government made much effort for one and a half years to arrive at a negotiated political solution to the problem. The TNA did not wish to say that Prabhakaran was wrong, because they were his stooges
The history of the LTTE leader was one of continued deception from the time of the Thimpu Talks up to now and today Kilinochchi is in sight for the armed forces to take. The pattern of Prabhakaran`s behaviour was to ask for peace talks when he was weak, so that he could reinforce his forces while delaying talks to gain time. But today, he had become a desperate man begging the Tamils living in all parts of the country and the international community to save him and not the Sri Lankan Tamils.
The cat was out of the bag as his supporters had begun to ask for peace talks again. He is a weakened man unable to get out of his bunker to realise his personal dream of Eelam. The forces are tasting victory and defeat is inevitable. If we back out now, generations to come will spit at us for not making use of the opportunity to defeat this terrorist who had continued to shed the blood of people who had surrendered to him too, Rambukwella said.