Democracy & Human Rights | Speeches

The Fight against Terrorism

Address following the Assassination of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar

Colombo, Sri Lanka

August 14, 2005

I address you today at a time of profound sorrow. The nation has lost a leader, a great humanist and I have lost a dear friend and colleague. Minister Kadirgamar was the one Minister, who worked most closely with me in the critical area of the fight against terrorism and the attempt to bring about a negotiated political solution to the Tamil people’s problem.

Initial indications of the investigations seem to reveal the responsibility of the LTTE in his brutal murder. It is unacceptable that a group that talks endlessly about being committed to a ceasefire would so blatantly violate it. This violation of the ceasefire is the latest in a continuous series of violations by the LTTE. The LTTE has denied involvement in the murder. Their denial contradicts the facts and our knowledge of their long held desire and repeated attempts to murder both my Tamil Cabinet Colleagues.

Lakshman Kadirgamar was a hero of our times. He was a true patriot who paid the ultimate price in the service of his motherland. Minister Kadirgamar was a Sri Lankan nationalist, who believed passionately in a united and democratic Sri Lanka, in which all peoples would live with dignity and freedom. He envisioned a negotiated political settlement of the ethnic problem that combined devolution of political power with pluralism and democracy. He strived hard for the democratic rights of the Tamil people. He constantly grieved the subjugation of the Tamil people to LTTE authoritarianism.

Minister Kadirgamar was an idealist. Long before 9/11 and the London bombings, long before terrorism became anathema to the Western World, he spoke out against terrorism in Sri Lanka and abroad and explained and convinced the international community that terrorism is no freedom struggle and in fact destroys the very freedom it claims to achieve. During my first government, he was instrumental in having the LTTE recognized internationally for what they are, an armed terrorist group. Consequently they were proscribed in the leading nations of the World. The USA, the UK, Australia followed India. He was an ardent promoter of ethnic harmony and Peace through a negotiated settlement of the conflict and played a crucial role in assisting me to create the conditions that persuaded the LTTE to come to the negotiating table.

Lakshman Kadirgamar was a great human being. An extremely successful sportsman in his youth, he gave up a lucrative and eminently successful legal practice to join with me in 1994 to pursue the dream I hold for a united, peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka. He was a rare combination of intellectual brilliance, political wisdom and personal courage and integrity. The entire nation will miss him. His brutal murder creates a vacuum that will be well nigh impossible to fill.

The assassination of Minister Kadirgamar was a horrendously barbaric act of terrorism against an unarmed civilian, perpetrated by those who opposed all the noble values that he stood for freedom, harmony, brotherhood and peace. Lakshman Kadirgamar joins a long list of distinguished Tamil leaders such as Alfred Duraiappa, Amirthalingam, Neelan Thiruchelvam, Sam Thambimuttu, Sarojini Thiranagama and Kandasamy who were murdered by the LTTE in an attempt to subjugate the Tamil people through violence and terror.

Terrorism has become today, the single most dominant global phenomenon. From New York to London, the western world has begun to experience the terrorism which we have for long suffered in Sri Lanka. Terrorism has been condemned globally while its true nature is recognized and rejected. The community of nations represented by the United Nations Organization and its Security Council has now united to oppose terrorism practically and effectively. We know that the international community will be strengthened in their resolve to stand with me and my freely elected, democratic Government against the terror and violence of the LTTE.

We shall never bow down to terror, nor allow it to succeed neither will we compromise the security of our peoples. Yesterday I declared a state of emergency to ensure the security of the nation and also to assist in the search for the assassins of the Minister, and other terrorist operatives. After an emergency National Security Council meeting, several measures have been adopted to ensure tightened security throughout the country.

I have been a victim of terrorism many times, the attempt on my life in 1999, the assassination of my father, my husband and several political associates, and now my Foreign Minister. However we cannot let terror and hatred overcome us. As long as the ethnic problem remains unresolved, violence and terror will always be with us. The terrorist challenge, we face today which claimed the life of Minister Kadirgamar requires adequate security measures to ensure that terror cannot act with impunity.

But this deals only with the manifestation of terrorism. This will not suffice. If we are to achieve lasting Peace, we need to deal with the root causes of the politics of violence and terror. For this we need an enlightened vision and policy that will seek out the true causes of ethnic conflict in our land and redress it objectively and effectively. Passion and subjectivity can have no place in this process. Those extremist forces who oppose even minimal concessions toward peace, must know that they are responsible for the perpetuation of the terrorist cause, in as much as the LTTE is responsible for generating it.

We must prevail to ensure that Lakshman Kadirgamar’s sacrifice has not been in vain. I will redouble my efforts and the commitment of my government to implement the task of devolution of power based on a democratic and pluralistic society, through dialogue with all the communities inhabiting our land. To achieve this, I and my Government need the continued support and encouragement of our peoples as well as that of Sri Lanka’s friends in the international community.

I appeal to all Sri Lankans not to be provoked by this wanton terrorist attack and to act with utmost restraint at this moment.

May the blessings of the Triple Gem God Almighty and the Devas be with you always.

oreign Heads call on President August 15, 2005, after attending the funeral of Sri Lanka’s slain Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar