Peace | Speeches

"Long journey to transform this temporary ceasefire into a genuine and sustainable peace"

National Hero's Commemoration Day

Mailapitiya, Kandy, Sri Lanka

June 7, 2004

Venerable Members of the Maha Sangha
Members of the clergy
Hon. Prime Minister
Hon. Ministers, Hon. Governors
Commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force
The Inspector General of Police
Members of Parliament, Honoured Guests
My dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters,

I am particularly proud of the opportunity at being able to hold this memorial ceremony to commemorate our War Heroes for their highest and dedicated service and participate in it on this 7th of June. All of us are gathered here are present to commemorate the greatest sacrifice, the sacrifice of life that is available to man, by nearly 23,000 Heroes of War in the Armed Forces and the Police for the defence and indivisibility of our country and the defence of its people.

We bow our heads in honour and memory of all those heroes who made a great sacrificial offer of their youth and lives for our country as a result of this cruel war that began in this country 20 years ago. Similarly, I offer my undiminished honour and respect on behalf of the entire nation to all mothers and fathers, wives, brothers and sisters who lost their sons and daughters, husbands, brothers and sisters and other close members of their families in the sacrifice they made on behalf of the nation. Friends, in every country and every civilized society there are a variety of monuments to honour those war heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of such country and society.

It was several years ago that our Government decided to build this memorial at Mailapitiya in the Kandy District to commemorate those, mainly young men and women, who sacrificed their lives through the 20 years of this war, for the defence of the country.

We established a Rana Viru Authority to look after the interests of the families of those who sacrificed their lives and all those who were disabled in this war. We accept all such work as the duty of the Government. The Rana Viru Authority performs a considerable service on behalf of the families of those war heroes, the injured and disabled, and also those heroes who are still active in service. Among these services are, help in the building of homes for those who do not have their own homes; providing for vocational training where necessary to the family members of those who are disabled and also to those disabled in battle; obtaining educational scholarships for members of the families of these war heroes, and advisory and counselling services to those who are in need of such assistance. The Government also looks forward to further expand the services of the Rana Viru Authority.

The armed confrontations of war that lasted 20 years have now been temporarily halted. This has been done following agreement reached between the Government and the LTTE. I believe that everyone in this country is pleased with this temporary peace that has been achieved. However, it is necessary for us to make a long journey to transform this temporary ceasefire into a genuine and sustainable peace. I must remind you that this journey is even more difficult, demanding and complex than war. In order to achieve peace, it is necessary for all of us, particularly the main parties (or participants) in this war - the Government and the LTTE - act with a great deal of commitment. However, as the Venerable Member of the Maha Sangha who spoke earlier reminded us, our Government is in no way prepared to enter into a commitment at the cost of sacrificing our national security, territorial integrity, the sovereignty of the state and the safety and security of our people. I wish to remind you on this occasion that will make every effort to go on that journey while ensuring the special needs and the necessary security, that will not make it possible to separate one part of the country from the larger national entity of what remains a single country.

In this situation it is not possible for the Government alone to successfully carry out this task. In this we need the cooperation of the entire nation and especially the cooperation of all leaders in our society. It is not material as to who is in government. Similarly, it is not important as to what political party forms the Government. I wish to emphasize on this very important and significant occasion, that all such rivalry should be set aside and all political parties, especially the leaders of political parties should set aside their narrow and selfish political expectations and make a determined commitment on behalf of the nation and country to cooperate achieving this sustainable and strong peace that we all look forward to with great expectation.

It is our belief that all those in leadership positions, particularly the religious leaders, the leaders in the world of business, and all those other leaders of society who give leadership to the people in this task, should come together to give us the necessary advice, help clarify the issues involved and contribute towards or become partners in traversing this all important journey towards a sustainable peace.

My dear friends, we are all aware that during times of war the heroes or the security forces and the police have acted with great commitment, strength and courage. I wish to remind you that strength and courage of the same order is required when we seek to depart from war and traverse the path towards peace. The path to peace requires much more wisdom, patience and commitment towards the country that in carrying out war. I wish to make it clear on this occasion, that for the achievement of peace too we need the total commitment, strength and courage of all the service commanders, the commanding officers at every level, and the nearly 200,000 persons in all ranks of the security services and the police.

I have the conviction that we will receive this participation and leadership that we seek. I wish to remind this honoured audience and the entire country that this government shall not in any way betray the security of this land that has been soaked in the blood of our war heroes though many centuries, and through over two millennia, as much in the past 20 years.

I wish to remind you, while discussing with an organization that seeks to divide the country and establishing a separate state, I remain committed to the defence of this country and to its forward march, while protecting the self-respect of all peoples who live here, ensuring all their rights. My government and I remain committed to build a free, democratic, united Sri Lanka where the best of human and humane values will prevail.

On this Rana Viru Day, while stating my belief that the armed forces and police will continue to extend their undiminished strength and courage to help us carry out this noble task, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our leaders who have come to this event from distant places, particularly the Hon. Prime Minister, our Service Commanders and the Inspector General of Police, all religious leaders, and particularly the mothers, fathers, wives and children of the Rana Viru families; I also thank all those of the Rana Viru Seva Authority who once again gave of their best to make this event a success. I must extend my special thanks to those who made this premises and building available for this purpose and especially to General Denis Perera and all those of the private sector who contributed to make this event a success, and shall conclude by wishing you all good night.