Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa says there was never an ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka although historically the Tamil community did face some issues.
Speaking at a function in Colombo today Rajapaksa also said that the LTTE had no interest in peace but instead, it exploited the respite given through peace talks and ceasefires to kill its opponents and strengthen its offensive capabilities.
“Although it claimed to be fighting for the rights of the Tamil community by trying to establish a separate state, its sole interest was in increasing its stronghold over the territories it dominated in order to establish its own freedom,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that ethnicity, language, religion, caste and gender have no bearing on peoples’ opportunities in Sri Lanka.
“This is amply borne out by the statistics. If we look at the Universities, it is evident that students from all communities pursue studies in a variety of fields. In all professions, whether it is medicine, engineering, law, academia or in the corporate sector, all the minority communities are very well represented. There is no discrimination with regard to the services provided by the state, nor are there any serious tensions amongst the communities living in the country,” he said.
He also said that every opportunity has been given to the rehabilitated and reintegrated ex-LTTE cadres to resume normal lives in society.
Many programmes have been launched, including those to support them to set up their own businesses, obtain funds for self-employment, and undertake farming and fisheries related activities.
“Because the rehabilitation programmes featured a strong vocational training component, many of the beneficiaries have been employed by various private enterprises including garment factories and other industrial facilities. Some have even been able to find jobs in other countries. A significant number of the reintegrated beneficiaries are also being recruited to the Civil Defence Force, and will be paid a monthly salary and will work in farming and in development activities. As a result of these measures, even former members of the LTTE have been given a full and fair opportunity to build better future for themselves in a peaceful and stable Sri Lanka,” he said.