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Minorities enjoy equal rights as majority Sinhalese - Army Chief

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 While reiterating that the minorities enjoy equal rights as majority Sinhalese, the Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said that no minority can divide Sri Lanka like how the LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran is dreaming of. The outspoken Army Chief said that he was not a communalist, but a military man who had undertaken the task of eliminating LTTE terrorism to liberate the people and the country from the decades long war.

* Minorities cannot make undue demands like Prabhakaran.
* The grievances of Tamils should be addressed within a united country.
* I am not doing politics.
* Sri Lanka is ruled by majority Sinhalese.
* The Air Force will destroy all Prabhakaran's hideouts.
* When security forces capture Kilinochchi, Prabhakaran will escape like a refugee.
* No terrorist movement will raise its head.
* Sri Lanka Army will be further strengthened in future.
* NGO or INGO workers remaining in Kilinochchi will be treated as terrorists.
* People in Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu should break all LTTE barricades and cross to government controlled areas.

"Our fight is not against Tamils or Muslims living in this country, but against the LTTE terrorism. The genuine grievances of Tamils should be met politically. But they cannot make undue demands", he said adding that some politicians in the Opposition are trying to take a political mileage over the statement he had made in an interview with a Canadian newspaper.

Lt. Gen. Fonseka, said that politics is not his forte as he could not do many things that politicians do.He said that if Prabhakaran has a wee bit of brains left in him, he should give up the battle now without constructing more graveyards for his cadres.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: A statement by you that the majority of Sinhalese should rule the country has raised criticism among minorities. What is your opinion about your own statement?

A: The truth is that this country is ruled by Sinhalese for centuries and centuries. China is ruled by Chinese, England by the Englishmen and Germany by Germans. This is because these countries are ruled by the majorities.

That is the truth. This will prevail today and even tomorrow. It is sad that some people have given a wrong interpretation to my statement. What is wrong by saying that this country, which is historically ruled by Sinhalese will ruled by the Sinhalese.

Some people say that when I say this it was an insult to the minorities.

Then what about Sinhalese who are the majority? They will also be hurt when the others say that this country does not belong to them. Isn't it an insult to the majority of a country?

Q: Do you agree that you have made a political statement?

A: No. It is not politics. What I said was the view of an ordinary citizen of this country. I think it is my right as a citizen of this country. I did not say that the minorities are making undue demands. What I said was that if they make undue demands that is wrong. On the other hand, no one can deny that one segment of the minorities are making undue demands. That is a separate land. Isn't what Prabhakaran is demanding an undue demand. Is it wrong to say that they are asking undue demands? They are demanding a federal solution and sometimes more than that. Prabhakaran killed thousands of people and formed an army and also a separate territory in view of dividing this country. Who can deny this? Aren't those undue demands?

Q: You said that the minorities should not make undue demands. Can you elaborate about what you meant by undue demands?

A: What I am saying is that if they ask more rights which the other minorities do not have, then it is an undue demand. The best example is what Prabhakaran wants. He wants a separate state for Tamils. That is an undue demand. If one group of people ask more than what other people enjoy it is an undue demand. I never opposed their language rights. I do not think that telling the truth will hurt anyone. I always want the minorities to enjoy their rights. I respect their rights, but they should meet their rights within an united Sri Lanka.

Q: Don't you believe that the minorities have political rights and your statement has created an unwanted fear among other ethnic groups in the country?

A: As minorities of this country they have all the rights to enjoy the rights that the majority enjoys. They have equal rights as Sinhalese. I am not a historian, but according to what I have learnt, this country is ruled by the Sinhalese and the minorities are also part and parcel of this country. We lived and continue to live like members of one family.

That is the truth. But at the same time, no minority can have separate countries within this country. Can every minority have a President? Is this the equal rights. Equal rights means allowing all the citizens to enjoy the rights what all the communities enjoy. Sri Lanka is a united country under one Head of State for centuries and what I mean here is it should continue in the future too.


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