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SL High Commissioner in Australia addresses AIIA in Canberra
Allegations made against the Sri Lankan armed forces by various quarters were completely false and unsubstantiated said the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe speaking at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA), ACT branch recently.
He reiterated that Sri Lanka had one of the most well trained armed forces comparable with the best in the rest of the world. During his address the High Commissioner highlighted the sophisticated equipment that the Government had invested in over the years and also the training given to all armed forces personnel in the rules of engagement and the protection of civilian life in a combat situation.
He added that the Government’s intention throughout the conflict was to restore the democratic rights of the people of the North and the rest of the country by defeating terrorism. High Commissioner Samarasinghe also said that the Government of Sri Lanka had conducted a strategic and well planned military operation and had taken great precautions in the lead up to the final phase including the destruction of several floating warehouses carrying weapons belonging to the terrorists, which were intended to cause damage in Sri Lanka. He emphasized that had these ships carrying weapons not been destroyed it would have caused the death and destruction of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the country.
The High Commissioner stated that despite allegations made by various parties regarding the denial of humanitarian assistance to the people of the North during the last phase of the conflict, he was personally involved in coordinating the delivery of humanitarian assistance during that period and could vouch for the fact that humanitarian assistance was delivered by the Government to the population being held hostage by the terrorists. The terrorists also benefited from these consignments.
High Commissioner Samarasinghe also took the opportunity to brief those present on current economic developments in the country and the reconciliation efforts underway. He said that Sri Lanka’s democracy was one that was tried and tested and since independence transitions of Governments had been through democratic elections in every instance. These values, he stated, were well rooted in Sri Lankan society.
Ian Dudgeon, President of AIIA (ACT) said that the High Commissioner was an officer with a distinguished naval career and has received commendations for his conduct from international agencies such as the ICRC. He said that he brings a unique perspective to this issue having been directly involved in the conflict throughout his career.
The High Commissioner’s presentation was well received by over 50 participants who attended the event. He spoke on the topic “Sri Lanka: Internal Conflict, Humanitarian Operation and Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation”.