The second phase of ‘Ekata Sitimu’; President’s message to the East
President Maithripala Sirisena paid two visits to the East within a fortnight of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks and the message given to the Muslims from the Muslim-majority Batticaloa and Ampara was to stand together for the country. Yesterday, (11) he participated in the ‘Rata Wenuwen Ekata Sitimu’ (Let’s Stand Together for the Country), national development program in Ampara.
The President’s message was that the brutality of extremist terrorism should not be allowed to divide the nation of Sri Lanka. He visited Sainthamaruthu and Kalmunai, where he addressed a large group of Muslim youth. He urged the youth not to contribute to the terrorist activities and be united to strengthen national unity and reconciliation. He said that everyone should dedicate themselves to strengthen national unity and reconciliation.
The President told the youth to take responsibility for the Sri Lankan motherland by not allowing terrorism to be tolerated. He said solutions will be provided for the problems of the Muslim community based on the advice and guidance of the Islamic religious leaders. The President, spoke cordially with the youth, and listened to their requests.
The President emphasized that the incident on April 21 is not a problem in Sri Lanka, but a global terrorism connected with it. He added that the security forces are conducting operations towards a successful conclusion to eradicate terrorism. He said international powers are against this international terrorist group and extended support to our efforts to eradicate this menace.
Addressing pubic officers in the East, the President said the country’s national security activities are now being carried out with a new outline and plan, on a clear reform program implemented by the Security Forces. He said the program ensured the right of all citizens to live in a free society without fear or suspicion, and when the security forces defeated terrorism, public officials should take measures to end the fear of the people and restore trust and understanding among them.
Ampara Divisional Secretary D M L Bandaranaike said more than 500,000 of the total 700,000 population of the Ampara Distrct received benefits from different programs launched under the Ekata Sitimu Development Plan.
Rs 121 million have been allocated for over 2,300 programs implemented in the district under the Ekata Sitimu program.
Bandaranaike appreciated the humanitarian operation carried out by the Security Forces in close collaboration with the Muslim community, adding that the program would protect the people and the national security.
The President said a separate Pradeshiya Sabha meeting has been convened in the village of Sainthamaruthu and discussed the issue with the relevant authorities. President Sirisena went on an observational visit to Zion church which suffered a heavy toll of death and damage due to the terrorist bomb explosions on April 21. The President was warmly welcomed by the head priest Rev. Roshan Maheshan and other priests.
The President instructed the Eastern Commander in Chief and the security forces to take immediate steps to reconstruct the church and expressed his deepest condolences to the head priest and other priests regarding the tragic attack.
The President, during a meeting with representatives of the Muslim Civil Organizations including the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, at the Presidential Secretariat said that certain statements made by a few persons to achieve petty political gain have become a hindrance to the process of building national reconciliation while freeing the country from the challenge of terrorism.
He said the responsibility of all citizens should be towards creating a peaceful environment where all could live freely, understanding the actual situation and the issues, and not raise their voices to get narrow political gains.
The President said even though criticisms are necessary, they should be fair and unprejudiced, and as a multi religious country we should not cause inconvenience to any follower of a particular religion.
The representatives of civil Muslim organizations said they would not consider the brutal terrorists who were involved in killing innocent people, as Muslims, and that they condemn extremism and terrorism. They pledged to give maximum possible support to the forces to eliminate terrorism.
They requested not to look at each and every Muslim as terrorists, adding that the introduction of some brutal terror groups as Muslim terrorists has left them humiliated and face an uncomfortable situation due to statements made by some without proper knowledge about Islam and Muslim culture.
They also requested maximum punishments for all the terrorists who have destroyed lives. They said, the Muslim community has been saddened by the confiscation of some Islamic books which have no connection to terrorism.
They discussed on generalizing the knowledge of the Quran and other Islamic Doctrines to the society, drawing attention to clarify that the Islamic Educational Institutions are carried out fulfilling recommendations, and building the mindsets of children to condemn extremism.
These representatives said certain groups of interested parties humiliate communities with ‘racial remarks’ spread through the social media. They urged the President to take measures against those trying to accomplish their narrow political bias in this moment.
The program launched under the supervision of President Maithripala Sirisena to tackle terrorism was greatly appreciated by the Muslim delegation.
In accordance with the instructions of President Sirisena, the Presidential Secretariat commenced the Program of Rata Wenuwen Ekata Sitimu with the aim of monitoring the implementation of national development projects such as, the Gramashakthi Program, National Drug Prevention Program, Protect Children National Program, National Chronic Kidney Prevention Program, National Food Production Program and Environment Protection Program and various programs by the different Ministries.
This program would also help to identify public issues already identified by government institutions and work to solve these issues through State mechanism.