The Sri Lankan government on Thursday raised the issue of the alleged ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Muslims by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to counter charges the Sinhala-dominated government here was carrying out a genocide against the Lankan Tamils.
The foreign ministry released a speech made by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama in Canberra raising the issue of displaced Muslims.
Bogollagama said: “I wonder why the shrill voices of those who are screaming of a non-existent humanitarian catastrophe in the Wanni, are deafeningly silent on the plight of the over 1,00,000 Muslims who are now languishing in refugee camps… 24th October marks the 18th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the North by the LTTE. 75,000 Muslims were compelled to vacate their homes at gun point on this day in 1990 by the LTTE…If any proof were needed of the racist nature of the LTTE, the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the North, speaks for itself.’’
Senior government officials continued to maintain it was not necessary for the government to react to “India’s internal political developments in Tamil Nadu.’’ An official said the only exchange between the two governments took place on October 6 when the National Security Adviser MK Narayanan met the Lankan deputy high commissioner. “Has there been any subsequent exchange? No. Why should the government react to press statements? The government is considering all the developments and if it is necessary in due course, a statement would be issue,’’ he said.
But there was confusion in the official ranks here after the state-run Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation website ran a story saying President Rajapaksa had informed the Indian government that Sri Lanka had ruled out a ceasefire with the LTTE as demanded by the Tamil Nadu politicians.
The story had to be hastily withdrawn after the Presidential Secretariat denied that Rajapaksa had made any such comment.