Amid pressure from some sections of the international community to announce a ceasefire with the beleaguered LTTE, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday said that using force to "eradicate terrorism" was the right of any state.
"As I speak here today, we have passed the difficult landmarks of the defeat and eradication of terrorism from our land. Our heroic troops, a vital sector of our workforce, are completing the historic task of sweeping terrorism away from our midst," he said at a function here to mark the 90th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
"The people see a new promise of freedom throughout the land, a freedom that was for long denied for nearly two-thirds of our land and a third of our population and working people," Rajapaksa said.
He maintained that the government was "compelled" to use force after its efforts for dialogue and negotiations were rejected by the Tamil rebels.
"In the past three and a half years we have responded to this (LTTE) challenge in different ways. We tried to have a dialogue and negotiations. That was rejected. We were then compelled to use force, the force that is the right of the State, force that is the only language that the terrorist seemed to understand," he said.
Under mounting international pressure, Sri Lanka had yesterday announced that it will immediately stop air strikes and use of heavy weapons in the war zone but President Rajapaksa had made it clear that it was not a ceasefire.
Lankan troops have cornered an estimated 900-1,000 LTTE fighters, including its top leadership, in a small swathe of land where about 15,000-20,000 civilians are also trapped.
"We used our force with great concern for the hardships it causes to the ordinary people, to the workers and farmers, to their children, and to their livelihoods. We had to take hard decisions, and in the end those decisions saw victory against the evil of terror," Rajapaksa said today.
Terrorism, he said, has spread all over the world, affecting the rich, developed and the developing world.
"It is a threat that did not exist at the time the ILO was launched with such great hope 90 years ago. But today this is also a threat to the conditions of work of the people that the ILO will have to take note of."