Aug 23, Colombo: Following an end to decades long terrorism three years ago, Sri Lanka is now experiencing a national revival that will restore the country to its rightful place in the world and the challenge before the Government is to facilitate this resurgence while ensuring long-term peace and stability by upholding national security, the Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said.
The Secretary, delivering the keynote speech as the chief guest at the opening of the 'Annual Symposium 2012' of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University Wednesday (22), said within a remarkably short period of time after being liberated in 2007, the Eastern Province emerged as a fast-developing, vibrant part of Sri Lanka thanks to the government's development initiatives.
Immediately after the war ended in the North, the Secretary said, the government took speedy measures in reconstruction and resettlement to bring about a similar revival in the Northern Province.
He added that a key concern of the government was development of infrastructure facilities including roads, irrigation tanks, public buildings, hospitals, schools in order to facilitate speedy resettlement of the displaced civilians.
The Defense Secretary noted that there is complete freedom of movement in the North now with the removal of all restrictions. The High Security Zones have been dismantled in stages and the land handed back to the civilians, he added.
The most significant achievement in restoring normalcy in the Province is the restoration of the democratic process giving the opportunity for the people to vote, he noted.
Speaking on rehabilitation of former combatants, Secretary Rajapaksa said several international agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), diplomats, media personnel, lawyers, and family members were given free and unfettered access to the rehabilitation centers.
All child combatants have been reunited with the families within a year after the war ended and 74 of them have returned to follow the programs while under rehabilitation.
All combatants except the 560 cadres identified for prosecution had been rehabilitated and reintegrated back to their society and all have been given an opportunity to resume normal lives in society, the Defence Secretary explained.
"The sustenance of national security in Sri Lanka depends on the inclusiveness of our democracy, and the equality of all our citizens and it is the duty of all Sri Lankans to put the past behind and build a bright future for the nation and for themselves," the Secretary Defence stressed.
The conference under the theme "Ensuring National Security through Reconciliation and Sustainable Development" holds parallel sessions on wide range of topics including thematic Defence, Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Social Sciences, Humanities and Education with international as well as local scholars addressing the sessions.
The two-day conference will conclude today.