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Sri Lankan president pays tribute to UNP minister

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena paid tribute to the late UNP minister Gamini Dissanayake on Saturday, stating that he hoped to complete the much colonisation projects that were started decades ago.

Speaking at the 21st death anniversary commemoration ceremony, Mr Sirisena said he admired the late minister, who headed the controversial Mahaweli Development project.
The project, which began under the UNP government of 1977, was one of many state-sponsored colonisation projects that took place in the Tamil North-East.

“I like the Mahaweli Development Ministry for several reason,” said Mr Sirisena. “On one hand, I admire the Mahaweli civilisation and culture Minister Dissanayake made, and on the other, I want to complete the Moragahakanda-Kaluganga project he hoped to do.”

Speaking on the colonisation projects at the time, Mr Dissanayake had said “We have decided to colonise four districts including Mannar with Sinhalese people by destroying forests. A majority of Sinhalese will be settled there. If you like you also can migrate there.” (See more on state sponsored colonisation here.)

Mr Sirisena also praised Mr Dissanayake, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 1994. The minister is infamous for his statement weeks after the Black July riots in 1983, where he warned that “in 14 minutes, the blood of every Tamil in the country can be sacrificed to the land by us [the Sinhalese]”.

“Who attacked you? Sinhalese. Who protected you? Sinhalese. It is we who can attack and protect you,” said the minister infamously on September 5th 1983. He went on to say:

“They are bringing an army from India. It will take 14 hours to come from India. In 14 minutes, the blood of every Tamil in the country can be sacrificed to the land, by us. It is not written on anyone’s forehead that he is an Indian Tamil or a Jaffna Tamil, a Batticaloa Tamil or up-country Tamil, Hindu Tamil or Christian Tamil. All are Tamils.”