-President assures people of Jaffna
“All that was lost to you due to terrorism will be restored. It will not be long before your brothers and sisters who are trapped in areas such as Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu can be happy. That is when, just like the New Dawn in the East, there will be the New Spring in the North,” said President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a message to the people of Jaffna in connection with the “Future Minds of Jaffna" exhibition currently being held in Jaffna.
In the first ever address by a Sri Lankan Head of State to the Tamil people in their own language, the President said: “It is time for us to forget the unfortunate developments of the past. We shall take action to restore to the people of Jaffna and the North, all they have lost in the past.”
The "Future Minds of Jaffna" also known as the Jaffna Educational and Industrial Exhibition 2008, is organized by the Sri Lanka Army in Jaffna, and it is estimated that it drew nearly 200,000 visitors up to yesterday (29).
Here is the text of the President’s message to the people of Jaffna that was transmitted via satellite last night (29).
My Dear Friends
I am pleased to address you today, because this exhibition shows the future vision for Jaffna.
I am pleased to send greetings to the people of Jaffna, as we set about bringing the dawn of a New Spring to the North of our country.
Some decades ago we traveled together in the Yal Devi Express. Just as the people from Jaffna carry on trade in Colombo, in the past the people from Matara in the South were successfully engaged in the restaurant and bakery trade in Jaffna.
The people in the South of our country always admire the industrious nature of those of the North. Similarly, it was the wish of the people of Jaffna that everyone be as friendly as those from the South.
It was a student leader from Jaffna who made the first demand for freedom from colonial rule for our country. Tamil leaders such as Sir Ponnambalam Ramanaden understood well how the imperialists were trying to divide us.
In the past, the leaders of Jaffna and the North who were fluent in Tamil, Sinhala and English wished that we all live together and in unity. We cannot live in this country that is divided as the North and South. We must live in unity. It is time for us to forget the unfortunate developments of the past. We shall take action to restore to the people of Jaffna and the North, all they have lost in the past.
All that was lost to you due to terrorism will be restored. It will not be long before your brothers and sisters who are trapped in areas such as Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu can be happy. That is when, just like the New Dawn in the East there will be the New Spring in the North.
I believe that this exhibition will pave the way for persons with good skills and expertise to emerge in our country. I know that the youth of Jaffna has the strength, courage and determination to achieve this. Therefore, I extend my greetings to all the skilled and capable persons who will be the driving strength of the New Spring of Jaffna and the North.
I wish you all a very bright future