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President Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka
President Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: PRESIDENT CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA OF SRI LANKA OCTOBER 28TH, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:
One region in the world that's coped with sustained long-term terrorism is Sri Lanka, the country's President herself has been a terrorist target and both her father and her husband died at the hands of terrorists. The war on terrorism has been going on for 18 years there and now there are reports even that the Tamil Tigers may be training up as suicide bombers. Now President Kumaratunga is with me right now, Madam President, good morning.

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
Good morning.

DAVID FROST:
Now you have first hand knowledge of terrorism as I was saying with your family, your husband, how was he killed by terrorists?

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
Well it wasn't the Tamil terrorists who killed him, he was killed at a time that Sri Lanka had a killing fields, there was a lot of terror perpetrated by the government itself, state terror and there was a violent movement, ażas oppose to the Tamil terrorists.

DAVID FROST:
Right.

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
And they were killing in competition with each other, the government was killing off its democratic opponents, the others were killing off anybody who they thought stood in their way, that was called the JVP and one part of the government used the JVP insurrectionists and their killers to murder off many young political leaders and activists from democratic parties like the one to which I belong and my husband, he was a leader of our party and he was, we were fighting for the rights of the Tamil minority and the other minorities living in the country.

DAVID FROST:
And was 1999, I read, was when the terrorists tried to?

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
Well in my case it was the Tamil terrorists quite clearly, I was at the last presidential election rally in '99 December and it was a young female suicide bomber who blasted herself, obviously in the hope of doing me in, 26 people were killed, I escaped with serious injuries and lost the sight of one eye.

DAVID FROST:
One eye in that, and you said that to quote you directly here, that the events of September the 11th are a last wake-up call to the world to combat terrorists, that's what you feel?

CHANDRIKA KUMARANTUNGA:
Well I do feel that very strongly, yes, because our part of the world has had a lot of terrorism, South Asia in the last two decades, the one in which my husband was killed was young, Singele are 75 per cent of our population, insurrectionist movement plus the state terror and then we've had that followed with the Tamil Tiger terrorists and in South Asia we've had a lot of terrorist movements and we have been affected by this now very seriously for the last two decades and the world did not take much note and I feel that now that this has spilled over to the Western world, to the rich countries in the most horrendous fashion that happened on the 11th of September, the world is taking note and we are very happy because the terrorist movements in our countries are feeding themselves financially, funding themselves in the Western countries and there is a lot of connection between these, all these movements. There is even suspicion that, well the Tamil Tigers are the first to have used, one of the first to have used suicide humans, suicide bombers and of all the suicide bombings the world has known the Tamil Tigers are responsible for one third of them.

DAVID FROST:
And in fact in this whole overall struggle, 62,000 people it says have died one way and another?

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
In the, in the war, when the military conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the State, 60-odd thousand people have been killed, most of them very young people and the Tigers use child soldiers, they grab children of ten years, 12 years from their parents and transform them into suicide bombers and use them, use them to fight their war.

DAVID FROST:
So what, what could the world do to help the situation?

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
Well that's a complicated question but I think the first thing the world must do is realise very clearly that terrorism has, is the most frightening phenomenon that the modern world knows and the era of international wars have now been replaced by international conflicts which has, which are ending up in terrorist movements in, all over the world and that they cannot and will not be contained within the boundaries of one nation and that they can spill over especially with the use of modern technology, spill over right across the globe and the world must realise, this I think they have, and take effective action, not only just passing laws and resolutions in the UN and everywhere else, we have to put them into practice.

DAVID FROST:
Madam President thank you very much indeed.

CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA:
Thank you.

DAVID FROST:
Madam President there, someone who's really experienced what terrorism means.

END


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