We have to rise above hatred and feelings of vengeance - Mangala
June 20, 2015 12:02 pm
The Sri Lankan government pursues a policy of engagement, dialogue and cooperation with all countries and international organisations and will remain open to the ideas of others, their views and opinions, says the country’s foreign minister.
Mangala Samaraweera said that the government has initiated dialogues with diaspora groups and individuals with a view to working with them and obtaining their ideas, views, and assistance for the reconciliation process that is currently underway in the country including projects that directly relate to the welfare of the people.
On the international stage, he said that Sri Lanka is once again working closely with the United Nations Organisation and its systems and procedures.
“We liaise closely with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and his office and we remain open to working with the OHCHR to obtain technical assistance to address several important issues including justice and accountability related issues.”
“We have started working with the United Nations and its agencies to obtain financial and technical assistance for formulating resettlement plans, meeting the immediate requirements of those being resettled, training and capacity building,” he said, addressing a High-Level Seminar on ‘Peacebuilding, National Reconciliation and Democratisation in Asia’ held in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday (20 June).
“Overall, we pursue a policy of engagement, dialogue and cooperation with all countries and international organisations and will remain open to the ideas of others, their views and opinions and sharing our own experiences and views pertaining to matters that concern not only Sri Lanka but the global community at large.”
Samaraweera said that for the first time in Sri Lanka’s history, under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, one of the main ills that plagued the country since independence has been set aside – that is the temptation of political parties to follow a path of confrontation in order to achieve short-term political gains over the long-term interests of the people and the nation.
“Under the guidance of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe the two main political parties in Sri Lanka, the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) as well as some of the other smaller parties have, for the first time in our nation’s history, decided to step away from the adversarial arena of politics.”
“Instead of pure short-term political interests of winning power, holding on to power and retaining power, the political parties have finally decided that they need to reflect in their work, the long-term interests of the people,” he said.
Foremost among these is to ensure that the nation would never again be plunged back into the nature of violence and conflict which engulfed us since Independence, he said.
The Foreign Minister said that despite all the violence of the last several decades, there is a large reservoir of goodwill in Sri Lanka, among the people of all communities.
“They are, after all, guided by the four major religions of the world which pursue peace, compassion and brotherhood – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.”
“There is realization that politicians and leaders of communities on all sides have made mistakes in the past; that the reservoir of goodwill among communities and among people on all sides was diverted by politicians and leaders in the past, for temporary gain, which led to devastating consequences for all.”
“This realization is the grounds on which we now gradually build the pillars of a new nation which guarantees the protection of the rights of all, enables the creation of an inclusive society and affirms non-recurrence,” he added.
Samaraweera says that there is full realization that in order not to slip back into unfortunate conflicts such as the insurrections in the South and the problems in the North which ultimately led to terrorism, it is important that all citizens must feel that they have equal opportunities and have the ability to contribute to nation building.
“All citizens, irrespective of ethnicity and language must feel that they are equal partners, sharing equal rights.”
“In order to do this as a nation, we must rise above our fears. We must change mindsets that have got used to thinking of who did what to whom at what time,” he said, adding, “We have to rise above hatred and feelings of vengeance.”