JHU joins Samagi Jana Balawegaya, professes “inclusive nationalism”

ECONOMYNEXT – Formally joining the United National Party (UNP)-led alliance today, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) invited “true patriots”’ to join what he called the camp of modern, inclusive nationalists representing the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) coalition.

JHU leader Patali Champika Ranawaka, flanked by Opposition Leader and SJB prime ministerial candidate Sajith Premadasa and alliance secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, told reporters this morning that they represented a brand of patriotism that is decidedly non-chauvinistic.

“We represent a modern nationalism informed by international economic, literary, cultural and technological trends [that has risen out of internet discourse]. We do so with sincerity, unlike those who profess patriotism while their families thrive abroad,” he said.

Ranawaka stressed that the JHU and others in the alliance don’t endorse policies that promote separatism, adding that there is no question that the parties stand for the country’s unitary character.

“We must stress, however, that our patriotism is not some cheap chauvinism. There are communities in this country who speak other languages and follow other religions. Our is a more forward-thinking ideology that treats everyone equally and looks at the ‘other’ as one looks at oneself,” he said.

“We see the direct opposite of this around us, observed in a hooliganistic nationalism seen on Facebook and elsewhere. Our patriotism represents the north, south, east and the west,” he added.

The UNP-led alliance, Ranawaka further said, will be free of the “island mentality” of its opponents.

“We accept that there have been many other great civilisations across the world. We accept that we have to have relations with the rest of the world. Every great king of the past maintained good foreign relations. Under King Parakramabahu, when the country was at its most prosperous, Sri Lanka was a commercial hub with a network of ports and natural harbours,” he said.

“That’s the kind of patriotism we espouse,” he added. (Colombo/Feb25/2020)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe. Edited by Himal Kotelawala.

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