Sri Lanka nation building experiment failed; equality, justice required: Foreign Minister
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka attempts at nation building after gaining self-determination from British rule has failed, and the future must be based on justice, equal rights of all people, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Samaraweera, said the Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslims, Burghers, people of different faiths, caste and creed worked together to be free of British rule.
"That achieved, we failed to forge the perfect nation of individuals who all hold equal rights, working as one to achieve the heights our nation could attain," he said.
"As a result, for 69 long years, we journeyed through pain, violence, loss of life and precious human resources, ruining chances of socio economic progress. This was clearly an experiment in nation building that failed, which is certainly not worth pursuing further.
"We must have the courage to acknowledge that truth, and that era must now end.
"The Sri Lanka that we seek to build here onwards, should be one where justice reigns; where human rights are valued; where every individual’s dignity is upheld; and where civil society and the media play their due role; a society that believes in the importance of the independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law; and where everyone has equal rights."
Students of history say Sri Lanka fell victim to nationalism that came with the popular vote as monarchical rule of Empires broke down, in much the same way as Eastern Europe fell victim to vicious nationalism with the breakdown of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.
Germany and Italy were the foremost examples of fascist-nationalism that easily comes in linguistic nation-states with the end of feudal rule.
Before the popular vote, monarchs and emperors – who came from an aristocratic minority – ruled over different people who spoke multiple languages. In liberal states, the status quo remained.
Meanwhile Samaraweera said forces of extremes and regression from both side sides of the divide were creating road blocks.
The parliament was now drafting a constitution which will also be put before a referendum.
"As we approach the 70th year of our nation’s Independence, we seek, for the first time in our country’s modern history, to engage in this process wholeheartedly as an exercise that would unite our people who have been divided for far too long.
"The Parliamentary process and referendum are for us, imperative.
"We want to ensure that this Constitution, the 3rd Republican Constitution, unlike those before, that did not involve consensual and consultative processes, would reflect the true aspirations of our people.
"An exercise where, after years of conflict, the executive, legislature and sovereign – that is the people of our country – will unite to define and chart our nation’s future, guaranteeing equal rights, justice, and dignity for all citizens, honouring the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual character of our nation, upholding the right of citizens to participate more fully in decisions that impact their lives, and guaranteeing non-recurrence of conflict. "
Britain is expected to co-sponsor a UN resolution on Sri Lanka giving more time for reconciliantion objectives to be achieved.