ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main business lobbies Tuesday came together to work to build unity among the island’s different communities which is under strain after suicide bombings by Islamist extremists and a violent backlash against minority Muslims.
“This morning, representatives of the private sector took a ‘Pledge for Unity’,” the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
Its chief executive Dhara Wijayatilake explained the initiative began after a group of nine chambers met to discuss the present situation in the country, following last month’s suicide bombings of three churches and three hotels that killed over 250 people.
“We decided that much has to be done to reunite a temporarily fragmented Sri Lanka,” she said.
The business lobbies agreed that the attacks, which also killed tourists, were “not representative of the people we are, as Sri Lankans,” Wijayatilake said.
“We decided that we will ask the business community to take a pledge that we will work towards the goal of uniting our people and that we will thereby inspire everyone in this country to do the same.”
The pledge was taken in all three languages by representatives of over 300 corporates Tuesday morning and was to be taken during the course of the day at other corporate offices around the country.
“ . . . recent events that occurred in Sri Lanka have caused peace loving Sri Lankans to take serious note of a possible threat to its unity,” the pledge noted.
A vast majority of Sri Lankans stand for unity, peace and harmony and believe the country can continue as a safe nation for all, with commitment to that cause by all peace loving people, it said.
“Accepting that the business community has a role to play in confirming that commitment and playing a proactive role in peace building, we, as representatives of the business community, take this pledge today to work towards a united Sri Lanka,” it said.
It said the business community pledges to work towards building a united Sri Lanka in which people can live and work together in unity, in peace and in harmony, irrespective of differences in religion and ethnicity.
(COLOMBO 21 May 2019)