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* Sri Lanka Speaker calls on religious leaders to speak out against political powers attempting to divide country on sectarian grounds
Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 09:16 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Speaker Karu Jayasuriya condemning the recent communal clashes against Muslims in strongest terms, yesterday called on upon leaders of all religious sectors to speak out against those who attempt to divide Sri Lanka on sectarian grounds.

The Speaker in a statement said that the sudden surge of violence against Muslims in Kandy and elsewhere in Sri Lanka over the last several days was clearly not representative of any grassroots communal tensions.

"These citizens, equal under our law have lived in harmony with their neighbors of other faiths for centuries. Instead, these acts are very clearly the work of those whose political power and machinations are fueled and fortified by dividing and violating our people," he said.

The Speaker also called upon the government, members of the House of Parliament, and the independent judiciary, to recall the sworn solemn duty - to protect the rights of all citizens enshrined in the Constitution.

" It is of paramount importance that we take all necessary measures to protect those citizens affected by violence and threats of violence. We must give them the sense of safety and security to which they are entitled as Sri Lankans," he said.

Full text of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya's statement:

Three years ago, the people of Sri Lanka, of every religious and ethnic affiliation, voted in unison with a resounding majority to expel the evils of racism, bigotry and xenophobic division from our country, to usher in a new era of plurality, peace and civility. My fellow patriotic Sri Lankans around the world swelled with pride as our country was elevated to the world stage, and held up as the ultimate example of a country that could reverse three decades of terrorist bloodshed into ethnic and communal harmony. These ideas that formed the platform of the January 8, 2015 revolution were not new ones for our people.

The Constitution of our motherland guarantees freedom, equality, and fundamental human rights to each and every one of our citizens. These protections enshrined by the Constitution are not entitlements, but in the words of our Supreme Law they are "the intangible heritage that guarantees the dignity and well-being of succeeding generations of the People of Sri Lanka and of all the People of the World." Every single official elected or appointed to any office in the co-equal legislative, executive and judicial branches of our government swears an oath to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka."

The sudden surge of violence against Muslims in Kandy and elsewhere in Sri Lanka over the last several days was clearly not representative of any grassroots communal tensions. These citizens, equal under our law have lived in harmony with their neighbors of other faiths for centuries. Instead, these acts are very clearly the work of those whose political power and machinations are fueled and fortified by dividing and violating our people. The country saw a similar surge of violence against these same citizens in 2014.

I call upon leaders of all religious sectors to speak out against those who attempt to divide Sri Lanka on sectarian grounds, and to condemn in the strongest terms all those who resort to intimidation, thuggery and violence to incite religious or racial tensions among innocent citizens. We must stand together and speak with one powerful voice to drown out the menace of bigotry. On the road to peace, I ask our leaders to recall the words of the late Russian Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, who said "Peace is not unity in similarity, but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences." We cannot make room for belligerence and brutality.

I call upon the government, members of the House of Parliament, and the independent judiciary, to recall our sworn solemn duty - to protect the rights of all our citizens enshrined in the Constitution. It is of paramount importance that we take all necessary measures to protect those citizens affected by violence and threats of violence. We must give them the sense of safety and security to which they are entitled as Sri Lankans. We must ensure that our justice system turns its attention to those whose racist machinations are aimed at dragging our country back into darkness just to further their own selfish political ends.

Today, the media is free to report independently on the ground reality. Today, we will not stand idly by. Today, the police and armed forces will not stand idly by while they terrorize innocent citizens of any ethnic or religious stripe. Today, it is their turn to be afraid, as the full might of the law descends on them and their co-conspirators.

 

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