The Friday forum echoes serious concerns about recent incidents of violence
While condemning the recent arson attack on the Lanka-E-News office and physical attack on the Opposition protest march on Independency Day the Friday forum urged Government to arrest those perpetrators and illustrate its commitment to the rule of law through deeds as much as words.
The Friday forum also pointed out serious concerns about recent incidents of violence in Jaffna and other places. Continued violence with impunity reinforces the climate of fear, breeds resentment and undermines the possibilities for reconciliation the press release said.
Full text of the release is below.
During the month of February, as we reflect on the decades and years since our nation’s Independence, it is also a time to take stock of where our nation is headed. Our national question – as a political problem which has questioned our multi-ethnic national identity – has yet to find a resolution. Amity within our nation may well depend on seizing the post-war opportunity to address the national question and to move on reconciliation. Our nation has been a respected member of the United Nations, and as such we also have responsibilities in the international arena. This is also the time to learn from our history of non-alignment and to steer our foreign policy to nurture friendships towards all nations. The prosperity of our nation and the well being of all our citizens will depend on progressive moves to address our nation’s future in the domestic and international realms.
Over the last six months, we have placed much hope on the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) as a mechanism that should address many of our concerns about our past as well as post-war reconciliation. While we eagerly await the final recommendations of the LLRC, it is also important that our national political culture changes in parallel. The end of the war is also a time to demand an end to all forms of violence. We as citizens have to embrace a democratic ethos and demand that the State protects the democratic rights of all. This is where we have serious worries about recent incidents of violence in Jaffna and other places. Continued violence with impunity reinforces the climate of fear, breeds resentment and undermines the possibilities for reconciliation. Furthermore, any genuine democracy must ensure the right to dissent and peaceful protest.
In this context, we must all condemn the recent arson attack on the Lanka-E-News office. It is not a question of whether we agree with what is written by a journalist or a news outlet, rather their freedom of expression should be staunchly defended. Indeed, over the last many years the numerous attacks and killings of journalists have weakened our media. And now, an attack on one journalist can lead to the further silencing of many others through self-censorship. Equally of concern is the physical attack on the Opposition protest march on Independency Day. Such thuggery is an attack on our democracy. These two recent incidents are a test of our government’s commitment to democracy. Statements and reassurances alone are not enough; the government must arrest those perpetrators and illustrate its commitment to the rule of law through deeds as much as words. Democratisation and meaningful reconciliation are great tasks and it requires space for dissent, whether it is in the media or in the universities. We as citizens of a nation with a long democratic history have the responsibility to struggle for democratisation with our fellow citizens and demand it of our government.
On behalf of Friday Forum, the Group of Concerned Citizens consisting of;
Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Rt. Rev. Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Professor Savitri Goonesekera, Professor Gananath Obeysekera, Professor Ranjini Obeysekera, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Mr. Ranjit Fernando, Ms. Sithie Tiruchelvam, Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Ms. Jezima Ismail, Dr A.C Visvalingam, Ms Manouri Muthetuwegama, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgarmar, Mr. Lanka Nesiah, Dr. Cameena Gunaratne, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Ms. Dhamaris Wickramasekera, Professor Stewart Motha, Mr. Suresh de Mel, Mr. Prashan de Visser, Mr. Daneshan Casiechetty, Mr. C. Jayaratne.
No comment yet.