- Karu Jayasuriya shares vision for a United Sri Lanka at 21st commemoration of Deshamanya Alhaj Bakeer Markar
Calling for a proper program to erase of the bitter memories of the 30-year-long war, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said that the country missed the opportunity to address the root causes behind the war.
“Could we have achieved this victory after the end of the war in 2009? I believe that we missed it. War is the outcome we experienced and reaped. The cause behind this war has to be understood and eliminated if we are to ensure non-recurrence of war,” he said.
He said that the main reason for the war in the country was the inability to create a socio-political vision that could include all groups.
“We need to implement a program which has no narrow intentions, to erase off the bitter memories of war during the 30-year-long conflict, to create a vision for a united Sri Lanka,” he said.
“Loss of lives is unavoidable in a war. However, disappearances, abductions, and killing the abducted while hiding behind the pretence of war is not acceptable,” he stressed.
Addressing an audience packed with religious leaders, ministers, politicians, and heads of missions at the 21st commemoration of Deshamanya Alhaj Bakeer Markar,
he said such acts were against an accepted principle of engaging in a war.
He said that as a former officer of the Sri Lanka Army, who was deployed to control the riots of the first civil insurrection in 1971, he believes clearing these allegations would bring honour rather than dishonour to the Army, which has a track record of discipline and prestige.
“Both good and bad people remain in any organisation or any social institution. If we are to preserve what is good, we have to identify what is bad and take preventive measures required to avoid what is bad,” he noted.
Speaker Jayasuriya emphasised the need of effective public awareness on the Government’s initiatives on the National Policy on Reconciliation and Co-existence, Office on Missing Persons, and the Office for Reparations, to support the war victims and the truth-seeking and accountability process.
He said that the Bakeer Markar Centre on National Reconciliation could contribute immensely, to disclose the truth behind the horror-filled narratives created about these processes by power-crazy politics.
“The role of the leaders who lead this kind of processes is really important with regard to their implementation. They must have the capability to adapt to a general agenda, leaving their personal agendas behind. We should think about the country, not the self,” Speaker Jayasuriya emphasised.
Following is the full text of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s speech at the 21st commemoration of Deshamanya Alhaj Bakeer Markar:
‘Vision for a United Sri Lanka’ has been cited as the topic this time for the commemorative speech on Deshmanya Alhaj Bakeer Markar. I believe organising the commemorative speech on Deshamanya Alhaj Bakeer Markar along a topic that paves way for some productive dialogue, which is done by the Bakeer Markar Centre for National Unity started under the guidance of former Minister Imthiyaz Bakeer Markar, sets a very good example.
When we consider the content of many programmes implemented by the Bakeer Markar Centre within the last few years, it becomes obvious that backdrop for today’s topic was formed through them. Specially, I believe that the ‘Weligama Declaration’ published by the Bakeer Markar Centre several years ago is a very important declaration. I am convinced that the dialogues that later took place at district level based on this declaration compiled by erudite monks like the late Ven. Aluthwewa Soratha Thero, Chief Incumbent of Kirivehera who was also the Chancellor of Uva Wellassa University , together with media personnel, were very timely.
The key objective of Bakeer Markar Centre is to build unity within diversity. The attempt taken by this centre including Imthiyaz Bakeer Markar to mobilise the country towards the creation of a people who identify diversity within our Sri Lankan society which resembles a rainbow and respect such diversity, is not an easy task. It is a process faced with many challenges.
Immense courage and strength are needed to be successful in such an effort. Understanding, commitment and sacrifices are essential for such a programme.
An in-depth study of religious, political and social leaders who guided the society, is necessary for a process that mobilises the masses around one objective.
Noble religious leaders like Lord Buddha, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Jesus Christ and Mahawira as well as philosophers like Confucius who acted to change the world since ancient times, have left their efforts to carry out that mission as ultimate examples for us.
Efforts of leaders from the recent past like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, provide precedence to us for such a purpose. Study is of utmost importance to identify these properly. I believe the Bakeer Markar Centre should form the foundation for an attitudinal change in society by initiating an interfaith dialogue, a dialogue on exemplary characters of the world who were committed for social justice against racism.
Because the mind is the ultimate cause for everything. The verse in Dhammapada, “Mano pubbangama dhamma” teaches that mind precedes all dhamma. If we don’t subject ourselves to a shift in our minds, a united Sri Lanka will be a challenge.
All founders of religions tried to develop the human mind. With religious teachings we have been taught the way to gain control over ourselves by developing the mind.
Within the spiritual life, it leads us to great achievements. In today’s society where physical expectations are given prominence, why is it necessary to develop people’s minds for such development?
That is because we are all human beings. Irrespective of race, religion or caste, because we are one, in terms of biological factors. As a result of one race being considered superior than another, conflicts have been created all over the world. When factors like politics and greed for power are added to this, huge destruction is caused.
That is why it is very important for Bakeer Markar Centre to plan its programmes within its mission with due consideration to these matters.
Creating a vision for
a united Sri Lanka
Subsequent to a brutal war that lasted three decades, what is the crisis we are faced with in Sri Lanka? It is actually the topic placed before us. It is creating a vision for a united Sri Lanka.
Could we have achieved this victory after the end of war in 2009? I believe that we missed it. Core teaching of Buddhism is causality. According to it, everything happens due to a cause. Cause results in an outcome. War, is the outcome we experienced and reaped. The cause behind this war has to be understood and eliminated if we are to ensure non recurrence of war.
Why did a war start in Sri Lanka? Analysing this may be a complex task. Simply put, one of the main reasons behind the war in our country is our inability to create a socio political vision that could include all groups.
Through his address on the day of independence an invaluable lesson on this reality is taught to us by the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, D.S. Senanayake who was the leader of the Sri Lanka’s independence movement. He said that from this day forward we must all be Sri Lankans whether we are Sinhala, Tamil, Moor, Eurasian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islam or Christian.
Therefore an appropriate foreword to the topic at discussion today has been provided by the Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake in 1948. Unfortunately we were not able to comprehend it. At least after the end of the three decades long war, we should have followed his lesson.
But what really happened? A course of action based on power politics set aside the objective of bringing people together and created a division between perceived victors and losers.
With this, not only were we isolated from the international community but also subjected to various international pressures. I do not intend to analyse that in detail at this point.
In order to overcome this challenge a change had to happen in Sri Lanka politics. Hence, for the first time in history the people of Sri Lanka lined up in the name of social justice when the presidential election took place in 2015.
Everyone joined hands with each other to end grave challenge that was faced by the country. What was this challenge? It was our failure to create a vision for an inclusive Sri Lanka which unites all people after the end of the war.
The course of action
we need to follow
A course of action to achieve this objective has to be drawn by those who govern the country. It is a responsibility that falls on the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. Amendments to the Constitution, discourse for a new constitution, need for independent commissions, and consolidation of the right to information and protection of human rights are all relevant to realise this vision of an inclusive Sri Lanka.
The course of action we follow to achieve this, needs to be humane. We cannot act disregarding well established principles and the commitments we have made when dealing with the international community.
We cannot overlook our relations with other countries in the region and our diplomatic fraternity with other friendly nations.
We have to be effective in our diplomatic relations with organisations such as the United Nations, Human Rights Commission and the European Commission.
Maintaining our integrity is crucial when dealing with such international organisations. We cannot be an isolated nation. We cannot act with a poor mentality as well.
The manner in which these matters were approached before 2015 is rather unfortunate. Ultimately we had reached the cusp of being subjected to economic sanctions and foreign travel bans.
A complex issue of this nature cannot be addressed with words such as ‘patriot’ and ‘traitor’.
I too used to be a member of the Army. As an officer of the Sri Lanka Army I too was deployed to help end the riots when the 1971 insurrection which was the first civil insurrection began.
Loss of life is unavoidable in a war. However, disappearances, abductions and killing the abducted while hiding behind the pretence of war is not acceptable. It is against accepted principle of engaging in a war.
At present, certain allegations of this nature have been levelled in relation to the civil war that lasted in our country for three decades. Clearing these allegations would bring honour rather than dishonour to the Army which has a track record of discipline and prestige.
Both good and bad people remain in any organisation or any social institution. If we are to preserve what is good we have to identify what is bad and take preventive measures required to avoid what is bad.
It is really important to implement the programme for the removal of the unpleasant memories of the war which existed for three decades. It should be done without any narrow intentions within this programme which is devoted to create a vision for a united Sri Lanka.
It is really important to accurately raise the awareness of people in the National programme on reconciliation, Office of the Missing Persons, Office for Reparation to Support the War Victims and the truth seeking and accountability process which are implemented by the present Government. According to my view, the responsibility that can be shouldered by the Bakeer Markar Centre on National Reconciliation is immense in this regard. You can really do a lot to disclose the truth behind the horror filled narratives created on these processes by the power crazy politics.
The role of the leaders
The role of the leaders who lead this kind of processes is really important with regard to their implementation. They must have the capability to get adopted to a general agenda, leaving their personal agendas behind. We should think about the country not the self. We have to be far sighted in order to understand the results that can be accrued by the country and not by individuals, at the end of such programmes. There should be a capability to realise that something more important than a personal gain can be achieved through such a commitment. People should understand that such a recognition gained from an important commitment would bring them long standing respect which is more important than the respect given to a temporary position.
I think that the foundation required to act in a powerful scope has been created by the Bakeer Markar Centre on National Reconciliation.
You have great strength and good support for this. This institution was founded by Alhaj Bakeer Markar. His vision will guide you. He was a faithful follower of Islamic religion but was never religiously biased. He was a sincere Islamic national but never was a racist. He was a lawyer by profession and never earned money through fraudulent means. As a politician he has set many examples to the field of politics. He always considered people as an asset. He faced challenges with an undisturbed mentality and according to his conscience. He was never prejudicial. His political life is a reflection of commitments.
Reconciliation and peace
We have to think about these things in depth. The prolific features that Alhaj Bakeer Markar had, can be seen in Imithiyas Bakeer Markar too. We have to appreciate the service rendered by Imithiyas Bakeer Markar through running this centre focusing on the reconciliation and peace which are the major challenges encountered by our country today.
He initiated this centre in an era where people were even reluctant to talk about the term ‘reconciliation’. It was an era where people were influenced to think that everything has been addressed along with the war victory. However, he identified that the real issue still remains and we have to pay tribute to the endeavour made by him through this centre in creating a vision for a united Sri Lanka.
As Mao Sethung stated, it is really important to light at least one lamp instead of cursing the darkness. I would like to invoke blessings on the Bakeer Markar Centre on National Reconciliation which is engaged in an effort to build national unity.
In conclusion, I would like to state that the answer to this problematic topic is in the close proximity. This is the answer. I would like to conclude my speech by emphasising that all the activities that support to realise your goal and your objective of achieving unity in diversity are the guidelines towards envisioning a united
Pix by Ashraff.A. Samad