President calls on all parties to help achieve peace
[February 4, 2006 - 3.30 GMT]
Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the nation on the
58th anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence today, made an open appeal to the main opposition
and all political parties to support him in his efforts to bring an end
to the ethnic conflict and achieve peace in Sri Lanka.
Addressing a large gathering at Colombo's Galle Face Green where the
first Independence Day armed forces parade was held in 1948, the
President said: "On this very special occasion, I wish with great
honesty to make an open appeal to the main opposition party and all
other political parties and movements to extend their support to us in
carrying out this task. I invite all of you to set aside whatever narrow
debates and divisions there may be, and be united and come together with
a singular determination to overcome this challenge that has evaded
solution for half a century, because in the national agenda "country"
should be ahead of all other issues."
He said the first among many challenges facing the country was that of
finding a solution to the national issue that remains unresolved through
many years and achieve a genuine and sustainable peace.
Referring to the search for peace, he said there was one pre-condition
to achieve success. "It is that we should be united to achieve these
high and daunting goals. Many efforts made in the past to achieve peace
have failed. However, there is no benefit achieved in blaming the past.
We should not forget the past, but instead learn from the lessons of the
past. There is, therefore, the need to establish a structure of State to
bring about the genuine participation of all sections of our people in
development activities the administration of government.
President Rajapaksa said: "The activities for peace can move forward
only by a full understanding of the lessons to be drawn from the
mistakes and misleading of the past. This country is one that belongs to
all Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and other peoples to whom this is
home. We cannot solve this problem by dividing this country. That will
only lead to aggravating the crisis. That is why we came out with the
slogan "Towards a New Sri Lanka". Although in the political theme in the
recent election, it should now be the theme of the country and nation.
In order to overcome all subjugation and build a new free and
independent country our thinking and aspirations should be new. Our
goals should be new and the manner in which we work should also be new."
(Full text of
The address by His
Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist
Republic of Sri Lanka, at the ceremonial commemoration of the 58th
anniversary of independence
on February, 04, 2006
Most Venerable Members of the Maha Sangha
Respected members of the clergy of other religions
Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Speaker
Hon. Chief Justice
Hon. Leader of the Opposition
Hon. Ministers and Members of Parliament
Your Excellencies from the Diplomatic Missions
Commanders of the Armed Forces and the Inspector General of Police
Members of the armed forces and the police
My dear brothers and sisters,
I must first offer my thanks to all those responsible for making it
possible, after 20 years, to conduct this 58th anniversary celebrations
of independence for Sri Lanka at the Galle Face Green with such grandeur
and pride. What we first intend doing by conducting this event with such
grandeur is to pay a tribute to our revered motherland that was freed
from the shackles of colonialism with the dawn of independence on
February 4, 1948. We next wish to pay our tribute to those national
heroes who struggled for our independence in many diverse ways.
The fact that we as a nation lay claim to a civilization that is unique
to us needs no restatement. It is for this very reason that from as far
back as 250 BC, as a country we faced the pressures of foreign invasion
intrusion. For a lengthy period of nearly 500 years we were colonized by
However, with long struggles and dedicated service and sacrifice of the
lives of many of our heroes in these freedom struggles we obtained
independence in 1948. However, we must not forget that this was
into a genuine and complete freedom only with the proclamation of the
first Republican Constitution in 1972, when Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike
was Prime Minister, and I too made by own contribution towards it as the
youngest member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Republican
Constitution. For whatever reason, it is unfortunate that all of us have
for so long forgotten to celebrate that great Republic Day. It should
not be so.
Whatever the manner we obtained independence in 1948, I do not believe
that in the period since the obtaining of independence we have been able
to use all our strengths and resources to best effect to justify the
struggles that went before. However, I state with pride that we have on
no occasion fled in the face of challenges. The true story that stands
out in our history is that on every occasion when we were united we
emerged victorious. We are by nature a peaceful nation and people. The
culture of our lives has been nourished by the teachings of Buddhism,
Hinduism, and other religions that flourish in our land, and whenever
there were challenges before us we faced them with courage.
All countries, including ours, which gained independence after a long
period of colonial subjugation, were faced with a range of the same type
of social, economic, and political challenges. The great expectation of
all those national heroes, national leaders, and pathfinders to freedom
who dedicated themselves and carried out a variety of struggles to gain
independence to all these countries, was to overcome subjugation in all
its forms among the people, make way for the emergence of free citizens
and build a state that comprised such free and independent citizens.
Whatever freedom we have inherited today as a free country and nation,
the honour for it belongs to those great leaders who even with the
sacrifice of their lives handed down to us a heritage of freedom.
Therefore, I consider it as our very special responsibility on this
occasion, to remember them all with great respect.
In the latter half of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th
Century a national movement emerged that sought to obtain freedom to our
country. There were many facets to this national freedom movement. It
carried on a struggle to obtain an independent country and a democratic
system of government through constitutional reforms. A number of our
national leaders carried on this movement for national independence
paying no heed to differences of race, religion of political belief. The
movement for national independence also emerged in the form of a
movement for religious revival. Our Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim and other
national leaders toiled hard to build a sense of national feeling, pride
and patriotism among the peoples of all races and religions in our
country. They also worked tirelessly to plant the seeds of peaceful
coexistence among our people based on the core values of religion.
Those who carried on a struggle to build a more just and equitable
society from the Left Movement, the Working Class Movement and the "Suriya
Mal" Movement merged with the broader national freedom movement.
In the fields of language, literature and culture too there were many
who played a significant role towards the goal of a free and independent
nation, whose names will always be treasured by us all.
I also recall here the poets of the Colombo Era, and many other
distinguished personalities who worked with great dedication in a
commitment to take our country forward. In addition, we are all aware
that there were many among your parents and mine, who without any
publicity or fanfare, worked hard in various fronts and movements with
the fervent wish of achieving freedom for our country. To all of them
we extend our highest tribute and honour on this proud occasion.
My dear friends, many are the gains that we have won through freedom. We
should not underestimate them. With the Freedom of 1948 what we obtained
was a free, independent state that was based on the sovereignty of the
people expressed through universal suffrage. Despite whatever
shortcomings, the fact that we have been able to continue with a free
and democratic state for more than half a century is indeed a victory
for us Sri Lankans. The success of our educational system enabled us to
build a society with a
high level of literacy. The improvements in our health services brought
many benefits and achievements to our people. Although there is
conflict due to various political challenges before us today, overall
the spirit of
cooperation and understanding has been preserved at a high level among
the various ethnic and religious communities of our land. This City of
Colombo where we celebrate this anniversary of independence is a good
example of such coexistence and diversity.
However, my dear friends, it is important to realize that breaking the
shackles of subjugation in a country or society is not confined to
winning freedom from colonial rule. It is necessary for the life of the
citizen to be also freed from all forms of subjugation. The State
should always be one that is free of subjugation in every form. In
considering all these, I wish to state that here that we do have many
challenges to be resolved and overcome.
The first among these challenges is that of finding a solution to the
national issue that remains unresolved through many years and achieve a
genuine and sustainable peace. Similarly, there are also many other
challenges such as the need to strengthen our economy, achieve political
stability, and use our human resources to best effect for the
advancement of our country. I strongly believe that we can successfully
face up to all these challenges and achieve success for our country.
However, there is one pre-condition to achieve this success. It is that
we should be united to
achieve these high and daunting goals. Many efforts made in the past to
achieve peace have failed. However, there is no benefit achieved in
blaming the past. We should not forget the past, but instead learn from
the lessons of the past. There is, therefore, the need to establish a
structure of State to bring about the genuine participation of all
sections of our people in development activities the administration of
At the recent President Election the majority of the people endorsed the
need to forge a common understanding among the political parties and
forces in the South, taking into consideration the aspirations of all
our people. We are now implementing what the people endorsed. In a few
days our government will begin discussions with the LTTE. We began the
search for a southern consensus by separate talks with political parties
and through the All Party Conference. I am already aware that this
approach has been successful. I am not politically selfish as to claim
the benefits of this
success for myself. This success should be shared equally among the
Government and all those of the Opposition who participated in this
This activity can move forward only by a full understanding of the
lessons to be drawn from the mistakes and misleading of the past. This
country is one that belongs to all Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and
other peoples to whom this is home. We cannot solve this problem by
dividing this country. That will only lead to aggravating the crisis.
That is why we came out with the slogan "Towards a New Sri Lanka".
Although in the political theme in the recent election, it should now be
the theme of the country and nation. In order to overcome all
subjugation and build a new free and independent country our thinking
and aspirations should be new. Our goals should be new and the manner in
which we work should also be new.
Honoured friends, we should bear well in our minds that if we are to
stop the increasing flow of blood through war we should shed more and
more sweat in the cause of peace.
The new peace process that we launch for a New Sri Lanka shall in all
ways be a transparent process. There is nothing to hide in it. We are
not preparing to forcibly bring about a solution. Similarly, we shall
not be frightened by threats from any quarter. Our aim is to bring about
a national consensus from a solution that is brought about by broad and
deep discussion. Therefore, on this very special occasion, I wish to
make an open appeal with great honesty to the main opposition party and
all other political parties and movements to extend their support to us
in carrying out this task. I invite all of you to set aside whatever
narrow debates and divisions there may be, and be united and come
together with a singular determination to overcome this challenge that
has evaded solution for half a century, because in the national agenda
"country" should be ahead of all other issues.
We have also given priority towards restructuring the economy so as to
enable all the people of the country to share the dividends of economic
growth; building of a disciplined and law abiding society through the
highest respect for the Rule of Law; and by this means build a country
that is best suited for our children to grow up in. I have already
launched the campaign to save our future generation from the menace of
drugs. My government and I have the strength and courage to take
whatever steps that necessary to see the establishment of a civilized
and disciplined Sri Lankan society.
I am prepared to face challenges on behalf of the future of this
country, to change the popular trend that has enabled people who are
lavish with money to see that the institutions of the law are misused in
their favour and interests. Similarly, whether in the North or South, I
wish to state that I will act to protect human rights and values, as a
person who has been dedicated to the cause of human rights for 35 years.
My request to all the friends of Sri Lanka living abroad and all
countries friendly to Sri Lanka, is to extend the cooperation necessary
to help maintain the peace and dignity of this free and independent
country named Sri Lanka, located in the Indian Ocean, that has an Asian
civilization running back through many centuries and whose people are
the inheritors of such a rich culture.
We have launched a development programme that works in tandem with the
peace process to help rebuild and restore the livelihoods of people
battered by war and ravages of the Tsunami. We expect to launch a
special programme of national integration this year to build greater
amity and trust among our people.
My dear friends, my principles of governance are those of good
governance; responsible governance; the Rule of Law, and righteous
governance. It is my belief that in our country that has now passed more
than half a century since independence, what is necessary to gain
victory over the immense challenges before us, is a system of governance
based on what is righteous. I believe that this will help our citizens
to work towards the genuine advance of our country without any doubts or
fears. It will also lead to the building of a polity that eschews narrow
debates and divisions and encourages genuine development. On this
important occasion I wish to once again place before you the need to
forge the bonds of a united society that has come together to build a
New Sri Lanka.
It is we who can bring the real glory to our National Flag that flutters
in the air and the National Anthem whose strains we hear in the wind. I
am not willing to hand this responsibility to our next generation.
However difficult it may be, with whatever means, it is my determination
to face up to these main challenges and achieve victory.
Yes! I shall definitely carry out this task. What I ask of my people who
love this blessed land is to extend to me your great strength that is
required for this.
"Freedom" is the path to the greatest victories to a nation. "Freedom"
is to safeguard and defend the victories achieved. Therefore, on this
path of freedom let us work together to achieve success and victory! Let
us achieve victory with dedication! Let us join our hands in unity to
offer to our revered motherland the victories she deserves!
I wish you all success in the future!
May you be blessed by the Triple Gem!
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Date: February 4, 2006 - 3.30 GMT
President calls on all parties to help achieve peace