(Text of Statement on the Bill on the Office on Missing Persons tabled in Parliament by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, MP, on 11 August 2016)
The Office on the Missing Persons’ Bill, which we will be debating today in this House, I believe heralds a new beginning, a new era of peace and reconciliation for our long suffering country.
68 years after Independence, two youth insurrections, and a 26 year old war, Sri Lanka is now ready to commence the healing process of our wounded and fractured nation, coming to terms with the tragedies of our past, so that we could harness the potential of our great nation and its people to pave the way for the future our country truly deserves.
As Lee Kuan Yew, in his memoirs – “From Third World to First” wrote –
Ceylon was Britain’s model Commonwealth country. It had been carefully prepared for independence. After the War, it was a good middle-sized country with fewer than 10 million people. It had a relatively good standard of education, with two universities of high quality, a civil service largely of locals, and experience in representative government starting with city council elections in the 1930s.
When Ceylon gained independence in 1948, it was the classic model of gradual evolution to independence.
Alas, it did not work out. During my visits over the years, I watched a promising country go to waste.
It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendib has given the English language the word ‘Serendipity’ is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.
Today, however – 7 years after the end of the brutal war and the defeat and the demise of LTTE terror, Sri Lanka is now ready to win the peace and heal the scars of conflict, sorrow and pain. This Bill is the first step in healing our own nation and its people so that we could face the challenges of the future as a united nation; unity in diversity!
This is a very special day for all of us in this House, irrespective of the political parties, the colours, symbols and ideologies that we represent.
Today is a day that seeks to unite us as human beings. A day for each of us in this House to pause for a moment, reach deep within our hearts, speak to our conscience and demonstrate through action, that we are guided by peace, compassion, empathy and brotherhood, noble principles which the four main religions in our country – Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – teach us.
As you know, there is no corner of this blessed and beloved country of ours, that has not been drenched by the tears of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children who have wept and continue to weep, not knowing where their loved ones are, or what happened to them. They only know that they are missing. They don’t know whether they are dead or alive.
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