Moving the resolution on genocide at Northern Provincial Council a meeting held at Kaithady Council Hall today, the Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran said this Resolution is a challenge to the moral integrity and humaneness of the Sinhalese.
“It is my hope that this Resolution would not be considered as an epistle to the International Community only, unrelated to the life of my Sinhalese brothers and sisters. This Resolution is a challenge to your moral integrity and humaneness. If you could assimilate what brutality and inconsiderateness has preceded you or bypassed you so far, may be chances for moral regeneration and a more healthier cooperative and coordinated life style for the future of all people living in this blessed Isle could be ensured” he said in his presentation.
His full presentation is as follows:
That brings to an end the long Resolution on Genocide in Sri Lanka that reflects to some extent the feelings and frustrations of our people – an ancient people with an ancient culture and language. It is my hope that this Resolution would not be considered as an epistle to the International Community only, unrelated to the life of my Sinhalese brothers and sisters. This Resolution is a challenge to your moral integrity and humaneness. If you could assimilate what brutality and inconsiderateness has preceded you or bypassed you so far, may be chances for moral regeneration and a more healthier cooperative and coordinated life style for the future of all people living in this blessed Isle could be ensured.
If only the words of one of our greater Civil Law Advocates who also happened to be the Leader of his people at that time 40 years ago in September 1974, enshrined in a Memorandum from the Tamils of Ceylon to all delegates attending the 20th Commonwealth Conference in Sri Lanka had been then heeded at that time we may have averted the brutal war and its ill effects.
He said “In Ceylon today there is clearly a situation where immediate action and assistance are necessary to stop a bad situation from getting worse”. He was appealing to this Common Wealth Delegates that they should use their good offices to help in the solution of the problem that had arisen.
Today we need to rewrite the wrongs done by all of us. We need to search our conscience. We need to examine ways and means of ushering in a new way of life a new culture. In this regard let me quote from an excellent speech made by former Prime Minister of Australia Mr.Paul Keating at Redfern Park, Sydney on December 10th 1992 on the occasion of the launch of Australia’s Celebration of the 1993 International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. He said and I quote, “And, as I say, the starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians.
It begins, I think, with that act of recognition
Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing.
We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.
We brought the diseases. The alcohol.
We committed the murders.
We took the children from their mothers.
We practised discrimination and exclusion.
It was our ignorance and our prejudice.
And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.
With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.
We failed to ask – how would I feel if this were done to me?
As a consequence, we failed to see that what we were doing degraded all of us.
If we needed a reminder of this, we received it this year.
The Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody showed with devastating clarity that the past, lives on in inequality, racism and injustice.
In the prejudice and ignorance of non-Aboriginal Australians, and in the demoralisation and desperation, the fractured identity, of so many Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
For all this, I do not believe that the Report should fill us with guilt.
Down the years, there has been no shortage of guilt, but it has not produced the responses we need.
Guilt is not a very constructive emotion.
I think what we need to do is open our hearts a bit.
All of us.
Perhaps when we recognise what we have in common we will see the things which must be done – the practical things.
“With these words I commit my Resolution to this august assembly of men and women who are the pride of my dear people of the Northern Province.