Commenting on the controversial speech made by the President recently, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera today requested the government be judged on its actions and not on the statements made.
When the government’s commitment towards good governance and accountability was questioned Samaraweera stressed that whatever statements the President or anyone else had made, the government had not veered from its mandate to create a dynamic and vibrant democracy in Sri Lanka.
The Minister however, refused to make a statement on the governments’ progress on the new resolution as he was not a part of the committee.
Speaking at a press briefing called to justify the government’s decision on abstaining from voting on the UNESCO’s resolution on Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Temple Mount the Foreign Minister said the decision was a matter of principle, which did not reflect the government’s stance on the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.
The resolution by UNESCO denouncing Israeli violation in and around al-Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount saw 24 countries voting in favour of the resolution and 26 countries including Sri Lanka abstaining from vote.
The Minister pointed out that the site was a place of importance to three of the major religions in the world. Therefore the government had abstained from voting in keeping with its principle of supporting religious freedom and had not voted against the resolution as it was a Palestinian ally.
“Successive governments, no matter which party has been in power, has always supported Palestine. Sri Lanka has always recognized Palestine as a country and always promoted the two state solution as a way to resolve the conflict between the two countries.”
The decision to abstain from voting was being misinterpreted by ‘bankrupt Muslim politicians’ who defended the racist acts of the previous regime and were now using it as a political motivator.
“They defended the actions of the previous government which allowed racism to run rampant in the country. These individuals are now shedding crocodile tears in front of the Muslim community attempting to deceive the community of the governments true intentions,” he said.
The government will always protect the right to religious freedom and does not condone the racist acts that were allowed under the previous regime, the foreign minister said.
When questioned about media freedom in connected to the license of the Carlton Sports Network (CSN) being cancelled, the Minister said media freedom had nothing to do with the channel losing its license. “It was established with funds that were embezzled and stolen. This is a completely different issue, it should not be connected to media freedom,” he said. (Nabeela Hussain)
Pix by Pradeep Pathirana