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President’s speech at opening of Parliament sessions President pledges to safeguard human rights

19 January 2022 09:45 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Assures drafting a people’s friendly constitution

  • He called for the support of MPs representing the North and the East to revive normalcy in the area
  • What we need now, is to set aside the dark memories of the past  and build a secure country where all sections of the community can  co-exist 

By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana  

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his speech during the opening of Parliament sessions made a specific pledge to safeguard human rights and to bring in normality to the North and East and called for the support of MPs representing the North and the East for the same.  


“We are a nation that respects international laws and conventions. We need to correct the misconceptions that have been taken to the international community in the past regarding our human rights. 

I say with responsibility that during my tenure, the government did not support any form of human rights violations. We will also not leave room for any such act in the future. We do not condone such actions in any manner,” the President said..  


“For almost three decades, nearly all sections of the community in this country suffered due to terrorism. In 2009, we were able to end this situation by defeating terrorism and bringing peace back to the country. What we need now, however, is to set aside the dark memories of the past and build a secure country where all sections of the community can co-exist in peace. We must all unite for this purpose, irrespective of ethnic, religious or political differences. We have made a major investment to bring normalcy to community life in the war torn northern and eastern areas. It was during my time as Defence Secretary that more than 90% of the land in northern and eastern areas used for military activities during the war was liberated. Since we are able to ensure security and maintain peace in these areas, this will enable us to liberate remaining lands in the future,” he added.  


“The issue of missing persons in war is not something unique to a particular group. We will do maximum justice on behalf of all such persons.  I call for the support of MPs representing the North and the East to achieve the same,” he also said.  


“ We reject racism. The present government wants to safeguard the dignity and rights of every citizen in this country in a uniform manner. Therefore I urge those politicians who continue to incite people against each other for narrow political gains to stop doing so. I took action recently to pardon and release a group of LTTE members who have been in detention over a long period of time. We are also preparing to make relevant amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act that had been in force since 1978,” the President further said. 
President Rajapaksa assured vast reforms including drafting a people friendly constitution and called for the support of all political parties for the same.   
“I need your support and support of the people to make our plans a success,” the President said.   


The President specifically called for the support of Northern and Eastern MPs to bring about normalcy to the North which was affected by the war.  “This country belongs to the people who live presently and as well as those in the future. We are only the custodians of this country. The future of this country depends on how we act today. Hence we are all accountable for future generations. Therefore I hope all those who love the country will extend their support for us. We reject racism. The present government wants to safeguard the dignity and rights of every citizen in this country in a uniform manner. Therefore I urge those politicians who continue to incite people against each other for narrow political gains to stop doing so,” the President said.  We are a nation that has faced many challenges throughout history. We successfully overcame those challenges when the country had the proper leadership. We have the ability to overcome the challenges we face at the moment. I am ready to give the necessary leadership for it. 


The President assured to continue with the government’s green agriculture policy. To achieve higher productivity we promote the use of bio-fertilisers and to build up an international markets for agri products. “We have to take a number of steps to ensure food security. Therefore we intend to carry out a food crop growing battle utilising every cultivable land. Various projects are being implemented and will include a  ‘Yapanayata gangak’ (A river for Jaffna) programme.   


Therefore, I appointed an Experts’ Committee, with the approval of the Cabinet, to study this subject in depth, broadly consult public opinion and prepare a preliminary draft for a people-friendly constitution. I hope to submit the recommendations of this Committee to the Cabinet and the Parliament for broad discussion.     

 

  • The issue of missing persons in war is not something unique to a  particular group. We will do maximum justice on behalf of all such  persons
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