“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of it’s people”
- Mahatma Gandhi
By Siva Sivapragasam
Sri Lanka celebrates it’s 67th independence day today in a positive environment of achieving unity amidst diversity.
Independence for the country was achieved through the efforts of leaders of all communities. It was won without shedding a drop of blood by those who shouldered the responsibility of guiding a newly born independent nation freed from the shackles of colonialism. Among those names that come to our mind who fought for independence consisted of all communities – D.S. Senanayake, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Handy Perinbanayagam (Jaffna Youth Congress) and T.B. Jayah.
This year’s independence anniversary is significant since all communities – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have elected jointly a President for the country. Today, groups that represent diverse communities, following different religions, political parties, civil organizations and various groups have come together onto one platform, shedding their differences to achieve a common objective for the benefit of the nation.
Almost one month ago, freedom of expression and dissent were a far cry. The rule of Law and the independence of the Judiciary, the twin pillars of democracy, were unashamedly violated. Abductions and disappearance of persons who did not toe the regime line were common. Authoritarian power without limitations was abundantly displayed in decision making.
Thanks to people’s power, Sri Lanka is once again following the path of civilized political culture and a true determination towards development.
The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his Independence Day message has stated that the new regime recognizes the existence of minorities and diversity in Sri Lanka, facts which were denied by the former President who had maintained that there were no minorities in Sri Lanka, an assertion which did not go well with the minorities who feared that their identity was in jeopardy. The recent appointments of the Chief Justice, a Cabinet Minister and a Governor for the Western Province from the Tamil community has made the Tamil community feel that the country will be once again be a level playing field for the minorities.
There is a hope that suspicion, discrimination, mistrust and uncertainty will be things of the past.