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Public support necessary to resist use of human rights for political ends

2014 Jan 16

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris addressing a public gathering. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa looks on.

Raising public awareness of the issues confronting the nation at the present juncture was the need of the hour, and the SLFPˆorganisations consistings of the political leadership at the local level had a vital role to play in educating the masses, Prof. G. L.Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, said at Tissamaharama on Monday.

He was addressing a meeting of the SLFP Bala Mandalaya of Tissamaharama, presided over by Chamal Rajapaksa, Speaker of Parliament.

The events of the recent past indicated beyond any doubt the extent to which human rights were being used unabashedly and selectively as a political tool, the Minister observed.

It had always been clear that there was frequently a political agenda underpinning the campaign for such issues, he said.

The merest hearsay and sources unidentified and unverified were relied on for treating self-serving allegations as proven facts, said the External Affairs Minister. Speculations based on the most prejudiced of statements were equated with proof, guilt was presumed before any examination of the circumstance was undertaken and scant attention was paid to the basic principles of fairness, Prof. Peiris said.

The government had pointed out to those concerned the travesty of justice involved in those procedures and matters would be represented in this regard to other countries open to persuasion without bias, the Minister said.

However, at the end of the day, there was no stronger assurance of safety for SriˆLanka than robust and well informed public opinion, Professor Peiris said.

The victories achieved in the recent past could not be taken for granted and must be constantly safeguarded, said Prof. Peiris, describing a wide range of benefits which the people enjoyed today as a direct result of peace and stability established at considerable cost and in sharp contrast to the chaotic conditions which had been brought about in some countries by the intervention of external forces.

Benefits such as vastly improved facilities in schools outside the major towns, effective strategies for enabling the fruits of economic development to be enjoyed across the board, the unrivalled development of infrastructure and the breaking down of social barriers had been among the advantages made possible by putting an end to the age of terrorist violence, Prof. Peiris said. Experience elsewhere showed the pressing need for the public at large to rally round to protect these hard won benefits, the Minister concluded.

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