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Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today on this Adjournment Motion regarding the continuation of Emergency Regulations. The issue is of concern to all of us, and we need to discuss this in practical terms, in a spirit of reconciliation, and determination to work together for the betterment of all Sri Lankans.

For this purpose we need to look into the past, to learn from what went wrong, and ensure no repetition of such wrongs in the future. The history of Emergency Regulations in this country teaches us that there have been two types of Emergency, an Emergency that provides protection to the citizens, and an Emergency that increases violence and suffering. Such violence is used not only by enemies of the State, but by State forces too, which contributes to greater problems. Sadly there have been Governments in the past, though not for the last 20 years, that used Emergencies in a manner that played into the hands of terrorists.
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Mr Speaker, I am pleased to propose this adjournment motion that is intended to develop closer links between Parliamentarians in Sri Lanka, and their peers in other countries. I should add however that there has been much progress since I first suggested this motion, nine months ago. Several Friendship Associations have been set up in the last few months, beginning with the initiative of the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs who revived the Sri Lanka – Brazil Parliamentarians’ Friendship Association. This was a fitting tribute to the increasingly close relations between Sri Lanka and South America.

I should note, Mr Speaker, that the idea for this motion was suggested by a European Ambassador from a country that has supported us very positively over the years, but where knowledge of Sri Lanka is limited. This allows policy with regard to Sri Lanka to be governed by initiatives by a highly motivated few, who might not always have the interests of Sri Lanka at heart. I was told that Sri Lanka had an extremely good story to tell, not only about how we had defeated terrorism, but also about how we were making up for lost time in terms of developing areas that had been neglected before, and providing opportunities to those who had been deprived for ages.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

March 2011
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