‘ World should be ashamed of its failure to resolve the Palestine issue’ – Sajith Premadasa at the Naqba day

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COLOMBO: The world should be ashamed of it failure to resolve the Palestinian issue for the past 75 years which was a crime against humanity,Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said here in Colombo on Monday May 22.

Premadasa was speaking at the Nakba Commemoration Day observed in Colombo by the embassy of the state of Palestine in Colombo in association with the Arab Ambassadors Council at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Stadium in the Sri Lankan capital

Speaker of the parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene was the chief guest, while Premadasa was the guest of honour at the event.

The commemoration event commenced with the welcome speech of the Palestine ambassador  Dr. Zuhair Hamdallah Zaid while the wind up of the session was made by the speaker of the parliament:

Full text of the keynote address made by Premadasa is appended:

“Today we are gathered here to observe the gradual annihilation of the Palestinian State and its people – 75 years of unending suffering and a colossal humanitarian disaster. We in Sri Lanka have always stood by the people of Palestine and we are committed to Palestine achieving its statehood and we accept Palestine as a legitimate nation state.

75 years of suffering through the perpetration of crimes – crimes against humanity, violence, propagation of hatred, division of families. Thousands and thousands of Palestinians have suffered through this horrendous situation, and all of us in the international community are responsible. We are responsible for the fact that that we have not had the courage, nor the power to bring an end to this unceasing violence. We must be ashamed that we have not been able to shape a world order that is predicated upon protection of human rights, civil liberties, democratic rights, freedom of speech and even at this juncture we don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel.

As we speak, if we examine various episodes in history, we have seen several efforts made by United Nations and its actors – member states- to try to bring a long-lasting solution to this unending human catastrophe. For long years we were told about Resolution 242338. Resolution 3236 expounded the rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination. Afterwards, the Oslo Accords – both its first attempt and the second attempt – they were geared towards trying to bring the protagonists together in order to find a solution. We have heard of the Clinton Parameters, the UN Security Council Resolution 1397, which affirms a two-state solution, and the quartet – United States, European Union, United States and Russia – were mandated to achieve these purposes.

Although there were numerous attempts at arriving at permanent peace, all those attempts have proved to be a disastrous failure. There are proclamations, declarations, speeches, annunciations – all made in favor of peace. But peace is yet to dawn upon the Middle East. Peace is yet to dawn upon the Palestinians. Their rights have not been served, persistently, continuously every second of the day the rights of the Palestinians continue to be violated.

We, in the international community have become mere spectators confining ourselves to statements and press releases failing to take difficult decisions – decisions that are much needed, compromises that are much needed to arrive at a permanent peace which preserves the dignity of all who are stakeholders in this monumental disaster.  Just observe, for 75 years not only the deaths – the loss of human lives – but observe the socio-economic consequences of this continuous conflict.

Thousands upon thousands have lost livelihoods. The basic human needs of the Palestinians have been deprived. We often hear the two major covenants of the United Nations – Covenant on Civic and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Throughout these 75 years as a world stands by idly waiting without taking the crucial, momentous decisions these rights – political rights, civic rights, economic, social, cultural and religious rights- of the Palestinian people have been taken away from them. There is extreme poverty and destitution faced by the Palestinian people. Large numbers have become homeless because of this conflict. The human disaster is incalculable.

 So, what should we do to bring this tragic situation to a finale? We fervently believe that a land-for-peace solution which has been promulgated on many an occasion through various UN resolutions and international pronouncements is the basis for a permanent solution. We must move forward for a two-state solution – a solution that enhances and protects the rights, the dignity, the honor, the self-respect and the self-esteem of all Palestinian people. We, as Sri Lankans, have always and will continue to support the cause of the Palestinian people.

We shall, in due course, become a pro-active force in the international arena championing the cause of the Palestinian people. Be rest assured be not confined ourselves to statements. We are determined – as mother Lanka- to walk the talk in achieving democracy, peace, prosperity and statehood for the Palestinian people.”

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