18th January 2010.
Dear President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Dear General Sarath Fonseka,
An Appeal to the Two Key Candidates Contesting the Presidential Elections.
We write this letter on behalf of the Friday Forum, which is an informal gathering of concerned citizens who have voluntarily come together to deliberate and make representations on vital issues of national concern. The Forum includes a considerable number of elder citizens who have served the country with distinction in various capacities.
This letter is addressed to you both, the two major candidates contesting the first national election as the country emerges from a devastating war. Having carefully examined your manifestos, we write to appeal to you to demonstrate vision and leadership to address the most pressing issue in the sixty-odd years of our country’s independent history. While you both contributed to winning the recent war, you should be aware of the dangers of losing the peace. We note with distress a major lacuna in both manifestos. Neither manifesto adequately addresses the basic rights of many communities living in Sri Lanka, and particularly the Tamils, Muslims and Up-Country Tamils and other minorities. Their long standing grievances and aspirations are not given due attention. Nor have you articulated a credible process of restructuring our state and writing our constitution to ultimately arrive at a plural and cohesive society, where all our people feel they can with equality and justice participate in national life.
The failure to address this issue of great historical and national importance does not bode well for the future of our country. We may be condemned to the scourge of community tensions and a divided society for many more years to come unless sincere and meaningful political guarantees are made at this moment. We, therefore, urge you even at this late hour to present the contours of such political proposals. We trust that you both have given extensive consideration to this most pressing issue facing the country.
In our opinion, the various debates and the numerous proposals on aspects of our constitution, our state and our society are sufficiently rich for you to put forward an informed set of political proposals for public consideration. We must not lose this historic opportunity.
We wish to emphasise that this is no mere plea on behalf of minority groups. Those of us of the majority community, for the sake of our own sense of self respect and self worth, most earnestly need and desire to live in a society based on justice and equity for all Sri Lankans.
Please reflect on this appeal made by a non-partisan group of concerned citizens on this issue of national concern.
On behalf of the Group of Concerned Citizens
Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Rev Prof. Bellanwila Wimalaratne Thero, Archbishop Oswald Gomis, Bishop de Chickera, Rev. Dr. Leopold Ratnasekera, Ms. Jezima Ismail, Professor Savithri Goonasekera, Mr. Justice Vigneswaran, Mr. Neelakandan K, Mr. Godfrey Gunatilleke, Prof. W D Lakshman, Mr. Ranjit Fernando, Ms. Sithie Tiruchelvam, Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Dr.A.C.Visvalingam, Ms Manouri Muthetuwegama, Mr. Namel Weeramuni, Prof.Gananath Obeysekere, Prof.Arjuna Aluwihara, Dr. Anura Ekanayake, Mr. Mahen Dayananda, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Mr. Suresh de Mel, Mr. Prashan de Viser, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Dr. Ms. N. Selvy Thiruchandran, Mr. R. Surendran PC, C. Jayaratne.