“Miscreants instigating violence must be punished”– Dr Udagama | Daily News

“Miscreants instigating violence must be punished”– Dr Udagama

Dr. Deepika Udagama Picture by Priyan De Silva
Dr. Deepika Udagama Picture by Priyan De Silva

“For a country to move forward, miscreants who instigate ethnic or religious animosity should be dealt with decisively, swiftly and fairly within the law irrespective of whoever they are or their social standing or political affiliation,” said Dr Deepika Udagama speaking to the Daily News yesterday.

“It is the only way to stem this sort of situation and the country to move forward. Every citizen should be given the message that no one can break the law and turn this country into another inferno by spewing hatred between communities,” she reiterated.

Speaking with a heavy heart referring to the recent incidents in the Kandy district, Dr Udugama said that according to information received, those responsible for the attacks and torching were not residents of the area. She also said that there have been a whole stream of attempts that have taken place after the civil war was ended in 2009, to create communal disharmony in the country. It is some relief that the citizens have shown more restraint compared to the ethnic violence of July 1983. “What type of human being that can take delight in the suffering of others than persons with deranged minds?”, she questioned.

In addition to inquiring into the complaints received daily, the Human Rights Commission has a duty to stand completely devoted to the necessity of creating a larger Human Rights consciousness and culture in the country. The HR situation in the country has seen some improvement in the past years but these improvements will be lost if we don’t work hard to sustain them. “One must realise that if someone’s rights are undermined, your own rights are undermined as well”, the Chairperson said.

“Human Rights ethos and value base should not merely be in our heads but be in our hearts and in our DNA”, Dr Udagama said. To achieve this and improve the HR situation in the country, she said that a two-pronged approach was necessary. Firstly, she said that the foci of the education system should be to create citizens with good democratic and liberal values, who would know how to live in a pluralistic society recognising their rights as well as those of others. “We have to start young and start by de-segregating schools”, she said.

According to Dr Udagama, the second issue that should be dealt with was the communication dimension. “Media must play an absolutely positive role to promote democracy in a country.

“The moment the media plays truant then society is in deep trouble” she emphasised. At present, as social media plays a major role in communication, she said that the HRC has no objection to regulating social media in an even-handed and fair manner to ensure that the rights of children, religious and ethnic harmony is protected as social media is more a personal and intimate communication tool compared to conventional media.

“We as citizens have to unite and work together in this difficult period to deal with these sensitive issues positively and bravely for the country to move forward.

“This sort of situation requires very bold as well as swift decisive steps to stem this sort of incidents as we have suffered enough due to this sort of violence,” she said.

Dr Udagama said that as these two communities have lived in harmony for centuries, at this moment it was necessary now to get together as a country and build on the strength and mutual respect and not let these mischievous elements deny us and our future generations of living in a peaceful and decent society.


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