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“In Remembrance of July 1983”: Statement Issued by Young Political Leaders Forum

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In Remembrance of ‘July 83’

by the Young Political Leaders Forum (YPLF)

Dated July 23rd, 2014 | Colombo

We, the undersigned members of the Young Political Leaders Forum of Sri Lanka (YPLF), recall the events of ‘July 1983’ with deep regret. Today, thirty-one years later, we strongly believe that Sri Lanka has the opportunity to restore trust between its people and progress towards national unity. The role of youth in this regard becomes crucial for peace-building and communal harmony. In this spirit, as a group of committed young politicians, we wish to share our perspective on the importance of engaging youth as change agents to resist hate and violence, and to promote unity.

The entire history of human civilization stands evidence that there had never been a battlefield where the most active role was not played by young people. Fighting a war has always been the duty of the young people. Five years ago, the young people in Sri Lanka came out from a war that was going on for decades. As young people, we despise, reject and do not accept any form of hate, violence and destructive conflicts as they have never brought any constructive endings. Hence, it is time for all young people in the country to share the responsibility of building an informed and integrated Sri Lankan society. This indeed requires a conscious and concerted effort.

By unity, we do not mean to have uniformity among people. We accept and respect the differences among us. We believe that our diversity is the strength and the beauty of our society. Young people are mostly referred to as the ‘future’ of a society. But we are both the present and the future. Remembering the bitter history of ‘July 1983’ and all forms of violence that took the lives of hundreds and thousands of young people in our country, we will open our hearts and minds to embrace the diversity as the strength of our unity.

As catalysts for positive action, the active engagement of youth itself is central to its inclusion. Social engagement of youth, both in Sri Lanka and within the Diaspora, is extremely timely, particularly in regard to reconciliation. Indeed, young people and youth-led organizations have the responsibility to ensure that another July 83 does not happen again. Their role is therefore imperative in promoting peace through dialogue and understanding. Often seen as positive agents for change, they need to constructively engage –both individually and collectively- in encouraging values of respect and acceptance between and within communities. This will ultimately create an atmosphere that encourages civic engagement and positive feelings of belongingness among youth in Sri Lanka. This will help fostering trust between them and make them feel being more connected to each other.
Every young person has a responsibility to play a role towards nurturing Sri Lankaness, belongingness and equality for all citizens. All young people, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, gender, place of living, age or political party therefore need to act together as the duty bearers in the process to make this a successful story.

We as Young Political Leaders Forum call upon all the young people in Sri Lanka to join hands with us as duty-bearers and consciously embrace unity in diversity with conviction, to promote inclusion, belongingness and strive towards equality.

1. Hon. Vasantha Senanayake, MP – SLFP/UPFA
2. Hon. Shehan Semasinghe, MP -SLFP
3. Hon. Niroshan Perera, MP – UNP
4. Hon. Harin Fernando, MP – UNP
5. Hon. Hunais Farook, MP – ACMC
6. Raghu Balachandran, representing TNA

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