Full text of speech delivered by Houston-based Attorney George R. Willy, during a recent event in Houston, Texas, USA, welcoming President Mahinda Rajapaksa:
Your Excellency, Mrs. Rajapaksa, Hon Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Sheila thank you for making this, really appreciate this and Consul General Arora, Consul thank you for making this.
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome Your Excellency to this great city. If you can ignore the oak trees and the mockingbirds you could easily mistake this for Sri Lanka.
It is in Sri Lanka that I was born, and my mother and the parents of my wife Shanthi, our grand fathers and grand mothers are all buried under the sacred soil of my motherland. I grew up Your Excellency, in Jaffna and moved to Colombo when I was only 10 years old. My wife is from Badulla, grew up in Diyatalawa where her dad was a well a respected captain in the army.
I have smelt the sweetness of Magosa trees in Jaffna and taste of the Red Jumbu fruits that left red stains on my white shirt as I walked to school in Colombo. I know the allure of Jack fruits ripening on the trees as crows begin to break them open.
I have seen the bright colour of pandals during Wesak and shamelessly ate food at Dansala meant for the poor. And I have heard the chanting of Kovils and inhaled the smell of jasmine and Joss sticks. I’ve heard the bell of All Saint’s church as I assisted Father Herath during Mass.
But since I left Sri Lanka in 1975 there has been such pain, such sorrow and such agony. The mighty Mahaweli Ganga that usually brings its sacred waters to the paddy fields spat out blood. Both the Sinhalese and Tamils. From up here in the United States I have watched the land of my forefathers descend from paradise deep into hell. No one can say with certainty who is to blame but the time for blaming is long gone.
Your Excellency, your power be descended from Dutugemunu and my people from Elara. Remember how Dutugemunu fought Elara on his Elephant Kandula and killed Elara. Dutugemunu of course is still remembered for uniting Sri Lanka for the first time. But he is also remembered for something else. After defeating and killing Elara he built a monument for Elara out of respect for his worthy opponent. He ordered all the citizens of the land to stop, dismount and pay respect to Elara. In so doing he not only showed what a great noble man he was. But also proved to be a great politician. He knew that He had to rule the Tamil people too after the defeat of Elara.
Your Excellency, faith and fortune and your great political skills have placed you at a unique point in history.
Children years to come, will read in their history books, that a great leader, a great warrior by the name of Mahinda Rajapaksa finally defeated the rebellion after nearly 25 years when several before him failed. They may even say that you are Dutugamunu of the 21 century. But if you want to wear Gemunu’s mantle, Your Excellency, you will have to build a monument too. That monument does not have to be a Dagoba or a building. It will have to be new policy backed by laws with teeth to enforce.
Do not make the mistake that started 58 riots. Do not hold back Tamils who want to get into Universities. Do not make the Tamils feel like they are second class citizens. Respect their religion, and respect their language. There is something about the Tamil people you need to know Your Excellency. To them their language is God. There are only few cultures in the world which has such devotion to the language.
You were trained as a lawyer and in your early career you were a formidable defender of human rights.
Now you have the popularity, you have the power of a hero, like Julius Caeser, returning to Rome from his conquests. No one can deny what you ask. Ask the parliament to pass some entrenched clauses; you and I read in law school. Then we have had to study the Soulbury Constitution. If you need my help I will give it free like many in this audience would. The Tamil people are naked and hungry looking for you to assure them that there is a place for them.
Make sure they have one. You killed one Prabhakaran but do not let another grow. You cannot prevent another one with swords and guns. You can only do that with your heart and wisdom. Compassion, truth and justice, you learnt from Buddha are the only weapons you will need. According to Dhamma Pada, Buddha said that hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred cease by love. This is an old rule. That’s what the Buddha said.
Your Excellency, as you leave this fair city and return to Sri Lanka, promise me that a 10 year boy walking to school tomorrow in his white shirt will have no other red stain than from the Jumbu fruits. The morning crow will not open anything other than the jackfruit. That there will be nothing else hanging from the Magosa trees, than the fruits I smelt.
Your Excellency return us to paradise, return us to paradise. Thank You
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