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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2619

On Nelson Mandella - Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona’s address at the UN General Assembly

New York, 23 December, (Asiantribune.com):

Sri Lanka was always part of the UN General Assembly efforts to end the abomination of apartheid and stood firmly behind the world body as the South African delegation was expelled in 1974, said Dr. Palitha Kohana.

Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN was addressing the UN General Assembly Special Meeting dedicated on 19th December 2013 dedicated to the life and memory of Nelson Mandela.

In his address at special UN General Assembly meeting dedicated to the life and memory of Nelson Mandela, he said, "Sri Lanka observed two days of national mourning on the passing of this great son of Africa. My President Mahinda Rajapaksa, led the delegation of Sri Lanka to the funeral ceremonies in South Africa. "

When referring to the qualities of Late Mandela, Ambassador Dr. Kohona commended, “ He was indeed a rare human being. To be able to so readily forgive and not seek vengeance for the endless humiliations that he personally suffered and the brutality and deprivation that his people were subjected to, for so long, exemplified the best in human nature.

Dr. Palitha Kohana further said, Nelson Mandela contained the burning urge of his people to seek to redress the injustices that they had suffered from centuries of colonialism and apartheid. He was an inspiration to Africa and to the rest of humanity - A hero from a mould that he himself created.

He told the UN General Assembly how he was in rage and in anger, when he was a schoolboy in distant Sri Lanka, and he was impressed by the defiance demonstrated in the face of overwhelming force by Mandela and outraged by his imprisonment.

Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN also said, “ I was proud of our Prime Minister at the time, Mrs Sirimao Bandaranayaka, who was vocal in the efforts to suspend apartheid South Africa from the Commonwealth of Nations despite the threat of losing the lucrative market for our tea exports to that country. We were always part of the UN General Assembly efforts to end the abomination of apartheid and stood firmly behind the world body as the South African delegation was expelled in 1974. “

Given below the full text of the speech delivered by Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN on 19th December at the UN General Assembly Special Meeting dedicated to the life and memory of Nelson Mandela:

“Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Today we gather to honor the extraordinary life of an exceptional man. We normally sing praises of those who spend years in power and achieve great things, build large edifices, win wars. Nelson Mandela, on the contrary, spent almost three decades isolated in a brutal prison and only five short years in power before he walked away.

It is the inspiration and the hope that he provided to his oppressed people during those dark days incarcerated in Roben Island and the leadership and the gentle message of magnanimous reconciliation that he conveyed to all, the oppressor and the oppressed, in the short time he wielded power that has made him so different.

As a schoolboy in distant Sri Lanka, I grew up impressed by the defiance demonstrated in the face of overwhelming force by Mandela and outraged by his imprisonment. I was proud of our Prime Minister at the time, Mrs Sirimao Bandaranayaka, who was vocal in the efforts to suspend apartheid South Africa from the Commonwealth of Nations despite the threat of losing the lucrative market for our tea exports to that country.

We were always part of the UN General Assembly efforts to end the abomination of apartheid and stood firmly behind the world body as the South African delegation was expelled in 1974.

As resistance to the increasingly brutal apartheid regime intensified, I felt for the thousands of young men and women gunned down, savaged by police dogs and water cannoned by the police, especially during the Soweto uprising. Their defiance and resistance inspired by a group of men, along with Nelson Mandela, imprisoned in windswept Roben Island.

In power, after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela inspired humanity by his remarkable lack of an urge for vengeance which many other victors have so readily demonstrated. He converted the oppressor to a ready collaborator and those who collaborated with the oppressor in to reluctant partners.

He was indeed a rare human being. To be able to so readily forgive and not seek vengeance for the endless humiliations that he personally suffered and the brutality and deprivation that his people were subjected to, for so long, exemplified the best in human nature.

Nelson Mandela contained the burning urge of his people to seek to redress the injustices that they had suffered from centuries of colonialism and apartheid. He was an inspiration to Africa and to the rest of humanity - A hero from a mould that he himself created.

Sri Lanka observed two days of national mourning on the passing of this great son of Africa. My President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, led the delegation of Sri Lanka to the funeral ceremonies in South Africa.

We are fortunate indeed to have lived at a time that Nelson Mandela walked this earth.

I thank you. “

- Asian Tribune -

On Nelson Mandella - Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona’s address at the UN General Assembly
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