Addressing the third session of the Sri Lanka Youth Parliament, UN rights chief called on the country’s youth to set aside differences and play a transformative role in society while urging the government to take up the pressing issues of youth suicide , unemployment and education.
Ms Pillay said she was concerned about young people in the country and diaspora who were ‘frozen in the hatred that fuelled the war”
In her address she said she was ‘disturbed’ by the misue of religion. Saying, “I am concerned when I see young people here and in the diaspora frozen in the hatred that fuelled the war. I am disturbed when religion is misued to vocalize young people of one community against another. But I am greatly encouraged when I hear about young people coming together across communities to defend independent university, to fight discrimination against women or people with different sexual identity and orientation to say , to say no to ethnic and religious violence.”
Saying that she is pleased to visited at a time when the war has ended and the “scourge” of terrorism has been put behind, she reiterated that it is the time for Sri Lankan youth to transcend the differences, prejudices and politics of their parents and play a transformative role in building a new society”.
Ms. Pillay was mindful of a generation that has been directly affected by the war, and mentioned that her visit would seek the progress being made in rehabilitation efforts and the provision of equal opportunities for young people all around the world.
Some of the other pressing issues she shed light on were the Sri Lankan school system and the need to create better employment
opportunities. Ms. Pillay expressed her concern on the high youth suicide rate of the country as well.
Concluding her speech, Ms. Pillay said that she was ready to take the time to hear from the Sri Lankan youth and reassured that the United Nations is very much here to “support” you, in the empowerment and participation in building a new Sri Lanka and a better world.
– By: Shaveen Jeewandara-Sunday Times