The Human Rights Salutation 2022 of the Human Rights Office Kandy was held at the Good Shepherd Convent Kandy on the 11th December 2022 with the theme “Protect freedom of expressions to uphold democracy". Rt. Rev. Dr. Valence Mendis the Bishop of the Central Province was the chief guest and Hon. Ruby Woodside, the political officer of the US embassy to Sri Lanka was the guest of honor.
Three prominent Human Rights Activists were awarded this year for their commitment in protecting and promoting Human Rights midst of nemours challenges. The winners of the inter school - Kandy district art and essay competition were also awarded during the Human Rights Day celebration.
Fr. Nandana Manatunga, the Director of the Human Rights Office, welcoming the chief guest and the guest of honor, congratulated the award winners and the school Art and Essay competition winners. Explaining the purpose of the International Human Rights day event, he recalled the efforts of the people expressing their desire for a democratic country free of corruption and political stability. However, he said now people have lost the democratic space to freely express and therefore the Human Rights Office selected the theme "Protect freedom of expressions to uphold democracy".
Bishop Valence, in his keynote address explained the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the constitution that are essential for the Human Person to live a fuller human Life. Further, he said that Human Rights should not be in conflict with religious values. In his address, Bishop Valence mentioned that Justice was still to be delivered to the victims of the Easter Sunday attack and our country was experiencing the worst Economic crisis due to the mismanagement of funds and political decisions. The Bishop reiterated that the people have only two options that is to seek God's intervention and work together with harmony.
Hon. Ruby Woodside, the political officer of the US embassy to Sri Lanka addressing the gathering pointed out the urgency to uphold democratic values, especially the freedom of expression and she explained U.S. - Sri Lanka relations based on shared democratic values and a rules-based regional and international order. Current U.S policy in Sri Lanka aims to support Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions, encourage its economic development and promote a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region the US assistance.
Rt. Revd. Kumara Illangasinghe was awarded for his commitment as a Religious Leader in protecting & promoting Human Rights, especially for defending the Rights of the Poor and the Marginalized.
Mrs. Visaka Dharmadasa was awarded for her commitment in defending the Rights of the War Affected Women and becoming a voice for the voiceless.
Mr. Tharindu Jayawardhana was awarded for his commitment in safeguarding the freedom of expression and information, and for the untiring work defending the rights of the defenseless as a Journalist and a Human Rights Activist
There were 538 Sinhala Essays and 436 Tamil Essays for the essay competition while there were 1233 Arts from all age groups. In total 2207 participated in Art & essay competitions from 138 schools from Kandy district.
The arts competitors were further encouraged by displaying the selected Arts of all age categories and the selected essays were compiled into a book and were given to the essay competitors and the special invitees. Further, the 2022 International Human Rights day event was made meaningful with video presentations on the efforts made by HRO, the cultural items and the preforming art on freedom of expression. The birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace was reminded with a fusion of carols by the choir of the Good Shepherd Convent Kandy.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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