Speeches by Nihal Jayamanne PC

Speech By Nihal Jayamanne Pc President Of The Bar Association Made At The Justice C.G. Weeramantry’s Felicitation Ceremony.

Justice Christy Weeramantry; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.

Justice Weeramantry is a great man. His life and his achievements are multifaceted and kaleidoscopic.

He has had a brilliant career in school, in the university and at the Bar.

He was a judge of the Supreme Court of this country and the Vice President of the International Court of Justice.

He has written books on varied subjects. He was recently bestowed with the prestigious UNESCO Prize for Peace Education 2006. Mother Teresa was also a recipient of the prize.

But these are not the reasons why he is a great man. He is a great man because of his simplicity, his childlike innocence and his total commitment to justice and to humanity. He is also a rare human being for he is pure of heart.

Ladies and Gentlemen, cultured people speak of things and the uncouth speak of people.

I have known Justice Weeramantry since I was 12 years old. (Now I am 60) and I have not heard him once speak ill of any person or discuss another human being.

I remember him visiting our home as a young lawyer with Alec Jayasekera to meet my father not so much to discuss legal matters but to speak of things - of art and science. We as young children used to sit in a corner and listen in awe and learn.

Justice Weeramantry as a bachelor occasionally joined our family on holidays. I can remember vividly one particular holiday at Arugambay, where we stayed in a thatched bungalow called “Daghanem” owned by the well known Perera family from Bandarawela.

The house was built on a hill with the entirety of its front opening into vast sand dunes and the Bay of Bengal. In the evenings my father and Justice Weeramantry sat down to play chess. My father was invariably clad in a sarong and banian and Justice Weeramantry was invariably dressed in trousers and shirt and shoes.

One evening while they were playing chess, I quietly crept under the table and tied Justice Weeramantry’s shoe laces together. A prank we used to play on friends at school. What happens is that when you get up to walk you trip and fall. Luckily for Justice Weeramantry - my father had observed me and had warned him.

Those were good days and I cherish the memory. Ladies and Gentlemen, Justice Weeramantry is not an aggressive person. He has not promoted himself as many others have done to gain personal glory. He, however, has promoted new ideas and the world has accepted them and has honoured him for them. Ironically the country which has not used this man’s vibrant spirit and ideas is his own mother land. This is a pity.

The destiny of a country is the aggregate of the actions of its Politicians. But there emerges in time great men with new ideas and a new vision who can change that destiny. Judge Weeramantry is one such man.

A Patriot is one who brings credit to his country and not discredit. Justice Weeramantry is a true Patriot, he genuinely loves his country, its culture, its customs and its heritage.

He has at every opportunity applied our unique ancient laws and customs in judgments delivered by him, at the International Court of Justice. In the famous Danube case in particular our ancient laws and customs on the environment, the waterways and the great irrigation works, were copiously cited by him.

Justice Weeramantry has single handed done more to publicise our ancient laws, culture and customs to the world than any other Sri Lankan.

He has used his Patriotism to promote Justice, Peace and Unity.

I quote one paragraph from a brilliant speech titled “Ahimsa” which he delivered on World Peace Day at BMICH on September 21st 2004.

“In Sri Lanka particularly it is well to remember the age old teaching that violence ceases not by violence and hatred not by hatred, but by love alone.

This is a teaching ingrained in our traditions and non-violence embodies the essence of this teaching.

With violence come pseudo victory, where one party is overcome and the other victorious.

But here again our ancient culture reminds us that this so called victory is hollow because the defeated live in pain and the so called victor will some day be someone else’s victim.

As opposed to these shallow and deceptive victories, true victories are won by achieving harmony of understanding with one’s opponent, not from a victory of arms.

The first will last and the second will vanish into thin air sooner or later, leaving behind a further legacy of bitterness and hatred.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this evening we acknowledge and honour a great man.
A man of peace, a man of destiny.

So let us all stand up and applaud him.

Thank You.