Prior to his untimely demise the National Peace Council had decided to award the venerable Sobitha its Citizens Peace Prize, to which he gave his consent.
This prize is awarded to those in Sri Lanka who have demonstrated public commitment and taken risks to uphold values of human rights, good governance and ethnic and religious harmony.
The National Peace Council said that when representatives of the National Peace Council met him to convey this decision, his first response was to state that there were more deserving candidates whom we should consider.
However with some persuasion he agreed to accept our offer. With his consent we agreed on the date of the award to be November 5, 2015. But this was postponed due to the venerable Sobitha’s illness.
“We are grateful to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for having agreed to be present on that occasion. We now intend to present this award to venerable Sobitha posthumously in the name of the civil movement for good governance he led. The most fitting tribute to him is to stand for the values he did and ensure that they are realized in the life of the nation,” the National Peace Council said.
The National Peace Council said the passing away of venerable Maduluwave Sobitha is a great loss to Sri Lanka.
At a time when the space for political dissent had shrunk, and the government increasingly authoritarian, ethno-nationalist and corrupt, the venerable Sobitha took the challenge to speak out, stand up and give leadership to the general population.
He transcended the love of his community to embrace all ethnic and religious communities with the universal spirit of Buddhist religious teachings. He provided leadership to civil society in its quest for good governance and ethnic harmony.
The social media is filled with expressions of sorrow by members of all ethnic and religious communities at his passing away and appreciation for what he did. His loss was remarkably felt even by the prisoners taken in under the Prevention of Terrorism Act who stage their protest nowadays for their release. They too have send their condolence message and that shows the credible work that he had done and as an individual voiced for their release. The government of national unity, that combines the two main political parties which have hitherto been rivals, is due in no small part to his moral leadership. The National Peace Council said it mourns his loss. (Colombo Gazette)