20 January, 2021

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Role Of Youth In Reconciliation

By Namal Rajapaksa

Namal Rajapaksa MP

I feel greatly honoured and privileged to be invited to make the keynote address at this seminar on Youth and Reconciliation. That I am being asked to speak at the beginning of a New Year also augurs well because, today all of us could resolve to make the ongoing reconciliation process meaningful. The Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, or the LLRC recommendations are vigorously being pursued with His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa having allocated almost a Billion Rupees for 2013.  There is much optimism that bulk of the activities recommended by the LLRC will be completed in 2013.

Being still within the category of youth in Sri Lanka, I believe it is easier for young people like me to understand the importance of reconciliation in the context in which Sri Lanka is placed. Therefore, I wish to thank the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations for giving me this opportunity to share some thoughts on this subject, with this august audience.  Maybe, our collective resolve might even help us  to take the reconciliatory effort of the government to a higher level.

Sri Lanka, since the defeat of terrorism, the only country to do so, has placed much emphasis, in understanding the concept of reconciliation applicable to our situation.  Today, what all Sri Lankans desire is a united Sri Lanka, where all communities live as one nation, under one national flag and not as distinct ethnic communities.  That there is one Sri Lankan nation is the ultimate goal, every one of us want to achieve, in the years to come.  Another goal, we want to achieve is every Sri Lankan citizen to be treated equally with no discrimination to anyone, whether that citizen is a Sinhalese, a Tamil, a Muslim or from any other ethnic group. In other words, there will not be discrimination on anyone just because a person does not belong to the majority community that is Sinhalese.  In fact, those who want to discredit Sri Lanka have used this in a vicious manner.

Most conflicts are the results of adults contributing to certain misconceptions and in fact creating them.  The irony of all these, post conflict reconciliatory effort is that it falls on the shoulders of young people  to make it happen.  Another unfortunate outcome of any conflict is that it is the youth, women and children, who have to bear the brunt of the ill effects of conflicts and in fact become the key players when it comes to reconciliation.  But what the society must understand is that youth who fall victim to ideological campaigns, masterminded by adults are finally labeled as militants and when they are asked to be agents of peace and reconciliation it becomes extremely difficult, for youth to switch to new paradigms quickly.  Post conflict reconciliation takes a long time to happen on ground and youth need to be patient in being key actors of this national effort.

If one delves, into the causes of the three decade old terrorist conflict one sees, that the LTTE was able to convince the larger Tamil community that the Sinhalese always discriminated the Tamils and that only way to solve their issues was to carve out a separate state for themselves.  It is in this context we need to be looking at reconciliation, as being so important.  Let us earnestly ask ourselves whether, we, as a nation, have failed to convince every citizen that he or she is not being discriminated?

Young people are the best group to eliminate this misconception for they are the leaders of tomorrow.  A Sinhalese youth or a Tamil youth, or for that matter a Muslim youth should not feel constrained whatsoever to forge links with each other.  As youth, we have a notion in life and that is to be treated equally on matters of life and society. Whether it is access to education, livelihood or any other matter, involved with day-to-day life no youth should feel that he or she is being discriminated.  If as perceived by certain ethnic communities, that they were discriminated then, it is time for us to remedy that situation at the earliest.

One advantage the young people have, in ensuring that we are a nation that has come to terms with issues connected to reconciliation is that they do not carry baggage.  What do I mean by baggage here?  We youth do not have pre-conceived notions about ethnicity, or any other divisive parameter.  Let me take an example, close to my heart.  In the field of Sports which is fully dominated by young people we see this noble concept at work.  Most, if not all sports are the exclusive preserve of young people.  I cannot think of any discrimination, on the lines of ethnicity or such like in my preferred game Rugby, a game mostly played by young people.  What mattered was whether, one was an accomplished player and nothing else.  I strongly believe that Sports could be a vehicle to inculcate the spirit of reconciliation, among youth.

Being nearly 40% of the population youth will have an enormous role to play in fostering reconciliation, in this battered nation.  If there are misconceptions, that have been sown by separatist elements such misconceived ideas, need to be eliminated not just by word, but by deed and our actions.  Many young Tamils from the North and East in all probability may have not met their Sinhalese brethren.  In my many visits to the North and the East, I experienced this sad situation.  To many, it may look very strange, and also unbelievable but my first-hand experience convinces me that there were many Tamil youth, who had never met a Sinhalese.  That’s what terrorism, perpetrated by the LTTE did to a whole community of Tamil youth.

Of course, there must be a common medium to communicate with each other when a young Tamil meets a young Sinhalese.  Either the Sinhalese must learn to speak in Tamil or vice versa.  Or else, both communities must learn English, a world language that brings communities together. The younger generation must lay more emphasis in learning the national languages of our motherland.

In his vision for this country and its youth this is the very reason why H.E Mahinda Rajapaksa, our President declared  that by 2021, our nation must be trilingual.  I am glad that the Presidential Task Force on the Trilingual Initiative has made much progress having identified the basics of learning, the other National language meaning, Sinhalese for Tamils and Tamil for Sinhalese.  Learning a language for young people is so very important not just for career progress but also as ambassadors of good will, in a battered nation.  To foster brotherhood and the feeling of being one strong resilient nation young people of different ethnic origins must communicate freely without feeling hampered, by the lack of knowledge of the language of the other.

It is also my wish that young people of different ethnic origins should have the opportunity to mix with each other, while they are in school.  Fortunately, I had my primary and secondary education, in a school where children of all communities mixed together, in all curricular and extra-curricular activities.  That has given me the insights of the value, of living in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.  Undoubtedly, it has enriched my outlook towards life because, diversity always adds to one’s knowledge.

Therefore, rather than having Sinhala or Tamil or Muslim Maha Vidyalas in multi ethnic areas  there must be schools that have children of all communities  and there cannot be a better way, to forge links among each other.  School is the best place to bring about the feeling of being a part, of one united nation.  Young people of different age groups will grow up together having respect for each other and learning to communicate with each other.  There cannot be misunderstandings when they grow up to be adults.

The reason why, youth are the best to achieve reconciliation in our country and build one united nation is therefore very clear  needing little explanation or clarification.  It is not because they are unencumbered  and therefore, have more time, to devote for building bridges  it is also because, they have the best mind sets  to reason out and eliminate any discriminatory practices  that either destroy reconciliatory effort or  foster division among our people.  Talking about bridges, being built between communities what we do here, is not understood by many global players.  Take examples from many parts of the world where reconciliation is talked about.  Rather than building bridges, they would build walls to keep communities apart. On the contrary, our government has endeavoured through its 3 R’s programme, that is, Rebuilding, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation to win the hearts and minds of people, of all ethnic origins living within Sri Lanka.  The 3 R’s approach has enabled us to build bridges among different ethnic groups.

In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that the youth have an enormous responsibility to ensure that reconciliation, becomes a great success in this battered nation and I am certain that our youth will ensure that incidents such as the ones that destroyed our nation will never happen in the future because our youth today are empowered to lead this nation, as one united team.  Youth are the life blood of a country and the perceptions they carry into their adulthood will determine whether, that nation will prosper or not.

Thank you and may the year 2013 be a watershed for youth of Sri Lanka.  All the very best to all of you.

*Keynote address delivered by Namal Rajapaksa MP under the topic of “” at the Sixth National Conference on the Role of Youth in Reconciliation hosted by the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies on 02 Janaury,2013. 

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Latest comments

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    Whoever wrote the speech has no idea of English punctuation. And when the punctuation is so bad, I am led to believe the meaning of the content is not well understood by the writer(s) and the speaker.

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    “The Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, or the LLRC recommendations are vigorously being pursued with His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa having allocated almost a Billion Rupees for 2013.”

    “If one delves, into the causes of the three decade old terrorist conflict one sees, that the LTTE was able to convince the larger Tamil community that the Sinhalese always discriminated the Tamils and that only way to solve their issues was to carve out a separate state for themselves.@

    This idiot, like the others in power, has not read the LLRC Report!

    The Para. – 8.150 of LLRC Report says:

    “The Commission takes the view that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. The country may not have been confronted with a violent separatist agenda, if the political consensus at the time of independence had been sustained and if policies had been implemented to build up and strengthen the confidence of the minorities around the system which had gained a reasonable measure of acceptance.”

    Under “The Different Phases in the Narrative of Tamil Grievances” Para. – 8.163 has emphasized:

    “The decisive rift in the inter-ethnic relationship came first with the riots of 1958, then in1977, and culminating in what is known as ‘Black July’ of 1983, and the heinous failure of the then Government to provide adequate protection to Tamil citizens. The problems pertaining to the Tamil Community and their grievances cannot be fully addressed without a fuller understanding of this culture of violence that marred the relationship between the Sinhala and Tamil communities.”

    Who invited this man to make the keynote address at the seminar on Youth and Reconciliation?

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    With nepotism prevalent in this government, brothers holding the top posts to safeguard their own, corruption rampant, media abused, journalists threatened, kidnapped, and the families of those murdered never finding justice, how can the son of those responsible even think his great speech can inspire confidence in any rational thinking Sri Lankan? Perhaps young Namal is living in a bubble, and disconnected from reality. His father and over 200 relatives are running a dictatorship. Democracy? Not in Sri Lanka.
    We are a banana republic and a joke to the rest of the world.

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    Hi Namal

    I Hope your wretchedj family reads all these comments written by the intelligentsia of the Sri Lankans society and be guided by it on what you do in the time to come and not depend on the misguided and vociferous speeches made by buffoons and creeps who keep falling off balconies in Australia trying to creep into another’s room or the bum sucking murderous womaniser from Kalaniya Your family depends on for protection.

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    Why has Kadiragamar Institute invited him to speak at this occassion? Whats the basis? Why does he qualify? Is he the most qualified young politician to address in this august institution ? why, why WHY???

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    ANE KOLUWA,

    THAT MEANS YOUR SEEYA’S, AACHCHI’S, THAATHTHA, MAAPPAH, BAAPPAHS, AMMAA, PUNCHI’S, NANDHI’S, AND ALL OTHER ASSHOLES IN YOUR SO CALLED SUBNORMAL FAMILY SUFFERING FROM DOWN’S SYNDROME, CONTRIBUTED TO CERTAIN MISCONCEPTIONS FOR THE FAILURE OF RECONCILING WITH THE MINORITIES.

    HOW ABOUT LEARNING THE LANGUAGES OF THESE MINORITIES, THAT IS IF YOU HAVE THE BRAINS FOR IT, AND FORGING A WAY TOWARDS RECONCILING WITHOUT TALKING BULLSHIT LIKE THE REST OF YOUR EXTENDED MORONIC FAMILY.

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    Hey guys..when I read the comments here I feel hat I am not alone this world! I hate to see this uneducated rogues ruining the country and people who give prominence to the idiots like NR should be taught a lesson. I feel sad that most Sri Lankans either do not understand they are living in an open prison! Or is it the ignorance of our people? Why cannot we unite to do SOMETHING?

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    Hope he reads all the comments and never in the future take such task.The comments above are a disgrace to a so called MP. Uneducated political puppies with bogus educational certificates are not worth a cent. Bad choice giving the opportunity for the opening speech to such muppets who had not gained a single merit on their own . If the puppy has brains will think before being paraded by force to please daddy .

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    40% of our inhabitants are in Namal’s age group.

    This is the generation of IPhones IPads,Tweeters and Facebooking with at least 4 Mpix.

    Sadly only 5% or less of our youth have full box of these basic tools of Social Networking.

    Some of the less privileged non urbanites also have a mobile and occasional access to a Facebook,thanks to the Economic Development post Nanthikadal.

    While Namal , even with his local LLB seems to focus and find a way forward to move his compatriots to a better future, without ,caste and race based differences.the Alternate Policy Advisors seem only interested in Human Rights of the top echelons of the Urbanites.

    Overver 90 % of the comments here indicate that Western based liberators and their loal supporters are happy with the old ways where the only social networking for some ethnics were through Duty Free Norwegian Satellite connected handsets.

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      K. A. Sumanasekera:
      You must have attended the same school as your primary-thug-of-the-rugby-field, NARA, because you suffer from the same kind of mental deficiency. Are you sure your last name is not RAJAPASSA?

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    K.A.SUMANASEKERA THE MAD HATTER, SHOULD GO AROUND BEATING “ANDHA BERE” INSTEAD OF USING ALL SOPHISTICATED EQUIPMENT TO SPREAD THE WORD OF THESE MORONS WHO ARE TRYING TO RULE US SRI LANKANS.

    WE IDIOTS DANCED ON THE STREETS AND ATE “KIRI BATH” WHEN THESE ASSHOLES MURDERED OUR INNOCENT TAMIL BROTHERS, SISTERS, AND THEIR FAMILIES WHO WERE USED AS HUMAN SHIELDS BY ANOTHER ASSHOLE PRABAHARAN.

    WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO GATHER MOMENTUM AND BLOW THE ROTTEN MALIGNANT CARCINOMA FILLED BALLS OF THESE ASSHOLES WHO ARE ALSO SUFFERING FROM MONGOLIAN DOWN’S SYNDROME.

    “MADHAVI MERVIN” IS ON THE DEATH ROW IN KELANIYA, DUNKUDU DUMINDHA IS ON THE DEATH ROW IN COLPETTY AND THESE 155 GUYS WILL BE IN THE DEATH ROW AT THE “ARALIYA GAHA MANDIRE”, PRESIDENT’S PALACE AND THE PARLIAMENT.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    An essential pre-requisite to reconciliation is the complete and wholesome acknowledgement of the injuries that both sides inflicted on each other.
    While the Rajapakse clan continues to protect itself and its thugs through rigged enquiries and systemic corruption, there can never be sufficient reconciliation. The wounds of the injured Sinhala, Tamil and moslem people continue to fester.
    What’s worse is that Namal represents the next generation of thugs who will use privilege and indoctrinated naivety to continue this rot.

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