21 September, 2020

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Sri Lanka: Realizing Peace, Reconciliation And Ending Violence

By Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

Recovering from the scars of the past is an ongoing process for any nation that went through a protracted civil war; Sri Lanka is no exception to this. Ensuring sustainable peace calls for communal reconciliation; we have made progress in rebuilding relationships between individuals and within our communities. However, this is not sufficient. We now have an even greater challenge to overcome in the coming years: the need to work together as one nation.

Reconciliation and nation building is not a task that falls upon a Government alone. In fact, it is upon all of us to take part in the process of reconciliation. The Government, the private sector, NGOs and individuals should all work together, hand in hand, to build a sustainable peace in any country. Working in cooperation with one another rather than in isolation is what will enable all of us, as stakeholders for peace, to establish a stronger foundation for mutual understanding, solidarity and ultimately harmony in a country.

In this essence young people can play a dramatic role in today’s peace building efforts. They can be active catalysts in many peace building processes. Their involvement in social, political and economic transformations is vital. Unfortunately there is a lack of recognition of young people. In many countries they are not part of policy formulation and other layers of society where decision making takes place to tackle local, regional and global issues.

Today we live in a society where conflicts have become a common term. In Syria we witness barrel bombs being dropped on innocent civilians. Every 10 minutes a civilian dies in Syria and so far 11, 420 children were killed in the conflict. We also see similar conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and North- West Pakistan. We say that we are connected through this globalized world, but have failed to recognize the problems of another nation as our own problems. The sovereignty of any nation should not be used as a shield to engage in unlawful cruel activities within their boundaries. We need to empathize with each other’s problems and welcome ideas to engage with the rest of the world to find solutions to our problems.

Twenty years ago when 800,000 Rwandans were massacred, during this massacre the world was silent. Right now we witness similar situations in other parts of the world.  Three weeks ago 276 school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in Chibok, Nigeria; yet the world is silent and we can see that most of the world leaders are inactive. This should not be the situation. Youth can play a pivotal role to solve many problems in the world.

Sri Lanka after fighting three decades of war got an amazing opportunity to rebuild the nation recognizing reconciliation, rehabilitation and peace building mechanisms. The greatest achievement I could say is the recent Northern and Eastern Provincial Council elections which were conducted after so many years. During the LTTE insurgencies civilians were not allowed to vote and they prohibited the elections even by making death threats. As such in Afghanistan seven million voted despite many threats by the Taliban in the recent Presidential elections. Today we see countries are transitioning to democratization having elections such as these are vital when it comes to creating peace and reconciliation.

Youth, women and children are the most vulnerable groups who bear the brunt of any conflict.  As a Young Global Leader I have witnessed in Mexico, San. Pancho how youth have lack of access for education due to many social issues including drug carters. Next, in South Africa, Khayelitsha I witnessed many youth who are addicted to drugs, most of them live below the poverty line and have less access for education. Just outside in New Delhi, Anganwadi I have seen young children holding their plates for their daily meal which lacks the supplementary nutrition in those social centers. I have seen youth in Moscow who fight corruption and raise their voice but do not have many platforms. In Cuba I witnessed young people who are eagerly looking to have access to internet and Social Media platforms. We need to address the root causes of these problems to open the platforms for youth to actively engage in the process to find solutions.

In the spirit of realizing peace and reconciliation the first and foremost thing that needs to be addressed are the challenges followed by a post- conflict. In Sri Lanka I see reconciliation itself as the biggest challenge; it is not only for the war victims but also for all the Sri Lankans. As a war victim, I have experienced the pain of terrorism. I lost my father to the LTTE at the age of sixteen. I cannot forget and forgive the lost done to me and my family by the LTTE. Reconciliation can be fruitful if only people can forgive those who are responsible for their plights. I personally believe if perpetrators can admit what they have done and apologize to those victims irrespective of ethnicity, then reconciliation will be much possible.

Changing the mindset of the war affected people is another biggest social challenge that now needs to be addressed. In Sri Lanka there are 594 ex- child combatants who consist of 364 boys and 230 girls surrendered for rehabilitation. 272 were successfully given formal education where 322 were given vocational education as a part of re-integration.   It is commendable that within a very short time Sri Lankan government was able to rehabilitate 10, 790 ex- combatants out of 300, 000 IDPs.

Youth can play an immense role to provide peace education to the ex-child combatants. There are 300, 000 child soldiers all around the world and the best guess report from DRC, Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia, Sierra Leone and 21 other countries.

Widows and their futures remain as another challenge. There are nearly 40,000 widows in the North and the East of Sri Lanka. These victimized groups of widows should be redirected into the correct means of living.

Sri Lanka’s major external challenge is the engagement of its Diaspora. The country needs the engagement and the involvement of the Diaspora community not to depict a wrongful image of the country, but to enhance the reconciliation process. Their engagement outside the country is critical and directly impacts the global image of the country. Therefore, it remains a big challenge for Sri Lanka to recollect the scattered Diaspora communities all over the world to rebuild and reconcile the country.

World Conference on Youth 2014’s Cross-cutting theme is ‘mainstreaming Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. Realizing peace, Reconciliation and Ending Violence is one of the thematic areas which youth need to review. Peace Education is the primary concern and youth can be the champions of this peace education.  They also can be a part of this peace education process.

Today, youth is coming forward to build reconciliation and ultimately a better future for Sri Lanka. In this regard, the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute conducted a National Conference on the role of youth in reconciliation; the keynote speech was delivered by Hon. Namal Rajapaksa, which furthered the importance of youth engagement. The challenge remains for the youth to make their voice heard in the society. I am happy that Sri Lanka has mainstreamed youth in its post 2015- development agenda to enhance the youth engagement. I see Sri Lanka’s hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Forum 2013 and World Conference on Youth 2014 as the greatest achievements. Likewise, youth should be given more priorities and their concerns should be addressed. Youth needs to actively participate and engage in international conferences. Today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders. They are the life blood of a country and their perceptions will determine the peace and stability of a nation.

Let me end my speech by a quote from Robert F. Kennedy “This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease, it is young people who must take the lead”.

 *Speech delivered by Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, the  Executive Director Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute – on  the 8th of May 2014, at the World Conference on Youth 2014

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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    Bla bla bla …

    How can there be reconciliation when the Ruling Junta is all the time telling the Sinhala Buddhist South that the LTTE is not dead, they are regrouping and “We are the only entity you can trust to annihilate the Tamils”?

    Why didn’t you address the issue of Sinhala Buddhist politicians setting one group of citizens against other groups? Why didn’t you tell your audience that Mara The Evil One is actively keeping the Sinhala Buddhist majority in the dark ages, in order to remain in power for ever?

    • 3
      2

      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/

    • 4
      1

      Dear Asanga Abeyagoonasekera,

      RE: Sri Lanka: Realizing Peace, Reconciliation And Ending Violence

      What is the best and lasting solution.

      Get the Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils, Para-Muslims and other Paras to get back to their Native Land South India.

      They can have and Realize Peace, Reconciliation And Ending Violence in South India.

      Leave, Lanka, the Land of native Veddah alone.

      • 5
        0

        This guy Asanga Abeygoonasekera is another stooge of Maharajapakse junta: He talks a lot of rubbish forgetting or not knowing the violence that Sinhalese inflicted on Tamils including pogroms from 1956 to 1983.

        Glorified deception of putting all the blame on LTTE: This is what most Sinhalese writers are propagating – distorting the true history of continuing Sinhalese persecution of Tamils since 1948.

    • 7
      0

      He cannot speak his mind.

      This guy though bright, is not free.

      He holds a key position in a MEA funded prestigious Institute. He is enslaved by the Clan like many others in SL.

      Cheers!

    • 1
      0

      navin, don’t talk things you dont know…[Edited out]

      • 3
        0

        Kela Kolla, I already told you that your genes are corrupted. That place was dry and spit was used for lubrication. What intellect do you expect to be when your origin is part dog froth?

    • 2
      0

      Bla Bla Bla.. from me too.
      You says “Today we live in a society where conflicts have become a common term.”
      How about yesterday, were humans more civilized “yesterday” than “today”.. Asanga, your elders haven’t educated you properly…
      In 1940, when British bomb Berlin or Germans bomb London, did anybody even care to count civilian deaths… In 1915~, when Japanese invaded Korea, did anybody count civilian deaths… Japanese even took Korean civilian women as prostitutes for their military.. this is more inhumane than killing. I am sure you love to talk about Hiroshima atomic bomb too..
      What about 200 years back… Sinhalese kings brutally murdered wife and children when the man of the family betrayed the king… What about 1000 years back…….
      Some people like you feel humans are more uncivilized now (year 2000 AD) because now we are aware and care of deaths of common man.. So numbers looks bigger…

    • 1
      0

      Furthermore: ”the greatest achievement I could say is the recent Northern and Eastern Provincial Council elections”.

      Asanga, the country could do with more intelligent youth:

      ‘’Although on paper the same powers are devolved to all Provincial Councils those in the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been stultified in their functioning by the *Governors of these two provinces’’ – Response To Gammanpila: On Functioning Of N&E Provincial Councils, Jehan Perera, Chairman, National Peace Council, 1 May 2014,https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/response-to-gammanpila-on-functioning-of-ne-provincial-councils/ (*Governors of only these two provinces are retired military officers)

      ”Though provincial council elections were held in the north and east of the country, in effect the two governors of the north and east from the military and the extremely dense security forces present in the form of uniformed, plain clothed and para-militaries and reservists appear to govern that province” – Is reconciliation achievable without separation in Sri Lanka? Lionel Bopage, 1 May 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/05/01/is-reconciliation-achievable-without-separation-in-sri-lanka/

      ’According to complaints made, in the Eastern PC and NPC the Constitution works in the opposite direction! The CMs have become non-entities! In the Southern PC, the CM is ‘The Man’ because political homogeneity exists between the center and the periphery’’ – Administrative Failure In The North, Austin Fernando, 20 April 2014, http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2014/04/20/administrative-failure-in-the-north/

  • 4
    0

    Deaf & dumb to the realities . Living in an ivory tower

  • 4
    1

    Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

    “During the LTTE insurgencies civilians were not allowed to vote and they prohibited the elections even by making death threats.”

    Didn’t the LTTE death threats to its own people benefit MR and fellow Sinhala/Buddhists?

    • 3
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      Asanga Abeyagoonasekera directly benefits from the illgotten Presidency of The King, his clan, cronies & henchmen.

      His appointment well proves that point.

      VP’s well paid, brutally enforced & infamous election boycott was Asanga Abeyagoonasekera’s blessing in disguise.

      Cheers!

      PS: God works in mysterious ways. Doesn’t he?

    • 2
      0

      Asanga Abeyagoonasekera,

      “As a war victim, I have experienced the pain of terrorism. I lost my father to the LTTE at the age of sixteen. I cannot forget and forgive the lost done to me and my family by the LTTE.”

      When your father was 14-15 years old (1969)he was known sihala gang master (port workers) at his school(where Vijaya studied in the commerce section)- at the drop of a hat 2 car loads of criminals with swords and knives were there to threaten any student. To counteract him there was an Indian businessman’s son raja from kochikade. Your pop looked like the extension of famous Ossie Corea of kotahena. Your pops gang qualification came from the fact that his father was chairman port cargo corp due to UNP politics.

      You live by the sword you die by the sword was what the de la salle brothers taught him.

      Take care don’t get involved with passa or goota or you may end up same.

  • 5
    1

    Dear Ajantha Abeyagunasekara,

    You talked a lot about reconciliation. You talked about wars and its impact on civilians, You talked about massacres in Rwanda.You also mentioned about LTTE terrorism because you are one of those who lost your blood relative. Your mindset is set within a limited boundaries and I think need to come out of that boundaries to understand the problem. Without understanding the real isues, reconciliation cannot be achieved. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of innocent civilians like you lost their blood relatives not because of LTTE terrorism, but because of the state terrorism even before this war. The number of widows and children who lost their breadwinners in the North East are much more than you mentioned. You should understand that it is not terrorism that caused this war it is much more deeper than that. You should go in to the roots of the problem.

  • 3
    4

    Is this that Ossie’s son?

    Ossie died for UNP politics. Now his son has joined his enemies!!

    If you want peace, give part of country to Muslims. Otherwise forget about peace.

    HAIL ALLAH!!

  • 2
    3

    “In Sri Lanka there are 594 ex- child combatants who consist of 364 boys and 230 girls surrendered for rehabilitation. 272 were successfully given formal education where 322 were given vocational education as a part of re-integration. It is commendable that within a very short time Sri Lankan government was able to rehabilitate 10, 790 ex- combatants out of 300, 000 IDPs.”

    Dont you know the Military then arrest them back again or put them in open prison. whom are you fooling you idiot?

    • 4
      1

      Rajesh is Tamil equivalent of Ela Kolla, there is 1 thing and only 1 thing in Rajesh’s mind it’s Tamul Elam a non existence Tamil home land.

      • 4
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        Afzal

        “there is 1 thing and only 1 thing in Rajesh’s mind it’s Tamul Elam a non existence Tamil home land.”

        The way things are going, soon MR and his clan are planning to deliver not only Tamil Eelam but also a Islamic Republic of Kattankudy.

        The rest this island would be known as Sinhala/Buddhist Kingdom.

        • 3
          0

          Native,

          Though the thought of “Islamic Republic of Kathankudi” sounds rich and exciting, don’t think Muslims in Sri Lanka are having such ambitions. As Muslims has over 1/4 of worlds population to relate with and over 57 Islamic countries we are not homeless as our poor Tamil brothers and sisters who are eternally homeless.

          The faint hope of imaginary homeland was dashed to the ground by all concurring MR and clan in 2009 which I with all my differences with MR, I applaud him for that !

          • 1
            3

            Afzal

            “The faint hope of imaginary homeland was dashed to the ground by all concurring MR and clan in 2009 which I with all my differences with MR, I applaud him for that !”

            So I take it that you didn’t mind when horde of innocent people were being massacred by clan.

            The idea of Eelam or no Eelam becoming reality depends on the international perception of its interest. Always there is slim chance that could trigger a situation in which Eelam could be a reality or for that matter an Islamic Republic of Kattankudy.

            Therefore it would be your admirable MR clan which would be responsible for pushing the IC to determine the boundaries of Eelam.

            By the way please make friends with Rajash am sure would help Muslims with their dream of establishing of a Khalifa Republic of Islamic Kathankudy.

            Please keep in mind this is Veddaland.

            • 3
              0

              N Vadda

              Hordes of innocent civilians did die, I have never approved that no one will, but on the other hand in a war there are casualties, just as LTTE massacred innocent civilians all across the country for 30 long years.

              What would you call them ? aren’t they innocent enough? or is it since they belong to Singhala,Tamil and Muslim communities value of their lives are different to those who died in the last phase of the war ?

              Lots of innocent lives were lost from Sri Lanka, even the LTTE except for a selected lot, the rest were not willing participants. Those are also innocent lives, 1,000 of soldiers who died most joined the forces as there was no choice for them, it was the only way to make a living for most of those poor men and women.

              Native the point is in SL people dying due to war has stopped since 2009 from all communities. If you are not willing to accept that fact then you cannot be a native. What took place after that is questionable and definitely could have been better.
              It’s Singhaleese who suffered most in the hands of tamil terrorism, so it will take some time for them to come out of the revenge mode. There is a reason why that proverb about kawum is made up.

              We should have under taken a nation wide healing process after the war which never happened.

              As muslims we seek no partners. We do not seek self rule in Sri Lanka all what we want is peaceful coexistence as for us this a mere passage of life. A shortest of them all 5.

              What I gather from your eternal native bias rhetoric is that you do not want to be associated with any of the major communities in Sri Lanka where you want Lanka for yourself, ie Native Veddas! is it not saying Vedda which is U(I dont think there are other Veddas in SL who are comparable with u) who want Sl for themselves ? or rather yourself ?

              Native in my opinion you are more isolated from society than any of us.

              There is no chance of IC establishing Elam in Sri Lanka if it was to happen the best possible opportunity is already passed. Sooner or later MR will realize he will have to change which he will do though reluctantly. As only by doing that he can continue to be the president of SL.

              PS
              I believe you have lot in common with Amarasiri, both of u go hand in hand most of the time even contradicting each other to suite each others arguments. CT editor can easily shed light on this relationship.

          • 0
            2

            NO. It is Islamic Republic of Jaffna.

            The word Jaffna is an Arabic word!

            Jafna was an Arabic king of Old Syria.

            If the Chingalam army was so bad to Tamils, wait and see how the Muslim army will treat Tamils. :)

      • 2
        1

        Afzal
        “Rajesh is Tamil equivalent of Ela Kolla,”
        Afzal …but do not insult me by conparing me to Ela Kolaa…not a single post of mine was censored by the editors.:)

        • 0
          0

          Ok I accept that point of your’s Rajesh !

          • 0
            0

            [Edited out]

            • 0
              0

              Navin….well said I agree with your comment about Ela Kolla.

          • 2
            0

            Thanks.
            Hope you are not influenced by Native’s post “Native – By the way please make friends with Rajash am sure would help Muslims with their dream of establishing of a Khalifa Republic of Islamic “

            and contrary to your belief as well, Iam not going to sit back and take the crap from sinhala racist who wanted to twist history with load of bull.

  • 2
    1

    “Changing the mindset of the war affected people is another biggest social challenge that now needs to be addressed.”

    It is not only the mindset of the war affected but also the war victorius that needs to be changed. They still seem to be in a permanent state of victory and unable to win the peace.

    In order to win the peace the victorius need to reconcile with the defeated. Brainwashing a few is not the answer without addressing the root causes.

  • 5
    0

    Asanga calls himself “a young global leader”! Well who will accept this statement of his? What have you done to be a Global Leader?

    Apart from the above comment, I would like to ask Asanga in which country he is living and about which country is he talking about? In Sri Lanka what has the leadership done to bring about peace among all the religions and communities? What we have seen so far is the divide and rule policies of the government.

    I am surprised to note that while calling himself a “young global leader” he has not written about the true situation in the country. If we have leaders that too Global Leaders like him then the world is heading down the drain.

    • 4
      1

      Another self boosting Scooby doo

  • 5
    1

    Robert F Kennedy “….it is young people who must take the lead”
    Unfortunately he didnt have Namal in his mind when he said this.

  • 1
    2

    What I have heard of Asanga is that he is an educated, intelligent guy. But if he continues to be a part of this government or write in favour of it, he will only diminish his reputation. Because, for whatever the good this government did or is trying to do, it is increasingly likely that it will end up in the wrong side of history, much like the USSR government, Gadaffi and Sadham Hussein. So for his own benefit, Asanga should be advised to maintain his distance with the regime and its key players.

  • 6
    1

    Dear Asanga, Thank you for publisihing this article. first and foremost to prove that YOU ARE NOT SUITABLE TO WRITE THIS UP.
    Your one of the stooges and henchman of the Sri Lankan Maharaja’s corrupt clan. You have devastated and corrupted that all hailing place which was made to research on sri lanka;s foreign policy. you are a shame to the late Kadirgamar’s name holding the office of the politically elected Executive directorship there.

    Young global Leader? my god who gave you that title on what basis???
    you are just a stooge of the regime, friend of the maharajas son, and the panty boy of a minister who healms high authority putting our foreing relations at a stake.

    And that conference was a mess and highly political those who attended knows wt i mean .

    You should attend one of Rajiva;s lectures organised by the liberal party to see how he personaly bashes you for your corrupt work and for handling that prestigous institute as a bAboon.

    Kiddo you shoudl seriously consider whatt you are and how u do things. atleast stop licking the whatever of whomsoever now.

    Growup not in body son but in mind !

  • 2
    1

    A young global leader, just like the “honorable Namal Rajapaksa”.

  • 0
    0

    Why we don’t have any Tamil leader of this caliber?

  • 0
    1

    Navin,

    You are a nice boy, in a nice white shirt, with a nicely shaven face, and neat tie. But, dream on my boy. There is no point in you going on and on about what should be done etc. It is superfluous in the Sri Lankan context.

    Eg: You say,”Reconciliation and nation building is not a task that falls upon a Government alone”. We all know that. But in the Sri Lankan context what the government is doing is anything but bring about reconciliation. The GOSL is the most powerful divisive force. So much so it is even using thugs in saffron robes to go about destroying temples, mosques and churches, symbols so dear to the minority communities.

    I am sorry but I have to agree with many other commenters here, your diatribe is nothing but ‘blah blah’.

  • 1
    0

    I don’t know if something has happened to Sinhalese by Tamils. But,if his father was from SLMP, he should know a lot about what the Sinhalese youths(JVP) did for 17 years from 1971 to 1989 and what the Sinhalese government did for them in turn. If he doesn’t know, he consult Weerawansa first before he deliver a speech like this.

    If he insist that something has happened to Sinhalese, Whom he is expecting to plead sorry? LTTE? Is the government is thinking the they are not wiped out, so somebody is well and ok to come and ask apology? Isn’t TNA’s leader has said many times in the parliament that they have nothing to do with LTTE?

    Ok, Ok. LTTE is not there; no point in dragging this for ever; so I ask sorry for if LTTE did anything for this boy. Now can he start his reconciliation without conditions? Why is he lowering himself in the eyes of the public like this?

    The shame on this is, every embassy person who was watching his speech would not have missed to fold their finger to add one more to the rehabilitated Sinhala youths count. If a Sinhalese youth has been rehabilitated and brainwashed like this for no reason, they will be in a position to understand that what is happening to the lTTE boys in the Prison (rehabilitation camps).

    It is not the stupidity of the youngster; it is the script writer who was under heavy pressure from defense department, he could not think anything proper to write.

    If he is from SLMP,then he is a good candidate for presidency like Chandrika.

  • 3
    2

    Asanga:

    You have got the priorities wrong. They should be in the following order and 5 long years have gone by and there is no willingness by MR to address the issues.

    Order of Priorities

    1) Ending of State Violence against innocent Tamils and this is carried out under the pretext of National Security but the real intention is to terrorise and achieve Ethnic Cleansing.
    2) Accountabiliity: Those who are responsible for the Genocide must be brought to Books.
    3) Reconciliation: Those who are responsible for the Genocide cannot be part of that process. It is like inviting the Murderer for the 31st of the victim.
    4) Realising Peace: This cannot be achieved until and unless we have power in our hand to decide our own destiny and this cannot happen unless there is the recognition that we are two distinct groups.

    • 1
      2

      well said

  • 0
    2

    “There are nearly 40,000 widows in the North and the East of Sri Lanka. These victimized groups of widows should be redirected into the correct means of living.”

    Good confession of 40,000 killings by SL Army

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