30 May, 2024

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Truth & Reconciliation In Sri Lanka Sans Justice & Reparation 

By Gnana Sankaralingam –

Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

A Truth and Reconciliation commission is to be set up to usher peace in Sri Lanka. There is pressure exerted on the government to settle Tamil demands for autonomy in a meaningful manner. For reconciliation to begin, justice must be meted out. This is what happened in South Africa when power was transferred to Africans. When not only there is denial of justice, and people continued to be harassed, speaking about reconciliation is mere empty rhetoric. Attempts to get Eric Solheim and South African government on board to show some sort of legitimacy failed as they have categorically told that the rights of Tamils should be addressed first. Stuck with no option, government has begun this hood winking exercise by appointing the commission with intention to play for time.

Confession and repentance, absolution and atonement are Christian concepts which went well in South Africa because both perpetrators and victims were Christians. It may be in the minds of some section of Buddhists and Hindus, but hardly among Muslims. Thus to expect people in Sri Lanka to speak out the truth and apologise for their misdeeds is far fetched. In the South African instance, it was mooted by statesmen like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu with the sole aim in promotion of peace and harmony between the ethnicities. In Sri Lanka however it is being proposed with ulterior motive in order to divert the attention of the international community to show that they are sincere. So their attempt is bound to fail right from the beginning and nothing will come out of it. 

With hordes of Tamils protesting to know about their missing relatives, to get their lands occupied by security forces released and to stop appropriating their lands to settle Sinhalese, how is reconciliation to be achieved. When Tamils with no crime committed languishing in prison without being brought to trial, and Sinhala and Muslim perpetrators of atrocities on Tamils walking free, how does one expect Tamils to forget and move on. When Sinhala criminals convicted after lengthy and fair trial are receiving presidential pardon, giving excuses to deny this to innocent Tamils in remand for more than 15 years is not justified. Similarly paying compensation to Sinhala and Muslim victims and not extending this to Tamils who had suffered more than others cannot be accepted. 

Justice is paramount for peace and reconciliation. Tamils had been struggling for justice to live as first class citizens with dignity and safety in their traditional homelands without interference from Sinhalese. This was the result of racial discrimination and state sponsored violence over several years. There is no willingness on the part of Sinhalese in meeting this demand at least half way mark. Often it is told that the solution should come from within the country, which cannot happen without the support of Sinhalese who hold the majority in the parliament and outside. When other than few Sinhalese, the rest are not in favour to share power and territory with Tamils in meaningful manner, how could any reasonable solution according to international norms be found internally.  

Truth and Reconciliation is possible only under a statesman, and at present there is no such person among Sinhalese weilding power in major political parties. Truth and reconciliation is not lies and patching up. Any person embarking on truth and reconciliation must as precondition, release all political prisoners unconditionally, vacate lands occupied by security forces and stop appropriating new territory on various pretexts, account for all persons arrested by security forces  and since gone missing, resettle all persons displaced internally and living in India at the original places of residence and formulate a plan which ensures contiguity of Tamil homeland which they could administer with same rights and privileges enjoyed by Sinhalese. Otherwise it will only be a futile exploit.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    “In the South African instance, it was mooted by statesmen like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu”
    In Sri Lanka the Maha Sangha / Ranil/ Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith does not have credibility among the Tamils and rightfully so.

    The two that want to spear this are Gota’s attorney and the other Rajapaksa that was the guardian of the crooks and criminals in the “Yahapalana” government.
    Good luck both these guys are opportunistic crooks will slave for their masters.

  • 10
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    How can there be truth and reconciliation action initiated by the government, when the government does not even acknowledge in public and at the UN that there have been human rights violations during the war? There is enough video evidence in the public domain to prove it. As a first step, the government should publicly and at the UN accept that there have been violations and they will within a given period of time will bring those violators before the courts. The government or the armed forces cannot say they do not know the violators or there were no violations as the videos in the public domain clearly show the faces of the violators.

  • 7
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    First of all author needs to redefine “truth and reconciliation ” for our Sorry Lankans. I have lost count of truth finding commissions 1) Finding truth 2) another to confirm previous truth 3) after confirming yet another commission to make it untrue 4) one for alternate truth / facts. 5) one , to satisfy Geneva and international audience 6) local versions in Sinhala, Tamil to satisfy local audience 6) one written and directed by Rajapaksa Brothers , remake by Pissu Sira, one by Ranil and co

    • 10
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      Last but not least we have audience among us to explain ” the truth, whole truth and nothing but truth “.

      • 3
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        Anyone know “where Chimpa is ” ????? Take a Leaf out of Lanka’s play book “the truth, whole truth and nothing but truth”. Ukraine called the conflict between Putin and his rival mercenary chief ” a frontal clash of lies and truth” . Wagner Prigozhin is on a look out for Chimpa.

  • 2
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    Truth and Recocilliation are two majic words. Does the government Understand the meaning of truth and Reconcilliation. Who does the government represent? What Truth is going to find out? What will happen to the truth after you find the truth? Why do Sri Lanka need a Truth and Recolliation? The Country had many Commissions in the past and UNHCR involved in the Truth and Reconcilliation process for many years including the so called Good governance but not a single truth was found by the governments including RW. The only Benefit of this process is that RW, Ali Sabri and a few Officials are enjoying holidays in many countries spending billions probably using IMF money.

  • 3
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    “Truth and Reconciliation is possible only under a statesman, and at present there is no such person among Sinhalese weilding power in major political parties”

    i agree because now the UNP is not a major political party and has become a minor party due to ranil not following the populist racist policies which woud have brought a lot of sinhalese votes. By sticking to his secular policies at the expense of sinhala votes ranil has shown tthe world that he is a statesman albeit an inefficient leader.Now what can a statesman do in a democracy that has a lot of racists among the people?The answer is nothing.Ranil though a statesman will not be able to do anything for a durable lasting ethnic reconciliation settlement now or in the future.

    Once the democracy become a matured one with racism thrown out by the people then only a statesman can bring in a lasting solution to the ethnic problem.The fault is in the people not the lack of a statesman.That is why god created death so that new generations with fresh thinking will emerge. If people were allowed to live upto 999 years as originally intended by god what kind of world would we have now.So for a lasting solution to the ethnic problem the masss should die of old age.

  • 4
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    Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam is absolutely correct. Even the Confident Building Measures have not been taken by the government. Now India wants Ranil to hold the Provincial Elections before his trip to India. I have my doubt whether he will hold and the Sinhalese extremist politicians and the Buddhist monks are having their way in a manner to humiliate the Tamils. It is time for the Tamils not to rely on the Government for the implementation of the 13th Amendment, but openly declare that AKHAND BHARAT is the only remedy and join hands with India. Tamil politicians should re-consider this aspect if they are to safeguard their rights and cultures..

  • 2
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    Contd ……….
    The remedy of calling for AKHAND BHARAT will also be beneficial to the Sinhalese. They need not starve and struggle for food. They need not build Vihares and spend money unnecessarily. They can visit Buddha Gaya and other Buddhist sites without VISA in India. They need not be slaves under China and shoulder the pains of paying back the China’s loans. Cost of living will be cheap. It is the politicians who will protest the idea of AKHAND BHARAT because they cannot engage in corrupt practices. Even the Buddhist monks cannot travel in luxury vehicles. They have to comply with the teachings of Lord Buddha.

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