Sri Lanka remains a post-war as opposed to a post-conflict country. Consequent to the change of government in January 2015, a foundation has been laid for peace and reconciliation in our country.
Yet even after 2 years of the incumbent Government, much remains to be done towards fostering peace and reconciliation. The accountability component of the transitional justice process appears to be impeding a speedier return to peace, harmony and reconciliation. The issue of accountability should be deferred until the more crucial issue of reconciliation has been addressed.
Sri Lanka had a long period of ethnic civil war that lasted for over two decades. During 1983-2009, the island experienced violence, terror, and bloodshed. The long history of the civil war between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka, played a critical role in shaping the politics of Sri Lanka. The victory was a chance for everybody to think afresh about the future. However, the effectiveness and success of such proposals in the Sri Lankan situation are still unclear as it was difficult to predict what path it may take once implemented.
The war draws attention to the progress made and prospects for meaningful reconciliation, in recent years. There has been international focus on the last stage of the war, in particular the allegations of war crimes against both sides, the demand for accountability, the modalities and the mechanism in respect of it. Worryingly, over two years into the present government, the full realization of governance reforms is under severe challenge and reconciliation increasingly elusive.
Over the years Sri Lanka has missed several opportunities for conflict transformation and peace building. The opportunity for reconciliation presented by the end of the war was ignored by the former regime which had no interest in addressing the grievances of victims and affected communities. But in a post war context where ambitious promises were made, the apparent absence of leadership transcending this and the squandering of a unique opportunity for reform, is indeed both disappointing and disturbing.
Inaction and apathy now will dash the hope of meaningful reconciliation and pave the way to greater authoritarianism. As we recall the sorrowful memories of a three decade long, brutal war, it is the responsibility of all to act in a way to prevent recurrence of such disastrous situation in the country.
Wherever criticisms were leveled against the Government, the present Government is committed to build a peaceful country where all the communities live in harmony and reconciliation.
A woman from the Mannar district speaks of her experiences after being displaced by the war: “My name is A. Parameswary. My mother passed away when I was small. My father looked after me and my siblings after my mother’s death. One of our brothers was killed at the age of 25. He was married with 3 kids. In 1987, at the age of 18, I got married. My husband was engaged in fishing in Puttalam.I had 4 kids-2 girls and 2 boys. At the end of 1988, we all moved to my husband’s village Kalpitya.. First we were displaced to Erukalapity, Mannar in 1990. Then to Kuththikkandal, Adamban in 1990. From 1992 to 1994, we were in the Thadchanamadu camp.
When we were displaced, UNHCR helped us. Then the government helped us. In 1996, we came to Iththikkandal. During the final war, we moved again to Madu in 2006. We stayed in the Uyilankulam refugee camp which was under the government forces and then in Vavuniya, until we settled in our own village after the war ended.
‘My house was destroyed when we came back. We managed to put up a temporary hut. We cleaned our place and started living. In 2005, we received the housing project allocation. Now we have cows. My husband is doing farming and fishing. My kids are working. Now, we have a permanent house and are living happily. My youngest daughter is working for ‘Vizhuthu” foundation. We are leading a safe life. We don’t want any more war. We would like to live happily with freedom. We cannot experience any hardship anymore” (Source: www.memorymap.lk)
‘It is the responsibility of all to join with the journey of the Government which aims to establish sustainable peace in the country’, the President always mention this and the president only is committed to build a peaceful country where all the communities live in harmony and reconciliation.
It is the responsibility of the era to unite with brotherhood for the future of the country eliminating the extremism and thirst for power. The war destroys the truth and annihilates mankind. The war searches for blood and not only destroys the physical resources of a country, but damages all moral values including social justice and discipline of the society.
Writers, artistes and literates can play a pivotal role in building mutual understanding among all communities in a background where the government is making sincere efforts to build national reconciliation in the country after ending a 30 year long war. The deep sorrow of the people expressed to the society through the creations of the writers and the writers and artistes uplift human feelings like motherhood, fatherhood and love for children in our society. To eliminate extremism in the country and build reconciliation let us a citizens of Sri Lanka do our part to prevent violence and recurrence of war .