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Sinhalese who were affected by the war also neglected

LLRC visits Buttala and Siyambalanduwa in Monaragala District

by Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon

(April 05, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) visited Buttala and Siyambalanduwa on March 26th, 2011 during their last outstation session. Around 50 oral submissions and a similar number of written submissions were presented during the two sessions in this predominantly Sinhala area.

The majority expressed their displeasure of being neglected by the government and aid agencies and claimed that no one is concerned about what happened to them at the hands of the LTTE. In 2008 and 2009 LTTE in a desperate bid to divert the Army’s attention from Vanni started attacking Sinhalese settlements in these areas killing a number of men and children and targeting buses.

Many of the witnesses who had lost the bread winners of the family complained that nothing has been done to enhance their living standards and stressed on the importance of aid to develop livelihoods. Although the government gave compensation to the families of those who lost their lives, the amount given was not sufficient for a widow to take care of young school age children.

During the sessions CHR noticed that no one has had access to counseling to get through the psychological trauma sustained by the loss of their loved ones. It was obvious that because of this the survivors have not been able to move on with their lives and were living with deep psychological scars. Due to their low educational standard they are not aware of the availability of such services and we believe that government institutions and/or NGOs should immediately address this issue.

As in the Ampara session there was minimal participation and coverage given to the session by the local and international media. As with the previous days sessions a few provincial correspondents were present, however the Sri Lankan provincial correspondent is not renowned for his/her journalistic skills and insights and CHR wonders whether justice was done to this important session by them. In addition there were no representatives from Sinhala and English media institutes, the diplomatic agencies and it's development arms, limited number of NGOs who covered previous sessions were not present.

The LLRC is to produce its final report in May and CHR hopes that it will take into consideration the psychological needs of those who were affected by the ethnic conflict and come up with a recommendation to assist these people living with deep psychological scars.

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