Header Ads

Government needs to take cognizance of heightening international pressure in promoting national reconciliation

A statement issued by the National Peace Council

(June 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The recent video clip released by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom titled "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" alleges video evidence of civilian casualties and battlefield executions during the final phase of the military conflict which came to a conclusion in 2009. The Sri Lankan government has argued that this material has been fabricated, as indeed it claimed when a previous video was released. The government position is that during the final phase of the war which it deemed to be a humanitarian operation, it followed a policy of zero tolerance for civilian casualties.

The National Peace Council believes that the Sri Lankan Government needs to take cognizance of the heightening international pressure to conduct investigations into the veracity of the allegations in the Channel 4 video and in the Expert Panel report commissioned by the UN Secretary General. Having ratified the Geneva Conventions and UN Declaration on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the Sri Lankan government was, and remains, legally obliged to abide by the laws stipulated in these conventions that govern the conduct of a war.

This is not something lacking in our own historical traditions in which Emperor Asoka who practiced reconciliation after war is greatly admired. It has been recorded that during the Ravana-Rama war, Rama insisted that poisoned arrows should not be used. We have read how King Dutugemunu respected the dead King Elara and his tomb. It is this same tradition that is now in force in a more complex world where sophisticated weapons are available to destroy life indiscriminately.

In the absence of a credible investigation the space for further allegations is to be expected from different pressure groups that will polarize the Sri Lankan society and hinder the process of reconciliation for sustainable peace for years to come. The government needs to be willing to entrust this task to a domestic mechanism which follows international standards. There can be no reconciliation without truth and justice. They are essential ingredients for any reconciliation.

It must also be realized that those who were severely affected during the height of the Sri Lankan war in is last phase in the North are still recovering from the trauma they have experienced, as we have witnessed during our visits to those areas. The objective should be to ensure that justice is done to the relatives of the victims. However, sections of the international community doubt the reconciliation efforts hitherto made by the government which needs to convince them that it is making a genuine reconciliation effort.

Reconciliation must come from the free choice of the Tamil people and cannot be forced. The Tamil people who resettled from the camps for the displaced continue to lack freedom ­ freedom of expression, freedom to move about and are under the control of the military in their day to day activities. The government must erase that impression from the minds of the national and international community and invite them to visit these areas and ascertain the truth for themselves freely and without controls. We believe that accounting for the past and restitution in the present need to go hand in hand for reconciliation to become a reality.

Governing Council:- The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organisation that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.

Tell a Friend

No comments

Powered by Blogger.