Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

Text of an interview given by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP to Deutschewelle

( Created date: 14-May-2014 )

Five years after the end of the civil war, how do you assess the reconciliation process between the majority Sinhala community and the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka?
It is not going at all well, largely because there is no focus on Reconciliaton. In the Draft National Reconciliaton Policy prepared in my office, we noted the need for..
Establishing a multi-stakeholder institutional mechanism with responsibility to promote and monitor the reconciliation process. A Parliamentary Select Committee should review the work of this mechanism. The mechanism should thereafter cease to exist at the end of three years unless Parliament decides otherwise.
Far from this being done, I had no response whatsoever to the draft. This was to ignore what the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission had clearly stated, viz ‘‘...despite the lapse of two years since the ending of the conflict, the violence, suspicion and sense of discrimination are still prevalent in social and political life. Delay in the implementation of a clearly focused post conflict peace building agenda may have contributed to this situation.’
The situation after five years is much worse, because the government has not understood that reconciliation cannot come through what is termed a trickle down effect. This is the more astonishing in that the President has a political perspective that understands you cannot rely on a trickle down effect to promote national prosperity through pure capitalism. He appreciates the modern Liberal philosophy expressed by John Rawls through the Maxi-Min principle. But, while working on rural development, he does not apply similar practices to the areas decimated by the war.
What has the Government done to facilitate this process?
It has engaged in much development work in the North which it assumes will promote reconciliation. But it has not made plans in consultation with the people, and indeed within government itself there is no provision for consultation. Unfortunately the very clear guidelines the President has laid down, for grassroots consultation, has been ignored by those to whom he entrusted the job. So, though they have achieved much in terms of cement, there has been too little attention to people. Human resources development has been neglected, and support for local structures to ensure people’s involvement in the development process.
What is the Government s position on the international investigation of human rights violations during the civil war  passed by the UN Human Rights Council? Will it bring reconciliation?
The government is rightly critical of the proposed international investigation, because it has seen very clearly how issues have been prejudged by those who have been pushing for such an investigation. Sadly government has not pursued its own investigations in a transparent and convincing manner. Doing that properly, with advice from countries that have not been unfairly critical, would do much to promote reconciliation.  But ex parte judgments by those who are unduly influenced by political considerations will promote divisions. In that regard those promoting the resolution have much to answer for, whereas they should have adopted the approach of countries that have more principles with regard to conflict – India, Japan, South Africa – than those who have unleashed mayhem on the world on false pretexts, as happened in Iraq and Libya.
What does the Government expect from a truth and reconciliation commission based on the South African model?
I have no idea what government expects because government has been very confused about this. It has sent two delegations thus far, but the first achieved nothing, and I fear the second did not seem serious though it was led by the best person to take discussions forward. But he should have been accompanied by other senior Ministers who have the confidence of all communities, such as the Minister of Human Resources Development or the Minister of National Languages and Social Integation. With such people we could make maximum use of the ready response the South African government has made to the request of the President to help.


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