Sunday, 26 February 2017 02:35

26.02.17 Media Release Featured

RELIGIOUS CLERGY TAKE UP CHALLENGE OF PROMOTING INTER ETHNIC RECONCILIATION
In the backdrop of imminent constitutional reforms possibly leading a referendum, religious clergy and civil society activists from across the country urged the government to take concrete steps to ensure that peace and reconciliation were established in post war Sri Lanka. The leaders handed over a six-point resolution to the Minister of National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganesan, Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Chandrika Kumaratunge and Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms Mano Tittawella at a national symposium organised by the National Peace Council (NPC). More than 360 persons participated in the symposium.



The symposium was held with support from District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) comprising leaders of all religions and ethnic groups, government officials, university academics and students and youth representatives. The DIRCs worked towards conflict transformation and reconciliation by building support for the transitional justice process, especially truth telling and trust building within communities. A total of 18 DIRCs have been established in the districts of Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Puttalam, Kilinochchi, Kurunegala, Jaffna, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Badulla.

In the resolution the leaders urged the government to bring back to normalcy the lives of people who have been evicted from their homes and properties, pointing out that many of them are without homes or incomes even today. The leaders said civil administration should be strengthened in keeping with the 19th Amendment because security forces still intervene in civil administrative activities and this hinders the freedom of life of the people in these areas. They added that the lethargic manner of working by certain government officials has hindered the improvement of infrastructure facilities and provision of various essential services.

The third point in the resolution said that there has not been specific and speedy action on missing persons and those who have been made to disappear illegally. “We firmly hope that the State mechanism for acting on the above matters will be strengthened and that action is taken to fulfil justice for the people affected directly and indirectly due to the war.” The leaders also asked for a compensation process without any form of discrimination.

The resolution pointed out that extremist political activity and extremist religious groups and individual activities were destabilizing society and called for several measures to avoid such situations such as the establishment of social protection monitoring committees, strengthening the action of the Women and Child Protection Committees and conducting formal counselling services aimed at those subject to severe mental stress.

The final point in the resolution suggested several steps for building national reconciliation including implementing the national language policy and paying attention to activities that will improve inter-relationships among the communities. “If there are political groups, religious groups, government officials, civil society actors who will disrupt reconciliation, take legal action against them unmindful of their status,” the resolution said. The government needs to act on these exhortations that are in the best interests of the country. This will be in accordance with the higher principles of democracy as the great majority of Sri Lankan people want justice and reconciliation to be the heritage of all.


Governing Council

National Peace Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization 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.