Sunday, 02 September 2018 11:09

31.08.2018 - The Importance of Taking Responsibility For The Past

A report issued last week by a UN fact finding mission into human rights violations in Myanmar has recommended that its most senior military commanders should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide in dealing with the Rohingya and other minority ethnic communities. In response to the Myanmar government’s refusal to accept responsibility for what has happened, the UN mission called on the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or for the creation of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal. They also called for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against individuals who appear to be more responsible.

Prior to the change of government in January 2015 Sri Lanka too was going down the road that Myanmar has taken of denying responsibility for what has happened in the past. The National Peace Council notes that the international community’s pursuit of Myanmar on grounds of war crimes and human rights violations might have been the fate of Sri Lanka had it not co-sponsored the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council and taken charge of its reconciliation process in October 2015.

The evolving situation in Myanmar suggests that the Sri Lankan government acted with prudence and foresight in agreeing to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council in October 2015. Due to the changed approach of the government in regard to dealing with the past, and ensuring human rights, Sri Lanka is now on a positive path of national reconciliation. We also note that the international community has given Sri Lanka the time and space to implement its commitments.

The National Peace Council calls on the government to implement the commitments given to the UN Human Rights Council without being deterred by allegations that it is betraying the country and its security forces as alleged by opposition and nationalist groups. It is the implementation of those commitments that will ensure the healing that will unify Sri Lanka in heart and mind as well as in territory and obtain the greater support of the international community.