December 2019

27.12.2019 - Matters of Concern for National Reconciliation in the New Year

The celebration of Christmas took place without incident and in the manner that Christians in Sri Lanka have traditionally done. This was a success of governance as there were security warnings due to the Easter bombings that caused heavy loss of life to Christians at worship in three of their churches. The government made arrangements for enhanced security to ensure that there was no recurrence of such acts of violence or terrorism. The National Peace Council appreciates the security and freedom enjoyed by all communities to celebrate their special occasions in safety and live as equal citizens.

As the country heads to a new year we wish the new government that came to power after the Presidential Elections of November 16 to continue to govern the country in a manner that meets the hopes and aspirations of our multi ethnic and multi religious population. We are strengthened in our confidence by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s declaration on taking the oath of office where he said he would be the president of all Sri Lankans, and not only of those who voted for him. This position has been reiterated by other government leaders who have pledged their will be equal treatment to all citizens. 

At this time we want to express our concerns about several matters that could potentially impact upon inter-community relations with the state. The first is the president’s statements that development would be prioritized in resolving the ethnic conflict and that strengthening the system of devolution of power is not going to be the answer. Second is the president’s assertion that there is no problem of missing persons to be resolved and limiting it to those who fell on the battlefields of war. The third is the assertion by government leaders that the national anthem will not be sung in Tamil at the forthcoming Independence Day celebrations. We urge instead the continuation of the policy set in 2015 that the national anthem would be sung in both Sinhala and Tamil languages in keeping with the earliest post-independence practice in 1949 at the inauguration of the Independence Memorial Building at Torrington Square of singing of national songs in both languages.

As an organization that has worked to build bridges between the ethnic and religious communities and the state for the past 25 years, the National Peace Council requests the government to reconsider its initial assessments of the issues outlined above. These are issues that have come down the decades and require institutional reform and political commitment to resolve. We urge the government to discuss these matters with the political parties and representatives of the ethnic and religious communities, in keeping with the plural nature of Sri Lankan society, prior to concretising them as policy decisions.

Governing 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.