Guiding reconciliation

Tuesday, 21 December 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The decision by the Government to allow the United Nations (UN) panel to consult with the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will be welcome news to many.While the exact nature of the deliberations are under dispute at the moment, with the Government saying that the panel members will make “representations” to the LLRC while the UN sources note that it will be an “interaction,” the results of this move will hopefully bode a positive development for Sri Lanka’s battered human rights reputation.

After the less-than-enthusiastic greeting President Rajapaksa received during his recent visit to London to address the Oxford Union, it is clear that Sri Lanka has much to do to prove itself in the international arena. This is simply not to perform for outsiders as some parties might believe, but in reality to convey the developments that are taking place in Sri Lanka in a trustful format that will gain universal acceptance by the moderate parties of the international community. The Diaspora is undoubtedly the core of this group and as citizens of this country they have a right to reliable information and to be allowed to draw their conclusions without parsimony and interference.

To a reasonable mind this is not being “unpatriotic” as certain Government ministers would have us believe. Dissent is not disloyalty and the people who are concerned with the methods and effectiveness of rehabilitation and reconciliation methods deployed by the Government have a right to voice their views as well. In listening to their reasonable and justified presentations, the Government can find ways to fine-tune the existing mechanisms and make them more effective so that future rifts can be prevented.

International involvement can be positive if taken with an open mind and the true intention to do good. At an idealistic level, both the UN and the LLRC aim to do justice in their endeavours. As the goal is the same, they can achieve that together, despite travelling on different paths. The parallel journeys of both these panels can result in a great deal of positive sentiments that will directly impact the acceptance of the LLRC by the international community and vice versa. If their ideas find common ground then the winner will be Sri Lanka.

In sincerely dispensing with its duties, the LLRC can prove to the UN panel the validity and efficacy of its task. It is true that much more needs to be done, but there must be a means to achieve this and words must translate to real time action. The LLRC has already extended its deadline to make its final report more comprehensive and a UN sanction would make it all the more successful, particularly for international stakeholders. It would also provide a largely reliable platform for the Government to prove that its words have been implemented by action and guard against extremist elements that strive to undermine or discredit Government attempts at reconciliation.

This by no means signifies the beginning of the end. The arrival of the UN panel, if it does in fact happen, will only be a significant step in a long journey that Sri Lankans as a people must take together. There can be assistants and guides in this arduous task, but the journey itself is ours to make and its direction ours to decide.