From left: MP Markus Frohmaier, Malathi de Alwis, Head of Delegation Dr. Peter Ramsauer, Sharni Jayawardena, MP Helin Evrim Sommer, MP Peter Stein, Hasini Haputhanthri, German Ambassador Jörn Rohde, and Deputy Ambassador of EU Thorsten Bargfrede
- German parliamentary delegation led by Dr. Peter Ramsauer together with German Ambassador Jörn Rohde receive first copies on visit to Memory Space
The prelaunch of the book “Archive of Memory”- Reflections of 70 years of Independence’ was held last week with German Parliamentary Delegation led by Dr. Peter Ramsauer together with German Ambassador Jörn Rohde receiveing the first copies.
The book contains seventy deeply touching narrative fragments and objects spanning 70 years of Sri Lankan’s Independence from 1948 to 2018.
The work that is being done here at the Memory Space goes back to a visit of former President Sirisena to Berlin in early 2016. Impressed by his visit to the “Memorial of the murdered Jews in Europe”, he expressed his wish that Sri Lanka may develop a way of critically looking back at its own past.
In response to this, then German Foreign Minister and now German President Walter Steinmeier offered his support to strengthening a memory culture in Sri Lanka. This was done based on the understanding that each nation needs to develop its own approach towards critically looking back.
This own Sri Lankan approach was outlined in the “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” in 2012, calling for the need to acknowledge different narratives of history and the willingness to listen to each other’s stories. The National Policy on Reconciliation built on this in summer 2018.
When the German MPs met with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, the Speaker – when explaining reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka – explicitly referred to the Diyawanna Declaration of the Sri Lankan Parliament as an important document in this regard that was supported across political party lines and was published after last year’s Easter attacks.
The Memory Space Team’s efforts are supported by the German German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the European Union (EU).
German Ambassador Jörn Rohde stated: “I see our role here in Sri Lanka as to support these reconciliation processes and do so by following a well-balanced approach of working with Government, civil society initiatives and all those individuals who want to engage themselves.
“In this context, it is encouraging to see an initiative of Sri Lankan professionals that attempts to carefully and respectfully listen to the recollections of elders and inviting readers to look at 70 years of independence from a very broad range of personal perspectives, joyful and sad, encouraging and doubting, but always ‘real’. It’s this intergenerational dialogue in the form of a book that makes an important contribution to reconciliation. I started reading the book and could not stop because the stories really moved me.
“I hope that the “Archive of Memory” may continue to grow and reach as many Sri Lankan as possible. We congratulate the curators, the photographer and the Memory Team to having produced a beautiful, moving and highly relevant book and offer our continued support to your future endeavors.”