Giving hope

Saturday, 21 May 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

WINSTON Churchill once said that in victory one must be magnanimous. As the Government readies to celebrate the second anniversary of the defeat of terrorism with a mighty military parade, it is time for the people to go beyond the surface and examine the issues that still need to be dealt with.

On External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris’s recent visit to India, the issues of expeditious implementation of measures by the Government of Sri Lanka were discussed. According to the joint Sri Lanka-India statement released, Prof. Peiris has noted that a devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for reconciliation. This has been discussed many times before and all stakeholders are keen to see what the conclusion would be.   

The other main points in the joint statement released by both parties highlighted the need to ensure resettlement and genuine reconciliation, including early return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their respective homes, early withdrawal of Emergency Regulations, investigations into allegations of human rights violations, restoration of normalcy in affected areas and redress of humanitarian concerns of affected families.

At the high level discussion Prof. Peiris had emphasised on the commitment of the Government to continue to address issues related to resettlement and reconciliation in a focused and progressive manner. In this regard Minister Peiris referred to the work of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and set out the steps taken by the Inter-Agency Advisory Committee (IAAC) chaired by the Attorney General in implementing the Interim Recommendations of the LLRC in relation to detention, law and order, administration and language issues and socio-economic and livelihood issues.

Closer to home, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has called on people from all communities to hold religious observances for the people who lost their lives in the war. Given that thousands of people died and many more were injured, it would be understandable to take a more subdued view of the mindless violence perpetrated by the war and the very real danger that it could undermine sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

The TNA will continue its discussions with the Government, with another round of discussions scheduled for the latter part of June. The main opposition party has also come forward to assist the TNA to find a solution to its concerns and this could be a positive development if both political parties are focused on achieving equitable rights within a peaceful environment.  

The evolving discussions regarding the 13th Amendment will clearly play a crucial role in political and legal parameters disseminated to the north and east. However, these are time-consuming negotiations and in many ways do not affect the day-to-day lives of the people living in these areas. Therefore, it is all the more important to make a positive impression by doing something meaningful for these people, rather than appearing to glorify violence and death through military demonstrations funded by public money. These same funds could be used to give better living conditions, education and health to the war affected on both sides of the conflict. More than anything else, it can give hope for a better tomorrow.