One year ago the week from 8 to 14 January was declared National Integration and Reconciliation week “for the first time in history by President Maitripala Sirisena”.
The week was to be “celebrated every year … supported by the State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation AHM Fowzie and the Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.”
The first activity of NIR week was to be the reading of the declaration of reconciliation, prepared by the Ministry, in every state institution, ranging from schools to Parliament.”
Not long after this announcement, the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) was established (26/1/16), chaired by Mrs Manouri Muttetuwegama.
Reading the English language press I see the President’s new year message speaks of “hopes of… reconciliation in our hearts. ”
However, despite 8 January being the first day of this special week, no reference has been made to it in the press as far as I can tell. Neither has the Declaration appeared anywhere. Nor did the President refer to it in his message.
Moreover, when the report of the CTFRM was handed over on 3 January, not only was the President (who was to have received it) absent, but so was the Prime Minister who had appointed the Task Force. (It was instead received by the former President, in the presence of Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and DM Swaminathan and State Minister Fowzie). What confidence can we have when a report compiled with considerable difficulty and immense commitment and dedication as this must have been, meets with apparent indifference from those very forces regularly paying lip service to the notion of reconciliation?
I believe the main members of the task force would have all contributed their time and expertise voluntarily. I fervently hope their work, and the expectations of hundreds of victims the task force interviewed and entertained submissions from, do not go into the dustbin of history.
As was noted in The Island today (8/1) on page 16, the Report is available online at http://www. scrm.gov. lk/documents-reports. I recommend its reading by anyone concerned about this country and its long-suffering people.
Particularly, I urge our parliamentarians to make themselves familiar with the tragic situation exposed by a report of this nature. It might persuade them to step back for a moment from their inordinate concern with self endowment and direct their attention to how they might “serve the people”.
Courtesy: The Island