The Lessons learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has called for a joint declaration of apology from leaders of all sides to the country’s citizens who have suffered as a result of the 30 year long conflict.
“Leaders of all sides should reach out to each other in humility and make a joint declaration, extending an apology to innocent citizens who fell victim to this conflict, as a results of the collective failure of the political leadership on all sides to prevent such a conflict from emerging,” the LLRC says in its report which was presented to Parliament yesterday.
The Commission has strongly recommended that a separate event be set apart on national day to express solidarity and empathy with all victims of the tragic conflict and ‘pledge our collective commitment to ensure that there should never be such bloodletting in the country again.”
“Based on the testimonies it received the Commission feels that this commemorative gesture, on such a solemn occasion , and at a high political level, would produce the necessary impetus to the reconciliation process the nation as a whole is now poised to undertake,” the LLRC report says.
It was noted that the dominant factors obstructing reconciliation in Sri Lanka was lack of a political consensus and a multi party approach on critical national issues such as the issue of devolution. “The process of reconciliation requires the full acknowledgement of the tragedy of the conflict and the collective act of contrition by the political leaders and the civil society, of both Sinhala and Tamil communities.”
The LLRC blames both Sinhala and Tamil political leaders for the conflict. “The conflict could have been avoided had the Southern political leaders of the two main political parties acted in the national interest and forged a consensus between them to offer an acceptable solution to the Tamil people. Tamil political leaders were equally responsible for this conflict which could have been avoided had the Tamil leaders refrained from promoting an armed campaign towards secession, acquiescing in the violence and the terrorist methods used by the LTTE against both the Sinhala and Tamil people, and failing to come out strongly and fearlessly against the LTTE and their atrocious practices.”
The LLRC says a collective act of contrition for what happened would not come easily to either party but would only come if they were ready to make a profound moral self appraisal in the light of the human tragedy that has occurred. “Seeds of reconciliation can take root only if there is forgiveness and compassion.”
During the last four to five decades, the LLRC says, there have been instances where ‘hate speech’ contributed to major communal disharmony. “Since ‘hate-speech’ relating to ethnicity, religion and literature exacerbated ethnic and religion tension, creating disunity and conflict, deterrent laws must be enacted to deal with such practices, and these laws should be strictly enforced.”