report affect reconciliation?
By Arthur Wamanan
The UN Secretary General’s controversial expert
panel report on the final stages of the battle has
created ripples in the national and international
The government of Sri Lanka has come down heavily on
the report as being biased, flawed and instrumental
in disturbing the ongoing reconciliation process.
Excerpts of the report were leaked to the press a
few days after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The government called upon the UN to refrain from
publishing the report as it could have adverse
effects on the country’s reconciliation process and
the development activities carried out in the post
The government on several occasions have stressed on
the importance of reconciliation and its importance
in ensuring that the country is not divided once
The diaspora and the pro-LTTE elements abroad
have launched campaigns in favour of the report.
They now look to press the international community
to investigate into the alleged war crimes against
the government that have been highlighted in this
While the government is putting up a fight to
overcome this challenge, the Tamil political parties
and politicians are divided on this issue, as is the
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), considered as the
main Tamil political outfit, has been critical of
the war against the LTTE and was involved in getting
the international community to intervene and stop
the war citing civilian casualties.
TNA Parliamentarian, Suresh Premachandran
questioned the government on whether reconciliation
process was going on in the country and listed
several obstacles that were on the way of coming to
a stable solution. The TNA pointed out that even
though the government had ended the war, it was
still far away from solving the actual problem in
“Large land areas in the north have been taken
over by the military and have put up their own
buildings. Everything carried out in the region is
done with the intervention of the police and the
security forces,” he said.
The TNA had softened its post war stance and had
even agreed to hold talks with the government on two
issues, namely, pursuing for a permanent solution
for the longstanding ethnic question and addressing
the immediate needs of those who have been affected
by the war in the north and east.
Focus has been made to the latter issue as it needs
immediate attention to assist the people to get back
on their feet after harrowing experiences.
Premachandran also pointed out the
non-implementation of several of their demands that
they had made during the post war period. “High
Security Zones (HSZ) have not been removed
completely. There are Buddhist temples coming up in
areas where there are no Buddhists living. There are
still IDPs in Muthur and Sampur. No action has been
taken to resettle them in their own places,”
The main factor pointed out here is that there could
be no reconciliation without finding a lasting
solution to the ethnic question. This is the view
that has been held by several other Tamil
politicians as well.
Former parliamentarian and leader of the Democratic
People’s Front (DPF), Mano Ganeshan also shared the
same sentiments expressed by Premachandran. Ganeshan
was also the
Co-convener of the rights group, Civil Monitoring
Commission (CMC) and campaigned against the forcible
disappearances of persons in the latter half of the
“As a citizen of this country, I do not see any
steps taken by the government to reconcile the
Leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF)
V. Anandasangaree has called upon President Mahinda
Rajapaksa to prevent random demonstrations and
violent activities against the published report. He
requested the President to welcome publication of
the report and face whatever matter it contains.
It should be noted that Anandasangaree, who was a
member of the TNA during its initial days in
Parliament, broke away due to differences of opinion
with the rest of the members of the alliance. He had
been critical of the LTTE and also of the government
during the war.
He emphasised the role of the UN in the global arena
and said that the main role of the organisation was
to promote international peace, security and
co-operation. “This is an organisation that no
member country, including ours, can afford to
antagonise, except perhaps a few big powers,”
The UN did play a crucial role soon after the end of
the war by working with the government in providing
immediate assistance to the Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs) when they were accommodated in Menik
farm, Vavuniya. Anandasangaree also pointed out that
several countries depended on the UN for assistances
in health, education and several others.
“No one can deny that there were several
thousands of causalities during the war. Very many
factors contributed for this situation. How or why
did this happen? All these must come to light,”
“What the country needs today is absolute peace for
all, for which a solution to the ethnic problem,
acceptable to the minorities, is indispensable. I am
sure that no reasonable person in this country will
ever object to people’s desire to live in the
country as equals,” he said.
Tamil politicians aligned to the government
however maintain the stance of the state that the
publication of this report would harm the
reconciliation process of the country.
Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, Deputy Minister of
Resettlement and Vice President of the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party (SLFP) had reportedly said that the
efforts of the government to build a lasting peace
and harmony would be affected by the report.
External Affairs Minister, Prof. G L Peiris
organised a press conference on April 21, soon after
his arrival in the country after accompanying
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on an official visit to
Prof. Peiris told the media that the government
rejected the report and added that the release of
the report would cause irreparable damages to the
country, which had just come out of a long period of
Prof. Peiris called upon the UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon to reach out to Sri Lanka in its
endeavours to create a lasting peaceful environment.
Ban Ki-moon, however, stood firm on his decision
to make the panel report public and did so on April
26. The report has received positive and negative
responses from several quarters locally and
One of the most important moves by the government in
the post war context was the appointment of the
Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The government in May last year, appointed the LLRC,
which conducted many sessions in Colombo, Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Trincomalee and many other
parts of the country.
People from all walks of life were invited to give
their submissions to the commission, whose main
purpose was to look into the mistakes that led to
the 30-year-old war and to ensure that it does not
repeat. The commission was initially to function for
However, the President extended the commission’s
time by a further six months, as he believed that
the time given was not adequate to do a complete
The LRRC submitted its interim report to the
government in November last year. It is expected to
hand over its final report on May 15.
Prof. G L Peiris during the press briefing
pointed out that it was wrong for the United
National Party (UNP), TNA and several other
opposition parties to refrain from taking part at
the LLRC sessions.
It should also be noted that the LLRC explored into
the reasons that led to the failure of the Ceasefire
Agreement (CFA) signed between the then UNP
government and the LTTE in 2002.
Minister of National Languages and Social
Integration, Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that the UN
panel report would not have any immediate impact on
the reconciliation process of the country.
He said the government had begun a multi-faceted
process in bringing reconciliation and developing
“The government is now in the process of holding
discussions with the TNA. There are several other
measures that need to be taken to unite the country.
Therefore, I don’t see an immediate impact on the
reconciliation process,” he said.
He agreed that there could be certain issues due
to the responses of parties like the TNA to the
report. “There would be small problems if the TNA
welcomes the report and campaigns for
investigations. However, the government will not
forsake the discussions with the Alliance because of
these things,” he added.
He also said the people were benefitting greatly due
to the absence of violence and hostilities and
therefore, they would not have any direct concern
over such reports.
“The people who are affected by the war in the Vanni
are now getting back to normal life. They are being
provided with assistance. Now they are in a position
to get the necessary legal documents such as birth
certificates. They would not focus on the report.
Therefore, there would be no division among the
people because of the published report,” Nanayakkara