Road to reconciliation

Print edition : July 24, 2015

RECONCILIATION among Sri Lankan ethnic groups has remained one of the priority areas of the Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe regime.

For the first time, reconciliation has been included in the Constitution and its promotion has been made one of the duties of the President under the Constitution 19th Amendment.

President Sirisena has displayed his keenness to adhere to the theme of reconciliation on more than one occasion—in his speeches and during his surprise visit to Jaffna in late May to condole the death of a Tamil girl, who was allegedly gang-raped before being murdered.

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, hailed the present government for commencing work in respect of a “meaningful reconciliation and movement” towards a truly post-conflict situation in the country.

Visaka Dharmadasa, chairperson of the Association of War Affected Women, said the subject of reconciliation needed to be highlighted during the election campaign and the plan had to entail a political solution for the ethnic issue.

Mavai S. Senathirajah, president of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), a major constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), reiterated that his party would push the case for finding a permanent settlement to the Tamil question. He said the party would raise issues such as the establishment of a union of regions, an idea floated when Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga was President (1994-2005); repeal of the Concurrent List from the Constitution; accommodation of Muslims; retrieval of private lands held by the Army; and provision of opportunities for economic livelihood to war-hit women.

The political economist Ahilan Kadirgamar, however, wondered whether the election campaign would see “a fruitful debate on further devolution for the minorities” as none of the political actors seemed interested in the subject.

T. Ramakrishnan