Colombo announces reconciliation commissison classifying 1,350 LTTE POWs as criminals

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 May 2010, 11:04 GMT]
While on the one hand keeping uprooted civilians subjugated in open prisons and inside internment camps under a military-led administration, engaging in systematic demographic genocide in Tamil homeland in the form of Sinhala colonisation encroachments, abetting cultural genocide by erecting the symbols of Mahavamsa mindset and destroying the Tamil heritage, on the other hand the Sri Lankan President and Commander-in-Chief Mahinda Rajapaksa has come up with the announcement of appointing a commission for truth and reconciliation. Announcing the move, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said in SL parliament on Wednesday that his government had categorized around 1,350 ex-LTTE members as "criminals who will be dealt with according to the law."

The Terrorist Investigation Unit and the Criminal Investigation Department are conducting further investigations.

The 'Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation' will comprise 'seven eminent Sri Lankans from here and abroad' and its Terms of Reference are to be Gazetted in the next few days, a news release from the presidential secretariat said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) cautiously welcomed the move for the appointment of a commission for truth and reconciliation to probe violations of internationally accepted norms of conduct during the final stages of the conflict and the circumstances that may have led to such actions and identify any persons or groups responsible for such acts.

Following are the extracts from the AHRC report:

Despite of the fact that the obvious reasons for the announcement of an appointment of such a commission is the GSP+ issue, at a critical moment the very announcement of the possibility of the appointment of such a commission by a government that has always insisted on the contrary up to this point needs to be recognised. Though it is impossible yet to predict what such a commission would be until the mandate and the terms of reference of the commission is announced the very publication of the intention to take action in this direction needs to be seen in a positive light. The announcement from the President's Media Unit also states that:

"This inquiry stems from the Presidents overriding interest in the need for restorative justice by the Sri Lankan people. Its findings will seek to take the Sri Lankan nation towards the common goals of a multi-ethnic polity, in a spirit of cooperation, partnership and friendship, learning the lessons from recent history to ensure that there will be recurrence of such tragic conflict in the future."

The announcement states that the commission will assess the lessons learned from the recent conflict in searching into the violations of international norms of conduct in such conflict situations and the circumstances that may have led to such actions and identify any persons or groups responsible for such acts. It further states that the recommendations will be sought on the nature of compensation to be granted to the victims and their dependants who suffered from the conflict situation. The commission will also look for institutional, administrative and welfare measures relating to the post conflict phase and would look into the issues of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation.

The commission is also expected to make recommendations on legislative and administrative measures necessary in order to prevent such situations in the future and to promote national unity and reconciliation among all communities.

The commission will comprise of seven eminent Sri Lankans from here and abroad and the terms of reference are to be gazetted in the next few days.

The very mention of the themes of reconciliation is new to the vocabulary of this government. The entering of such words into the political vocabulary of the government and the Sri Lankan discourse in general is something to be welcomed for its own value.

While under the present circumstances there does not appear to be any reasons to be too optimistic about this move and its outcome we anyway welcome this move as a small step on an issue of enormous importance to all the people of Sri Lanka.

The theme of truth and reconciliation is of great relevance to the wounded society of the country. It is of the greatest importance to the direct victims of this conflict more than anyone else. To those families who have lost their loved ones irrespective of which side of the political divide they may belong to this announcement will provide the possibility of an opportunity to air their grievances and deal with their own traumatised lives.



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