12/23/2011, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Commission of inquiry defends Rajapaksa against UN

by Melani Manel Perera
The report by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission set up by President Rajapaksa to investigate the final phase (2002-2009) of the civil war is a response to a UN report that accused the government of war crimes. For a Christian activist, it is necessary to break with the past to promote Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission set up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to shed light on the 2002-2009 period released its report today. The 400-page report found that Sri Lankan Security Forces “did not deliberately target civilians in the last stages of the war against the Tamil Tigers”. Its conclusions appear to contradict a UN report, released on 26 April, that accused the government of Sri Lanka of killing more than 40,000 civilians through aerial bombing and coldblooded executions (see “UN publishes report on war crimes. Colombo protests,” in AsiaNews, 26 April 2011).

“This report could be used to prolong the ethnic issue, not solve it,” said Fr Reid Shelton, from the Diocese of Colombo. “Sri Lanka needs restorative justice, which means the rule of law, the demilitarisation of the north and east, and Tamils into the police.”

“From an international human rights point of view,” said Christian human rights activist Jehan Perera, “the most critical issue facing Sri Lanka seems to be that of human rights violations and war crimes and fixing the responsibility on the government leadership. However, from a Sri Lankan point of view the more important issue would be addressing the root cause of the war and issues of good governance. This is the absence of a political solution that addresses Tamil grievances.”

“It is unfortunate,” Perera added, “that on numerous occasions after the end of the war, government leaders have said that with the end of the war peace has come, and with peace what is needed is economic development and nothing more.”

“In this context, the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) report reflects a shift of thinking that calls for a break with past, if Sri Lanka is to learn its lessons well and achieve reconciliation between its people of diverse communities.”
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