01/09/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Religious leaders call for urgent solution to the IDP problem and reconciliation with Tamil

by Melani Manel Perera
Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus in the Congress of Religions call for the implementation of proposals contained in the report issued by a commission of inquiry instituted by Rajapaksa. Resettling displaced people and finding a solution to the interethnic problem are necessary for a lasting peace. However, the government is not eager to act.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Leaders of all main religions are calling on the government of Sri Lanka to implement right away the proposals contained in the report on the civil war released by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) set up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The commission found that the main issues relate to war crimes, resettlement of about 200,000 internally displaced people and a solution to the interethnic conflict between Sinhalese and Tamil.

For Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus, joined together in the Congress of Religions, it is essential to implement the proposals in the report in order to establish lasting peace in the country after three decades of civil war. However, the government has said that it could not implement the report in its entirety. All the religious leaders also stressed the importance freedom of speech and freedom of the press as well as permanent reconciliation.

“It is a complex situation for the government. In a democracy, various opinions can be expressed in different forums. But, the government has to deal with the political parties and others in this respect. It will be implemented” on a case by case. “That is the crux of the matter,” said Keheliya Rambukwella, cabinet spokesman and minister of Mass Media and Information.

Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Colombo Oswald Gomis said that the recommendations should be implemented soon in order not to repeat another war. For him, “the war will not be over until a lasting solution is found to the ethnic problem”.

“The report has recommended a probe into alleged war crimes and civilian deaths alleged to have been committed by government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels,” Buddhist monk Bellanvila Wimalarathana Thero said.

The latter stressed the need to resettle immediately the people who were internally displaced during three decades of civil war by sending them back to their original lands. At the same time, the “government should establish an independent judiciary and ensure a society free from violence.”

For many people, the 400-page report is a defence of Sri Lanka’s armed forces against charges of war crimes made in a report by the United Nations on 26 April 2011.
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