11/05/2010, 00.00
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The difficult process of reconciliation between Sri Lanka’s Tamils and Sinhalese continues

by Melani Manel Perera
The need for a concrete commitment from the community for the citizens of Sri Lankan Tamils: this is the theme during the press conference called by Nafs to discuss the resettlement of war refugees. The intervention of many personalities.

Negombo (AsiaNews) - The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) -) organized a press conference yesterday evening in its education center, to discuss the resettlement of displaced persons, and the difficult process of reconciliation between the Tamil and Sinhalese community. Several interventions were made, both from NAFSO and other participants. "There should be a strong attention and commitment by the majority Sinhala community in Sri Lanka if we expect a long lasting peace in our country. Tamil and Muslim people are very much weary at the moment due to war. It is evident some of the Sinhalese communities are in the same situation as they also either have lost loved ones or have become widows as a result of war", said Mrs. Geetha Lakmini, NAFSO secretary, at the opening of the conference.

Lakmini continues: "We do not consider providing ten tin sheets and four pillars and giving 25,000 rupees [154 euros] will not help to resettle them, revive their livelihoods, and reclaim their properties as resettlement. The basic requirements of the people should be provided for. They were living in their houses with their livelihoods. They need schools, health facilities, transportation, most importantly the security they enjoyed before displacement. So, we all are responsible for providing them. "

Anthony Jesudasan, coordinator on peace and sustainable development, People to People Dialogue [PPD], said: "All our efforts will be futile unless our work focuses on equity, social justice, and sustainable development of the country. Democracy is a must for the people in the affected areas to voice out the necessities and basic needs. We are not happy with the way the resettlement is taking place. We need to have a common understanding among us over the basic requirements for the resettlement of people if we are to consider resettlement completed”.

During the press conference the lead singer of Bandara Jayatilaka, very popular group in the country, also spoke: "We are working with the Tamil people and internally displaced persons not in sympathy, but because they are also citizens of this country, and therefore must to enjoy the same rights enjoyed by the Sinhalese people. As an old man who has lost all hope in his life, I ask forgiveness from my fellow Tamil citizens, I could not do anything, while you suffered under the trees, in bunkers during the war. Whatever we can do to bridge the gap between Sinhalese and Tamil communities, we will do to our best”.

NAFSO and PPD organized a rally last week to commemorate the South Asian peace program, which was held in the Catholic church of Pesalai in the diocese of Mannar (North of Sri Lanka).

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