02/02/2017, 19.55
SRI LANKA
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Activists call for faster reconciliation and greater involvement of religious leaders

by Melani Manel Perera

The Law and Society Trust focuses on the recommendations made by the government’s reconciliation task force. Two activists participated in the work in gathering victims’ statements. "What is amazing is that the relatives of the victims don’t have feelings of revenge,” says one.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Law and Society Trust (LST) of Colombo wants to see the process of national reconciliation and peace-building accelerated. To do so, the leaders of Sri Lanka’s four main religious groups must make greater efforts.

The LST met to discuss the recommendations contained in the final report of the Task Force on Reconciliation Consultation Mechanism.

The latter has gathered opinions and testimonies from victims of the civil war that divided Sinhala and Tamil communities, and has proposed the creation of a hybrid court. The LST also wants a quick resolution of the still existing tensions between Hindu Tamils ​and the government.

LST members Priyantha Deepal and Anushka Kahandagamage took part in the consultations held by the presidential commission, travelling to villages and areas held by the army.

For Priyantha Deepal, "What is amazing is that the relatives of the victims don’t have feelings of revenge. A Tamil mother told me that she was willing to forgive the killers of her son and demands that the government take a position once and for all, so that such tragedies do not happen again."

Every day, this mother went to the military base where her son was held, Deepal explained. "I only saw him for a few minutes working in the camp garden,” the mother said.

“Then, one day, she did not see him come out of his cabin and was suspicious. She asked to see him, but was denied. Eventually the jailers led her to her son's cell, which had bits of skin and blood stains on the floor."

The other activist, Anushka Kahandagamage said that many more survivors are waiting for news of their loved ones.

"Some of the missing were much older, 71 to 88. For this reason, relatives are concerned about their disappearance and believe that the government should assume greater responsibility.”

In Mullathivu (north-eastern Sri Lanka), Hindu residents have more concerns: their place of burial and the temple (Kovil) is still occupied by the army.

"For seven generations, we worshipped the gods in that temple,” one resident said. “Please, tell the government to give us our land back."

LST programme director Sandun Tudugala noted “it is the duty of us activists to express our objections if the government does not keep its promises.

“We have put a lot of effort to support the new government in a big political revolution,” he said. "Now it is the time for the yahapalana government to meet the demands of the victims.”

“Since they teach mutual understanding, the leaders of the big religions can really play a big role in taking care of others and spread peace and unity."

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