08/10/2011, 00.00
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Caritas Sri Lanka: the people are in need of a sustainable peace

by Melani Manel Perera
A conference organized by Caritas Sri Lanka - Sedec highlights the goals of political leaders: to give dignity to the Tamil; revisit the issue of the national language; dismantle the military administration in the north.
Colombo (AsiaNews) - Changing attitudes, learning from past mistakes and recognizing the rights of Tamils, including the "essential" commitment of religious leaders. These are the main points on which the government should focus for the good of the country, which emerged at a conference of Caritas Sri Lanka - Sedec on the theme "The role of future leaders in the process of healing and reconciliation, towards a sustainable peace in the country" . Present at the meeting, government and opposition politicians, Interfaith dignitaries, Buddhist monks, priests and prominent figures from civil society.

The politicians present were unanimous in the need to resolve the ethnic issue. "The future of this country - said Dayasiri Jayasekara, a member of UNP (United National Party) - will take root only on a basis of harmony and peace between the Sinhalese and Tamil. And the mediation of the religious should contribute to the improvement of the people and the nation. " To achieve this, the second politician to speak, M.A. Sumanthiran, from TNA (Tamil National Alliance) say, "we should recognize the failures of the past, not hide them under the carpet". And Tamil politician sent a message to President Rajapaksa: "If we are entering a new era, we should walk together as a country, not as a single political party."

Vijitha Herath, a member of the JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, the ruling coalition), said: "We won the war but not peace: our national anthem is still only in Sinhala and recently [during the last elections, ed] We have seen new threats and violence against the Tamil ... What message are we giving to young people of the north and south? At least now, the Tamil should have the freedom to live with dignity. Without national unity and equal rights, development is a myth. "

Two years after the end of ethnic conflict, the question of language is one of the most obvious discriminations among the population: Sinhalese, in fact, is the official language of the political world and the entire bureaucracy. Sujeewa Senasinghe, UNP member, explains: "If at first the language was a problem, today it has become the cause of other problems. If a Tamil raises his voice for his rights, he is considered a terrorist. Politicians should put their proposals into practice. "

Then, Senasinghe turned on Christian and Buddhist leaders, accusing them of never criticize the president or his regime when they make mistakes. However, Fr. Mangalaraj, of the diocese of Jaffna, pointed out how difficult it is to help people in the north of the country, because of the military who still manage the area, spreading fear among the people and depriving them of any freedom of expression.

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