The statements of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the UN General Assembly and more recently at the 72 anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army have indicated that the government is contemplating important policy changes. These have included references to the need to “address the issues that gave rise to terrorism” in the country. At the army anniversary the president also pledged to bring in a new constitution within the next year.
Earlier in the month in New York at the UN the president said, “It is my Government’s firm intention to build a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender. We are ready to engage with all domestic stakeholders, and to obtain the support of our international partners and the United Nations, in this process.” He also spoke about talking to the Diaspora. These sentiments need to find resonance within the country as well as internationally.
Resolving conflicts that have been long lasting and achieving requires the rebuilding of trust. The National Peace Council notes that the government has mandated the committee to revise the PTA to consider the proposals put forward by the previous government in this regard. In the meantime we request the government to halt the use of the PTA until the reforms are finalized. We also call on the government to release those held under the PTA for long periods of time without trial.
Reconciliation has been defined to mean transforming a divided past into a shared future. This is done by rebuilding relationships. Tamil and Muslim parliamentarians and political parties need to achieve consensus on contentious issues rather than sticking to their own polarizing positions. The emphasis of the government needs to be to talk now to the elected Tamil and Muslim leaders in the country. We believe that if a course of action such as this is implemented, the ground will be better prepared for the discussion on a new constitution to take place.
The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka