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Thursday, 09 January 2020 07:01

Reparation Vital for Sustainable Peace and Reconciliation

NPC conducted a programme consisting of three workshops on the meaning of reparation funded by the UN’s International Organization on Migration (IOM). Participants came from 12 districts across the country and included victims, NGO leaders and representatives of District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs).

The programme concluded with a special educational event on reparation held in Colombo.

Speaking at the event, NPC Chairperson Dr. Joe William pointed out reparation was a critical component for societies that had undergone trauma to heal because it recognised the suffering of people and helped them to rebuild their lives.

Programme Manager Nirosha Anthony said the programme had educated victims of war on reparation. A survey had been conducted to find out the views of people on reconciliation. Most people thought reparation was only for the Tamil community but through the programme they learnt that it was for all ethnic groups who had been affected.

NPC Executive Director Dr. Jehan Perera said that while economic development was necessary, it was also necessary to have justice and to find a solution to the problems of the past.

Opposition MP Harsha de Silva pointed out that reparation acknowledged the responsibility of the state and other groups to redress the consequences of wrongdoing. Even if the state was not responsible, it must repair as it was responsible for welfare of all citizens.

German Ambassador Jorn Rohde said that while reparation could not undo the horrors and injustices of war, it could show that the government cared for its people and that something bad had happened. He said that reparation was about having justice and could bring healing and sustainable reconciliation.

Office on Missing Persons Commissioner Mr. S. K. Liyanage said that there were serious and complicated issues that took time to resolve. Since most victims had been the breadwinners in their families, those left behind had become destitute. Reparation had to be given to them, he added.

During the question and answer session, Mr. Liyanage emphasised that the OMP needed the cooperation of victims in order to carry out its mandate. However, some participants pointed out that people were afraid to visit the OMP office because they were observed and sometimes threatened.