Published on: January 10, 2024

Stakeholder Consultations carried out in the Eastern Province by the Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism Uncover Key Insights and Challenges

  • Offer Lessons for Forging the Path to Reconciliation Shaping a New Chapter in Sri Lanka’s Pursuit of Establishing Truth and Promoting Unity.

A series of consultations were conducted in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka recently, by the Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism (ISTRM), which actively engaged with key stakeholders in various locations, fostering dialogue and gaining crucial insights essential for shaping the path for establishing truth, promoting unity and reconciliation.

The consultations commenced in Trincomalee recently and discussions were held with Professor Dr. Vathani Devadasan, Rector of the Trincomalee Campus of the Eastern University and other senior academics, Mr. Chaminda Hettiarachchi, District Secretary of Trincomalee, Bishop of Trincomalee Diocese, His Lordship Noel Emmanuel, Dr Ramanathan Shrignaneswaran and several members of civil societies in the province, and representatives of the Indigenous People of Santhosapuram, Muthur.

Initially, the ISTRM members visited Batticaloa, continuing their consultations and had discussions with Mrs. Muraleetharan, District Secretary, Batticaloa; Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Eastern University, Batticaloa, Dr Prabakaran; Deans of Faculties and other academic and executive staff of the Eastern University; S. Mamangarajah, President, Batticaloa District Civil Society and its members, and A. L. M. Sabeel, Secretary, and other members of the Kattankudy Federation of Mosques and Muslim institutions.

Thereafter, the ISTRM team visited Kalmunai, engaging in discussions with the Kalmunai Divisional Secretariat North, T. J. Athisayaraj, and Civil Society representatives, followed by a discussion with Professor A. Rameez, Vice Chancellor of the Southeastern University and other academic staff of the Southeastern University, and members of several civil society organizations in the area.

The consultations were concluded in Pottuvil at the Muhudu Maha Viharaya, Ampara, with a discussion with the Chief Prelate Venerable Warakapola Indrasiri Thero.

The issues discussed during the aforesaid visit included the government’s initiative to establish an independent commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation by an Act of Parliament, the role of the ISTRM in laying the groundwork for the proposed Commission, the key features of the proposed Bill which has been gazetted on January 2,2024, stakeholder views concerning the proposed mechanism and their expectations.

The ISTRM team explained the purpose and objective of the proposed Bill in addressing the grievances of those affected by the conflict which prevailed in the North and the East during the period 1983 to 2009 and encouraged the stakeholders to review the draft Bill and offer their feedback and suggestions. The ISTRM team also informed the stakeholders that the issues raised by them, and the concerns expressed by them will be duly considered when the final draft of the Bill is prepared before it is tabled in Parliament. Further, the ISTRM informed the stakeholders that the ongoing grievances and challenges faced by the community in the Eastern Province which were highlighted during the discussions will be documented and brought to the attention of the relevant competent authorities.

The ISTRM team which visited the Eastern Province was headed by Dr. Asanga Gunawansa – Director-General, and included Dr. C.Y. Thangarajah – Head of Policy, Mr. Asif Fuard – Senior Executive (Policy), Ms. Danushi De Silva – Executive (Public Relations), Saumya Wicramasinghe – Executive (Public Relations), Mr. Charith Fernando – Executive (IT), and Mr. Sarath Kothalawala – Coordinator.

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