LLRC report should be given a fair hearing
||TNA MP Sumanthiran
|Prof. Rohan Gunaratna
||Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
The Sunday Observer spoke to several personalities on the handing
over of the much anticipated Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commission report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week. The report
which received a great deal of publicity in the international arena,
drew equal criticism before it even wrapped up its work.
Those among the most vociferous critics were the pro-LTTE groups and
their sympathisers giving the impression that they feared the result
would cripple their anti-Lanka campaign.
The Government was firm in its stand and maintained that critics
should reserve their comments, until the findings and recommendations
were officially put out. The commission released a set of interim
recommendations which are now being implemented with the blessings of
the well-wishers of the nation.
The Sunday Observer asked these individuals how the reactions and
opinions expressed on the LLRC report will affect the ongoing
reconciliation process that has been initiated by the Government as a
means of healing past wounds and bringing communities together in the
The excerpts of the comments,
Human Rights Special Envoy and Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda
“There is widespread interest in the outcome of the work of the
Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) within and outside
Sri Lanka. We have pinned a great deal of hope on the work of the
Commissioners who are a cross section of the most capable professionals
in the country.
The manner in which they carried out their mandate, the exhaustive
consultation processes they put in place, the foresight shown and the
practicality of their interim recommendations, all give us ample reason
to be optimistic.
We have consistently asked those commenting on the conclusions,
recommendations and proposals of the LLRC to first study them in their
entirety prior to concluding their aptness, usefulness and
Those who sought to prejudge the process, to cast aspersions on the
bona fides of the Commissioners and to downplay the significance of this
initiative of President Rajapaksa – even before the final outcome was
available - would do well to study the proposals with a fair and
balanced outlook before commenting further.
Premature misjudgment of the LLRC’s outcome can only hinder
successful post-conflict reconciliation which is the final facet of our
Government’s four pronged approach post-May 2009, based on
reconstruction, resettlement, rehabilitation and reconciliation, backed
by speedy economic development. Objective analysis and constructive
criticism, on the other hand, will greatly assist us in successfully
overcoming this final challenge to a lasting peace and a more secure and
prosperous future for all.”
TNA MP Sumanthiran
It is very difficult to surmise on the reaction and outcome of the
LLRC report until we actually see it. And if it is going to be made
public soon, then I don’t see why I should make any hasty comments prior
to reading it.
Also, your question makes two assumptions on which I may not agree:
firstly it says that the LLRC is composed of ‘experts of international
repute’. Secondly, you refer to an ‘ongoing reconciliation process in
Our position is that what is ‘ongoing’ now is the exact opposite of a
reconciliation process. I tabled a report in Parliament on October 21
which details many of these efforts.
We would reserve our comments until after the LLRC report is made
Prof. Rohan Gunaratna:
The LLRC report will receive both praise and criticism. An exhaustive
study by Sri Lankans on their painful and tragic conflict, the report
provides essential strategies on how to prevent a return to conflict.
The commissioners and those who testified are Sri Lankans who understand
their country best. Like we developed a homegrown solution to end a
vicious insurgent and terrorist campaign, we have now launched a
national reconciliation strategy to create a harmonious living.
Both the Sri Lankan government and their partners must listen
carefully to the diverse views expressed on the LLRC by the
international community. Sri Lanka should also engage those governments,
International Organisations, Civil Society Organisations and individuals
that are critical of the LLRC report. Future Sri Lanka needs the support
of everyone to build a vibrant, resilient and a peaceful nation.
Former Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama:
Every country must have its own agenda to pursue. Now that the LLRC
report is out, the international community will obviously seek answers
regarding the findings. In this context Sri Lanka is well positioned to
respond in relation to the process arising from the report findings.
This report has been compiled by a group of eminent independent
persons. There is no room for certain quarters of the international
community to allege any deficiencies in the composition of the panel or
Hence similarly no- where in the world are countries compelled to
bring in foreign panelist unless the country is unable to bring forth
competent individual to comprise such a panel or the issues dealt with
have arises between countries.
The affects of president Rajapaksa in bringing about reconciliation
amongst all communities in Sri Lanka and the meaningful political and
economic development agenda that he has unleashed should be continued
without any distraction merely because some quarters in the
international community may continue to complain in frivolous issues
with a view to satisfy the LTTE propagantanist and operatives overseas.
The creation of the parliamentary select committee on the national
issue and budget proposals addressing the regional development are the
highlights we could convey to the world.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
You are right to focus on the impact of reactions, because many of
those who look at Sri Lanka in terms of their own agendas are more
concerned with reactions rather than the report itself.
Thus while we have had many criticisms of the LLRC from interested
parties, there was little attention on the very sensible interim report
they gave some time back - though perhaps government was also at fault
in not making that report public along with the actions that were being
taken with regard to the issues raised.
Entertainingly we have recently had two conflicting attacks on the
LLRC, one that that Commissioners were not independent and would produce
a document that would not satisfy our critics, second that we would
suppress the Report (ie it would be a report that our critics would like
and therefore we would hide it).
I believe from what purport to be leaks of the Report that it moves
on from its excellent interim recommendations to suggest areas in which
we should be doing more to ensure reconciliation.
In this regard dwelling on the past will not be productive except
insofar as it affects current attitudes, and in that regard the focus on
bringing closure to those who are uncertain about their loved ones is
vital. But we also need to move forward with regard to language and
educational policy, as has indeed been foreshadowed in the President’s
budget speech, and also in ensuring employment opportunities with no
space left for there to be allegations about discrimination.
I believe the LLRC has looked at these areas and I hope their
recommendations will be implemented swiftly with regular monitoring and
reports on progress, which is what we should have done with regard to
the interim recommendations.
Those who have been clamouring for charges of War Crimes, on the
basis of manipulated evidence and vague generalisations, may be upset
but they are not important as compared with our citizens on the ground
I believe it is a positive factor that we have not engaged in witch
hunts about those former cadres who were forced to fire on their own
people when they tried to flee LTTE captivity, and I hope the LLRC will
agree that the positive steps we have taken towards rehabilitation are
more important than holding those poor victims accountable for what they
were forced to do to other victims.
The more vindictive members of the international community may not
accept such a position, but they do not understand reconciliation.
As I have been saying for a long time, we have a good record, both in
dealing with terrorism and in our endeavors to heal wounds. But we have
not been effective in telling our story and in communicating both what
was done and how we plan to do better in the future.
The budget speech also referred to the need to improve our
communications strategies, and we should also do more to train
communicators, who will also understand the need for reconciliation and
the sensitivities of those who have suffered but wish now to move on to
a brighter future.