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Monday, 20 September 2010

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Expediting reconciliation

It is sixteen months since the three decade long war was brought to an end and the country set on a new course of development and progress. Amid this, the Government also took upon itself the huge task of national reconciliation and set in motion various mechanisms to accelerate this process.

All restrictions hitherto placed on the people of the North are being lifted allowing for their free movement. There is no more a ban on fishing and there is a gradual scaling down of the military presence. Housing and infrastructure facilities are being built at a rapid pace and the people are returning to their original dwellings which are being rebuilt by the Government and farmers are tilling their lands which were laid waste by the war.

Now, moves are underway to release detainees held by the Security Forces in the course of the war. These include former LTTE combatants who are in the custody of the Security Forces at present. This is done on an initiative by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which is presently holding its sessions in Kilinochchi - one time hub of the LTTE.

This is a most welcome move and no doubt would accelerate the reconciliation process that is currently underway in earnest. For physical rebuilding of the North alone would not suffice unless the people are made happy in spirit. Nothing would warm their hearts more than to be united with their loved ones. This gesture would no doubt be appreciated by the Tamil community that would help speed up the reconciliation process.

It is appropriate that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee is in the forefront of this move. Tasked with going into the root causes that led to the polarisation between the two main communities and the resultant conflagration and to recommending solutions that would not see a repetition of those unfortunate events, the LLRC is certainly going about its duties with the correct approach.

Its Chairman former Attorney General C R De Silva has met President Mahinda Rajapaksa and made a number of recommendations for the release of people detained by the forces including former LTTE combatants. The President had agreed to evolve a viable mechanism to facilitate their release and ensure their integration into society.

This would no doubt go a long way towards mending fences between the communities. The long detention of ex-LTTE combatants has caused much heartburn. Besides a majority of these youth had been conscripted by the LTTE. They deserve a chance to enter normal life and enjoy their liberty in a free society. These youth should be united with their families so that they could pick up the pieces of their lives and turn out to be worthy citizens.

Steps should also be taken to ensure these youth are given all the wherewithal and facilities to build up their lives. A good many of them may have lost their schooling and the best years of their youth to the terrorist movement. Thus, they should be given proper counselling and guidance to put behind the ghosts of the past and enter into a new existence. The LLRC has done well by getting the observations of many personalities who matter and whose inputs could be vital in unravelling the causes that fractured communal amity.

It has showed much energy and dynamism in trying to get to the root of the causes. Its decision to have sittings in the North - the epicentre of the conflict - is commendable and shows a proper understanding of the task at hand. It is like a Magistrate visiting the scene of the crime and observing all the minute details before making his report. Similarly the LLRC too would get a good feel of the atmosphere and the undercurrents by its physical presence that could help in its observations.

No doubt the release could take time until the detainees are properly vetted and given a clean bill of health. In this regard steps should be taken to speed up the process. The mechanism that would be suggested by the President would be a proper guide. We have now entered a new phase in our independence and it is vital that we put behind the past and start anew on a clean slate. That is why the reconciliation process should be accelerated and given impetus. The release of detainees is only one way that could speed up this process. The LLRC we are sure would touch upon many other vital areas that led to the break down of relations between the two communities. What is needed is a holistic approach that would go into all aspects in detail leading to a lasting solution.

‘Challenges and issue faced by Tuna industry’:

Explore fisheries export market

The 11th INFOFISH World Tuna Trade Conference and its significance bears ample testimony by holding the conference since 1986 every other year. I have perused your past records and this conference has proven to be very successful and I am pleasantly surprised to witness 800 delegates from world over who are present at this important event.

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‘Wewa’ and not ‘development’ is who we are and will be

First we were fed ‘structural adjustment’. Then it was called ‘structural adjustment with a human face’. Finally we got ‘structural adjustment with poverty alleviation’. He observed that these made for a symptomatic reading of what structural adjustment was all about. He also observed that we were being asked to adjust our structures to ensure the sustainable development of economies and profit-making and resource-extracting ventures of those who designed these projects, coined these terms.

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Fast lane to your infirmity

The modern rat-race type life style of man compels him to take the easiest path out when it comes to food. One reason for fast food to become so popular is its comparatively low cost compared with restaurant gastronomy. This very fact directs consumers to fast food outlets like cattle to grass fields (pardon the expression). Facts are sacred, the comment is free!

 

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