The United States (US) says the opportunities that existed in 2009 to bring the country together were not seized and after 30 years of war, Sri Lanka struggled for five more years to achieve reconciliation.
Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor said that Sri Lanka has a chance now to achieve reconciliation, justice and true peace.
In a statement issued while on a visit to Sri Lanka, Malinowski said that for 30 years, Sri Lanka experienced some of the evils that now bedevil other deeply troubled parts of the world – including terrorism, driven by a fanatical ideology, employing suicide bombing, hurting most of all the people it falsely claimed to defend.
“Cruelty on one side hardened hearts on the other; abuses and grievances mounted on both. Victory by one side on the battlefield brought an end to the fighting, but did not heal the division. I would suggest that Sri Lanka experienced what America learned 150 years ago and many other countries have since, that you cannot really win a civil war,” he said.
Malinowski said that after the war, for five years, there were tensions between Sri Lanka and the international community over several issues but now Sri Lanka has come to a pivotal moment in the country’s history.
“Thanks to your dedication, Sri Lanka has a chance now to achieve reconciliation, justice and true peace. That will require, in part, looking backward, to acknowledge the suffering of the innocent and account for the wrongdoing of the guilty, on every side. You can finally close the gap between competing narratives so that all Sri Lankans can read their history from the same text,” he added.
Malinowski said the United States will continue to encourage that process, because experience has taught us that no society can move forward by burying the past.
He also noted that the Sri Lankan people and their new government have taken a great leap already to reclaim their traditions of democracy, tolerance and civil society and the US hopes Sri Lanka stays on that course.
“We welcome actions taken by the Sri Lankan government to rebuild trust with the Sri Lankan people; and we stand ready to support your efforts in establishing just and lasting peace,” he added.
He said that Sri Lanka may need to make hard choices needed to keep moving forward, but the US will do everything in its power to help Sri Lanka.(Colombo Gazette)