Below is an excerpt from a presentation given by Shreen Saroor at the event Night of Ideas 2021 organized by the French Embassy on the topic “reconciliation in practice.”
Our country is ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse and our survival depends on equal treatment. Discrimination and violence against Tamils led to civil war and displacement. After the 2019 terrorist attacks, the government detained hundreds of Muslims without charge and turned a blind eye when mobs attacked Muslim homes and businesses. Today, media outlets spread rumors blaming Muslims for Covid-19, while the government mandates a forced cremation policy that strips Muslims of dignity in death. History repeats itself because we refuse to learn. Reconciliation is about learning from the past.
Over the years, numerous commissions of inquiry have been launched in the name of reconciliation. All the while, very few perpetrators of atrocities are held to account, and the ground realities do not change. As a result, reconciliation is a term that has made many of us in civil society very uneasy, even if it is the only politically viable way to currently brand our work.