EU, Germany funded scheme costs Rs. 8 mn
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The National Peace Council (NPC) says war-related matters hadn’t been discussed at the nearly two-year-long reconciliation project that brought together students from Eastern, Jaffna, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa Universities.
More than 160 students have participated in the project that culminated with a conference on the theme of ‘Plural Sri Lanka: Paths to reconciliation.’ Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris delivered the closing address and responded to questions from the audience.
Pointing out that post-war reconciliation efforts had been badly hampered by allegations that the Sri Lankan military killed over 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front, The Island sought clarification as regards measures taken by the NPC to improve relations among the communities, and the following questions were raised:
During your two-year long project did participants discuss specific war crimes allegations and disclosure made in the House of Lords in Oct 2017 that contradicted unsubstantiated accusations pertaining to 40,000 civilian deaths.
Executive Director NPC Dr. Jehan Perera:
“No, we did not discuss these war-related matters. The project was titled “Creative Youth Engagement for Pluralism” and it focused on the nature of Sri Lanka as a plural society and the value framework that should guide it. The research papers highlighted the diversity within Sri Lankan society that goes beyond ethnicity and religion. They included topics such as “Attitudes of Society on Education and Transsexuality: A Comparative Study on the Ideologies of a Community with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Education,” and “Pluralism and University Subculture: An Ethnological Study on Young Behavior towards Social Cohesion,” and “An Investigative Study of the Challenges Posed by the Changes in the Aboriginal Society.”
What is the total cost of the project?
: Rs 8 million was spent to train and mentor the writers of the 30 research publications in four universities, translate, review and publish their findings in book form and for the conference which brought the students to Colombo.
What is the GoSL’s contribution?
There was no direct financial support by the government. Four state universities supported through their faculty members and students.
The Island: What is the NPC’s stand on accountability resolution and announcement made in Geneva that the Sri Lankan military would be subjected to a fresh inquiry?
In order to get out of these allegations, there is a need for a credible and independent investigation. Our preference is for a national mechanism that is acceptable to all sides. Accountability will need to be a part of the reconciliation process. NPC favours the restorative justice approach which focuses on ensuring justice to victims. This includes an acknowledgement of wrongs done and reparations and institutional reform to ensure that there is non-recurrence.
The Island: Are you also engaged in post-war reconciliation projects funded by Norway?
NPC hasn’t obtained funds from Norway for the past five years.
The recently concluded project has been funded by a project called Strengthening Reconciliation Process here jointly funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellsschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the British Council in partnership with the Sri Lankan Government.