By Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Bishop Norbert M. Andradi
Much has been written and discussed since the publication of the Report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) wishes to look at the Report of the Commission mindful of this biblical imperative and invitation to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation in this post-war society of Sri Lanka.
CBCSL acknowledges that every document formulated within given historical circumstances necessarily contains limitations. Hence, no document can meet all the expectations and answer the needs of everyone. However, the LLRC Report, particularly its recommendations, does contain much potential and hope for the future.
We believe that it still does provide the nation with a good basis and a point of departure for the challenging and arduous task of national reconciliation.
The CBCSL wishes to urge the government to do all that is in its power to take a serious look at the recommendations contained therein. Let us not permit yet another valuable opportunity to pass us by.
We believe that many of its recommendations have the potential to contribute to healing of wounds and bring about harmony and reconciliation and thus also counteract mounting international pressure.
Hence, our earnest plea is to implement the potential recommendations as early as possible since peace and reconciliation are the most vital and urgent needs of the present moment. We believe that serious and honest efforts to implement its recommendations would contribute much for the forging of national harmony and unity of our beloved country.
We wish to earnestly urge that the government comes up with some symbolic gestures and acts that would lead the nation towards harmony and reconciliation. Permit us to identify some of the recommendations. The report needs to be disseminated to the masses. It would be necessary to have the report, particularly its recommendations; translated into the two official languages of the nation.
Moving beyond the Sinhala only position, we need to address ‘seriously the issue of the anguage. Let all that concerns good governance be implemented. Illegal armed groups need to be disarmed. We also urge that the government address the painful issue of the missing persons and present a list of those who are still in custody as it always helps anyone to know if and when his/her loved ones are no more.
The government is duty bound to give an account as to what happened to those who are not in custody. People’s right to legitimate information needs to be respected. We need to recognise that grieving over the loved ones lost is a legitimate and a deep-seated need of all human beings. Once recognised, it would enable people to look to the future and move on in life.
Mindful of our own distinct role as Religious Leaders and of our responsibility to do everything that is within our purview, we also urge the government to appoint a responsible body of persons who would carefully monitor the intended process of implementation.
We wish to join all those men and women of goodwill and together with them we earnestly exhort the government to do all within its power to implement urgently the recommendations of the Commission and thus contribute to the greatly needed harmony and reconciliation of our beloved nation.