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National Symposium Highlights the Path to Reconciliation


In a landmark national symposium organized by the National Peace Council on the theme of “Religions to Reconcile: Strengthening Inclusive Reconciliation,” political leaders, religious clergy, and grassroots representatives converged to discuss the imperative shift from negative peace to positive peace in resolving the ethnic conflict and achieving national reconciliation.

The symposium witnessed the participation of over 300 religious clergy members from diverse faiths, along with grassroots leaders from inter-religious committees across 17 districts, including the historically affected north and east regions. Political party leaders, both from the government and the opposition, emphasized the urgency of political consensus, the establishment of new mechanisms, and the creation of an enabling environment.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe presented his reconciliation plan during the event, marking the country’s advanced stages in the reconciliation process. He highlighted key aspects, including the identification and resolution of issues related to prisoners, disappeared persons, and missing individuals through a truth and reconciliation mechanism. Additionally, he emphasized the significance of a land commission law to address land-related problems and the strengthening of provincial councils through the concurrent list. The Himalaya Declaration, presented by Buddhist monks and Tamil leaders from the Diaspora, outlined points of convergence for a mutually acceptable solution.

Opposition members, while stressing the importance of an enabling environment and adherence to the democratic process, expressed concerns about the proposed new NGO registration and supervision law. The National Peace Council echoed these concerns, recognizing the potential setback this law might pose to civil society’s efforts in creating a conducive environment for peace and reconciliation.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa reassured the symposium, stating, “We believe it is non-negotiable for any government to create a conducive environment for organizations dedicated to promoting peace and reconciliation to carry forward their good work with minimum legal constraints.”

The National Peace Council underscored the need for consensus not only in resolving the ethnic conflict and achieving national reconciliation but also in safeguarding democratic and human rights. They stressed that such a consensus is essential to create an enabling environment for state mechanisms to gain credibility and operate effectively, fostering positive peace as envisioned by the late Professor Johan Galtung. This vision of positive peace transcends the absence of war, ensuring that all citizens feel protected and nurtured by the state.

As the nation charts its course towards lasting peace, the symposium’s discussions and resolutions mark a significant step forward in the collective pursuit of reconciliation, democratic values, and human rights. The National Peace Council remains committed to fostering an environment where the state can effectively serve its people, ensuring a future built on the principles of positive peace.

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