It is with extreme delight that we present the second installment in the series of articles written by our friend, Solomon Rajaram Hariharan, a member of the “Dream team 2012” of “Sri Lanka Unites”( A youth movement for hope and reconciliation). He recounts his experiences at “ The School Relations Tour of 2012” which covered 20 districts in 20 days and had 18 workshops on leadership, reconciliation and proactive thinking for over 3000 students across the island. The team which toured the country included 23 student leaders from around the country. The student leaders were school prefects and held positions in their school Sri Lanka Unites Chapter.
On the first day, the ‘Dream Team’ met three national leaders of the country. We met Mr.Eran Wickramaratne at his office in the morning. We discussed on various topics including education and economics. He stressed that beliefs of others should be respected so as to sustain equality. We learnt that unfair moments in life should be accepted and that we should strive to move on. He gave an example saying that ‘An eagle flies against the wind whereas the chicken hides when grey clouds come’. It made me realize how I should deal the issues I face in life. Though my college crest had an eagle and we were taught on various strategies an eagle uses to handle crisis, this was a different approach to handle the issue. He also spoke on Education and how we should invest in education. He stated that Sri Lanka is living on debts and that as citizens of the country each on of us has the responsibility to address the issue.
We then had lunch and met Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala who was the former United Nations Under-Secretary General for Disarmament. He is the Chairman of the Board of trustees of Sri Lanka Unites. He spoke mainly on SLU and reconciliation. He advised us to be humble and talk to others with equality. Equal rights also meant equal responsibility. The responsibility of each citizen was to ensure that the human right is maintained in the country. We understood that Sri Lanka Unites is playing a key role on reuniting and reconciling the segregated ethnic groups. ‘Sri Lanka Unites is a non political non profitable organization. The fact that this organization is idea centered and not person centered has its advantage over various other organizations. We were encouraged by him to go grass root and help the needy. These were some points the Ambassador gave about SLU and the way it functions.
The Ambassador stated that Human Right is global. And that anyone in any country had the right to question the violation of Human Right. Another important question was raised on the grass root of the conflict in the nation to which he said that the youth in the country felt discriminated and the Sinhala Language Act was also a cause of the problem. He gave various incidents in the course of history that gave us a better understanding of the problem the country was facing. Because personally I felt that unless the fundamental issues are addressed, it’s pointless talking about moving forward. I finally found the answer to the question that had been traumatizing me ever since I got involved with Sri Lanka Unites.
The Ambassador said that the government should be transparent and decentralized to resolve the rising issues in a more efficient way. We understood that there can be no progress of the country without conflict resolution. Conflict resolution should be undertaken in a peaceful way. Media, legislature and public awareness are a few such methodologies. A land issue in the Mullaitivu district was brought under concern. Since we had limited knowledge on the issue, the Ambassador advised us to look into the matter when we go to Mullaitivu.
We then met Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha who is a Member of Parliament and Adviser to the president on reconciliation in his house. He spoke on restoration and restitution. Restoration comprised of displaced people, former combatants and development. We agreed on the statement that the decision should be made and approved by the unit which is affected by the decision. Restitution consisted of investigating on mechanisms for justice and counseling. Altruistic methods of evaluation should be undertaken. We had a long discussion on various issues in the North.