Import of LLRC
The Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) set up by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa to probe the reasons for the estrangement of the two
main communities and to recommend steps to prevent a repetition
of events that led to the conflagration has so far made
commendable progress. It has striven to cover the entire gamut
of factors that plunged the country into ethnic turmoil.
The dynamism it has displayed so far in unravelling past
events that may have had a direct bearing on the conflict is
unique. There is a relaxed air in the proceedings allowing any
one who may venture to make their inputs welcome to do so. The
LLRC certainly is a strong parallel to the Truth Commission in
South Africa that traced the events of that country’s
unfortunate past to arrive at lasting reconciliation.
The LLRC has so far heard evidence of those persons with an
indepth knowledge and deep insight into the affairs that had a
direct or indirect bearing on the ethnic conflict. Some of them
have made valuable recommendations that we are sure will be
incorporated in the Commission’s final report.
One of these is with regard to permitting the Tamil community
to use their own language in their dealings with the State. This
matter should receive the serious attention of the Government
since this could well be a reason for isolation of the Tamil
True, the Government has identified this issue and taken
measures rectify the alleged discrimination. Incentives have
been offered for Government servants who gain proficiency in the
Tamil language. But this is still in an elementary stage and
would take some time to be established practice. There have also
been other suggestions for facilitating integration.
The LLRC has also done well to conduct sittings of the
Commission in former Tiger territory in the North where first
hand knowledge of the problems facing the Tamil people could be
obtained. At the last hearing it was indeed revealing how those
who suffered at the hands of the LTTE testified against the one
time sole representatives of their community.
This no doubt would provide an inkling on what went behind
the ‘Iron Curtain’ during those dark days. Some of the witnesses
were those survivors of the gruesome ordeal during the final
battle when the LTTE opened fire on civilians who were fleeing
to the safety of the government controlled areas. The sittings
in the one time LTTE citadel would also give the Commission a
first hand knowledge of the yearnings of the community and grasp
the nuances and undercurrents of their aspirations.
No doubt the Commission has made great headway in sifting and
collating the evidence from such diverse witnesses as military
experts, analysts, former civil servants, diplomats and even
journalists through which it is striving to form a comprehensive
picture to ascertain the true dynamics of the ethnic conflict.
In the process it may also unravel certain facts that may not be
to the liking of certain individuals and political parties.
But far from being a witch-hunt as alleged by some, the
identification of these lapses may greatly help to look at the
whole picture in the correct perspective in the formulation of
solutions. Some also ask why the mandate of the Commission to
probe events starts with the CFA in February 2002.
Here it has to be pointed out that this was a significant
point in the Eelam war in that it was the first truce since the
advent of the IPKF in 1987 - one that had a clear impact on the
course that the war took in the next seven years until its
conclusion in May 2009.
It was also the beginning of a phase where the forces had to
fight the LTTE as a conventional Army using weapons that came in
freely due to the lifting of restrictions courtesy the CFA. This
was also the first time that the LTTE was given lien of the
country’s territorial waters to hold naval exercises all of
which no doubt should bear scrutiny.
The decision by the Commission to summon Terrorist
Investigation Department (TID) officials too is an appropriate
move. It is the TID which knows the true nature of the suspects
in its custody with the ability to sift the hardcore terrorists
from those forcibly conscripted by the LTTE, particularly during
the final stages of the war. This could speed up the release of
these youth who were forced to fight against their will and also
the reconciliation process.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already promised the
Commission to formulate a mechanism to facilitate this process.
It is the hope of all the Lessons Learnt and Rehabilitation
Commission which is on the right track will come out with
recommendations that would bind all communities in the true
spirit of reconciliation to take the country forward towards
development and progress in this new phase of national