Chandrika lauds eradication of terrorism, but condemns failure to promote reconciliation


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday said that the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) was working closely with a section of the Tamil Diaspora for the betterment of those who had been affected by war.

Kumaratunga heads the ONUR tasked with promoting post-war national reconciliation among communities. The former President said the Diaspora could throw their weight behind ONUR projects meant to provide relief to communities as well as facilitate reconciliation.

She was responding to a query by The Island at a meeting held at ONUR at Janadhipathi Mawatha.

Recollecting a project undertaken by an NGO to build rain water harvesting tanks in the Northern Province, Kumaratunga said that a UK based Diaspora group was providing funds for an ongoing project to build 1,000 such tanks each capable of holding 6,500 litres.

The former President asserted that the government could work with Diaspora organisations.

Deputy Media Minister Karu Paranavithana explained the role of the media in ONUR project aimed at accelerating post-war national reconciliation process.

The former President said the previous SLFP-led UPFA government had missed a golden opportunity to bring all communities together in 2009. Commending the eradication of the LTTE in May 2009 thereby ending the separatist movement, she alleged that the then government had failed to make use of the opportunity.

The former President said the situation would have been different today had the then government swiftly addressed grievances of Tamil speaking people. Those who had won the war failed to achieve peace, the former President said, adding that the new Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was now in a position to resolve the national problem.

Acknowledging that there could be many shortcomings, the former President said that the two major political parties were pursuing a common agenda. Kumaratunga asserted that ONUR was playing a significant role in the overall government strategy to address grievances of those who had been affected by nearly 30-year-long war.

The former President emphasized that the ongoing projects reflected the government commitment to the post-war national reconciliation. Kumaratunga said that ONUR had the authority to make a decisive change.

Kumaratunga alleged that the previous administration had pursued a political strategy at the expense of harmony among the communities.

Responding to another query from the audience, Kumaratunga said that the mindset of those living in the North as well as the South had to be changed to achieve national reconciliation.

The gathering was briefed on the measures adopted by the ONUR so far as well as future projects. Among the planned projects was a documentary to be produced by Asoka Handagama, Prasanna Vithanage and Vimukthi Jayasundera.

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