Wednesday, August 21, 2019 09:24:45 AM

Reconciliation ‘Muddled’ – Part 1

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Reconciliation is an empty signifier – it is a term that can be variously interpreted and signified

Of the ‘Yahapalana’ pledges, the one least fulfilled, in my view, is its rhetoric in achieving national reconciliation. Four and half years into government, we witness increasing polarization of ethnic and religious communities in a deeply fragmented society.Needless to say that the recent terror attacks by Islamic extremists, although coming within a network of a global phenomenon,have caused considerable strain on relations between Muslim and other communities locally making national reconciliation an even more challenging aim to be achieved. These have resulted in aggravating fear and mistrust between communities leading to further polarization.However, it would seem that the tensions that were prone to manipulation and ignition were omnipresent in our society, even prior to the recent terror attacks, as was evident from the Digana riots that we experienced early last year. In understanding the failures to achieve reconciliation, or even part of it, in the backdrop of Yahapalanarhetoric, I would first reflect on the way in which reconciliation was understood and approached in the Yahapalanaprogramme as a precursor to the failures that followed.
Conceptualizing ‘Reconciliation; under the ‘Yapahalana’Programme
Reconciliation was a hyped up theme that underpinned theYahapalana discourse.a Compassionate Maitri Governance: a Stable Country’.

I could imagine two explanations for the omissionto define as well as lay out objectives, a design and a programme of action relating to reconciliation The first being, the presence of divergent views among the Yahapalana stakeholders and the inability to reach a common position with regard to a conceptual understanding or design on Reconciliation The views and approaches to reconciliation varied along polar extremes from land releases to demilitarization and war crimes investigation to state reforms. For example, the approach to state reforms between two main stakeholders in the Yahapalanaprogramme, the JathikaHelaUrumaya(JHU) and the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) significantly varied….

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