B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The decision of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week to appoint an eight-member Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission on the the events ranging from the aborted ceasefire pact in 2002 to the military defeat of the LTTE in May last year has evoked mixed reaction.

While the government has said the Commission could provide the much-needed healing touch in the post-war nation, a section of the activists within and outside Sri Lanka have expressed reservations on its effectiveness.

The announcement has coincided with the first anniversary of the military defeat of the LTTE and followed demands from some quarters for an impartial inquiry particularly on the last phase of the conflict. IRIN, a news agency which functions under the aegis of the United Nations, in a report quoting local activists in a report, said the Commission might not complete its mandate to investigate events during the last phase of a civil war between 2002 and 2009 — claiming that several short-lived commissions in the past two decades have failed.

There has been a big gap between the words and deeds of the government where it concerns issues of human rights, good governance and accountability,” Jehan Perera, director of the National Peace Council, an NGO in Colombo, told IRIN.

The mandate of the Commission announced on May 17 is to report on the lessons to be learnt from the events from Feb 2002 to May 2009, their attendant concerns and to recommend measures to ensure that there will be no recurrence of such a situation. It has been asked to ascertain whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bears responsibility for the events and report on measures to be taken to prevent the recurrence of such concerns to promote national unity and reconciliation among all communities.