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ISTRM Commission Holds Stakeholder Consultations in Galle to Address Ethnic Conflict

May 22, Colombo (LNW):The Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism (ISTRM) Commission convened three stakeholder consultations at the District Secretariat Office in Galle recently, in a bid to foster dialogue and address pressing concerns regarding the ethnic conflict and aftermath of the war. A diverse group of participants attended the meetings, reflecting a comprehensive cross-section of society, ranging from government officials to grassroots organisations.

The discussions brought together a wide spectrum of views, including government officials, media representatives, provincial leaders, and members from grassroots organisations. Led by Acting District Secretary C. P. Rajakaruna, the District Administration emphasised the importance of local perspectives in the reconciliation process. Regional reporters were briefed on the Commission’s progress, ensuring transparency and public awareness.

Divisional Secretaries and Heads of Departments from Provincial Councils contributed valuable insights, stressing the need for cohesive provincial strategies. Community stakeholders, including ex-military officers and non-governmental organisations, highlighted grassroots-level engagement, which is essential for addressing societal grievances.

Key issues discussed ranged from gender inclusivity to social welfare and victim advocacy. There were suggestions for special provisions mandating female representation in the selection of commissioners and amendments to laws providing concessions for widowers to re-marry with some entitlement of 50 percent of the allowances/salary after marriage.

Concerns were also raised regarding the re-traumatisation of victims who previously testified before conflict-related Presidential commissions. Additionally, inadequate support for disabled soldiers underscored the need for addressing the diverse needs of vulnerable groups.

The consultations concluded with optimism about the Commission’s potential to foster healing, reconciliation, and sustainable peace, emphasising the collective responsibility of all sections of society in advancing the nation’s reconciliation agenda.

Staff from the Interim Secretariat for Truth and Reconciliation, including Senior Additional Secretary to the President Ranjith Ariyaratne, Director General Dr. Asanga Gunawansa, Dr. C. Y. Thangarajah – Senior Executive (Policy), Danushi De Silva – Executive (Public Relations), Sarath Kothalawala (Coordinator), Saumya Wicramasinghe – Executive (Public Relations), and Y. L. Lokunarangoda – Senior Executive (Legal), reaffirmed the government’s commitment to an inclusive reconciliation process.

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