The following letter was sent to the Chief Editor of ‘Ceylon Today’, in response to a misleading article about the draft Reconciliation Policy. The article also seems to have made up things about the Sri Lankan approach to the US sponsored resolution, in its desire to play to what seems the current agenda of the United States.

The letter is followed by the ‘Ceylon Today’ article, and then a more balanced account of the Policy taken from the ‘Sunday Times’.


Lalith Allahakkoon
Editor
Ceylon Today

Dear Lalith

I have just seen the article in your paper that refers to the draft policy on reconciliation. I know you may not be responsible for everything in the paper, but it is a pity that your journalist has been so misleading. As you know, I responded promptly to your request for a copy of the paper, which you had been informed about by those I had sent it to for comment. This did not include diplomatic missions in Colombo, and there was no question about trying ‘to give credence to its bona fides about its commitment to reconciliation’ and therefore circulating the draft paper to missions.

As you know perfectly well, I do not play games about trying to convince other people. The idea of such a policy paper was conceived following a seminar on reconciliation organized by the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, and our team worked on this purely for the benefit of the country. It was circulated, once the draft was complete, to leaders of political parties as well as a cross party group set up several months ago to discuss issues of national interest. Members of the committees set up by the Reconciliation Unit also received copies of the paper for comment last week, and since then one ambassador requested the paper. I refused then, but sent it this morning, since it had appeared in the press yesterday.

It was sent to our ambassador in Geneva since one member of our team went to Geneva last week, and has been circulated there to those who need further information about the current situation. I do not for a moment suppose that the few who purport to need convincing of our bona fides will be convinced by this draft, indeed I suspect the opposite will happen.

One reason for their intransigence, I have realized, is the desire to do (or rather to be seen to do) everything positive themselves. The example of the former Head of US Aid doing hurriedly what I had told her I would do to promote swift resettlement of the displaced is a case in point – though she subsequently confessed that she had advised against this, which suggested that her superiors had used her to fulfil a political agenda of patronage.

As I told you at the time, in agreeing to your request to send you the paper, it was certainly not intended to be confidential. However, as it was a draft that had been sent to stakeholders (not diplomatic missions) to invite comment, I was worried that those with particular agendas should use it misleadingly.

It is most upsetting if you are amongst them, but I note that your reporter refers to a seven page document, whereas the one I sent you has 12 pages, so perhaps my trust in you was not misplaced, though your staff has different perspectives.

Yours sincerely,
Rajiva Wijesinha

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