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Presentation by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
At the Defence Seminar 2012 – Towards Lasting Peace and Stability
August 10th 2012

I will begin with what might seem a paradox in the current context. I believe that much more must be done by the armed forces to promote reconciliation. I know that much fuss is now being made about the role of the armed forces in the North, but while I can understand opposition to what might be termed militarization, which must be avoided, I sometimes feel that the formulaic approach of those opposed to the work of the armed forces is calculated almost to prevent reconciliation.

Nowhere was this more obvious than in the almost hysterical approach to the rehabilitation programme conducted by government. Whilst trenchant but honourable critics of government such as the TNA National List Member of Parliament, Mr Sumanthiran, have gone on record as praising the rehabilitation programme, the diehards in the international community were adamant that there should be no support for the process. Indeed even the UN Country Team, which used generally to understand the need to work with government, whilst continuing to remind us of our obligations (as far as its senior leadership was concerned, in the days when I had governmental responsibilities, so can testify to the excellent cooperation we enjoyed), seems later to have tried to prevent any of its members entering into the centres where rehabilitation was conducted.

Thankfully, the International Organization for Migration was made of sterner stuff, and worked effectively with the Commissioner General for Rehabilitation, whilst always, it should be noted, giving the CGR and his team credit for their achievements and acknowledging the need for programmes to be driven by government. But the contrast between them and others was so marked, that I sometimes wondered whether those extreme elements in the international community, who have made so much of the running in the last couple of years, were not deliberately trying to provide a rationale for the oft proclaimed criticism of the LTTE oriented diaspora, that the former combatants were held incommunicado.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

September 2012
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