US Secretary of State John Kerry has underlined the importance of reconciliation by saying that true peace is more than the absence of war.
He made tehse observations addressing a meeting at Hotel Taj Samudra yesterday. He said:
‘ I know you recognize today that the true peace is more than the absence of war. True and lasting peace, especially after a civil conflict, requires policies that foster reconciliation, not resentment. It demands that all citizens of the nation be treated with equal respect and equal rights, and that no one be made to feel excluded or subjugated. It calls for a military that projects its power outward to protect its people, not inward to police them.
Today, there are young people in this country who are experiencing peace for the first time in their lives. We need to hope, we need to make certain that they will know anything – that they will never know anything except for peace.
And that isn’t easy – recovering from conflict, believe me, never is easy. Under President Sirisena’s leadership, Sri Lanka’s traditions of critical debate, free press, and independent civil society are returning. The armed forces have started to give back land to people in the north. Your citizens have been asked to mourn all the dead – not just those from one part of the country or one ethnicity or one faith. Incidents of violence have decreased.
The government has stood up against hate speech and created a presidential task force on reconciliation led by former President Kumaratunga. And just this week, the parliament passed and the president championed, as Mangala said, a constitutional amendment that actually limits the powers of his office. Promise made; promise kept.’