US congressional caucus discuses accountability and reconciliation

us congressA congressional caucus event on the Path Forward for Accountability, Peace and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka, was held by the Senate Human Rights Caucus on 15 September 2015.

Panellists discussed issues relating to the need to demilitarise the North-East of Sri Lanka, further trust building initiatives between the victim community and the need for genuine accountability to deal with mass atrocities in Sri Lanka.

The director of the No Fire Zone documentary, Callum Macrae, stressed that victims had no confidence in a domestic process and warned that “what Sri Lanka says to the rest of the world is very different to what it enacts on the island.”

Addressing questions on Sri Lanka’s suggestion that it would adopt a South Africa style Truth and Reconciliation model, Mr Macrae said,

“There is a big difference between South Africa and Sri Lanka. South Africa started a TRC after an end of apartheid. In Sri Lanka there are still oppressive conditions.”

A senior member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, commented on Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangalaa Samaraweera’s statement to the UN, and noted that his admission of a history of past failures further strengthened the argument for a strong international component in any justice process.

The Director of Religion and Inclusive Societies Susan Hayward, highlighted ongoing reports of torture by security forces, whilst condemning the intense militarisation of the North-East.

Another panellist Susan Hayward, the director of Religion and Inclusive Societies, said that in South Africa a lot of white Christian leaders spoke of how their religious identity and theology had driven violence. Such an admission by Sri Lankan religious leaders could also be helpful.
The event was co-chaired by Senator Mark Kirk and Senator Chris Coons.

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