The third anniversary of the end of the war will be celebrated in the coming week. In the past two years this has taken place with victory parades and with public commemorations of war heroes by the Government although many people would say it was not appropriate after a civil war when citizens of the country were killed in large numbers. It is also necessary to remember that the government is being accused of war crimes and violations of humanitarian laws.
After the Second World \War the Allied countries that won the war celebrated their victory. But the Germans who mourned the loss of their loved ones were not allowed to mourn in public. However, later on such mourning was permitted even in public. For the German people who suffered so much loss, their mourning could finally be made in public. This was a lesson that was learned nearly seventy years ago.
In the past two years memorial services conducted by the people of the North have been viewed with suspicion and even been prevented by governmental authorities due to the perception that such memorial services are meant for the LTTE. On this occasion too there is apprehension amongst the people of the North that they will be unable to have memorial services for their loved ones due to this suspicion.
Civil society groups in the North report that government authorities have indicated to them that the past should not be re-visited for the purpose of mourning and that the focus should be on the future. This may account for the restrictions placed on trauma counseling and sharing of memories by communities. However, people who have suffered and lost so much in the past need to go through the process of remembering and grieving in order to become healed personalities.
The mourning and remembering of lost ones in the month of May is an important and indispensable part of the process of coming to terms with the past. If this part of the healing process is blocked there can be no moving forward to the future and to reconciliation that transcends the past. The National Peace Council calls upon the government to permit all public mourning and remembrance activities in the North so that the deepest sentiments of the people are respected as was allowed belatedly by the Allies for the German people.
We note that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the government in its Recommendation No: 9.285 stated as follows:
"The Commission strongly recommends that a separate event be set apart on the National Day to express solidarity and empathy with all victims of the tragic conflict and pledge our collective commitment to ensure that there should never be such blood letting in the country again. Based on testimonials it received the Commission feels that this commemorative gesture, on such a solemn occasion, and at a high political level will provide the necessary impetus to the reconciliation process the nation as a whole is not poised to undertake."
One practical way of expressing solidarity and empathy with all victims of the tragic conflict that would contribute to a reconciliation process is also to enable public mourning to take place.