The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission gathered for their public hearing yesterday, the 11th of August 2010, at Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies.

Commission members include Chitta Ranjan de Silva Esquire, P.C, Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, P.C, Professor Mahamen Thahir Mohamed Jiffry Esquire, Professsor Karunaratna Hangawatta Esquire, Chandirapal Chanmugam Esquire, Hewa Matara Gamage Siripala Palihakkara Esquire, Mrs. Manohari Ramanathan and Mexwell Paranagama Esquire.

In his speech C. R de Silva Esquire, highlighted the objectives for which the commission was established among which are the inquiry and the reporting of

(i)The facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement operationalized on 21st February, 2002 and the sequence of events that followed thereafter up to the 19th of May, 2009.

(ii)Whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bear responsibility in this regard;

(iii)The lessons we would learn from those events and their attendant concern, in order to ensure that there will be no recurrence;

(iv)The methodology whereby restitution to any person affected by those events or their dependants or their heirs, can be affected;

(v)The institutional administrative and legislative measured which need to be taken in order or prevent any recurrence of such concerns in the future, and to promote further national unity and the reconciliation among all communities, and to make any such other recommendations with reference to any of the matters that have been inquired into under.

He also added that it is clear that the primary concern of the commission is the people and such being the case the public has been invited to make statements to the Commission.

The hearings held on the 11th comprised of two sessions, one session where Mr. Bernard Gunatilleke, former Director of the Peace Secretariat and a participant to the CFA negotiations made his statement.

He stated that “there were numerous shortcomings in the CFA document” he also added that the LTTE did not allow the aspects that were substantial in the negotiating of the CFA to be discussed during the negotiations.

He further highlighted that the confrontations that took place over the last 30 years resulted in innocent civilians suffering in order to realise political fantasies of certain individuals. He also pointed out that there is  the need to aid the IDPs in resettling and developing their livelihoods. He added that people are yearning to go to their homes and that it is something necessary to be focussed on.

Among other things that were highlighted in his suggestions as steps that need to be taken for moving ahead with reconciliation were the gradual reduction of the High Security Zones and reduction of strain on the people of the North East through high military presence.

Mr. Nallaiyanaygam, who made his submission representing the expatriate Sri Lankan community stated that most Tamils believe in a unified country and that what they want is to be living in dignity. He also added that they think such is able through a devolution of power.

Among other things highlighted in his statement to the LLRC are the need to focus on the teaching of languages Sinhala and Tamil in schools and the change of school curriculum and history books to highlight harmonious co existence between in Tamils and Sinhalese rather than the high concentration of wars between the Tamil and Sinhala kings.

He also added that the youth living abroad can be made use of in the rebuilding of the country.

The public hearings will be held once again on the 12tt and 13th of August before they move to Vavuniya for the 14th and the 15th hearings.