The Sunday Leader

Peace May Be Prolonged – Dr. D. Suba Chandran

Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, India, Dr. D. Suba Chandran, stressed the need for Sri Lanka to engage all parties in the reconciliation process, while minimizing military engagement and establishing civil mechanism at the earliest.

In an interview with The Sunday Leader on the sidelines of the Defence Seminar held at Hotel Galadari, he said that in the process of truth and reconciliation, what the people expect, especially when it comes to accountability and justice, is that they want those who had committed mistakes being taken to task. – Excerpts of the interview:

By Camelia Nathaniel

 

Q: The war in Sri Lanka has ended, yet there are some who still feel that peace is yet to come. How do you see the situation in Sri Lanka?

A: The war has ended and there is a peace process but the public expects the end of war as the presence of peace. There is a huge expectation whereas the capacity of the state to deliver all those expectations at the pace in which the people are expecting is found to be wanting. The people have waited enough, one generation is lost, and I am not willing to sacrifice another generation.

 

Q: How do you think Sri Lanka should go about to bring about reconciliation?

A: The South African model in truth and reconciliation is good, but there is another set of arguments which I also believe in. It is time to forgive, forget, and move on. We will never be able to let our wounds heal and in the process we will create more wounds when we keep on talking about accountability and justice with regard to what had happened in the past. If we look at justice per se, peace may be prolonged. So my point is, let’s not engage anymore in increasing the cost of peace. We must ensure that we do not reopen the wounds and allow them to fester.

 

Q: How do you view the military’s role in the whole post-war reconciliation phase?

A: In an ideal situation the military is created for a purpose. However, in a conflict situation, the military invariably gets into a mode of governance as well, especially when the capacity of the state mechanism is weakened. But this is only a transitional stage until the state mechanisms are activated. So I don’t see any harm in using the military capacity just as a temporary measure.

 

Q: How important do you feel power sharing is in the whole reconciliation process?

A: Power sharing comes with a sense of justice. Whether I actually share power or not is the sentiment that one has of being part of the process. It’s that sense of empowerment that makes the whole process a success. By keeping a party away from the peace process will lead to that party creating more trouble.

 

Q: Having been to Sri Lanka on a number of occasions, how do you find Sri Lanka today in terms of development, etc?

A: In every sense one can see the difference – from public cleanliness to the public presence of the armed forces, as well as the vibrancy in the educational institutions, and even the discourse when you speak to people. I am a researcher and it is clearly evident from what was the primary focus at that time to the present where now like in any other part of South Asia, people are talking of governance and inclusive politics, and no more violence. Of course, there are still issues but the general debate is very promising. Moreover, the more there are complaints means people are more involved. The war is not the prime focus now; its peace and the people are talking about different shades of peace.

1 Comment for “Peace May Be Prolonged – Dr. D. Suba Chandran”

  1. sukirichuti

    What is the use of peace when people are struggling to survive because of the high cost of living. People are indebted because they could not exist with the meagre salary they get. People are committing suicide as they could not feed their children. Keeping the city clean and boasting of peace will not fill the stomach of the suffering people. The politicians are spending a lavish life with duty free vehicles being offered to them by the Government for them to sell and make money.

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