The meeting between General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organization, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera and the Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganesan ruffled quite a few feathers due to certain views expressed by the former on the minorities.
The meeting became a public affair thanks to social media platforms. During the meeting, the monk had expressed various concerns pertaining to the threats faced by the majority due to actions of certain segments of the minority communities.
Grassroots level dialogue
Though several of his comments have not gone well with the minorities, there are some which need a bit of pondering.
One observation that was made by the monk was the lack of dialogue at ground level. In fact at one point, the thera says that talking to the Chief Prelates was of no use as they do not know the ground reality. “Speak to the monks in places like Kebithigollewa to understand the situation at ground level,” the monk told Minister Ganesan.
It is a statement which needs to be taken into consideration quite seriously, if the government’s reconciliation process is to be of success.
The political leaders have so far held many rounds of discussions pertaining to the issues of the people. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been voicing the concerns of the Tamil speaking people to the government.
The government too is working on a mechanism to address the needs of the people. However, how many times have the politicians on the higher level have met with the people to get a firsthand knowledge of the issues?
If you need solutions, you should know what the problems are, and how these problems have affected the people.
All inclusive approach
What Sri Lanka lacks is a bird’s eye view of the problem. We do talk of the issues faced by Tamils, the Muslims, the burgers, and the Sinhalese separately. These issues are looked at in isolation. One needs to have an objective view of the issues in order to understand how issues affect each community.
When we talk of an all inclusive approach, one must not forget to include those who lived in the border villages. Villages like Kebithigollewa faced frequent threats by the LTTE during the early stages of the final phase of the war.
The claymore attack on a bus in June 2006 resulted in widespread criticism against the LTTE for targeting innocent civilians.
Incidents such as these created bitterness among the people in the North and East and the villages adjacent to areas that were held by the LTTE.
The reconciliation programme definitely needs the input of the people in such villages. Their lives were threatened on a daily basis and they had to be vigilant in order to protect themselves and their families.
The community and religious leaders in areas such as these would definitely give a different perspective to the situation which no doubt would make the progress towards a lasting solution a bit difficult.
But, the government has no choice but to incorporate them into the programme.