My conversation with Lakshan Dias, Programme Manager, Centre for Human Rights and Development, was pegged to the issue of human rights in post-war Sri Lanka. Lakshan was in the news recently when he appeared for Sarah Malanie Perera, an author taken in custody over bizarre circumstances. While we touched on this specific case, the interview also looked at broader legislation that undermined human rights in Sri Lanka post-war. I also got Lakshan’s take on the government’s repeated assertion that continued vigilance is vital to thwart any re-emergence of the LTTE, on account of which anti-terrorism legislation is justified even post-war.
We talked about the awareness of human rights amongst the general public, and as Lakshan noted, the polarisation of the Sinhala and Tamil communities over human rights issues.
Lakshan stressed the need for reconciliation, trust building and healing post-war, processes he noted that could not be addressed through a national security mindset. Lakshan warned that lack of public confidence – even in the South – over this government’s measures to look into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity was the result of many other commissions of inquiry that in the past had virtually no meaningful impact on reparations, restitution and healing.