I think the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) is, in constitution and intent, a failure from the get-go. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the LLRC is not in fact a panel or process remotely interested in meaningful reconciliation.
Nevertheless, compelling testimony to the LLRC, especially from the Vanni from eye-witnesses to the last stages of the war cannot be discounted. The problem is that mainstream English and Sinhala media in Sri Lanka is doing a rather pathetic job at reporting testimony submitted to the LLRC, which is a public process.
Named LMD Sri Lankan of the Year 2001, Chandra Jayaratne’s submission on Groundviews to use ICTs to strengthen the functioning of the LLRC is a well-reasoned case to make the process more transparent, responsive and accountable. Precisely because of this, it is virtually guaranteed the Sri Lankan government will not heed any of this.
Chandra’s submission is to make the LLRC “take urgent steps to set up a widely publicized, fully functional multi lingual web site, to serve the following facilitation needs of the Commission and at the same time satisfy the communication needs and expectations of the stakeholder publics”.
Read his submission in full here.
It is to my knowledge the first submission in Sri Lanka to use ICTs for a ‘home-grown’ reconciliation process mandated by government. But even in the absence of ICTs to monitor and indeed, buttress the LLRC process and proceedings, the unique content published on Groundviews and Vikalpa, some of which have not gone up in mainstream English or Sinhala print or broadcast media, suggest that these narratives, much as some would like to see them marginalised or erased, will make it to the public domain.
Some of path-breaking coverage of the LLRC proceedings on Groundviews alone are:
- Did the Sri Lankan Army use cluster bombs and phosphorus bombs against civilians?
- Translation of Tamil newspaper reports on the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission hearings held in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu
- ‘Learning Lessons’ from those affected by war: Does the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission really listen?
- Jayantha Dhanapala responds to erroneous and selective media reports of his submission to LLRC
It is very unlikely that if it were not for web publishing, these stories would have seen any expression in mainstream media. And that’s the power of ICT to capture stories vital for the accountability that undergirds meaningful reconciliation.