An Evening on Sri Lanka

The 18 Sri Lankan participants of the Dialogue hosted an evening of music, dance, film and story sharing.

Selvi Sachithanandam began the evening with a beautifully sung prayer. She returned after 14 years in London as an urban planner to serve her country. She shared her life story, and spoke about having interviewed two women who had lost their sons in the war. She, herself a Tamil, said, ‘Their tears weren’t Sinhalese or Tamil. They were tears of mothers who had lost their sons.’

Darmasiri Malawalaarachchi, a Sinhalese, narrated an incident from his school days where 12 of his friends were tortured & killed during the JVP era. Darmasiri, who survived, decided later to become a teacher and use his life to build a society of values and security for all.

We heard from Seetha Kumari, a Sinhalese whose father and brother were shot on the same day during the conflict. She narrated the story of a neighbour, a woman who committed suicide, leaving behind her young son, who then became a part of Seetha’s family.

A former Tamil militant leader spoke about how he was transformed some years ago from being a perpetrator of violence to a promoter of peace. Here he decided to go to villages and apologise for his part in the violence. Shashika De Silva, the MC of the evening and a Sinhalese himself, immediately offered to accompany him on this journey.

Focussed Dialogues on Sri Lanka

Through the five days of the Dialogue the Sri Lankans and some invitees met to get to know each other, to share their experiences of the Dialogue, and reflect on how they would work together back in Sri Lanka. Although many of them were working through their respective organisations in the areas of reconciliation and rebuilding of Sri Lanka, here they got a chance to know each other as friends and as future teammates. Through sharing of life stories, deeper links were built. Many felt that the ideas of IofC could be the connecting thread for further work in Sri Lanka.