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South African TRC will help in a tailor-made solution - MP Sajin De Vaas Gunewardena

The following is a brief email interview we held with External Affairs Monitoring MP Sajin De Vaas Gunewardena while he was in South Africa as a member of the Sri Lankan delegation studying that country's much acclaimed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) last week to gain experience to strengthen Sri Lanka's reconciliation efforts.


Sajin De Vaas Gunewardena

Q: Could you explain your mission in South Africa? What are the important meetings and events that were lined up?

A:We were in South Africa to initiate a process to study the TRC of South Africa. The delegation comprised Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva and Douglas Devananda, Deputy Minister Faiszer Mustapha, Arun Thambimuttu and myself.

Q:What can you say about the appointment of Cyril Ramphosa as the Special Envoy to Sri Lanka by South African President Jacob Zuma?

Cyril Ramaphosa is the Deputy President of the ANC. He is a very senior personality in the ANC and also in the overall political apparatus in South Africa. His appointment to liaise with Sri Lanka in this respect signifies the importance placed on the matter and also the importance of the relationship that exists between the two Presidents, President Rajapaksa and President Zuma and the two countries.

Q: What will you bring back home?

Knowledge and experience.

Q: Some criticise your move based on the argument that we need a home- grown solution for our woes and that we cannot import solutions from other countries? (Especially considering the conditions in South Africa and Sri Lanka which are worlds apart)

I agree with that. We always believe that a home- grown solutions are the best solutions one can find. However, to formulate such home- grown solutions, we need to share and learn experiences from other similar situations so that at the end of the process we would have an almost perfect formula tailor-made for Sri Lanka. On the South African TRC one cannot say that it is totally irrelevant. There are many factors where we can draw reference from. It is a process and not something that you can achieve overnight.

Q: The President and SA leader discussed sharing experiences of SA's Truth Commission for our reconciliation, during CHOGM in November why did it take a long time to send an official delegation from SL to SA to follow it up?

The passing away of the later President Mandela and the activities related was the reason why new dates had to be agreed upon. We are thankful to the South African President and Government for providing us the opportunity to initiate the first discussions last week.

Q: How would you respond to allegations that this move is a strategy to appease Geneva?

Have you seen us doing things to appease Geneva ? If we want to appease Geneva then we would not be facing resolution after resolution and perhaps we would not also have a country left, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and now Ukraine who's next ????

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