Activities

Paper Dolls

That none of whom we have lost are forgotten………………….

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney (SLRF) organised a Remembrance Day on the 21st of May 2017 to honour those who died during the protracted 30 year conflict in Sri Lanka. This was the third consecutive occasion it had been organised by the SLRF. It was attended by a representative gathering of Sri Lankans and invitees drawn from other communities. The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS)  of the University of Sydney was also represented. A very moving part of the event was a silent, candle lit vigil to remember all those who had died.

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Gathering at SLRF Remembrance day

The event was a very solemn occasion to recount the tragedy of an armed conflict that leaves many people dead, many more homeless and even more with disrupted families. The messages read out on the occasion, the short speeches that were made, and the beautiful poems recited, reminded those present not just of the dead, but also of the countless number of families that were bereaving the loss of a father, mother, sister, brother, son or a daughter. It reminded everyone of the children who had died, never to grow up and raise a family.

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Gathering at SLRF Remembrance day

Messages had been received from several organisations and individuals, and these included the Melbourne based Sri Lanka Invites, a moving poem from Dr Sumathy Sivamohan (University of Peradeniya), a very thought provoking message from Venerable Galkande Dhammananda of the Walpola Rahula Institute in Sri Lanka, from His Excellency Somasundaram Skandakumar, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia and from Dominic Ofner of Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education.

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Sandeep Liyanage Welcomes

The afternoon’s proceedings began with a welcome address by the Public Officer of the SLRF, Sandeep Liyanage. He thanked all those who were present and all those who had sent messages of support and invited the audience to take part in this solemn occasion to remember all those who had lost their lives during the long drawn conflict.

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Annathaie Abayasekera

In a moving personal reflection, SLRF coordinating Committee members Annathaie and Jeffrey Abayasekera said that the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum worked, ‘out of the ashes, the ruins of the 30 year war in a hope to bring each of us together to respect & hear the other.

This occasion was to remember, that each life that was lost due to the wanton killings, was precious to us, as they were that of our daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, grandmothers or grandfathers, friends, neighbours leaders, strangers…

It was about remembering and respecting the lives that have been extinguished by this war is only possible when we can prepare ourselves to forgive and to forget, only then is Reconciliation possible…’

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Jeffrey Abayasekera

They shared two brief poems reflective of what reconciliation was about and how one could achieve it from book of “FORGIVING’ by Desmond & Mpho Tutu.

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Raj Gonsalkorale reads Ven Galkande Dhammananda’s message

The message of support from Reverend Galkande Dhammananda stood out as he made a forceful and convincing case for mediation to create a situation that is beyond victory and defeat. He said that an armed conflict may end by means of arms, but not peace and that peace cannot be achieved by means of arms. He elucidated that only people like those present on the occasion and other similar minded persons can achieve permanent peace by conscientiously working together. He said that if history repeated itself, to the misfortune of all, there will be another blood bath in Sri Lanka. Should this happen, the initiatives being taken by those who understood and valued peace and worked together to achieve real peace could confirm to themselves that they had not contributed to create that havoc.

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Surjani Uthayakumaran reads message from the Edmund Rice Centre

In his message on behalf of the Edmund Rice Centre, Dominic Ofner, Coordinator of Development, Promotions and Campaigns, said that the Edmund Rice Centre stood with the Sri Lankan Reconciliation Forum, the many people of goodwill in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia to remember and honour every human life that died tragically as a result of this thirty-year conflict.

He said, ‘We remember, too, the families of those who lost their lives, many of whom lived in a climate of fear and animosity, through no fault of their own. Many continue to live with the physical and psychological scars of unwarranted violence and persecution. As we remember those who lost their lives, we reaffirm our commitment to a process of reconciliation that will build a just and lasting peace for the people of Sri Lanka and its diaspora.  In this spirit of reconciliation, we stand with you in solidarity and remembrance’.

Larry Marshall from Sri Lankan Invites said that all our people were exhausted by war. They had lost their sons, daughters, wives, husbands, and their lives had been destroyed. Their hearts were aching with the hope that we who are left behind can find it in our hearts to say ‘sorry’, to ask forgiveness of those who we hurt and forgive those who hurt us. The message went onto say that peace building required the active support and participation of the Sri Lankan Diaspora all over the world and that ‘Sri Lanka Invites’ stood in solidarity with the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum in the many initiatives that have been taken, such as this event.

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Samira Wanigatunge reads the Sri Lanka HC’s message

The Sri Lankan high Commissioner in Australia recounted in his message that the teachings of Buddha and implored everyone to follow the middle path advocated by him, and use the love and compassion inherent in each of us to ensure peace and prosperity for all.

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Asela Jayanath : a personal reflection

Among the speakers were Asela Jayanath, who gave a thought provoking and powerful speech stressing the importance of what the SLRF was doing by promoting peace and reconciliation through a process of inclusion and not exclusion. He said the difference with the SLRF event was that it was remembering all the human lives lost and during the conflict, not just the soldiers who had died, not only the LTTE cadres who died or only the innocent civilians who died during the long years of the conflict. The SLRF regarded every life lost as one too many.

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Ana Pararajasingham : a personal reflection

Ana Pararajasingham speaking about the general opinion amongst many Tamil Sri Lankans in Sydney said he had attended a memorial event to remember those who died during the conflict and he had observed a sense of sombreness rather than anger amongst an audience of around thousand participants. There had been a feeling that the process of accountability for those who had died and those who were displaced or who were missing was inadequate, and the process of changes to the governance structure, which many Tamils felt was at the root cause of conflict, was slow and was hindering reconciliation. He agreed that there was now a need for a conversation on peace and commended the initiatives of the SLRF like this Remembrance Day.

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Dativa Nitsios : a personal reflection

Dativa Nitsios, a member of the Rwandan community in Sydney gave a brief account of the tragedy in Rwanda. She said more than a million Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, constituting as many as 70% of the Tutsi population. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees. She said despite this horrific situation, ultimately, the strengthening of Rwanda’s traditional community courts, the Gacaca courts and acts of forgiveness had helped to bring about reconciliation amongst the Tutsi and Hutu communities. She emphasized that without forgiveness, there was no hope for reconciliation and that the path was a hard one to tread.

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Satara Uthayakumaran

These speeches were followed by the recitation of excerpts of a poem authored by Basil Fernando titled Yet another incident in 1983 with with intense feeling by young Satara Uthayakumaran.

A very significant part of the program was the solemn reflection and remembrance of all those who had died, all those who had lost their livelihoods and their homes  and the disruption of so many families.

A beautiful musical reflection Mirror on Mirror by Arvo Part Trasmin Little remembrance_day2017 candles_smallon violin and Martin Roscoe on piano, preceded a period of reflection in silence, followed by the lighting of candles to remember all those who had died.

The proceedings ended that evening with the recitation of Jayathilake Bandra’s poem titled  Muthukumari and the flower of life by SLRF member Shanaz Razeen.

A simple fellowship followed the day’s proceedings.

THE EVENT PROGRAMME

 

 

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INVITATION TO THE REMEMBRANCE DAY EVENT 2017

In May this year, eight years would have passed since the end of the thirty-year civil war that caused the deaths of tens of thousands of lives in Sri Lanka.

Making peace takes more than the cessation of hostilities.

When combatants cease fighting, the war ends, but it is not necessarily the beginning of peace.

Creating peace is the responsibility of the people.

We invite you to join us in honouring every human life lost during the conflict that has afflicted and burdened our country and ensure that none of whom we have lost are forgotten.

Please join us in a solemn ceremony to remember all those who died in the thirty year conflict in Sri Lanka.

Date: 21st May (Sunday)

Time: 4.00pm (4:30pm start) to 6.00pm

Venue: North Ryde Community Church (2 Cutler Parade, North Ryde, NSW 2113)

If you do wish, please bring a plate to share. However, in order to keep with the solemnity of the occasion, we request that you bring only simple vegetarian food.

Click for Act of Remembrance Flyer

Additional information:
·   Parking
Ample parking is available at the venue or on nearby streets. Street parking on Sunday is free.
·   Public transport
North Ryde is about 30 minutes by bus from the city or Epping (in opposite directions), and 20 minutes from Macquarie Centre. The train station is about 1 km from the venue.

We welcome and look forward to your presence.
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MONTHLY MEETING ON SUNDAY 20TH MARCH 2016

SLRF Members are cordially invited to the Monthly Meeting of the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum – Sydney.

We expect to discuss planning of the SLRF’s 2016 activities for which your input is essential.

Date: Sunday 20th March

Time: 5:00 pm

Venue: The Epping Leisure & Learning Center (near the Epping Library)
1 Chambers Court (Off Pembroke St), Epping 2121. Click for Map

The Agenda will include:

  • Action Plan for 2016
  • Broader Framework for 2016
  • Plan of Actions & Functionalities

Please bring a plate to share and enjoy with your fellow members.

We look forward to seeing you this Sunday, 20 March 2016

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‘Strategies to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka towards meaningful reconciliation’
A talk by Amjad Saleem, Country Representative International Alert, Sri Lanka, followed by a discussion.

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney invites you to participate in discussions this weekend.

Date: 13th December 2015

Time: 6.00 pm

Venue: Epping Learning and Leisure Centre, 1 Pembroke Street, Epping 2121.

Map: https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Chambers+Ct,+Epping+NSW+2121/@-33.7727759,151.0815288,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x6b12a6831f0107d5:0x354a35b173a933f4?hl=en

Overview of the discussion:

International Alert has been facilitating discussions between the Sri Lankan state and the Sri Lankans living in the UK since the end of the war in 2009. Drawing from their past and present experience, the talk and discussion will focus on the strategies to engage with the present Government in Sri Lanka towards meaningful reconciliation, along the following lines.

  1. What does the new truth and reconciliation mechanism mean
  1. What is the role of the people and their engagement in the reconciliation process
  1. Obstacle to engagement (de-militarisation of the North and East, resettlement etc)
  1. Values of engagement and trust building

We look forward to your participation in what we expect will be significant input towards building a cohesive Sri Lanka with the engagement of people of Sri Lankan origin, living overseas.

RSVP:  reconcliationforum@gmail.com

MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO THE 5TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE SRI LANKA RECONCILIATION FORUM – SYDNEY ON SUNDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2015

Venue: The Epping Leisure & Learning Center (near the Epping Library)
1 Chambers Court (Off Pembroke St), Epping 2121

Time: 5:00 pm

Map to the venue:

https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Chambers+Ct,+Epping+NSW+2121/@-33.7727782,151.0826232,18z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x6b12a6831f0107d5:0x354a35b173a933f4

The Agenda will include:

– Welcome

– Apologies

– Presentation of Accounts for the financial year 2014/2015.

– Presentation of the annual Activities Report 2015

– Discussion on the future direction of The Forum.

– Election of members to the Coordinating Committee.
[Public Officer, Treasurer, Meeting Convener and Committee Members (6 to 8)]

– Any other items the membership wishes to discuss.
Please bring a plate to share and enjoy with your fellow members.

RSVP – reconciliationforum@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you.

CONCHORD, The Choir in Concert

Saturday 19th September from 6.00pm to 8.30pm, at Cherrybrook Community & Cultural facility Shepherds Drive   Cherrybrook NSW 2126.

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum – Sydney (SLRF) is proud to present ‘CONCHORD’, a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-lingual choir from Sri Lanka Invites, a group working toward reconciliation in Melbourne, Australia.

Initiated in 2013, the group sings in the three main languages of Sri Lanka – Sinhalese, Tamil and English – while continuing to add more languages to its repertoire.

This concert will include music from a multitude of genres, including Broadway, Classical, Pop, and a variety of compositions from Sri Lanka. The choristers are an enthusiastic and committed group of singers of different ages, ethnicity and faiths and include former choir leaders, conductors, professional singers, and novices.

CONCHORD is conducted by Rushan Hewawasam, an experienced singer and conductor of several choirs in both Sri Lanka and Australia.

As part of this special event, CONCHORD will be accompanied by 5 young singers, who will be arriving from Sri Lanka to join the choir for the very first time. They will also be joined by a Children’s Choir from Sydney.

All the participants have voluntarily given their time, effort and energy to further the cause of unity amongst Sri Lankans living in Australia. It is their wish to bring the concept to Sydney and other parts of Australia.

Please see the poster attached for further details. You may wish to send it on to others who may be interested in attending.

Tickets: Adults $15 & Children under 12 years $10.

We hope you can join us for this very special event.

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Professor Suvendrini Perera on ‘Old Atrocities, New Media’

Date: Sunday the 16th August 2015
Time: at 5.30pm
Venue: The Epping Leisure & Learning Centre, 1 Chambers Court (Off Pembroke St), Epping 2121 map

Suvendrini (Suvendi) Kanagasabai Perera is Professor of Cultural Analysis in the Department of
Cultural Studies, in the School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts, Curtin University, Perth, WA.

Professor Perera will discuss her research in progress, which has been funded by the Australian Research Council, investigating ‘the phenomenon of wartime trophy videos in the context of their transnational digital transmission across disparate geographical contexts and spectatorships.’ She argues that, ‘While triumphal or atrocity photographs from the battlefield are not new’, we need to consider how they are ‘transformed by contemporary modes of transmission and reception via digital technologies and social media.’

The discussion will be open and it is expected there will be robust discourse on the topic. Professor Perera welcomes input from community members who have a special interest in the battlefield atrocity videos from Sri Lanka.

We would greatly appreciate it if you could let us know if you are hoping to attend. this meeting. RSVP reconciliationforum@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Our gathering to remember…

 

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… of those who died remain fresh in our thoughts, like the white, floating, flowers”.

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“Although the waters may be deep and unknown, the memories …

 

There were those as young as five and old as eighty. There were Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers and Moors. There were Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Indra Kurukal from the Sydney Murugan Temple and Rev John Jegasothy from the Sydney Tamil Uniting Church attended the gathering and spoke of the significance of remembering the departed. Messages from Ven Kovida Thero from the Australian Buddhist Vihara, Phil Glendenning of the Edmund Rice Centre and Sri S.G. Ragunatha Kurukal of the Sri Karphaga Vinayakar Temple were read and a minutes’ silence was observed after each, for reflection.

As the autumn sun set over the ancient forests of the Lane Cove national park, the group lit candles and stood in a circle observing two minutes silence. The white flowers were thrown into the Lane Cove River.

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SLRF Remembrance, 24 May 2015 Candles lit & in reflection

The proceedings ended with the singing of the National Anthem bilingually, in both Sinhala and Tamil.

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INVITATION TO THE REMEMBRANCE DAY EVENT

On the 19th of May this year, six years would have passed since the end of the thirty-year civil war that caused the deaths of tens of thousands of lives in Sri Lanka.

When combatants cease fighting, the war ends, but it is not necessarily the beginning of peace.

Creating peace is the responsibility of the people. It requires real change in the minds of everyone at every level of society. A collective memory must speak as one.

We should never forget that every human being killed in the war would have been a son, a daughter, a brother or a sister, a husband or a wife, a grandfather or a grandmother.

We humbly ask you to join us in honoring every human life lost during the civil war that cursed our country and ensure that none of whom we have lost are forgotten.

Please join us on the 24th of May from 3.30 to 6.00 PM in a solemn ceremony to remember all those who died in the thirty year conflict in Sri Lanka.

Venue: Howitt Flat (area 24), Lane Cove National Park, Lady Game Drive.

Download invitation including map here.

Download SLRF Communique here

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SLRF proposes further Constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka

The SLRF, whose objective is to advance reconciliation amongst communities of Sri Lankan origin in Sydney, and more widely in Australia, is of the view that a few key measures could be considered to address the national question and advance reconciliation in Sri Lanka, which in turn will have a significant positive impact on the same objectives here in Australia.

These proposals are ‘in principle’ measures, as it is not the intention of this Forum to go into details of these proposals. This we feel is a task for the government and people living in Sri Lanka.

The full text Proposals for further constitutional reforms

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Peace Leadership Workshops

In pursuit of a just and meaningful reconciliation, the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum (SLRF) and the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) present a series of tandem workshops in April 2015.

Date: Sat 18th April & Sat 25th April (attendance on both days required)

Time: Arrive 8am for 8:30am start, 6:30pm finish.

Venue: Auburn STARTTS office, Level 1, 44-50 Auburn Rd, Auburn NSW 2144

Refreshment: Morning Tea, Lunch, and Afternoon Tea will be provided

What skills will you acquire?

This Basic workshop you will develop the skills of:

 Affirmation

 Communication

 Co-operation

 Community building

 Creative Conflict Transformation

The workshops are open to all the various communities in our diaspora. Tamil, Sinhala, Malays, Muslim, Burgher and others including those of mixed backgrounds. Also to people of all political persuasions and those who have none.

To learn more or register, please email your contact details to reconciliationforum@gmail.com or call Shanaz on 0430 650 073. DOWNLOAD Flyer

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THE SLRF’S CALL ANSWERED,

‘Sirisena allows singing of Lankan national anthem in Tamil’

As in our 8 March 2015 article below, the SLRF had called that Sri Lanka’s national anthem be sung in both languages and this has now been endorsed by the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena.

A further article in the Asian Tribune called out the request too, ICC World Cup: Sri Lankan Cricketers can unify the Nation by singing the National Anthem in Sinhala and Tamil

 A CALL TO SING THE SRI LANKA NATIONAL ANTHEM IN SINHALA & TAMIL

In the past, the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney has strongly advocated that the Sri Lankan national anthem should be sung in both languages – Sinhala and Tamil – at all official functions. We believe that doing so would go a long way in making a symbolic gesture towards national reconciliation and presenting Sri Lanka to the world as a multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation.

You may download a version Sri Lanka’s Bilingual National Anthem here.

You may listen to Sri Lanka’s Bilingual National Anthem here.

You may download the National Anthem in each language here.

We think the much awaited cricket match between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground this Sunday, presents a wonderful opportunity to do so. Thus we ask you to contact the organisers of Sunday’s match and request that the national anthem be sung in both languages.

You can do so by writing to Sri Lanka Cricket Sydney through their web site http://slcricketsydney.com.au/contact-page, or by posting a message on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/srilankacricket?fref=ts.

You are strongly encouraged to write your own message. However, if you would like a model, you may use this as a suggestion only.

“The match between the Sri Lankan team and the Australian team on Sunday the 8th March at the SCG is something keenly awaited by both the Sinhalese and the Tamil communities in Sydney. Cricket is beyond any ethnic divide and Sri Lankan cricketers have been, and continue to be, the country’s greatest ambassadors. The team has bee a shining example of national unity, as members of all communities have contributed to its success and the country in return has applauded the success of all its heroes – of all ethnicities.  Therefore, to celebrate the ethnic diversity of the Sri Lankan cricket team(s) both past and present and as gesture towards national reconciliation, we request that the Sri Lankan national anthem be sung in both Sinhala and Tamil, at this Sunday’s match and continue to be sung in both languages. The best of who we are as a people will be watched by millions in Australia, Sri Lanka and around the world.

 Signed ( YOUR NAME/S)”

We believe that such engagement is bound to support peace building, harmony and reconciliation in Sri Lanka and among Sri Lankans the world over.

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Upcoming Activities

NEXT MEETING 8 FEBRUARY, 2015 – VENUE CHANGED

As you are aware a major change to Sri Lanka’s political landscape took place with the January 8th Presidential elections.

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney invites you to a stimulating panel discussion on

‘January 8, 2015 : Sri Lanka Presidential Elections and Prospects for Reconciliation ‘.

Dr. Laksiri Fernando and Mr. Neelakandar Kandasamy are expected to form the panel.

This is the SLRF’s first activity for 2015. Open discussion is our approach to reconciliation.

See details below for details.

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE due to unforeseen circumstances.

5 pm on Sunday 8 February, 2015.

CHANGED VENUE:

Jimmy Little Community Centre | (Previously Lilyfield Community Centre)

19 Cecily Street | Lilyfield  NSW  2040

SLRF’S PLANS FOR 2015

We expect also, to present the projected plans for the coming year.

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS & HALL AVAILABILITY 2015 ONWARDS

We wish also to bring to the notice of members, that there is a change in how the Epping hall we used the last years is hired to us. The Hornsby Council has changed its booking conditions which is why we have had to move the meeting from the Epping Hall for this meeting.

YOUR INPUT NEEDED

As you are aware we invite speakers, including guest speakers, to air ideas and talk on topics which explore a path towards reconciliation.

In this spirit, we invite members’ input into the decisions required on how the SLRF may continue to provide a forum for open discussion for members and guests at monthly meetings. This is an important meeting regarding the SLRF.

We would appreciate it if you could let us know if you expect to attend this meeting on 8 February 2015 by Saturday 7, 2015.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

Sris Ponniahpillai and Sam Wanigatunga

for The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney

 

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At the last meeting of the SLRF members and guests, held on 14 September 2014,  discussion continued on themes derived from Prasanna Vithanage’s film, Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’  ‘Piragu’ ‘ With you without you’.Comments received from those who attended were analysed.

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THE SCREENING OF AWARD WINNING SRI LANKAN PRASANNA VITHANAGE’S FILM ‘‘Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’  ‘Piragu’ ‘ With you without you’ WAS HELD TODAY, 31 AUGUST READING  CINEMAS RHODES See flyer for details

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum – Sydney had over 200 in the audience for its screening of acclaimed film maker Prasanna Vithanage’s ‘Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’ – ‘Piragu’ –‘ With you without you’ on  Sunday 31 August 12:45pm to 3pm.

A short Q&A was held as the hall had to be released without delay. The film reflects the language diversity of Sri Lanka being a Sinhala/Tamil bilingual film with English subtitles.

A meeting of the Forum will be held on 14 September at the Epping Leisure & Learning Centre at 5.30pm to continue discussion on the many aspects of Sri Lankan society and its people. Members and their guests are welcome to attend.

BACKGROUND TO THE FILM

Sri Lankan film maker, Prasanna Vithanage (b.1962 -) won Best Feature Film at the  2013 Asia Pacific Film Award on the Gold coast for  Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You) Piragu. It is being released simultaneously across cities in India.

This is his 7th (2012) and most recent film, had its world premier in the “World Greats” section at the 39th Montreal International Film Festival.

Prasanna, on the adaptation of the Russian novella for this film says,

“Why did I make With You, Without You?

When I was reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella The Meek One over and over again, two things plunged into my mind. One is its probe into masculinity and the second is questioning how consumerist values deprive people of human connection. When adapting this novella for film, I based it upon the biggest issue facing our country, which is the ethnic conflict. We live in a society which still has unhealed wounds from a war that lasted over 30 years, killing over tens of thousands of people. Confrontation between a man from the majority Sinhalese and a woman from the Tamil minority became the dramatic premise of my script. Their struggle with their own past for me was a metaphor for the struggles of the nation as a whole.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to see a film that has excited much discussion in Film and Art circles.

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LETTER SENT ON 16 JULY 2014, TO THE AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS & TRADE REGARDING THE PROPOSED VISIT OF VEN. GALAGODA ATHTHE GNANASARA, TO AUSTRALIA.

‘We are writing to express our serious concerns over media reports over the weekend that the Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena a well known extremist organisation in Sri Lanka will be visiting Australia shortly.

The Bodu Bala Sena publicly proclaims the political view based on the supremacy of Buddhist religion and the Sinhala language, and is known to incite hate and violence against those of other religions and cultures.  The group, particularly its leader the Venerable Gnanasara, has been widely accused as being responsible for inciting the recent riots in the south of Sri Lanka. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2014/07/sri-lanka-quizzes-monk-over-anti-muslim-riots-20147312386658616.html) in which a number of Sri Lankan Muslims were killed. The Venerable Gnanasara is also well known for using violence and intimidation against individuals who disagree with him (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27918343).  He has been arrested and questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Sri Lanka over his involvement in the recent riots and a case against him is currently being heard in the Galle Magistrates courts. His hate inciting speeches can be seen and heard on many sites in the internet (Eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFSgzuNyBCA . Although the speech is not in English the actions speak for themselves). Another report is, The bin Laden of Buddhism and the axis of hate, http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-bin-laden-of-buddhism-and-the-axis-of-hate-20140311-hvhb8.html#ixzz37XqQACbd.

In light of his activities, the US Government has recently revoked a five year visa granted to him. He has also been denied entry to Britain and France in the last few months.

We believe that many statements made by the Venerable Gnanasara would constitute a violation of Australia’s anti discrimination act.

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum being a group of Australian citizens working hard to build reconciliation between Australians of Sri Lankan origin, engendering social cohesion amongst all Australians; are seriously concerned that if Venerable Gnanasara were to be admitted to Australia he would irreparably undermine the work we have done in the past and are continuing to do. Further we are also concerned that while taking a tough stand on Sri Lankan asylum seekers of all communities, welcoming someone like the Venerable Gnanasara is likely to irretrievably damage the trust the confidence that sections of the Australian Community of Sri Lankan origin –  particularly those who believe in democracy,  pluralism and racial harmony – are likely to have on Australia’s border protection system.

We therefore request that a visa not be issued to the Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara and if a visa has already been issued that it be revoked immediately.

We are of the firm belief that any person from any religious denomination who incites  violence against others should not be allowed to enter Australia.

The Political Strand

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum – Sydney’

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LETTER SENT ON 16 JULY 2014 TO DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS & TRADE REGARDING THE PROPOSED VISIT OF VENERABLE GALABODA ATHTHE GNANASARA THERO.

‘We are writing to express our serious concerns over media reports over the weekend that the Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena a well known extremist organisation in Sri Lanka will be visiting Australia shortly.

The Bodu Bala Sena publicly proclaims the political view based on the supremacy of Buddhist religion and the Sinhala language, and is known to incite hate and violence against those of other religions and cultures.  The group, particularly its leader the Venerable Gnanasara, has been widely accused as being responsible for inciting the recent riots in the south of Sri Lanka. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2014/07/sri-lanka-quizzes-monk-over-anti-muslim-riots-20147312386658616.html) in which a number of Sri Lankan Muslims were killed. The Venerable Gnanasara is also well known for using violence and intimidation against individuals who disagree with him (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27918343).  He has been arrested and questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Sri Lanka over his involvement in the recent riots and a case against him is currently being heard in the Galle Magistrates courts. His hate inciting speeches can be seen and heard on many sites in the internet (Eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFSgzuNyBCA . Although the speech is not in English the actions speak for themselves). Another report is, The bin Laden of Buddhism and the axis of hate, http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-bin-laden-of-buddhism-and-the-axis-of-hate-20140311-hvhb8.html#ixzz37XqQACbd.

In light of his activities, the US Government has recently revoked a five year visa granted to him. He has also been denied entry to Britain and France in the last few months.

We believe that many statements made by the Venerable Gnanasara would constitute a violation of Australia’s anti discrimination act.

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum being a group of Australian citizens working hard to build reconciliation between Australians of Sri Lankan origin, engendering social cohesion amongst all Australians; are seriously concerned that if Venerable Gnanasara were to be admitted to Australia he would irreparably undermine the work we have done in the past and are continuing to do. Further we are also concerned that while taking a tough stand on Sri Lankan asylum seekers of all communities, welcoming someone like the Venerable Gnanasara is likely to irretrievably damage the trust the confidence that sections of the Australian Community of Sri Lankan origin –  particularly those who believe in democracy,  pluralism and racial harmony – are likely to have on Australia’s border protection system.

We therefore request that a visa not be issued to the Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara and if a visa has already been issued that it be revoked immediately.

We are of the firm belief that any person from any religious denomination who incites  violence against others should not be allowed to enter Australia.

The Political Strand

The Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum – Sydney’

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PAIKIASOTHY SARVANAMUTTU ADDRESSES THE SLRF

A stimulating discussion followed the guest speaker, Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamutu’s talk at the Epping Leisure & Learing Centre on 28 June 2014. Dr Saravanamuttu is the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA).

A gathering of over 20 members participated in this meeting organised by Strand 5 of our organisation.

 

EXTRAODINARY GENERAL MEETING 17 NOVEMBER 2013 -RECONVENED TO THURSDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2013

The meeting  on 17 November 2013 did not have a sufficient Quorum and was re-convened for Thursday 21 November 2013.

The decision to incorporate the Strands which came out of the Workshop held in August 2013 was carried by the members The following strands came from the many ideas that were discussed by participants at the workshop ‘Beyond Conflict’, held on 17/8/2013, were collated and circulated to members and participants.. These were tabulated and presented at the wider group meeting on 1 September 2013. The strategic plan for our organisation emerged as needing to incorporate five strands  of activities and this direction requires amendments to our Constitution.present on 21 November 2013.

Overriding theme – Engage youth, especially students in Universities.

The activities of  groups effecting activities of the strands are required  to conform to the SLRF’s Statement of Beliefs and Constitution.

EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING 17 NOVEMBER 2013

An Extraordinary General Meeting is called to discuss proposed changes to the Constitution. As mentioned above, these changes have been proposed in order to incorporate the Strands that came out of the Workshop held in August on the strategic direction for the Forum to move forward. Detail of the strands that emerged as areas of action have been circulated to members. We hope to see you at the meeting where members will be invited to vote on this important matter.

 Beyond Conflict: a full day workshop on Reconciliation

A well attended workshop was held with 50 participants on 17 August 2013 at Sydney University.

The purpose was to engage in a dialogue with each other to listen, acknowledge and work towards strategies for reconciliation between people of Sri Lankan origin in New South Wales.

Upcoming Activities

Regular Monthly Meetings

Interactions and outreach

Social and cultural events

Upcoming Activities

AWARD WINNING SRI LANKAN PRASANNA VITHANAGE’S FILM ‘‘Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’  ‘Piragu’ ‘ With you without you’ See flyer for details

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Harmony Day ‘Reach Out’ Sunday 8 September 2013 at Homebush Boys School, Bridge Road, Homebush, 6 to 8:30pm.

This event which included song, drama and audio-visual presentations was attended by a small but enthusiastic gathering.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship funded activities undertaken by the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney:

All activities related to the project undertaken have now been

The planned focus group meetings among Sri Lankans living in New South Wales to identify causes of fear, mistrust and suspicion between Sri Lankan communities living in New South Wales, and which hinder post-conflict reconciliation, have been completed. Dr Stephen Moore, Acting Head of the Linguistics Department at Macquarie University, Sydney conducted, collated and analysed the findings. Dr Moore’s principal area of expertise is ‘discourse’ and how it can be analysed by a range of different theoretical approaches and methods to shed light on problems.

  • QUESTIONNAIRE & SURVEY

A survey tool was designed and sent to Sri Lankans living in New South Wales to understand their views on post-conflict reconciliation. This has now been completed. The survey was collated and analysed and was used to design the workshop which is the final part of the project.

  • ONE DAY WORKSHOP ON RECONCILIATION

A one-day workshop was held using findings from the Focus Group meetings and the Survey. The workshop, held on 17/8/2013 resulted in ideas to develop a road map for reconciliation in New South Wales.

Regular Monthly Meetings

Regular monthly meetings on the last Sunday of every month: These usually take the format of a presentation (by a speaker) followed by a discussion. All our meetings are held strictly under Chatham House Rules to enable the discussion to take place in a free and safe environment.

Chatham House Rules

“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor of any other participant, may be revealed.”

If you want to be kept informed of our future monthly meetings please send an email to reconciliationforum@gmail.com.

Please click here for a summary of early monthly presentations and discussions.

Interactions and outreach

Our workshop, ‘Beyond Conflict’  was held on Saturday 17 August 2013.

This workshop is the culmination of our research project funded by DIAC.

Participants exchanged of ideas, heard and engaged with each other to deliberate strategies for people of Sri Lankan origin to move towards reconciliation.

Keynote Speaker : Judge Michael Finnane
The panel of speakers includes: Professor Daya Somasundaram, Dr. James Jupp, Dr. Laksiri Fernando,
Dr Lionel Bopage, Professor Suvendrini Perera
Lead Facilitator: Dr. Hilary Yerbury
Session Facilitators: Abe Quadan

A report is being prepared from the outcome of the workshop and will be discussed at Forum meetings.

 

 

From time to time representatives of the Forum meet with community groups, leaders and individuals to introduce the Forum to the community and encourage participation. At these meetings there is usually a presentation of the Forum’s Statement of Beliefs, Aims and Objectives, and some of the challenges faced. The Forum’s non-partisan approach is stressed at these meetings to allow for the continuation of its independence.
Recent meetings include:

  • A presentation to the Austra-Lanka Muslim Association (ALMA) in April 2011 to introduce the Forum.
  • A meeting with officials from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship to present our aims and objectives in May 2011. Later the same year, the Forum lodged an application for Funding through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Diversity and Social Cohesion Programme
  • Representations to several officials of the Sri Lankan government in 2011

Social and cultural events

The Forum has also organised two social and cultural events in 2010 and 2011 to promote and help build social interaction among Sri Lankans of all ethnic groups living in New South Wales. We hope this interaction will be further enhanced through the ‘Harmony Day ‘activities planned for March 2013.