All of us as Sri Lankans have been affected by the war in one way or another. The degree to which we have been affected varies greatly; a student from Jaffna shared with us today about how she had lost over one hundred relatives and friends between 1995 and 2009. Others have been affected to a lesser degree but nonetheless, all Sri Lankans have been affected by the horrific war that spanned three decades. Therefore it is our collective responsibility to not let history repeat itself.
Civil conflict based on ethnic fragmentation has torn apart communities in various corners of the globe. It has been seen that the key to overcoming such conflict is to first understand the nature of it. During the first session at the Future Leaders Conference Season 4, the speakers focused on the different perspectives of the Sri Lankan conflict from a “Sinhala-Tamil-Muslim-Urban-Rural-Diaspora” perspective. The session brought to light with reference to history, personal experiences and other examples that a clear understanding and respect of another’s perspective are fundamental to everlasting peace. The session also emphasized that the time has come in Sri Lankan history to take action and the need for young blood & young leaders to take the lead is apparent and urgent. The three speakers at the first session were Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, Mr. Javid Yusuf and Dr. Gnana Moonesinghe.
After the first session, students participated in a group workshop which required them to make a timeline of the conflict based on factual and personal perspectives. The aim of this session was to educate the students of the facts of the Sri Lankan conflict and to show that all of us as Sri Lankans have been affected by the war in one way or another. Their creative expressions were both moving and inspiring. Next, they created headlines using old newspapers (in all three languages). They expressed what newspaper headlines have looked like in the past 30 years and what they would hope to see in the future. These young leaders understand that the destiny of their future is dependent on their actions today. They are determined to take responsibility to not let history repeat itself. They are determined to take ownership for a better Sri Lanka.