The International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims is marked globally on 24th March. It is a day to remember the victims of past abuses and promote the right to truth and justice. The right to truth is linked to governments’ duty and obligation to protect and guarantee human rights, to conduct effective investigations and to guarantee effective remedy and reparations.
The transitional justice discourse in Sri Lanka is reenergized with the adoption of the Resolution at the 30th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in September-October 2015. The consensus resolution, cosponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), is an important step in terms of recognizing past abuses and the need to investigate, prosecute, repair and reform within Sri Lanka. The GOSL has, in addition to confidence building measures such as reforming legislation and releasing lands to original owners, promised the establishment of four mechanisms in Sri Lanka- a special court, a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, an office of missing persons and office for reparations. These are critical steps in the road to reconciliation in Sri Lanka and must be fully implemented.
2016 will be a critical year in Sri Lanka and for Sri Lankans. The promises are many for a new Sri Lanka. Recognizing and reckoning with past abuses and introducing much needed reforms are critical if reconciliation is to have a chance.
This exhibition is a joint collaboration by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts (VAFA) to explore transitional justice via the medium of art. Fourteen emerging artists from across Sri Lanka discussed and debated concepts of transitional justice and its relevance to Sri Lanka at a residential workshop in February 2016 conducted by Chandraguptha Thenuwara and Bhavani Fonseka, followed by the production of art work that is on display at this exhibition. The exhibition commences on 24th March 2016, the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. This day and what it symbolizes is a poignant reminder for Sri Lankans of the need to recognize the past and promote truth, justice, reparations, non-repetition.
We hope the art work and literature around the theme of transitional justice will expand the discussions on transitional justice and provide a space for reflection, remedy and reform.