Reuniting Rehabilitated ex-combatants with their families and Reintegrating them into Society.

Commissioner General of Rehabilitation (CGR) and his staff at the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation worked round-the-clock, under the guidance of the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reform, to ensure the success of this unique ceremony held at the Temple Trees on September 30, 2011 under the patronage of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On this occasion, nearly 1800, former LTTE combatants who had been successfully rehabilitated under the purview of the Minister of Rehabilitation & Prison Reform were reunited with their parents. A large number of parents and their family members were present to be reunited with their children and kin.

A distinguished gathering of Government Ministers, parliamentarians, Colombo based foreign diplomats, members of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, Ministry Secretaries and officials attended the ceremony.

Addressing the gathering, the President welcomed the rehabilitated ex-combatants to the Temple Trees. He wished them success in their future endeavors. He observed that everyone’s desire was to live in freedom within one’s own family unit. It was, he said, futile to waste time regretting the lost opportunities of the past. Instead, he asked the youth to forget the dark era and embark on a new life. He reminded them that they were now entering the society as normal citizens to enjoy all benefits available in society as fully integrated productive members.

The President pointed out that the ravages of war had destroyed roads, bridges, schools and hospitals and were now being rebuilt in order to assist the people to return to a life of normalcy and help them lead a better life, be it the North, the East or the South. He reiterated that each one is a citizen of this country with the right to equal privileges. He emphasized that he was not prepared to discriminate against any person.

Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Chandrasiri Gajadheera who also spoke at the ceremony, expressed the hope that rehabilitated ex-combatants would henceforth, work towards fulfilling their responsibilities towards the country without falling prey to opportunism and communalism. The Minister also acknowledged the invaluable assistance he had received from his colleague, Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Dullas Alahapperuma and Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena.

Opportunity was provided for some of the talented beneficiaries to display their skills to the gathering. Among the performers was Shanthilingam Gokulam who had been selected to play the main role in a Sinhala film. He delighted the audience with his dancing and rendering of songs in Sinhala and Tamil.

In recognition of their skills and talents a select group of beneficiaries were issued with Certificates. H.E the President was presented with some of their creations as mementos.

The Commissioner General of Rehabilitation expressed his deep appreciation and heartfelt thanks to all those who had been involved in the rehabilitation programme from its very inception and all those who had worked indefatigably to make the ceremony a great success.

The day’s programme concluded with a short tour of the city and a visit to the zoological gardens by the group of rehabilitated ex-combatants.

A two-year rehabilitation program had been initiated for LTTE ex-combatants, following the successful eradication in May 2009 of the three-decade old terrorist violence. In the immediate aftermath of the war, urgent priority was ensuring the psychosocial welfare of the ex-combatants and provision of basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. There after the beneficiaries were provided training in areas such as use of English language, leadership skills, management of small business enterprises, clerical and administrative know-how. Vocational training comprised computer technology, masonry, plumbing, carpentry, arts & crafts, music and drama, food preparation etc. The rehabilitation programme was planned to enable the beneficiaries to engage in self-employment activities following reintegration into society and become fully productive members of civil society.

BCGR would, however, continue to be responsible for the beneficiaries who have now joined the civil society, until they are fully integrated into society, able to secure employment and suitably accommodated in their homes.