We are a generation in this country who have been witnessing unending uprisings, upheavals, and horror that havocked our beloved nation. We have lost thousands of our brethren in somebody else’s ideology that led to hypocrisy, tyranny and terror. Our brethren who sacrificed their lives would have never thought that their endeavors – the reform struggles – would bring about such horrific endings to their lives as well as their near and dear ones’ lives.

Since the political independence in 1948, we know that the two major uprisings in the 1970s and 80s as well as the struggle for self-governance that was eventually formed into 30 years of armed conflict could never bring about the lasting change pursued by all our brethren who lost their lives. In their reform struggles, they have taught us many lessons that we should always remember and reflect upon.

Hence, on the 19th of May 2022, we the Caritas Family organized a day of commemoration of all those who sacrificed their lives in the past reform struggles. The commemoration also had the intention of building collective consciousness among all those who are involved in proving the inspirational underpinnings of the ongoing reform struggle. The day’s activities commenced with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Rev. Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke – the National Director, Rev. Fr. Anton Sebamalai – Director of Valvuthayam, Mannar and Rev. Fr. Michael Rajendram concelebrated the Holy Mass. The National Director, in his homily, mentioned that 13 years after the civil war ended, the people from the South are now able to understand and commemorate the agony the minority Tamils went through at Mulliwaikkal during the latter part of the war. This understanding was made possible by all those who are engaged in the ongoing campaign that envisages much-needed reformation in the socio-economic and political order.

Followed by the Holy Mass, the participants had the opportunity to engage in a panel discussion on a virtual platform. The first panellist Rev. Fr. Anton Jayananda, shared his reflection on the spirituality of reform struggles. He referred to biblical episodes of liberation narratives where the protagonists played the role of advocates based on the divine mandate. The reform struggles have the power to enrich the spirituality of the individuals. Struggles for freedom, justice, equality and solidarity pave the way to flourish and reach life in fullness.

Mr. Ruki Fernando, in his remarks, highlighted that right based approach provides the reform struggles with theoretical underpinnings and safety nets. It is inevitable that the struggle for ‘reform’ eventually be suppressed the very moment it exhibits a little stance of violence. Connecting his remarks with Rev. Fr. Jayananda’s, Mr. Ruki, underpinned the idea that spirituality provides inspiration for individuals to get involved in reform struggles. Similarly, the struggle for justice and better governance elevate individuals to a higher spiritual realm.

Dr. Jehan Perera, the third panellist highlighted that the communication storylines of the ongoing reform struggles exhibit the themes related to democracy and governance. We the civil society organization have been educating the public on these themes for a long time. Hence, advocacy slogans used in the ongoing reform struggles are inspirations acquired from such educational programs.