The 21st National Deshodaya Assembly was held in Kilinochchi from 16th to the 18th of March 2012. It was a landmark event which was attended by over 600 participants. Being the first ever civil society gathering of this nature to be held in Kilinochchi after the end of the war, the National Assembly also marked the launch of the Sarvodaya Action Plan to implement selected recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The Opening Ceremony of the event was attended by Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Islamic clergy who blessed the gathering highlighting the importance of having such “people’s dialogues” to promote understanding, building unity and sharing the pain of affected communities from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. A significance of the religious observations was a brief sermon delivered in Tamil language by a Buddhist monk, Ven. Siyambalagaswewa Wimalasara thero. Whilst the majority of the participants were from the 5 Northern districts of Sri Lanka (Jaffna, Mullativu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Vavuniya) there were also over 100 Deshodaya Council members and Sarvodaya village Society representatives from Southern and Eastern districts of Sri Lanka.
The Northern Provincial Coordinator of Sarvodaya Mr. V. Jeevaraj delivering his welcome address, paid tribute to those Sarvodaya workers who laid down their lives to promote peace and harmony during the 3 decades of war. Dr. A.T.Ariyaratne, Founder-President of Sarvodaya, in his inaugural speech, expressed his confidence that we as ordinary people will be able to build a new Sri Lanka through the bottom-up democracy and good governance process of the Sarvodaya Deshodaya Movement. He called upon all like minded individuals who believed in non-violent social transformation to join the Deshodaya Movement to make the 100,000 strong volunteer force of the National Deshodaya Assembly.
Dr.Vinya Ariyaratne, the General Secretary of Sarvodaya, then introduced the Sarvodaya Action Plan for the implementation of selected recommendations of the LLRC. In his address, he re-iterated the fact that some of the key recommendations such as people-to-people interactions were already being implemented by Sarvodaya for decades. However, given the new realization that is emerging among the people on the deep meanings of such action and the recognition given to them by the LLRC, Sarvodaya is in a unique position to rapidly implement practical actions on the ground in a larger scale. The activities that will be implemented will include village-to-village link up programs, inter-religious dialogues, language learning, capacity building of community organizations towards recovery and reconciliation, and creating economic opportunities for young people. He went on to emphasize that all Sarvodaya Units and affiliated legal entities will have a role to play in implementing various components.
The inaugural session was followed by a series of interactive sessions on Consciousness, Economy and Governance where the participants got the opportunity to express their views after the resource persons under each subject delivered their introductory remarks.
On the final day (18th of March), the event was closed with new members of the Deshodaya Council taking their oath to work towards the achievement of the Deshodaya Goal.