[gha] Sri Lanka

  • From: Wadlowz@xxxxxxx
  • To: gha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 16 May 2013 06:07:37 -0400 (EDT)

Dear Colleagues, On the anniversary of the end of the LTTE war  in Sri 
Lanka, my essay on the difficulties of peacemaking and of inter-religious  
understanding there. Best wishes, Rene Wadlow
Sri  Lanka: Four Years after  the war’s end, little reconciliation, few 
creative  changes 
Rene Wadlow 
On 19 May  2009, the Government of Sri Lanka proclaimed an end to the 
fighting  against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan (LTTE) led by Veluppilai 
Pirabhakaran.  At one point, the  LTTE controlled a quarter of Sri  Lanka’s 
territory as  they pressed their campaign for an independent state for the 
country’s Tamil  minority. 
The start of the armed conflict in 1983 provoked the concern and then the  
intervention of the Government of India concerned with regional security and 
the  impact of the violence on its own Tamil population in Tamil Nadu, 
south India.  In 1987, there was an agreement between  the Governments of Sri 
Lanka and India for a  decentralization of authority by the creation of 
provincial councils and the  deployment of an Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) 
enforce a  ceasefire. 
A 13th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution providing for  the 
establishment of provincial councils was passed by the Parliament.  
these councils never became functional.  The Indian Peace Keeping Force had no 
 peace to keep and became an agent of political discord and a target of  
violence.  In 1990, the last of the  IPKF was withdrawn.  In 1991, the  former 
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a LTTE supporter, and  the 
Indian government ceased to play a visible role in the Sri Lankan conflict  
though India watched events  closely. 
International Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) quickly became  
concerned with the conflict in Sri  Lanka. They organized  conferences and made 
suggestions for changes. NGOs proposed their services as  mediators.  One of 
the first  high-level seminars was organized in October 1986 in Oslo, Norway 
by the  International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) which led, a good 
deal  later, to direct mediation efforts by the Government of Norway. 
Norway had been involved  in aid projects in Sri  Lanka from the 1950s and  so 
there was a history of experience and trust.  However, in the end, the efforts 
of the  Government of Norway did not produce negotiations in good faith.   
I had also been involved as the representative of Peace Brigades  
International (PBI) in negotiating with the Sri Lanka Government 
representatives  at 
the UN, Geneva, for the sending  of a PBI team to Sri  Lanka to undertake  
non-violent protection of organizations working for peace.  However, due to 
Government restrictions  and death threats, the PBI team was withdrawn. 
Since the armed conflict had a certain religious colouring, the Tamils  
being largely Hindus, the majority Sinhalese, Buddhists, and a small but  
geographically-compact population of Muslims, religious organizations, both  
national and international, tried to play a role as mediators or at least,  
proposed possible measures for negotiations. 
In the end, no offer of compromise was ever enough, and all forms of  
moderation were seen as betrayal.  The war continued with the last months being 
particularly destructive.  The psychological wounds are deep, and the healing 
of individual traumas with  psycho-spiritual techniques remains a real 
priority, for the sufferings of the  war may sow the seeds of future unrest and 
a desire for  revenge. 
At the end of the armed conflict in 2009, the Citizens of the World again  
proposed federal structures of government as a way of respecting differences 
in  a pluralistic society while providing the possibilities of joint 
action. There  is a need to develop government structures in which all citizens 
feel that they  belong and that their interests are safeguarded. 
I have not been to Sri  Lanka since the end of  the fighting so that my 
impressions come only from contacts in Geneva and correspondence  with people 
in Sri  Lanka.  My impression is that there is little  spirit of 
reconciliation.  However,  there is a realization that violence does not bring 
There does not seem to have been  creative changes in the structure of 
government or effective measures to develop  popular participation in 
government.  But, obviously, there are on-the-ground observers who may see 
processes that I do not see from a distance. 
The Citizens of the World continue to call for creative responses in Sri  
Lanka from a population  that has much suffered but which has real 
intellectual and spiritual  resources. 

Other related posts:

  • » [gha] Sri Lanka - Wadlowz