A Fundamentally Different Approach Is Needed to Bring Peace to Sri Lanka

Since the 2002 ceasefire agreement, the Tigers have ruthlessly imposed their complete political domination on the north and east. These acts, along with the assassination of foreign minister Kadirgamar in August 2005 and attacks on government troops, strengthened Sinhalese hardliners. Provoking the military and Sinhala supremacist groups to lash out at Tamil civilians, has lent credence to Tiger claims that Tamils can only be safe with their own state.

Keenan argues that a fundamental shift in conceptualizing the peace process is required. It means abandoning the idea that peace will come from a sequence of confidence-building measures. The government must rein in its death squads, prevent reprisal attacks against Tamil civilians, and develop a package of constitutional reforms that will offer Tamils real rights and an effective share in power. Furthermore, the government and international donors need to engage constituencies that have been sidelined and largely excluded from the failed peace process: Muslims, non-Tiger Tamils, and minority-Sinhalese points of view.

Keenan concludes that given the militarism and failure of imagination among political elites on all sides, Sri Lanka may well have to undergo another period of devastation before a new peace process is possible.

Alan Keenan, “Sri Lanka: Between Peace and War,” openDemocracy, 15 May 2006.
Link: http://www.openDemocracy.net/democracy-protest/srilanka_3544.jsp