22 April, 2021

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Sri Lankan Regime Politics & International Cooperation Towards The Post-War Peace Building

By Rashika Saman Kumari Abesinghe

Rashika Abesinghe

2010-2015; SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) Era under the President Mahinda Rajapaksa

After finalizing the 30-year civil war in the state there was a huge responsibility towards SLFP government to successfully conduct the post war peacebuilding effort in the state. The country was lying down with thousands of deaths countless disappearances and property damages. The whole Sri Lankan society had been damaged.

SLFP was having a friendly manner with the China from the era of 1960s when the SWRD Bandaranaike was the Prime Minister. In that time, US and Britain stopped their financial aids and assistants as they began to cooperate with foreign businesses. The result was the SLFP government got closed with both china and Russia. “In 1963, China and Sri Lanka signed a commercial maritime agreement to foster trade, though it was seen in India and by some in the West as an attempt by China to extend its naval presence” (Wheeler Thomas 2012). Most significantly, again in 1970 SLFP was able to establish a new government and cooperated with the draft resolution which highly contributed to secure a permanent seat in UN to China. Thus,1972 during the Sirimavo Bandaranaike administration Sri Lanka received number of aids trade and arms which converted china to the largest export associate.

When the civil war finalized in 2009 the SLFP government was strengthened mainly by Chinese aids and assistants. In the first phase of the conflict the GOSL government had to secure immediate humanitarian assistant. Thus, the GOSL government established interm camps which sheltered number of IDPs, LTTE cadres and child soldiers. Most significantly, during the first phase the SLFP government did not allow the international humanitarian organizations to get involve with the governmental effort. Because the SLFP government had mainly created with the ideologies of nationalist and nationalism. The party objectives and also its identities interlinked with the majority Sinhala Buddhist community. They believed that the international interference can harm the state sovereignty. Thus, the 2010-2015 SLFP government did not favor to take support from international organizations. But apart from the international organizations the power states such as China, India, Iran, Japan, USA supported the GOSL effort while providing medical assistants, temporary shelters and sanitary equipment’s (Balasooriya Ajith 2012: 20).

Also, the GOSL government was criticized by Europe diaspora under the name of the human rights violation and war crimes. Thus, the United Nations Human Rights Council called a resolution against the Sri Lankan government. But in this situation, Sri Lanka’s traditional main donors such as Japan used their vote against the SLFP government while the China defending the Sri Lanka. This mainly contribute to the emerge of the strong relationship among China and SLFP government in the process of post war peace building. Thus, the Chinese government in 2009 supported the GOSL government via supplying a huge number of humanitarian assistants such as temporary shelters and hygiene utilities. “The immediate humanitarian Assistant is extended towards long term development and resettlement of the conflict affected victims by providing infrastructure development of the conflict shattered areas as well as other parts of the country” (Balasooriya Ajith B.A.C 2012: 24). Thus, during the SLFP government China became the primary lender in the era of 2009 – 2010 giving US$1.2 Billion and US$ 821 million loan facilities. “In 2009, it accounted for 54 percent of total foreign finance and 25 percent in 2010 (Ibid).

Again, in the year of 2011 china granted US$ 760 million loan scheme to Sri Lanka. In 2011 June, the China Development bank presented their decision to conduct infrastructure projects worth US$ 1.5 billion within three years. Through the founds the SLFP government was able to conduct the post war peace building and reconstructions in the conflict affected areas. The most interesting fact is the highest number of assistants were concessional loans while grant level is very low. Though the founding principle of SLFP was nationalism in the era of Rajapaksa government the party politics differentiated and the SLFP government conducted anti-Europe and pro Chinese policy. On the other hand, this concessional and non-concessional loan scheme opened a vast opportunity for the Chinese business community to invest in Sri Lanka.

Thus, overall it is evident that during then era of 2010-2015 the SLFP government was supported by mainly China strengthening their effort to the post war peace building.

2010 – 2020 Era of UNP government with President Maithripala Sirisena

In the 2015, presidential election the SLFP representative former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated by the UNP party led coalition representative Maithripala Sirisena. Thus, the post war peace building effort also got shaped with the UNP political ideologies.

Most significantly, the UNP was having a liberalized ideology with pro-western interests. From the beginning the UNP government was having faith on the political solution towards the ethnic struggle of the state. As a result of that in 1987 India facilitated to sign the Indo Sri Lanka peace accord. Under this peace agreement the provincial council system introduced and effected to finalize the ethnic confusion through peaceful measures. Lately, the Indian peacekeeping forces arrived to Sri Lanka. But the effort was not successful. Lately again in 2002 UNP government was able to become the governmental party under it’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP signed a peace agreement with LTTE under the facilitation of the Norwegian government. This peace accord activated around 6 years and could not successfully achieve as LTTE broke the terms of the agreement.

When the UNP was able to establish the government in 2015 they changed the existed post war peace building policies in accordance with their political agendas. Especially, UNP government was trying to release the ties with China and opened the hands towards India and Europe. While Rajapaksa regime (in 2010 – 2015) was prioritizing economic and infrastructure development as the key drive of the peace war peace building, the UNP government tried to secure peace through policy changes. The UNP government was mainly inspired by the UN led international community there. Some of the significant policy changes can be identified as;

* Introduction of the Rights to information Act

* Establishment of Independence Commissions in Sri Lanka

In order to secure the peace among different ethnic groups, the UNP government was eager to set up the basic principles of the democracy. The introduction of the rights to information Act (Official Act No 12 of 2016) can be recognized as the turning point of the peace effort in Sri Lanka. Most importantly, the UNP government expected to obtain Public Participation in policy making process and promote transparency and accountability especially in the post war peace building process. Most significantly during 2015-2020 era number of inquiries and complains filed against the displaced people in the north eastern as a result of the war. Also, the UNP government was punished several army officials under the name of the war crimes. The UNP government opened the door for the international community to get involve with the peace process of the country. On the other hand, the UNP government strengthened the independence commissions mainly;

* The Human Rights Commission

* Rights to Information Commission

* The Police Commission

* Minimize the power of executive president

These governmental decisions directly strengthened the survival of the democracy while enforcing the post war peace building process. Also in the year 2018, the former executive president Maithripala Sirisen ordered the army to release the all lands of the north eastern which previously owned by the Tamil Civilians. These governmental actions were highly criticized by the majority Buddhist community and it mainly cause the UNP’s huge loss in the 2020 parliament and presidential elections.

2020 – till today The People’s Front Government Under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

In the 2020, presidential election the newly established party by the Rajapaksa brothers was won and also able to secure the majority seats in the parliament election. The youngest who was the secretary of the defense in 2009 was came forward and won the election. Lately, the Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed as the Prime Minister. From 2020, the post war peace process was again restructured with the political objectives of the people’s Front. Most interestingly the government again became attached with China and stopped the interferences of the Europe led peace process in Sri Lanka. The Rajapaksa regime opened the door for the Chinese investors and began to rent out the natural recourses and continued the previously started chinse development projects aiming infrastructure development of North East. On the other hand, the People’s Front government pulled back its cooperation of 30/1 resolution of the UN human Rights Council highlighting this policy directly affect the severity and the democratic principles of the state.

Also, the People’s Front government released its ties with India and Japan. Under the facilitation of the 20th Amendment to the Parliament the People’s Front government empower the position of the executive presidency. But as the current president is the army personality many think that the post war peace building effort will not be successful. The major criticism there is the People’s Front government limited the access of the liberalization such as minimizing the power of the independent commission and the Rights to Information Act.

Conclusion

Securing the peace and harmony in a multicultural society can be defined as one of the most challengeable missions of the current conflict world. Especially, after a long-term conflict re-establishing the trust, peace and unity is a huge challenge to the particular government. While analyzing the process of the post war peace building effort in Sri Lanka it is evident that the international community plays an important role there. Most significantly it is clear that the international partnership had become a crucial dimension which shaped up the whole post war peace building process in Sri Lanka. When analyzing the existed three main governments in the post war Sri Lanka it is evident that those government had cooperated with the international communities specially with the states in accordance with their political agendas and prospective.

In the era of Sri Lankan Freedom Party government (2010-2015) there was a pro-china and anti-western policy on the post war peace building process considering the economic development as the key drive. When examine the SLFP political objectives it is understandable that its post war peace building process had been designed under their party beliefs and objectives highlighting the nationalism. But in the time of the United National Party government (2015-2020) the post war peace process had been conducted under the western liberalized ideologies prioritizing the facilitation of India, USA and Europe and the international organizations. During the UNP government, it had recognized the policy changes (which mainly inspired by the western society) as the most suitable mechanism to secure peace. Under the party foundation of pro-western liberalized ideology, the UNP government had been accepted the international interferences for the process of the post war peace building. But in the latest era of the current government (from 2020), the People’s front government is having a similar economic development based peace process prioritizing the china as the main supporter like the SLFP government. The major reason for this tendency can be, the same person, Mahinda Rajapaksa is playing the president (2010-2015) and Prime Minister (2020 – till today) in these two governments. Thus, overall it is trustable that the aids and supports given by the international community for the post war peacebuilding in Sri Lanka tallies with the ideology notions of the present regime.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    In Sri Lanka politicians or parties don’t have permanent policies.
    (They don’t have to, constitutionally.)
    At a given moment they do what appears to be most beneficial personally and politically at that moment.
    (In 2015 UNP selected the senior most SLFP member as their presidential candidate)
    Non of these parties are anti China, pro India, pro China or anti India.
    Neither the people are.
    Everyone is concious that we are a poor country. And we are no military power.
    Just struggling for day to day survival for food as well as safety.
    So we are bending for Chinese handouts and Indian threats for mere survival.
    These countries have their own calculations – we understand that.
    .
    In between we have riots, revolutions, wars, tsunamis, fundamentalists……of no small size, one after another.
    .
    There are 330 million ( thistun kotiyak) Buddhist gods one behind every tree, a pantheon of Hindu gods each assigned a different subject, one Almighty Christian God omnipresent and one-and-only, no-nonsese Islamic Allah all of whom are doing fuckall, setting up one against the other.
    .
    It is a small wonder we are alive and multiplying (23 million? ).

    Soma

    • 9
      1

      I forgot to say we hold democratic elections right on time , whatever the problem country is going through.
      People vote for 5th grades, thieves, bribe takers, charlatans, rapists, murderers as their representatives whose group leaders are master crooks corrupt to the core.
      Having got dissatisfied, people vote again for the previous lot of 5th grades, thieves, bribe takers, charlatans, rapists, murderers etc headed by same crooks.
      .
      I also forgot to give due respect to cross border viruses, ever mutating.
      None to turn to other than India and China whatever the devils they are.

      Soma

      • 3
        1

        Mr Gamini Somaratne, aka “Soma”,
        .
        Dear Gamini,
        .
        Can we please have your views on the affairs of Avant Garde?
        .
        You know all that better than any of us. Please tell us as much about it as you can. I made the request here:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/expose-avant-garde-repatriation-mafia-revealed-as-nandasena-allows-buddy-to-rake-in-big-bucks/
        .
        Even if it is too late to reply there (by the time you see this request) please tell us what you know.

        • 3
          1

          Dear S_M
          I am being a victim of mistaken identity.
          You have been most unfair by asking me to read such a long article for comment, subject of which is distasteful to me.
          .
          Why me is puzzling.. I am not a literary critic.
          .
          Can I have a small blood sample of yours for a DNA testing.?

          Soma

          • 0
            0

            He comes from a slum background where respect for individual privacy is not respected becomes obvious.

      • 3
        2

        The SLFP government ‘believed in the ideologies of nationalist and nationalism and also believed that international interference can harm the state sovereignty’. However, they never thought that flirtation with China will one day cost the sovereignty of the whole nation?

      • 5
        2

        :”People vote for 5th grades, thieves, bribe takers, charlatans, rapists, murderers as their representatives whose group leaders are master crooks corrupt to the core.”

        This is a Sinhala Buddhist Country they elect people of the same caliber to represent them, otherwise its not going to be, Govt of the Buddhist, by the Buddhists and for the Buddhists.

        • 0
          2

          Burt
          +50% Tamils consider Sinhala Buddhist society is superior to their own. Nothing terrifies them than the thought of living in a Tamil only enclave.
          Despite intense, unrelenting propaganda of discrimination, violence, loot, rape, murder or even genocide not a SINGLE TAMIL FAMILY who lived among the Sinhalese in the South during or after the war has relocated the residence to Jaffna.
          BECAUSE THEY CONSIDER SINHALA BUDDHIST SOCIETY IS SUPERIOR TO THEIR OWN.

          Soma

      • 4
        0

        soman

        “I forgot to say we hold democratic elections right on time , whatever the problem country is going through.”

        Are you sure?
        The Weeping Widow illegally extended life of parliament to 7 years and JR in 1982 extended the life of parliament through a referendum.

        Both parties love to postpone elections indefinitely if not for the fear of international consequences the leaders would have abolished all elections.

        In Jan 2015 Mahinda was reluctant to throw his towel. It was the US /Hindia diplomatic threat which persuaded him to leave the scene.

        I can see Gunaratne and Weereasekera are desperate to establish a police state if and when opportunity presents itself. Weerasekera reluctant to allow Provincial Council elections.

        “None to turn to other than India and China whatever the devils they are.”

        Hindia and China have been pursuing a policy of Hindia/China first.

        • 0
          1

          Tamils are prepared to commit harakiri for the sake of India.

          Soma

        • 0
          1

          Every elections only to elect the absurd FP/TULF thugs with different manifestos…… Indians in Sinhala homes/50-50/Federalism/Separatism/Devolution/One Country 2 system/Unitary state but different….never have to explain single damn thing to the constituent as after the election no one will know they even existed.

          Should they loose election FP get very upset……..full time hell bent on killing their opponents..until then the electorates see them every day….funny Soma said

          ”People vote for 5th grades, thieves, bribe takers, charlatans, rapists, murderers as their representatives whose group leaders are master crooks corrupt to the core.”

          but we in North and East elect Lawyers under oath who can kill you using your neighbours child???

          what can we call that?????

          • 0
            1

            So simple answer you did not know…. “The Ratha Pottu Mafia”…I witness this being done stage after stage….led to the children loosing any orientation of civilisation period.

            Does the west knows????? UN knows??????

  • 5
    2

    Raashika: You are right that Foreign ‘aid’ projects that advance the economic and national security interests of donor countries cause debt traps, corruption and white elephant infrastructure in post-colonies in Asia and Africa.
    Foreign aid and “aid for trade” is a form of “Colonialism by other means” to perpetuate dependency and block transfer of technology, while asset stripping raw materials, valuable minerals from the global south.
    So-called development foreign Experts and Advisors who know nothing about the local context of countries have captured institutions, Commissions , the narrative, and the national policy making process in Sri Lanka. The capture of institutions in the Health sector and Agricultural sectors by foreign consulting companies, the WHO and Big Pharmceutical and Agri business companies that fund GMOA and other medical bodies and Trade Unions is an example.Huge tracts of State land have been transferred to private companies and corrupt individuals and forests cut down during the Covid-19 hoax and s.trategic Lock down of the country to ensure asset stripping.
    The situation is particularly bad with the Covid-19 hoax in Sri Lanka, which has enabled capture of national institutions via the capture of data and communication systems in the “so called knowledge economy” which enables the long-distance looting and transfer of wealth and resource, particularly, Sri Lanka’s valuable Graphite and other mineral resources, while people are distracted with the fake Covid-19 panic.

  • 1
    6

    None of that is feasible.

    The only feasible solution is to split the island equitably into 3 mono ethnic nations. Sinhala Only Nation, Tamil Elam and Muslim Elam. Relocate people accordingly. Only 15% of the people need to be relocated.

    Permanent peace.

    No more UNHRC drama. No more wars, riots, discrimination, etc.

  • 6
    1

    Soma, rarely I agree but you are absolutely right with your earlier comments. More than having multi cultural society what you mentioned are the real reasons for our downfall. We are just an island with so many millions, separated by few races, language and culture. Most of other countries have much complexed societies than us. Yet we had 30 years of civil war and two deadly insurgencies and plenty pogroms.

  • 4
    0

    Rashika abeysinghe,
    You tried to touch the some of the nature of politics of both SLFP and UNP regimes within your knowledge but you have to dig more to why both regimes failed to bring peace in this country and the influence of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism.

  • 1
    0

    We can only hope and expect the US, West European Countries and other progressive countries stay firm and resolute in getting strongest possible sanctions approved by the UNHRC against Srilanka which has the blessings of Pariah States. It is very unfortunate that Australia has become a pupil of tyrannical State of China. The brutal killing of late Mr. Lassantha Wickremetunge who became a thorn in the flesh of the Rajapkshe Family by obstructing them from plundering the public coffers must be coupled with the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal Kashogi masterminded by the Crown Prince of the wicked Kingdom called Saudi Arabia.

    • 0
      3

      hanchopancha
      .
      At whatever return cost to Tamil community?
      You seem to be a hero living outside at the cost of those trapped inside the island.

      Soma

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