29 June, 2022


Sustaining Sri Lanka’s Peace & Stability In A Threatening Global Environment 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The ISIS attacks in Paris and the French government’s declaration of a state of emergency are a grim reminder of the politically motivated violence that once held sway in Sri Lanka. In contrast to many other countries in the world today Sri Lanka is an oasis of peace and political stability. The military suppression of the LTTE made this peace possible. It was the excesses that took place in the final stages of the war, and in its immediate aftermath that put Sri Lanka in the international limelight, though for negative reasons. Thereafter the country was subjected to three resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council against the wishes of its government, until the new government decided to cooperate with UN.

The French government has said that it will be ruthless in its response to the terrorism that has struck it. International humanitarian law prohibits war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. But it does not prevent ruthless responses against those who are aggressors. Sri Lanka is an example where the military response was successful. It may have to be armies on the ground that have to root out the ISIS as was done to the LTTE in Sri Lanka. When a militant organization is unwilling to negotiate and seek an end to violence, the military response will dominate. The more protracted the war against the ISIS is, the more turmoil and terrorism is likely to be the outcome. However, a military solution cannot be the final answer. The roots of conflict need to be addressed through dialogue and political solutions that include the other.

Sri Lanka’s failure came with the end of the war and the inability and unwillingness of the victorious government to close the chapter on the war by seeking the truth regarding the past, accountability for war crimes, compensating the victims and engaging in political reform that would heal the wounds of the war, and win the hearts and minds of the people in the war zones. The previous government’s refusal to take that course of action meant that Sri Lanka risked becoming an international outcaste and the subject of economic and political sanctions that would have generated new divisions and hatreds within the country, and with the international community. Fortunately the new Sri Lankan government has shown that it is possible to win hearts and minds even after a bloody and costly war. Both in terms of war and peace, what to do and what not to do, Sri Lanka could provide lessons to the international community that is struggling to come to terms with terrorism and its spread.

Slow Progress 

As part of its hearts and minds strategy the government has been returning land to the Tamil people from whom it was taken during the war to be high security zones that served as a buffer between the military bases and LTTE long range artillery. Such buffers are no longer needed. Large tracts of land have been given back to the people, as at Sampur. The process has been slow, but it is happening. The government has also decided to provide finance for the rebuilding of 65,000 houses in addition to the 50,000 donated by India. In addition, the vexed issue of Tamil prisoners held for years under the Prevention of Terrorism Act is also in the process of being resolved. An initial group of 31 were given bail by the courts, but this has not been satisfactory to the Tamil polity that wishes all the prisoners held to be released, as most of them have been in custody for over ten years.

The main cause for dissatisfaction at the present time is that the reform process is going too slow. Civic activists on the ground in the north and east complain of continued surveillance of their activities by the security forces. Key members of a group who were planning a public protest against the continued incarceration of Tamil detainees were visited by military intelligence officials who wanted them to call off their protest. They were summoned to the office of the governor by these intelligence officials where they were told the same thing. On the positive side, when the group of activists decided to go ahead with their protest they were not obstructed. In the past they might have feared that any disregard of government objections might lead to punitive actions taken against them, including disappearance.

After the change of government in January there is more space in society for dissent by those who are critical of the government. Likewise even the affected people and victims of past abuses appear prepared to give more time to the government to address their concerns, even though they can ill afford such delays. There is a willingness on the part of people on all sides of the ethnic divide to give the government a chance to prove itself. Especially those who are ethnic and religious minorities would not wish to jeopardize the stability of the present government and pave the way for the return to power of the former government leadership, which is now in the opposition and biding their time. Whether in Sri Lanka, or in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon or Nigeria, it is the masses of people who pay the greatest price when militants take up the battle on their behalf. The grief and shock at the carnage in Paris, needs to be accompanied by an awareness that entire societies in the Muslim world have been destabilized and are even being destroyed due to violence that has been imposed on them both from within and without.

Positive Gestures 

The biggest flaw of the previous Sri Lankan government was its willingness to create inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife to keep itself in power. This could have led to catastrophic consequences in Sri Lanka. The rise of small ethno-nationalist groups such as the BBS, which attacked the Muslim community with impunity pointed to the previous government’s complicity. The BBS is today without any government patronage and is therefore reduced to a cipher and is hardly to be seen or heard. During the previous regime not even Muslim members of the government could get justice done by their community. When Muslim ministers of the former government came out with video recordings of the attacks that had taken place on Muslim owned businesses and mosques, no action was taken to arrest those responsible. If such injustices had continued, it would have created the ground for extremist Muslim organizations, even the ISIS, to have entered the country.

The manner in which representatives of the Muslim community participated in the funeral ceremonies of the late Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha, and their contribution of refreshments to the large crowds who attended the funeral, showed their desire to be part and parcel of the larger Sri Lankan polity. The Ven Sobitha was one of the few leaders of Sri Lankan society who spoke on behalf of the hapless Muslims when they were being persecuted. He pointed out that the attackers did not enjoy mass support and were a fringe group who got their power from their association with sections of the former government. He boldly accused the former government of engaging in cover ups to permit the attackers to do their dastardly deeds. The active participation of many Muslims at the funeral of the great Buddhist monk demonstrated their desire for peaceful coexistence in the country.

The other noteworthy aspect of Ven Sobitha’s funeral was the speech by President Maithripala Sirisena, where he recommitted himself to achieving the goals and political ideals that the great monk has set for the country. At the present time there is a sense of disillusionment at the slow pace of change, not only in terms of resolving the problems of the war affected people of the north and east, but also in terms of the basics of good governance, such as stopping corruption and prosecuting those who have been corrupt in the past. The fact that the President promised to implement the reforms that Ven Sobitha had stood for at his funeral is a sure sign that the government is on a course from which it will not waver. Sri Lanka continues to remain on course to be an oasis of peace and stability in a world where political violence is growing. The lesson of peacebuilding that Sri Lanka must offer to the world is the practice of universal values, inclusion and non-discrimination, in a society that strives for the wellbeing of all and the marginalization of none.

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Latest comments

  • 1

    An extreme ideology is alien to practicing Muslims. DaeIS is a result of unjust invasion and occupation of their homes to steal their natural resources and force feed an alien ideology to replace Islamic values. Muslims get stronger when their core values of Islam are challenged. The positive effect is, it leads non practicing Muslims to gravitate towards Islam. Peace and harmony will prevail if the non Muslims let Muslims practice their faith as it was prescribed by the Noble Quran and the authentic way ‘sunnah’ of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).

  • 2

    So Mr Jehan perera, you are comparing or equalizing ISIS to LTTE. No it is wrong. ISIS have a different agenda and the LTTE had another.The LTTE did not go bombing India or cause deaths in any other country. ISiS on the other hand targeting various European countries with a motive of taking revenge for the European countries bombing ISIS targets . ISIS was created by the US. If US had not intervened in Iraq and Libya and in Syria, ISIS would not have been there when Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein reigns Libya and Iraq. In Sri Lanka the LTTE was the result of successive Sinhalese governments depriving the basic rights of the Tamil people and treating them as second class citizens which still continues. Heavy army occupation in the North continues unabated and the lands in Vali-North still controlled by the army without resettling the owners of those lands. The government is very reluctant to release the Tamil political prisoners but speaking of reconciliation. If this situation continues and the government is adamant not to accommodate the Tamils, then there will be another LTTE cropping up and the government should be held responsible.

    • 1

      LOL..actually looking at FACTS….one can say ISIS is a baby infront of LTTE

  • 1

    Two thugs on a motor bike accosted a young Office girl on her war to work, in broad daylight, and snatched her Gold Chain.

    Thank God the poor Woman was not hurt. It is on video in the main stream media in Colombo.

    Yahapalana Minister of Tourism has listed every blinking Tourist Attraction in the Island as not safe because of the touts and thugs and beach bums who harass foreigners who come to visit our country.

    Yaahplana Police has become impotent after Mr Batalanda Ranil took the IGP under control and formed his F****** CID.

    40 LTTE Terrorists and its logistical staff have been released from Prison due to political pressure from the Yaahapalana Partners.

    Another 400 are soon to be released .

    Otherwise our Southerners can’t go to North or the East because of Vellala Hartals.

    Devastation in Colombo 1 after Pirahaparan blasted the Central Bank and Celinco House is still vivid in the minds of our inhabitants who haven’t suffered memory loss under Yahapalanaya..

    And our Yahapaana NGO reckons it is all sweet. And Srianka has become a Paradise.

    Our Police has become impotent after Mr Batalanda Ranil took the IGP under his control.

    That is the worry our great majority face today.

    Our inhabitants don’t need to worry about ISIS, because we had been friends with Iraq, Libya and Syria all along.

    I am not sure what our Yahapalana Bosses have done after their Election, for this NGO Boss to be alarmed and needs go to Paris to learn.

    • 2

      KASmaalam K.A Sumanasekera

      “Two thugs on a motor bike accosted a young Office girl on her war to work, in broad daylight, and snatched her Gold Chain.”

      Gota looted VP’s Fort Knox in Vanni. Looted billions of rupees worth Gold.

      Where are those gold now?

      • 0

        Dear Native,

        Your degree must be from Thamil Chelvam Uni in Killinochchi….

      • 0

        Native Vedda

        You know what happened.

        What is the big deal.

        Let him have the ill-gotten wealth.

  • 0

    When French Foreign minister visited Lankave ge attempted to stop the state terrorism. They were not in support of Bush when he was launching war even on Iraq.

    The Lankawe’s state terrorism was mainly conducted by Bush and Tony Blair. But at the end, all western governments were against the war, even America. That is why Nimal Siripala De Silva gave an speech that France deserve this as it supported LTTE. White washer PhD is hiding what was in the revenging ugly minister’s government minister’s speech.

    He, as usual, made a conditional statement that three resolutions were passed at UN. He is discounting them. But even on 2009, the defeated effort of a condemning resolution was from West. From the time Bush was out of power West did not support Lankawe.

    Land release 100% fake and still 30,000 out of their homes. Indian government’s on 50,000 houses help was hijacked by brother prince and he has deposited 270,000 dollars in account by FM Krishna. A substantial number of the homes went to unnecessary people like Sinhala colonisation and Muslims with the help of Rishard. Rishard used there to swindle 5000 acres land and this accusation was made his boss, the Old King. Even India refused to rectify this problem. Many land release dramas were issuing lands to Sinhala colonisation, many Tamils were left out. All the deeds gave out were prepared by the Old Royal Government.

    All Jehan trying to avoid the accountability wording on the UN resolution. So far nobody is charged with the 150,000 killed in the 5 months. This Lankawe’ terrorism is not military victory. This does not match ISIS. This matches exactly with Hitler. It is a genocide crime. There are many genuine NGOs are trying to prove this in contrast to Jehan’s NPC clown. This genocide crime carried out by Lankanwe state terrorist is thousand times larger terrorism than the Paris ISIS terrorism. Jehan PhD can hide and whitewash to Sinhala Modayas. But Three UN investigation has confirmed the murders. Based on these investigations, UN has taken a corrective action on it for just watching Lankawe while carrying out the genocide. All what Jehan’s effort is helping the Lankawe to evade the resolution it signed to carry out accountability. But He has to remember Lankawe did thousand times larger genocide murders than the ISIS has to be investigated and punished by UN.

    Jehan can not hide the 150,000 murders in 150 murders with all his PhD talent.

  • 0

    Correction: the LTTE did take their fight overseas, They assassinated the prime minister of India in Tamil NAdu!!!

    They also had street fights in Chennai, and in Canada.

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