What Next for Sri Lanka's 2.5 Million Tamils? By Amantha Perera.Time. May 26, 2009.

How to Defeat Insurgencies: Sri Lanka's Bad Example by Bobby Ghosh. Time, May 20, 2009.

An Annotation

In May this year and after nearly three decades of conflict, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, formally declared victory in its war over the Tamil Tigers. Even though the end of hostilities mark a crucial turning point in one of the longest civil wars in Asia, Sri Lanka’s prospects for an enduring peace remains uncertain. One of the most important challenges ahead, as stated in this month’s centerpiece article “What is next for Sri Lanka’s 2.5 million Tamils,” is whether the Tamil’s longstanding grievances will be fully taken into account throughout the peace process. For this to happen, it is essential that the government gives a fair deal to the Tamils and fully integrate them in the ongoing political processes.

In the near future, one of the first steps towards peace and reconciliation must be to investigate abuses allegedly committed against civilians by both the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the fighting period. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a recent visit to the country, reiterated his strong concerns over “unacceptably high” civilian casualties in the conflict and called for a proper investigation on the subject as a formula to increase the possibilities for longstanding peace in the country.

“But Rajapaksa’s triumph has come at a high cost in civilian lives and a sharp decline in democratic values — and he is no closer to resolving the ethnic resentments that underpinned the insurgency for decades. Perhaps Sri Lanka’s success should come with a warning label for political leaders and military commanders elsewhere: Do not try this at home.”

Since much of the country’s politics in the past twenty five years has revolved around the LTTE, the group’s demise will open up possibilities for the discussion of a whole range of other issues that not only include the restoration of civil liberties after decades of conflict, but also focus on how to foster higher levels of economic and social rights among groups that have historically been marginalized in Sri Lankan society.

“If issues of reconciliation and social inclusion are not dealt with, history could repeat itself.”

These issues and others are considered in this month’s Roundtable.

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