Sri Lankans from all ethnic and religious groups – Sinhalese and Tamil, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and Hindu – lived through terrible violence during the decades of war and terrorism that ended ten years ago. Still, no one was prepared for Easter Sunday’s atrocities, whose death toll – now over 300, with more than 500 injured – and degree of organisation make them Sri Lanka’s worst-ever terror attack. The damage to the country’s already torn social fabric is likely to be immense.
Amid the shock, grief and anger, there is also bewilderment. For many, the attacks seem to have come from nowhere.… Seguir leyendo »
Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency for ten days to rein in the spread of communal violence, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday, a day after Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the Indian Ocean island’s central district of Kandy. What are the reasons behind this latest communal violence in the country?
There are many factors behind the recent upsurge of violence against Sri Lankan Muslims. The events of the last ten days have not been local “clashes” between Buddhists and Muslims, but organised and targeted attacks by national-level militant groups who are well known and have made their intentions clear through traditional and social media.… Seguir leyendo »
In January 2015, the shock electoral defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa by his former ally, Maithripala Sirisena, rescued Sri Lanka from a slide into increasingly harsh nationalist authoritarianism. The victory of a broad coalition representing Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims gave hope that the country could begin to address its longstanding political challenges: remedying the 60-year failure to grant Tamils a fair share of power in the Sinhala majority island and restoring for all the rule of law, damaged by decades of politicization, bitter ethnic bias, and impunity for grave abuses committed during the civil war with the Tamil Tigers.
The momentum of the early months soon slowed, as deep political dysfunctions reasserted themselves in the face of reforms meant to shake up entrenched political practices and policies.… Seguir leyendo »
The bloody end of Sri Lanka’s long civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been marked across the country this month in very different ways, highlighting both the tentative progress made over the past year and the profound divisions still be overcome seven years into peacetime.
Across the north and east, Tamils held public events to remember the victims killed during the final weeks of the government offensive in May 2009. While officially sanctioned on a much wider scale than last year, these commemorations often took place under the watchful, often intimidating, eyes of the military or police.… Seguir leyendo »
Six months after his stunning victory in Sri Lanka’s presidential election, Maithripala Sirisena faces a renewed challenge from the man he ousted. Sirisena’s triumph gave new life to Sri Lanka’s battered democracy, which had suffered under Rajapaksa’s authoritarian and nepotistic regime. Rajapaksa’s likely return to parliament with a significant degree of support will put continued political reforms and chances for ethnic reconciliation under severe pressure.
Risking his career, Sirisena left his position as health minister and general secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in November 2014 to head a combined opposition campaign led by the United National Party (UNP) to unseat Rajapaksa.… Seguir leyendo »