Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

By Robert I. Rotberg | Go to book overview
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fect devolution package might ensure a just peace and security for all commumties in the country. The measure of the success of devolution will finally be the preservation of mixed settlements and the return of displaced persons.

The proposed devolution package concedes freedom to move as well as autonomy to local communities, while holding on to the possibility of multi-cultural, ethnic coexistence. It recognizes the need for local communities, whether Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, or Vedda, to gain control of their lives. But it should not succumb to the ethnic enclave mentality whose logical end is ethnic cleansing and ethnic absolutism.


Notes
1.
Guiffes Deluze and Felix Guattari (trans., Brian Massumi), A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia ( Minneapolis, 1996), 352.
2.
University Teachers for Human Rights, A Vision Skewed ( Jaffna, 1997), 54-55.
3.
This process is, however, reflected every day in debates in the national press over the Tamil homelands myth propagated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), as well as in the rhetoric of the Sinhala Commission's paranoid nationalism generated by sixteen years of armed conflict. Much ink has been spilled on the invention of nationalist histories and traditional homelands myths. The history/homelands debates reveal the thinness of the line between history and nationalism, scholars and nationalists.
4.
Carl von Clausewitz (trans., Michael Hoear and Peter Paret), On War ( Princeton, 1984), 65.
5.
Stanley J. Tambiah, Leveling Crowds: Ethnonationalist Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia ( New Delhi, 1997), 28.
6.
My analysis is based on ethnographic field work conducted in the north, eastern, and north- central provinces of the island--in the areas now called the border, which stretch across the island-- from Puttalam to Vavuniya to Batticaloa, during various field work stints over a number of years ( 1994-98).
7.
See Tambiah, Leveling Crowds; William Reno, Warlord Politics and African States ( Boulder, 1998). Iqbal Athas, a journalist, has made several attempts to document the levels of corruption within the military, a thankless task for which he has been attacked on several occasions.
8.
Carolyn Nordstrom, "The Dirty War: Civilian Experience of Conflict in Mozambique and Sri Lanka," in Kumar Rupesinghe (ed.), Internal Conflict and Governance ( London, 1992), 26.
9.
At the end of 1995 the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka estimated that there were 1,017,181 internally displaced people in Sri Lanka, while 140,000 were displaced overseas (some of the latter have sought asylum status). Figures of displaced persons are, however, controversial. A 1993 report by the University Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna, estimates that half a million Tamils have become refugees overseas. The decennial census of Sri Lanka scheduled for 1991 was not taken due to the conflict. Estimates are that 78 percent of the internally displaced are ethnically Tamils, 13 percent are Muslims, and 8 percent are Sinhalas. Law and Society Trust 1994, Sri Lanka State of Human Rights ( Colombo, 1994), 237. Many displaced people, Tamils, Muslims, and Sinhalas alike, have fled Sri Lankan army and LTTE brutalities.
10.
Among internally displaced Muslim women, however, the pattern is slightly different. Depending on the location of camps and the resources that families had, some women feel they have gained autonomy in their new situations while others complain of greater segregation.
11.
It has taken long enough to put women on the development agenda, and in situations of emer

-68-

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