Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

By Robert I. Rotberg | Go to book overview
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venomous material which appears in the press, one could envisage "friends of peace" in and out of government making a systematic effort to put more balanced material into the newspapers in Sinhala, English, and Tamil. Some activities of this sort were undertaken under the government's Sudu Nelum ("white lotus") campaign, but a broader, deeper, and more sustained effort is needed. This need not wait for new negotiations. Indeed, without laying the popular groundwork in this fashion, the chances are that future negotiations will crash as well, leaving a bleak future for a country that deserves a bright one.

Author's conversation with one of delegates, June 1995. The full delegation included Balapatabendi; Rajan Ashirwathan, chairman, Bank of Ceylon (the only Tamil in the group); Navin Gunaratne, an architect; and Lionel Fernando, secretary, Ministry of Information, Tourism, and Civil Aviation.
Published materials on negotiations since 1985 include A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, The Break-up of Sri Lanka: The Sinhalese-Tamil Conflict ( London, 1988); Rohan Gunaratna, Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka: The Role of India's Intelligence Agencies ( Colombo, 1993); Lt. Gen. Depinder Singh, The IPKF in Sri Lanka (Noida, no date); J. N. Dixit, Assignment Colombo ( Delhi, 1997); Ketheshwaran Loganathan , Sri Lanka: Lost Opportunities ( Colombo, 1996); Kumar Rupesinghe (ed.), Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka ( London, 1998).
There were two efforts at third-party involvement in 1995. First, early in the negotiations, President Kumaratunga suggested to the LTTE that it use the good offices of a French intermediary. The LTTE turned down this offer. The skeptical reception one might expect for a proposal from the Sri Lankan president was magnified by the fact that President Kumaratunga was known to have a continuing warm relationship with the French ever since her student days in France in the late 1960s. The LTTE apparently assumed that any French negotiator would, a priori, be a friend of hers. Second, soon after the January 1995 "cessation of hostilities," both sides requested the governments of Canada, Norway, and the Netherlands each to send a ceasefire "monitor" to review complaints. The three individuals arrived and had several meetings, but were ultimately unable to play any useful role because their deployment became caught up in disagreements between the LTTE and the government over the cessation of hostilities itself.


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Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation


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