Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation


Sri Lanka, one of the most promising states in Asia following independence in 1948, has been torn apart for the past fifteen years by a vicious civil war. The majority Sinhala and minority Tamils have killed each other with increasing ferocity. The Tamils, who are primarily Hindu, fear losing their identity and being overwhelmed by the majority, who are Buddhist. The Sinhala, in turn, fear that the Tamils, with the backing of their ethnic kin in the Indian province of Tamil Nadu, will destabilize and take over control of the Sri Lankan government. Colonial-era rivalries and deep-rooted distrust fuel the tensions. What will bring about an end to this destructive conflict, and how will the island nation heal its physical and psychic wounds following a peace? How will a sustainable peace be arranged? Can mediation help? This book of essays by Sri Lankan and Western authors examines the causes of war and the possibilities for peace. Contributors are Chandra R. de Silva, Old Dominion University; RohanEdrisinha,,University of Colombo; Saman Kelegama, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka; David Little, United States Institute of Peace; Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, Columbia University; Teresita C. Schaffer, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka; David Scott, Johns Hopkins University; Donald R. Snodgrass, Harvard Institute for International Development; Jayadeva Uyangoda, Sri Lanka Foundation; William Weisberg and Donna Hicks, Harvard University. A World Peace Foundation Book


Robert I. Rotberg

SRI LANKA'S bloody civil war is at least sixteen years old. This book analyzes that war, the ethnic and religious antagonisms that fuel it, the political miscalculations that precipitated it, and the mistrust which permeates both battling sides. Even more, this is a book about peace, how to achieve it and keep it. It is about the consequences of peace and the post-war reconstruction of the now divided country. It is about Sri Lanka's economy and a potential peace dividend.

Peace eventually comes to divided societies riven by war. This book suggests how that peace could be encouraged and sustained, and how even societies as fractured as Sri Lanka can hope to come together and reverse the tragedies of the recent past. Yet this is a tough-minded book, not one written by Pollyannas: the myriad problems of Sri Lanka are viewed through uncompromising lenses of realism.

In mid-1999, as in the middle of most years since 1983, it was evident to observers in Sri Lanka and those outside that the army of the country had not and would not soon crush the guerrilla soldiers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The insurgency would not soon be ended, as President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her government kept assuming, by a military victory on the battlefields of the north. Despite numerical superiority, the 143,000 person government army had still not managed to gain battlefield superiority over the LTTE, whose troops number fewer than 10,000.

In late 1998, the army tried and failed to remove the LTTE's control over the road north from Colombo and Kandy through Vavuniya to Jaffha. Despite taking . . .

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