Creating Peace in Sri Lanka: Civil War and Reconciliation

By Robert I. Rotberg | Go to book overview

hensibility" of pluralism, and the Tamils must begin to give evidence that they have turned their backs on "ethnic cleansing and absolutism," in Edrisinha's words.

Both sides need to improve their human rights performance in the midst of the armed conflict that continues to take place. The 1997 U.S. State Department human rights report for Sri Lanka spoke of continuing "serious human rights abuses" by government security forces, involving arbitrary killing and arrest, torture, and disappearances. Failure to prosecute violators is especially acute. But it also reported that the "LTTE attacked civilians during the course of the year. The LTTE regularly committed extrajudicial killings, and was also responsible for disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions." 36 Determined and detectable efforts to alter this troubling record could constitute an important first step toward establishing the kind of commitment to equal rights that is so obviously required to overcome the legacy of ethnoreligious nationalism in Sri Lanka.


Notes
1.
Barbara Crossette, "Hatreds, Human Rights, and the News: What We Ignore," SAIS Review 13 ( 1993), 5; Mick Moore, "Review of David Little, Sri Lanka: The Invention of Enmity," Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 33 ( 1995), 156-57.
2.
As I suggest in David Little, Sri Lanka: The Invention of Enmity ( Washington, 1994), 104, "even when Buddhist monks or temples, or Hindu priests or shrines, have been the object of violence in the civil war between the Sinhala and the Tamils, it is more likely that religious persons and places of worship were taken as offensive symbols or emblems of the despised opponent than that they were attacked because of the religious beliefs and practices they represent."
3.
This specification represents a composite of interrelated terms drawn from three dictionaries: The Oxford English Dictionary ( Oxford, 1986), Webster's New International Dictionary ( Springfield, Mass., 1928); and Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary ( New York, 1958).
4.
Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary.
5.
Gens--the root of the English word "gentile"--is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word ethnos.
6.
Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Geseltschaft ( Tübingen, 1972), 239 (author's translation).
7.
Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology ( New York, 1968), part 1, 395; part 2, 925.
8.
K. M. de Silva, Religion, Nationalism and the State in Modern Sri Lanka ( Tampa, 1986), 35 (emphasis added).
9.
The account that follows is a condensation, and here and there an elaboration, of my book, Sri Lanka: The Invention of Enmity.
10.
See Bardwell L. Smith, "The Ideal Social Order as Portrayed in the Chronicles of Ceylon," in Smith (ed.), Religion and the Legitimation of Power ( Chambersburg, Pa., 1978), 48.
11.
Steven Kemper, The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics, and Culture in Sinhala Life ( Ithaca, N.Y, 1991), 200.
12.
H. L. Seneviratne, "The Buddhist Historiographic Tradition in Sri Lanka," unpublished paper, 15.
13.
Elizabeth Nissan and R. L. Stirrat, "The Generation of Communal Identities," in Jonathan Spencer (ed.), Sri Lanka: History and Roots of the Conflict ( New York, 1990), 31.
14.
De Silva, Religion, Nationalism and the State, 11.

-55-

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