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Sri Lanka government threatens peace with minority group: rights group

[JURIST] The Sri Lankan government is threatening peace with the minority Tamils in the Northern Province, the International Crisis Group [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Friday. The report states that the Sinhala majority is encroaching on Tamil land, and the government maintains an excessive military presence in the province.
A 25-year civil war between Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive], a rebel group fighting for an independent Tamil state, ended in 2009. The report expresses concern the Sri Lankan government’s current practices may threaten the possibility of long-term peace and risk inciting violence:

Deepening militarisation of the province presents a threat to long-term peace and stability. Far in excess of any legitimate need to protect against an LTTE revival, the militarisation of the north is generating widespread fear and anger among Tamils: indeed, the strategy being executed runs the risk of inadvertently resurrecting what it seeks to crush once and for all – the possibility of violent Tamil insurrection. The construction of large and permanent military cantonments, the growing involvement of the military in agricultural and commercial activities, the seizure of large amounts of private and state land, and the army’s role in determining reconstruction priorities are all serious concerns.

The report concludes that the Tamil population is currently “exhausted” by war, but, if the Sri Lankan government does not begin to include the Tamil population in governance and respect their needs, there may be violence in the future. 

Controversy has surrounded both the actions of the Sri Lankan government towards the Tamil population and the LTTE during the civil. Earlier this week Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report detailing the use of unlawful detentions [JURIST report] by the Sri Lankan government. The report also states that the LTTE commonly used abductions and torture during the civil war as well. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] is set to vote next week on a resolution backed by the US to hold Sri Lanka accountable for war crimes and demand Sri Lankan authorities “present a comprehensive action plan” [resolution text, PDF] which would detail steps they will take to end war crimes in the nation, including unlawful detentions. Last month thousands of Sri Lankans gathered to protest [JURIST report] the proposed resolution. In December Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission [official website] released a report announcing that the Sri Lanka military did not target civilians [JURIST report]. In November a former Sri Lankan army chief was sentenced [JURIST report] to an additional three years in prison for his comment to a local newspaper that the Sri Lankan government ordered the killing of surrendering rebel leaders during the civil war. In April a UN report accused both the Sri Lankan government and rebels of war crimes [JURIST report] during the final stages of the country’s civil war with the LTTE.
Michael Haggerson


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