During MPI’s 2019 Annual Peacebuilding Training, Jude Mahendren gave a presentation on post-war Sri Lanka. The following article is a study guide for the online posting of his slide presentation below (click on Read More), focusing on the long-term effects of the war, political climate, introduction of transitional justice and the current state of the country.
Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long armed conflict came to an end through military means in May, 2009. The final operations resulted in heavy human causalities and disappearances. More than 500,000 people were internally displaced, mostly detained in camps. After heavy pressure from the international community, most of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were resettled.
The discrimination of the Sinhala majoritarian government and ongoing ethnic riots against the Tamil people resulted in their option for an armed struggle. The Tamil people’s cultural nationalism started to evolve into a political nationalism. They then claimed the north and eastern provinces as their homeland (see slide 6) and the Tamil language and Tamil culture became its identity markers.
The consequences of the war were that all three ethnic communities suffered, especially with the way the war ended in 2009. There were no hard data on how many were killed, arrested, and surrendered, with even entire families gone missing. A Catholic Bishop estimated that there were 146,679 missing persons during the final phase of war based on government and NGO data.