Salt on Old Wounds: Post-War Sri Lanka

03.20.12

Salt on Old Wounds: Post-War Sri Lanka

03.20.12
Jean-Marc FerréJean-Marc Ferré

“Salt on Old Wounds: The Systematic Sinhalization of Sri Lanka’s North, East and Hill Country” the first study published by The Social Architects (TSA), seeks to set out the systematic, increasing and widespread process of Sinhalization that is taking place in historically Tamil areas in the North, East and Hill Country in post-war Sri Lanka.

While focusing on the process of Sinhalization that is currently being implemented, this monograph seeks to situate it within the broader historical process of Sinhalization that has been carried out by different governments spanning a number of decades. The report argues that even though Sinhalization is not a new phenomenon, the sweeping changes which continue to occur in historically Tamil areas inhibit the country’s ability to heal after nearly three decades of civil war. Although the current government’s rhetoric gives importance to building bridges between communities by ensuring those affected are able to fully and freely exercise their rights, in reality, its actions are evidence of the Sri Lankan State’s lack of respect for the rights of all its citizens, particularly the Tamil people.

This paper will show that the concept of Sinhalization extends well beyond the subjects of strategic state-planned settlements, land, military intrusion, boundary changes and the renaming of villages. Sinhalization has made its way into Tamil cultural events, religious life, economic activity, public sector recruitment and even the Sri Lankan education system. Since the Tamil community is attempting to recover from the devastating impact of the civil war and rebuild social networks and community structures, attempts to control and demolish socio-cultural aspects of their lives, such as the take over and destruction of temples, inhibit their attempts to engage in emotional healing and community regeneration even minimally.

(Read the report by clicking here)

The most important element of the process of Sinhalization is the continued militarization of many aspects of civilian life. While this is a national phenomenon, it is most aggressively practiced in the Tamil majority areas of the country. Even though at present it is the North and the East that are most militarized, creeping militarization is also evidenced in the Hill Country. As set out in the report, militarization is an effective tool used by the State to gain and maintain both government and Sinhala monopoly of various aspects of day to day life, including the provision of services by civil administration, economic activities and civic activities in Tamil majority areas. It also helps create and maintain a sense of fear within the Tamil community.

Nearly three years following the end of the civil war, state polices such as those discussed in this report have deepened existing feelings of fear, suspicion and mistrust between and within communities rather than creating more understanding amongst them, exacerbated ethnic tensions and further polarized the country. The current government which has exploited the war victory, a weak and fragmented opposition, and a two-third’s majority in parliament, is no longer beholden to its constituents. Instead, it has evolved into a semi-authoritarian populist regime with little tolerance for dissent. In this context, rising Sinhala nationalism and the concomitant disregard for Tamil rights means that members of this community are unable to even voice their needs and concerns, let alone express dissent and protest against restrictions imposed upon them.

This paper is not meant to be an exhaustive discourse on Sinhalization or Extremist Sinhala Buddhist ideology. Rather its purpose is to inform, educate and provide clear, convincing evidence that, with the explicit backing of the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration, State-sponsored Sinhalization has been increasing in Tamil majority areas in post-war Sri Lanka.

9 comments
11 comments
Phil478

Very strong report, but it doesn't seem like things will change in the near future.

Phil478

Very strong report, but it doesn't seem like things will change in the near future.

puni selva
puni selva

This must be sent to the leaders of all the countries. 1. Sri Lanka’s North I: The Denial ofMinority Rights Sri Lanka’s North II: Rebuilding under the Military Asia Reports N°219 and N°220, 16 March 2012 - http://www.crisisgroup.org/ 2.''Letus not close our eyes to the vast human rights abuses that continue to occur inSri Lanka just as many average Germans did when they pretended the Holocaustnever happened. ... What the President did do immediately after the lastelection was to change the constitution so that he could be President for lifeand the critical civilian posts such as that of the head of the police, theelections commissioner, etc, would be decided by the President as opposed to anindependent body as the Sri Lankan Constitutionhad mandated till then. ....'' - Ruling Rajapaksa dynasty must be heldaccountable for the atrocities they are responsible for, *Viresh Fernando, 19March 2012, An Open Letter toFellow Sinhala, Canadians, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/4813 (*As Counsel with the Attorney General of Canada he wasassigned to work on the first Nazi war crime investigation undertaken byCanada. As an advisor to a Canadian Federal Cabinet Minister Viresh helped tonegotiate the $225,000 million settlement with the Japanese Canadian communitywhose property was confiscated and who were wrongfully interred by Canadaduring the Second World War. Viresh has briefed successive Canadian governmentson Sri Lankan and South Asian issues)

Diego
Diego

This paper was recommended to me by a friend and was well worth the read. I'd be interested to know how much time the group spent writing this report. (I'd also be interested to know who these people are, but don't think I'll ever know that). I wonder if anybody from the Sri Lankan government reads this website.....seems like they wouldn't be too happy about this.

Mprdavis

Read this article : http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/03/12/mrs-clinton-leave-sri-lanka-alone/ The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or commonly known as the Tamil Tigers) - the most ruthless terrorist group ever known to the world that pioneered the suicide cult and terrorism as instruments for achieving its objective of establishing a separate state in the Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka. The LTTE brutality was unleashed on Sri Lankan society for 30 years resulting in untold sufferings and the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians belonging to all ethnicities. Innocent Tamil civilians, of whom the LTTE claimed to be the sole representatives, were not spared their brutality.

Dan1954

A well-written report. Maybe a little too long, but I appreciate how thoroughly done it was, military camp annex was especially helpful. Had no idea things were that ridiculous in Sri Lanka; makes me think that the resolution in Geneva isn't good enough.

USDO

Thank you Social Architects for highlighting the plight of those poor people. If not for people like you, the crimes committed on the Tamils would remain hidden. Both, Western nations and Eastern nations have supported a criminal regime and stolen that small piece of land belonging to Tamils to meet their military and economic interests.

Gnanalayam

Letting the cat out is being inteligently done. Int. society starting to experience the behaviour patterns of not only the politicians but also the ordinary folks and their ill intenteded activities all these six decades must be LIMELIGHTED:

Diego
Diego

Have you even read the paper? The paper does not exonerate the LTTE.

Phil478

Diego, you are right, but people like Mprdavis don't want to have a real discussion about what's actually going on today in Sri Lanka......

Phil478

Diego, you are right, but people like Mprdavis don't want to have a real discussion about what's actually going on today in Sri Lanka......

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