Minister Peiris Goes to Washington

May 14, 2012 by

On May 18, Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, DC. The two should have plenty to talk about. The Sri Lankan government’s action plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will be at the top of the list.

Post-Geneva Delusions: The Next Steps in Sri Lanka

March 31, 2012 by

Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, has recently given one additional reason for the passage of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva: “collective commitments.” Evidently, Mr. Peiris had been informed by one of his European counterparts that certain members of the European Union (EU) were unsupportive of the resolution, but were compelled to vote in favor of it, since a group decision had been taken by the EU.

The Effects of the US Resolution Against Sri Lanka

March 23, 2012 by

Europe and most of Latin America supported the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 19th session in Geneva. China, Russia, and several countries in Africa and Asia voted against it. Unsurprisingly, Cuba and Ecuador also opposed the resolution.

Salt on Old Wounds: Post-War Sri Lanka

March 20, 2012 by

‘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.

Who Will Win at the Human Rights Council?

March 15, 2012 by

The US recently tabled a draft resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council’s 19th session in Geneva. No one should be too surprised by this; everyone knew it was coming. However, the draft resolution is so incredibly weak that President Mahinda Rajapaksa must be breathing a sigh of relief. It is no wonder that the US feels confident that it has the votes in needs. Besides, it is likely that the resolution will be watered down even more in the coming days—making this exercise seem that much more formulaic and pointless.

Sri Lanka: International Governments Must Take the Lead in Investigating War Crimes

March 15, 2012 by

There is a growing danger that the political leaders responsible for the greatest single atrocity of recent years will suffer no consequences. Journalists, not governments, have taken a lead in raising the issue to the international agenda of command responsibility for violations of humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. The UK’s Channel Four has now screened the second of two hard-hitting documentaries, containing compelling visual evidence that civilians were knowingly targeted, and surrendering prisoners executed, on orders issued in a direct chain of command from the country’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Grasping the Syrian Quagmire

March 7, 2012 by

One of the most significant and enduring consequences of the Arab Spring has been the bloody uprising in Syria. For almost a year cities across the Levant have been defying the iron grip of the Assad regime and challenging the police state of the Ba’ath party. Of all the countries engulfed by the revolutionary fever encompassing the Arab World, Syria, a country of 23 million, epitomizes the toughest case.

Syria: A Way Out

March 3, 2012 by

There are two tales about the crisis in Syria. In one, the vast majority of Syrians have risen up against the brutality of a criminal dictatorship. The government of Bashar al Assad is on the ropes, isolated regionally and internationally, and only holding on because Russia and China vetoed United Nations intervention. U.S. Secretary to State Hillary Clinton describes Assad as “a war criminal,” and President Barak Obama called him a “dead man walking.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Ratchet Up Pressure on Assad

March 3, 2012 by

Running counter to the wishes of the United States and other western nations, Saudi Arabia and Qatar recently announced that they are taking steps to arm the Free Syria Army (FSA). Despite the significance of this step, it is unlikely to shift the civil war in favor of the rebels. The FSA, armed with light weapons, suffered a number of strategic setbacks. Their tactical retreat from the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs paints a picture of a rebel group that lacks the operational capacity to challenge the Assad regime directly.

Sri Lanka’s “Truth” Commission: A Brief Assessment of the LLRC Report

December 17, 2011 by

Readers will find no big surprises after reading the final report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It is very much what most people were expecting. A document that looks to the future, exonerates the military, does not touch on the question of accountability and includes some touchy-feely language about the country’s need to move forward, celebrate its diversity and be grateful for the defeat of terrorism.

US Foreign Policy and Sri Lanka

November 19, 2011 by

After three decades of war, Sri Lanka is still a mess. President Mahinda Rajapaksa could not care less about national reconciliation. Here is a president who did not hesitate to assert his authority at the end of the war. Yet now, he is afraid to be a strong and thoughtful leader, reluctant to take a stand. The widespread human rights violations that occurred during final phases of the war (by both government forces and the LTTE) have been well-documented.

The Continued Militarization of Sri Lanka

October 22, 2011 by

Led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, post-war Sri Lanka is a sad place. In May of 2009, the Sri Lankan government achieved a resounding military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Most of the LTTE’s leadership was killed. For the foreseeable future, it is hard to envision another Tamil nationalist movement taking up arms against the state. Yet, if living in Sri Lanka, one might think that the conflict is still going on.

Statelessness in the Aftermath of the Sri Lankan Civil War

June 1, 2010 by

The long war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was finally declared over in May 2009 following the capture of its capital, Kilinochchi by the Sri Lankan government. The Civil War had raged since 1983, and culminated in the battles that killed the Tigers’ leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran and 250 of his most loyal followers. Many of Mr. Prabhakaran’s surviving followers committed suicide by biting cyanide tablets which they carried around their necks rather than face capture.