OFTEN, when Sri Lanka’s ethnic-Sinhalese-dominated government appears to be offering a hand in friendship to the Tamil minority, it turns out to be a slap in the face. For example, in 2010 it appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the final phase of the 26-year civil war. But many Tamils saw it as a whitewash, because it absolved the Sri Lankan army of charges that it had deliberately attacked civilians during the war’s apocalyptic final battles in 2009, and many of its confidence-building recommendations have not been implemented. Or take the election scheduled for this September in the north of the country when (mostly Tamil) voters are for the first time to elect a provincial council. The government is now moving to neuter the council, depriving the region of much of the autonomy it had been promised.