After Sri Lanka’s brutal war ended five years ago, President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave the Tamil majority North better roads, rail connections and electricity. However, people of the Northern Province believe he has not given anything by way of the much-awaited post-war reconciliation that will make them vote for him.
According to the latest ‘Democracy in Post War Sri Lanka’ survey conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, divisions between people’s opinions when it comes to reconciliation still persist. The state of the economy and cost of living continue to adversely affect the household with people compromising on food quality and medical care. With Presidential elections due early next year, it is interesting to note that 44.3% of Sri Lankans think that the Constitution should limit a President to serving a maximum of two terms.
On the Sri Lankan economy, 31.9% of Sri Lankans believe that the general economic situation in the country has got a little better while almost 27% say that it has got a little worse and 18.5% say that it has got a lot worse. When it comes to the current economic situation of the country, 36.7% of Sri Lankans believe that it is somewhat good while 30.6% say somewhat bad and 19.5% say that it is very bad.
The financial situation of the household seems to have got worse in the last 2 years – almost 30% of Sri Lankans say that it has got a little worse while 25.6% say that it has got a lot worse. 24.2% of Sri Lankans state that they have gone without medicine or medical treatment in the last year, with the Up Country Tamil community (58.2%) being the most affected. Compromising on food quality, 42.7% of Sri Lankans say that they have cut back on the amount or quality of food they have purchased with again the Up Country Tamil community being the most affected (almost 60%).
When it comes to reconciliation, divisions in opinion between the communities persist. 40.8% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government has done a little, but not enough to address the root causes of the conflict, which resulted in thirty years of war. 39.9% from the Tamil community and 33.3% from the Up Country Tamil community believe that the Government has done nothing to address the root causes of the war while 35% from the Sinhalese community said the Government has done a lot to address the root causes.
Around 54% of Sri Lankans say that they approve of the increase in the role of the forces in civilian tasks, with 17% saying that they strongly approve. 41.6% from the Sinhalese community said that they somewhat approve of this role while 30.2% from the Tamil community said that they strongly disapproved.
With Presidential elections due next year, it is worth highlighting that 44.3% of Sri Lankans think that the Constitution should limit a President to serving a maximum of two terms while 27.6% say that there should be no limit. From the four communities, it is mainly the Muslim community (69.7%) who believe that there should be limit of two terms while 59.5% from the Up Country Tamil community, 57.3% from Tamil and 38.4% of Sinhalese say the same.
Commenting on the media in Sri Lanka, 30% of Sri Lankans said that they somewhat agree that the media in Sri Lanka is completely free to criticise the government as they wish. 40.5% of Sri Lankans believe that the media should have a right to publish any views and ideas without Government control while another 34% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things it considers harmful to society.
On the role of religion and ethnicity in politics, 37.9% of Sri Lankans said that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is the right amount while 37.8% of Sri Lankans said that the role is too much. The view that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is too much is felt by majority of the Tamil (79.3%), Up Country Tamil (91.1%) and Muslim (83.4%) communities while only 23.1% from the Sinhalese community felt the same. Close to 50% of Sinhalese believe that it is the right amount.
‘Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka’ sought to record public perspectives on democracy in Sri Lanka today and the findings are presented under five key sections – Economy and Development, Post War Sri Lanka, The Government, Media and Role of Religion and Ethnicity in Politics. The first wave was conducted in 2011 and the second wave in 2013.
Conducted in the 25 districts of the country, the 2014 survey captured the opinion of 1900 Sri Lankans from the four main ethnic groups. The selection of respondents was random across the country except in a few areas in the Northern Province where access was difficult. Fieldwork was conducted from June – July 2014.
Access the full report from here.
Social Indicator (SI) is the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and was established in September 1999, filling a longstanding vacuum for a permanent, professional and independent polling facility in Sri Lanka on social and political issues. Driven by the strong belief that polling is an instrument that empowers democracy, SI has been conducting polls on a large range of socio-economic and political issues since its inception.
Please contact Iromi Perera at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to announce the launch of Working Paper No: 13 on the theme of Post War Reconciliation titled,Competing for Victimhood Status: Northern Muslims and the Ironies of Post-War Reconciliation, Justice and evelopment by Farzana Haniffa.
The northern Muslims together with all protracted IDPs displaced prior to 2008 became a low priority case load for return and resettlement assistance in the aftermath of the ‘end’ of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009. Framed in terms of an ethics of ‘greatest need’ connected only to funding availability, all Old IDPs lost out in the resettlement process. This paper attempts to decentre this idea of economic limits and humanitarian need by discussing the manner in which such ideas of ‘greatest need’ actually emerge from discourses about victimhood that are part of an ethical humanitarian project to which local politics are irrelevant. This paper will show, however that these initiatives consistently intersect with local power hierarchies and local ideas of legitimacy and belonging. Therefore this paper will look at the manner in which the war related victim discourse of International Humanitarianism, helped to exacerbate northern Muslims own marginality and continued exclusion from the north. Looking also at the manner in which victimhood narratives are mobilizsed in Sri Lanka by electoral politics, and displaced IDP activists themselves, this paper will speculate about the efficacy of the victim identity for political and social transformation during this time of transition in Sri Lanka.
This paper can be downloaded via this link
Scribd PDF (Facebook required for download)
The Advisory Council of three to the Commission on Disappearances, in international political terms, takes on the role of the only show in town for the regime in response to its international critics. It could go the IIGEP way and the arguments over war crimes will continue; the issue of disappearances though, “disappeared” in the resulting doubt and din, sound and fury.
Five years after Sri Lanka’s war with the Tamil Tigers ended, the group’s former members say that cultural insensitivity from the government is still an issue.
The political resolution of the conflict will be difficult due to the ethnic and identity-based nature of the conflict which generates extreme insecurities on all sides. However, it is important that the Sri Lankan government takes immediate measures to improve the situation on the ground, so that there is an immediate peace dividend and its decision to invite South African facilitation is not seen as merely a hard headed decision to ward off the international community in Geneva. The situation in the North of the country, where over 60 have been arrested in recent weeks and some released by the security forces, and the targeting of the Muslim community by extremist groups, has created a climate of fear that is the opposite of reconciliation.
“Many are of the opinion that, if a TRC is being established in Sri Lanka, it needs to be contextualized according to the country specific requirements and should demonstrate transparency. However, some believe that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) is a similar approach made by GoSL even though most of the recommendations are yet to be implemented.
We cannot blindly take what is done in South Africa
-Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Director of Center for Policy Alternatives
There are a number of issues associated with regard to implementing a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in Sri Lanka. We need to look into the context in which it has been implemented in South Africa…”
Read full article here –http://www.globalpeacesupport.com/2013/12/does-sri-lanka-need-a-trc/
The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to announce the launch of Research Paper No: 10 on the theme of Post War Reconciliation titled,‛What Lessons Are We Talking About? Reconciliation and Memory in Post-Civil War Sri Lankan Cinema’ by Dinidu Karunanayake and Thiyagaraja Waradas.
This paper can be downloaded via this link
However, on the topic of reconciliation, divisions still persist. 26.5% from the Tamil community believe that the Government has done nothing to address the root causes of the ethnic conflict while 35.5% from the Sinhalese community believe that the Government has done a lot. 59% from the Up Country Tamil and 39% from the Muslim communities say that the Government has done a little but not enough.
See the full article here – http://groundviews.org/2013/11/12/an-economy-that-unites-reconciliation-that-divides-in-sri-lanka/
“At the outset, I want to make what I consider is an important distinction in terms of the situation we are in. The distinction is between a post–war situation and a post-conflict one. Whilst we are in a post-war situation- the guns having fallen silent following the military defeat of the LTTE – I do not think we are in a post-conflict one, defined in terms of one in which the roots of conflict are not being sustained and certainly not being reproduced. My concern is that the trajectory of developments, since May 2009, has largely been in the direction of the sustenance and reproduction of the roots of conflict.”
“If the government wants to be serious about reconciliation, perhaps the best way to start is to provide credible answers about their family members to Sri Lankans who went to Geneva two months ago – to Dr. Manoharan, Sandya Ekneligoda, Sithi, and brother and sisters of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. So they don’t have to go to Geneva again. And also respond to those who went before the LLRC. And thousands of others who await answers to their complaints to Police, Human Rights Commission, Courts and previous Commissions of Inquiries. And to all those protesting on variety of grievances – such as political prisoners, families of those disappeared, people whose lands are occupied by the military.
If this will start happening, then maybe we can still dream of reconciliation, rights and freedom in our lifetime. And it will help Sri Lankan citizens and the world to feel that we are a civilized country that cares about all it’s citizens, especially minorities, vulnerable persons and those with dissenting views, and where rule of law prevails.”
There are 6056 tweets in the archive, which include retweets as well.
For data downloads, data visualisations and online archive access, see http://groundviews.org/2013/03/27/unlk-archive-and-visualisation-of-tweets-on-sri-lanka-at-hrcs-22nd-session/
An archive of material around the Resolution titled ‘Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka’ passed at the UN Human Rights Council today.