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/* Myth or Reality? Reconciliation in Sri Lanka */
== '''Myth or Reality? Reconciliation in Sri Lanka ''' ==
<small>''Effective dialogue is required to regain trust among communities in Sri Lanka. After the war with the LTTE in 2009, there is a need to close ethnic divisions, improve social inclusion and to build social capital. Drivers of conflict include the scarcity of resources, lack of social cohesion and the lack of political stability. The impact of decades of armed conflict has also led to resentment among state and non-state actors. Furthermore, core problems of ethic division and grievances of the Tamil minority have not been fully addressed. A likely outcome is the presence of low-intensity conflict that could result in a humanitarian crisis because of increasing mistrust between the Sinhalese and Tamils that exacerbates the potential for conflict. It is critical to prevent a “stalemate” situation in its society where ethnic divisions remain stagnant and when there is potential for further deepening and alienation of communities. In this paper, conflict analysis is conducted with a discussion of possible scenarios. Broad recommendations are also proposed on to develop peace initiatives.''</small>
The Government. While the Sri Lanka government won the war against the LTTE, it is allegedly reported of committing violence against the confinement and execution of some 250,000 Tamil refugees during the final stages of the civil war. A report published in November 2011 by the UN Committee Against Torture highlighted that both sides committed war crimes against civilians but the government rejected the report, describing it as biased. The Sri Lanka government has also tried to “deflect criticism of its unlawful conduct in the final stages of the war”<ref>International Crisis Group, “Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Harder than Ever”, p1.</ref>by promoting a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to promote accountability and reconciliation. Among other things, little has been reported by several international NGOs that the government is “defensive” in its approach to identify perpetrators responsible for war crimes, which thus resulted in the current high mistrust on the government. In addition, there is severe skepticism among stakeholders especially from the affected parties, which could affect peace initiatives and future institutional development.
Influential State Actors. Sri Lanka’s northern neighbor, India, is a key player in the security environment and its foreign policy. It was reported that by Rao that “India views itself as a security manager of South Asia” <ref>Rao R, V. (1988). “Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: India’s Role and Perception”, Asian Survey 28, No.4, p419.</ref>and also since Sri Lanka is also home to a Tamil population under distress – this gives India a further impetus to be “involved” and to become a stakeholder. Separately, there is a possibility of LTTE revival despite its crackdown because of the “divide and rule” approach that the current Sri Lankan government is adopting. The level of armed conflict cannot be discounted even though the level of violence among ethnic groups has generally decreased in the past two years. The availability of small arms after the “war” has resulted in an excess of weapons, which it falls into the hands of armed groups, could restart armed conflict again within the country. Nevertheless, India continues to remain as Sri Lanka’s leading trading partner despite their mutual distrust. On its foreign policy with other countries, Sri Lanka has adopted a paradigm shift<ref>Under the Rajapaksa administration, three main elements of new foreign policy are outlined: (1) Sri Lanka is a non-aligned country and will maintain friendly relations with other countries (2) Sri Lanka has shifted the focus of its foreign policy from the US and EU to countries in the region (3) Sri Lanka maintains special relations with India to maintain consistency in its security concerns (limited external self-determination).</ref> with a stronger focus on countries in the region despite wanting to “re-win” the support of the West especially on the areas of economics and trade.Ethnic Groups. Sri Lanka has been involved in ethnic conflict since the country became independent from the British rule in 1948. Its main ethnic population as of 2011 is as follows: Sinhalese (73.8 percent) and the Sri Lanka Moor (7.2 percent) and Tamils who make up 8.5 percent. The long and bitter civil war arising from ethnic tensions between the majority of Sinhalese and Tamil minority in the northeast has scarred Sri Lanka for decades. Historically, Sinhala nationalism was a key factor and serves as a barrier to the peaceful resolution of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict.
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