Abstract: On 19 May 2009 the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapakse, declared that the conflict between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was over and that the Government had prevailed. Dramatic military advances since the beginning of 2008 have led to the LTTE’s apparent military defeat and the elimination of most, perhaps all, of its leadership. However, the humanitarian cost has been very high and both parties to the conflict stand accused of war crimes. Sri Lanka now faces the twin challenges of reconstruction and, if peace is to be sustainable, implementing political and constitutional reforms that will provide genuine stability to the north and east, where Tamils are in the majority. This paper provides an account over the violation of International Humanitarian Law during last phase of war. This paper also surveys the humanitarian situation in the internment camps and possible war crimes committed by the government force. It concludes by considering Sri Lanka’s future prospects, including assessing how real the Government’s military victory is and whether genuine political and constitutional reforms are likely to be introduced.
Sri Lanka, a small island?state in the midst of the Indian Ocean, possesses a deeply conflicted history. Scholars rave about “the Resplendent Isle” as a rich case study in conflict, economics, and culture. Tourists find themselves enchanted by the temperate climate and colorful customs. But to the inhabitants of this developing country, the island has long been a broken home. Indeed, many Sri Lankans could best describe it as a place of death, devastation, and discrimination. Over the past two decades the people of Sri Lanka have grown accustomed to violence, political instability and economic hardship (Liddick & Gagnon, 2009).
The majority group today is the Sinhalese, comprising an estimated 74% of the population, who are overwhelmingly Theravada Buddhist in their religious affiliation. The largest minority group is the Tamils, comprising an estimated 18% of the population, who are predominantly Hindu. The other significant minority group is the Sri Lankan Muslims, who make up an estimated 7% of the population. Other minority groups make up 1% of the population (Lunn, Taylor and Townsend, 2009)
The violence between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) began in July of 1983, marked by some of the worst communal rioting in Sri Lanka’s history. Since then both have been involved in war-game. Between 1983 and the end of 2000, a staggering 60,000 Sri Lankans had been killed in the war (Liddick & Gagnon, 2009). On the 22nd of February 2002, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a permanent Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), formalizing the unilateral truce declared by the Tigers. The Norwegian peace envoys who facilitated the signing of the agreement were backed by the Co-chairs of the donor countries who were overseeing the Sri Lankan peace process, namely the EU, USA, Japan and Norway (Lunn, Taylor and Townsend, 2009; Permanent People’s Tribunal: Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 2010)
Despite the historical significance of the ceasefire, its benefits were short lived as the CFA gradually fell apart. Levels of violence steadily increased between 2004 and 2007. By 2007, five years after the CFA was signed, the situation was described as “undeclared war” characterized by high casualties, humanitarian strife and large- scale displacement. Following the completion of the eastern offensives, the GoSL announced that its troops would be moved to the northern areas, in order to regain the “guerrilla- administered territory”. On the 2nd of January 2008, the GoSL officially revealed its withdrawal from the CFA. Both parties accused each other of violating the CFA and thus weakening the mutual confidence that had been achieved.
In January 2009 the Sri Lankan armed forces achieved a decisive breakthrough in the north. The Tamil Tigers lost the key town of Kilinochchi and Elephant Pass, the strategic causeway between the Jaffna peninsula and the main body of the island of Sri Lanka. The army then laid siege to Mullaitivu, the last remaining town controlled by the LTTE, and quickly captured it too. Over the following three months the Sri Lankan military gradually reclaimed the last remaining territory. The authorities largely ignored growing international condemnation of its failure to protect the civilians caught up in the fighting. The LTTE was accused of using civilians as ‘human shields’, both parties to the conflict were accused of committing war crimes. The end finally came on 18 May, when the last piece of territory was claimed. Most, if not all, of the LTTE’s leadership, including its commander in chief, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, were killed (Lunn, Taylor and Townsend, 2009).
International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Sri Lankan War:
The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) was agreed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1949 covers the rules of war; It is also known as part of the Geneva Conventions as it constitutes the rules of war to protect civilians trapped in war (Gasser, 1993; Tamiya, 2009).
There were numerous accusations that Sri Lankan security forces were guilty of violating the Geneva Conventions on warfare and of having committed gross war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly during the last five months of the war, between January and May 2009. (U.S. Department of State: Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka, 2009; Permanent People’s Tribunal: Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 2010)
The endgame and aftermath of the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) dominated events in Sri Lanka throughout 2009. During the last months of the war, both sides committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, in what a senior United Nations official described as a “bloodbath,” while the overall human rights situation in the country continued to deteriorate as the government adopted increasingly repressive policies (Human Rights Watch, Country Summary, 2010).
In a research paper, War and peace in Sri Lanka, Lunn, Taylor and Townsend described:
As the conflict entered its final days, UN officials said that the “bloodbath” about which they had warned had become “a reality”. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) described the situation as an “unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe.” The UN estimates that at least 7000 civilians have been killed since January. Combatant casualties have also been high on both sides.
The Irish Forum for Peace claimed that from the time that the war began in July 2006 through April 2009, according to United Nations internal documents, air raids and the use of heavy weaponry resulted in the death of 116 people per day. British and French mainstream media reported that during the final few weeks 20,000 Tamil people were killed. (Permanent People’s Tribunal: Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 2010)
During the final months of the conflict that ended in May, the LTTE continued to forcibly recruit civilians, including children, into its forces, used civilians as human shields, and physically prevented and at times shot at Tamil civilians under their control trying to flee the fighting (Human Rights Watch, Country Summary, 2010). Government forces indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas, including hospitals. Both parties prevented vital humanitarian assistance from reaching the civilian population (Permanent People’s Tribunal: Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 2010).
Since March 2008 the government has confined displaced Tamils fleeing the fighting. The population of the detention camps skyrocketed to over a quarter million people after the LTTE’s defeat in May. Security forces also detained, in many cases in violation of domestic and international law, more than 10,000 people suspected of LTTE involvement or sympathies. Threats, physical attacks, and arbitrary arrests against journalists, human rights defenders, and humanitarian workers continued unabated, causing significant numbers to leave the country. As in the past, rights violators enjoyed near-complete impunity.
Violations of Laws of War
On May 19, 2009, the Sri Lankan government declared victory over the LTTE, marking an end to a 26-year-long armed conflict that had caused between 80,000 and 100,000 deaths (Husain, 2009; Hull and Sirilal, 2009; O’Connor,2009a; Human Rights Watch, Country Summary, 2010). During the last months of the war both the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE repeatedly violated the laws of war, causing unnecessary civilian suffering and casualties (Tamiya, 2009; U.S. Department of State : Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka, 2009).
In 2010 Human Rights Watch observes that:
Forced to retreat by government offensive operations, the LTTE drove civilians into a narrow strip of land on Sri Lanka’s northeastern coast, effectively using several hundred thousand people as human shields. The LTTE shot at and injured or killed many of those trying to flee from the war zone to government-held territory. LTTE forces also deployed near densely populated areas, placing civilians in increased danger of attack. As the fighting intensified, the LTTE stepped up its practice of forcibly recruiting civilians, including children, into its ranks and, to hazardous forced labor on the battlefield.
Government forces repeatedly and indiscriminately shelled densely populated areas, sometimes using heavy artillery and other area weapons incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants. As the LTTE-controlled area shrank, the government unilaterally declared “no-fire zones” or “safe zones” on three different occasions, calling upon civilians to seek shelter there; nevertheless, government forces continued attacking these areas. In disregard of the laws of war, government forces also fired artillery at or near hospitals on at least 30 occasions.
High-level government officials tried to justify attacks on civilians by arguing that people remaining in the war zone were LTTE sympathizers and therefore legitimate targets, indicating possible intent to commit war crimes.
Permanent People’s Tribunal described the Atrocities of the last weeks of the war as following:
The atrocities carried out by the military relate particularly to civilians, and there is evidence of cluster munitions being dropped by warplanes. Some witnesses reported that white phosphorous was used in violation of international law. Several witnesses had seen burn marks on wounded civilians. Others believed that indications of napalm were apparent, and evidence of other incendiary devices has been confirmed by doctors who had cared for hundreds of Tamil civilians wounded in this manner.
Civilians in the war zone also suffered from lack of food, water, shelter, and medicines. The government’s decision in September 2008 to order humanitarian agencies out of the LTTE- controlled area greatly exacerbated their plight. Ongoing fighting, lack of oversight, and the manipulation of aid delivery by government and LTTE forces contributed to the deepening humanitarian crisis. Exact information on the extent of humanitarian law violations by both sides as well as casualty figures remains limited, largely because the government barred all independent observers, including the media and human rights organizations, from operating near the war zone. The UN estimated that at least 7,000 people were killed and 13,000 injured during the last five months of the war.
Detention Camps for Internally Displaced Persons
Since March 2008 the government has confined virtually all civilians displaced by the war in military-controlled detention camps, euphemistically called “welfare centers.” In violation of international law, the government denied more than 280,000 displaced their rights to liberty and freedom of movement (Hull and Sirilal, 2009; Swaminathan, 2009; U.S. Department of State: Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka, 2009; Human Rights Watch: Country Summary, 2010; Permanent People’s Tribunal: Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 2010). As of November 18, 2009, six months after the end of hostilities, the government continued to hold more than 129,000 people (more than half of them women and girls) in the camps. Over 80,000 of these were children (Tamiya, 2009; Human Rights Watch, Country Summary, 2010).
Permanent People’s Tribunal described the situation as:
In the immediate months after the war attention shifted to the plight of over 280,000 Sri Lankan Tamils forced to live in internment camps in the Vanni region. Densely packed in camps, with inadequate infrastructure to provide safe food, water, sanitation and health facilities, the Government announced that the internally displaced people (IDPs) would be kept there until they had been ‘screened’ for possible LTTE sympathies.
The government’s refusal to release displaced persons from the camps contributed to severe overcrowding, with many of the camps holding twice the number recommended by the UN. As a result, access to basic requirements such as food, water, shelter, toilets, and bathing, has been inadequate. These conditions imposed particular hardships on the elderly, children, and pregnant women.
No Fire Zone (NFZ) Estimated Population, Food Needs, Food Delivered, and Food Deficit
* It has been alleged that the Government of Sri Lanka used low civilian estimates in the NFZ to reduce the amount of food disbursed in an effort to pressure civilians to escape.
** Food needs and deficit estimates are based upon the estimation of several organizations that one MT of food per day is needed for 2000 IDPs.
Source: U.S. Department of State: Report to Congress on Incidents During the Recent Conflict in Sri Lanka, 2009
The authorities failed to provide camp residents with sufficient information about the reason for their continued detention, the whereabouts of relatives, or the criteria and procedure for their return home. Families in the detention camps had no access to mechanisms for finding missing relatives who might be in other camps or in unofficial detention centers. The military camp administration prevented humanitarian organizations, including the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), from undertaking effective monitoring and protection in the camps.
Arbitrary Detention and Enforced Disappearances
The government detained more than 10,000 displaced persons at checkpoints and from the camps on suspicion of LTTE involvement, in many cases citing vague and overbroad emergency laws still in force after the end of the war. Many arrests were carried out in violation of domestic and international law. The authorities failed to inform families of their relatives’ fate and whereabouts, raising fears that some detainees were forcibly disappeared.
Permanent People’s Tribunal adds:
Following the international outcry resulting from the forcible detention of Tamil people in these camps for more than 5 months, the Government announced that a significant number of them would be resettled. However, it has been reported in the BBC and other news media that a considerable number of those released were simply moved to new satellite camps in remote areas.
In one of the bloodiest periods of Sri Lanka’s history, from 1988 to 1994, 20,000 people around the country disappeared, although some believe that the true number may be two to three times higher. Currently there are 5,727 unsolved cases of disappearances registered with the United Nations Human Rights Council, one of the worst records in the world (O’Connor, 2009b). The authorities also specifically targeted key witnesses to the final stages of the war. They arrested and held for several months several government doctors who had been working in areas under LTTE control and had reported on government shelling and resulting civilian casualties. While in detention the doctors retracted wartime statements, rising suspicion of undue pressure and ill-treatment.
Enforced disappearances and abductions, a longstanding and widespread problem in Sri Lanka, continued, especially in the north and east. From January to June 2009, 16 enforced disappearances were reported in Trincomalee district alone (Human Rights Watch, Country Summary, 2010).
Justice and Accountability
Despite government promises, including in a May 23, 2009 joint statement by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, no serious steps have been taken to investigate allegations of human rights and laws-of-war violations during the war’s final months (Bouckaert, 2010; Human Rights Watch: Country Summary, 2010). On the contrary, high-ranking government officials, including the president, repeatedly dismissed such allegations, claiming that there had been no violations by the armed forces. A committee of experts established by Rajapaksa in October to look at United States government allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka does not have the mandate, resources, or independence to conduct an adequate investigation.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) have documented that violations of fundamental human rights are occurring every day. Extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture, forced recruitment and other human rights violations are persistent and widespread. Human rights groups and humanitarian agencies are increasingly alarmed by the scale of violations and abuses, and it is feared that the country may fall into a state of complete lawlessness (Andersen and Fernando, 2009).
As Pinto-Jayawardena observes:
There is a nationwide pattern of custodial torture in Sri Lanka, and custodial deaths are caused by law enforcement officials as part of an established routine. Prison officials admit that torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP) occur within prison walls and that there are no regular procedures of inquiry and report. Torture is widely practiced by the military particularly with regard to the armed conflict against the LTTE. The LTTE itself is known for its systematic resort to torture both as a means of punishment of dissenters generally as well as during interrogation.
The Government introduced two reprisal regulations called Emergency Regulations in August 2005. In December 2006 these were expanded via the introduction of the Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities regulations. These regulations allow state authorities to search, detain and arrest without a warrant any person suspected of an offence under the regulations. Detainees can be held up to 12 months without any criminal charge (Andersen and Fernando, 2009; Pinto-Jayawardena, 2009).
War Crime Accusations and the findings of Permanent People’s Tribunal:
Summing up the facts established before this Tribunal by reports from NGOs, victims’ testimony, eye-witnesses accounts, expert testimony and journalistic reports, the Tribunal is able to distinguish three different kinds of human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan Government from 2002 (the beginning of the Ceasefire Agreement) to January 2010 (Permanent People’s Tribunal: Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 2010) :
• Forced “disappearances” of targeted individuals from the Tamil population;
• Crimes committed in the re-starting of the war (2006-2009), particularly during the last months of the war:
• Bombing civilian objectives like hospitals, schools and other non-military targets;
• Bombing government-proclaimed ‘safety zones’ or ‘no fire zones’;
• Withholding of food, water, and health facilities in war zones;
• Use of heavy weaponry, banned weapons and air-raids;
• Using food and medicine as a weapon of war;
• The mistreatment, torture and execution of captured or surrendered LTTE combatants, officials and supporters;
• Rape and sexual violence against women;
• Deportations and forcible transfer of individuals and families;
• Desecrating the dead;
• Human rights violations in the IDP camps during and after the end of the war:
• Shooting of Tamil citizens and LTTE supporters;
• Forced disappearances;
• Malnutrition; and
• Lack of medical supplies.
The actions included under the second point above clearly constitute “war crimes” committed by the Sri Lankan Government, its security forces and aligned paramilitary forces, as defined under the Geneva Conventions and in the Rome Statute, with regard to the following sections of Article 8.
If this conflict is recognized as international in nature, the following charges would apply:
(b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
(ii) Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;
(iv) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
(vi) Killing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion;
(ix) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;
(xxi) Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(xxii) Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in article 7, paragraph 2 (f), enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence also constituting a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions;
(xxv) Intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies as provided for under the Geneva Conventions;
If the conflict is of a domestic character, the following charges would apply:
(c) In the case of an armed conflict not of an international character, serious violations of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts committed against persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause:
(i) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(ii) Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(iii) Taking of hostages;
(iv) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable.
(e) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
(i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
(iv) Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;
(vi) Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in article 7, paragraph 2 (f), enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence also constituting a serious violation of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions.
Crimes against humanity
The actions included under the points 1 (forced disappearances) and 3 (violations committed in the IDP camps during and after the war) clearly constitute “crimes against humanity”, as defined in the Rome Statute, Article 7, specifically in the following sections:
Any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
(e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
(g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
(i) Enforced disappearance of persons;
(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
After the decisive military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), there has been little progress in reconstructing Sri Lanka’s battered democratic institutions or establishing conditions for a stable peace (International crisis Group, 2010). On 26 January 2010, Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected president of Sri Lanka after a campaign marked by violence and conducted in an environment where the rule of law has largely collapsed. Rights groups and the Election Commissioner raised concerns about the widespread misuse of state resources by the Rajapaksa campaign, biased media coverage favouring the incumbent and physical intimidation of the opposition (Havilland, 2010).
Although Haviland thought a number of factors helped Rajapaksa to sweep victory on 26 January 2010: his fiery rhetoric and sure popular touch; his emphasis on his role in last year’s war victory; and ordinary people’s sense that their streets are simply safer than they have been for the past 30 years because of the defeat of the Tamil Tigers (Havilland, 2010).
The 8 February arrest of Rajapaksa’s main presidential challenger, the retired General Sarath Fonseka, has increased levels of political tension and provoked street protests and criticism from both the Buddhist and Christian clergy. Fonseka is due to be court martialed for having conspired against the government while still a member of the military. The government is also considering charging him in a civilian court with corruption and other crimes. During the campaign, Fonseka accused the Rajapaksa family of corruption and raised the issue of war crimes during the final months the war. On the day of his arrest, Fonseka announced he would be willing to provide evidence to a future international inquiry into war crimes charges against the state (International crisis Group, 2010). The government has maintained that there is no political motivation behind the arrest of Fonseka. “We have repeatedly said that there is no political motive behind this. The law of the nation has been followed,” media minister Lakshman Yapa Aberyawardena told the press on Feb. 17(Perera, 2010).
The brutal nature of the conflict, especially in its closing months, has undermined Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions and governance. All ethnic communities are suffering from the collapse of the rule of law. Disappearances and political killings associated with the government’s counter-insurgency campaign have dropped considerably since the end of the war. Impunity for abuses by state officials continues, however, and fear and self-censorship among civil society activists and political dissidents has grown stronger in the wake of the government’s post-election crackdown on its critics in the media and opposition party activists. The government continues to maintain and use the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations to weaken its political opposition.
The military defeat will not bring lasting peace:
The very probable military crushing of the last Tigers in the strip of 10 km² where they have fallen back will not resolve a political conflict which is more than 60 years old. No lasting peace will be possible without the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. (Sabaï, 2009). With separatist extremism conquered, it is necessary to “change the ethnic and ideological profile” of the police and military, currently almost totally Sinhalese, and make them and the judiciary more sensitive to multi-ethnic issues. Constitutional moves must be made, such as devolving powers to all the provinces, as the constitution’s 13th Amendment calls for – something many Tamils see as indispensable. (Haviland, 2010)
Rajapksa’s election victory seems unlikely to move Sri Lanka in the direction of a sustainable peace. Despite vague promises about the need for reconciliation, Rajapaksa’s post-war policies have deepened rather than resolved the grievances that generated and sustained LTTE militancy. While the LTTE’s defeat and the end of its control over Tamil political life are historic and welcome changes, the victory over Tamil militancy will remain fragile unless Sinhalese-dominated political parties make strong moves towards a more inclusive and democratic state.
International crisis Group in 2010 adds:
The Rajapaksa government has initiated no political reforms to address the concerns of Tamils and other minorities. The government-sponsored All Party Representative Committee (APRC) designed to craft constitutional reforms has stopped meeting with no sign of an alternative process. Tamil and Muslim parties remain weak and divided, although recent encouraging initiatives to develop a common platform and build trust among Tamil-speaking parties deserve support. Inside and outside Sri Lanka, many Tamils remain angry at the lack of accounting or justice for the thousands of civilians killed in the final months of the war. Most of the million-strong diaspora is still committed to a separate state and many would be willing to support renewed violence.
R. Swaminathan observes:
President Rajapaksa and the armed forces of Sri Lanka are justifiably happy and proud of having “eliminated” (in mid-May 2009) the capabilities of LTTE to mount conventional military operations. I would, however, sound a note of caution that, while the militant leaders of a major terrorist group have been neutralized, terrorism as such cannot be eliminated till the basic grievances and deprivations of the Tamils are addressed and resolved. As long as the basic causes exist, there can be no guarantee that other similar groups/leaders may not emerge.
It can be said without fear of contradiction that rehabilitation, reconciliation, development and restoration (of democracy) are the most essential measures to be taken. It is my view that there should be no rigidity in attempting these measures sequentially, and that efforts need to be made to attempt them almost simultaneously. War consists of a series of actions by the parties involved in the confrontation, but peace is a combination of a state of mind and harmony between all the different ethnic groups that populate Sri Lanka (Swaminathan, 2009).
Almost one year passed since the war has been over but no significant moves have been noticed from the government of Sri Lanka to ease the situation and to bring peace. Moreover there are allegations of manipulation in the presidential election and also some quarters alleged that Rajapakse is trying to weaken his political rivals by various means. And it is quite evident that nepotism is in full swing after the parliamentary election and relatives of Rajapakse are getting important portfolios which signal the detrimental consequences over democracy. Military victory is not enough to bring peace until and unless the grievances of Tamils are addressed.
The Sri Lankan government should take steps to normalize life in war-affected this would include reestablishing the primacy of the civilian administration over the military in the north, reducing high security zones, establishing a meaningful process of consultation with Tamil and Muslim leaders on development plans for the north and east, enforcing the language equality provisions of the constitution and maximizing the devolution of powers already granted to provincial councils under the thirteenth amendment. Meaningful steps should be taken to reestablish the rule of law for all Sri Lankans. Particular measures would include ending emergency rule and abolishing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, establishing the Constitutional Council and independent commissions (especially for police and human rights), depoliticizing the judiciary, ending the routine practice of police torture and prosecuting members of the security forces and paramilitaries against whom there is credible evidence of human rights violations.
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