Sri Lanka: After war, Justice

SLLuther Uthayakumaran in openDemocracy:

The long war in Sri Lanka is, it seems, finally at an end. But for many Sri Lankans, even those who have longed for this day – and for whom the last few weeks have been especially intense – it has not ended in the way that we would have wanted. The prolonged siege in the northeast pocket, the shelling, the further loss of life, the vanquishing of the enemy – all this means that the conclusion of this twenty-six-year war is likely to be defined in terms of military victory alone, with no reference to a political solution and the return of democracy. This too is a tragedy.

There is a great responsibility now to make sure that Sri Lanka's future is not defined by the way the war has ended – and that the questions of democracy, justice and accountability are addressed fully in its aftermath. This article is a modest first contribution to that agenda.

There are many ways to view the terrible conflict that has sundered the island since 1983. When the war turned in the 1990s-2000s into a binary battle between the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE / Tamil Tigers), it was ever clearer that for both sides thought and acted solely in terms of the aspirations of states, nationalisms and counter-nationalisms; and that in consequence they regarded the lives of civilians were becoming less and less important. Some of us responded by seeking to establish a position that placed the rights of the individual citizen at the centre of concern.