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Sri Lanka

CrisisWatch Sri Lanka

Deteriorated Situation

New wave of militant Buddhist campaign of violence and intimidation against Muslims, which began in April, intensified, with at least a dozen violent arson attacks and vandalism against mosques and businesses; PM and president 23 May promised action to curb violence; law and order minister 24 May criticised police for failure to make arrests as leader of main militant group, Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) went into hiding. Spike in attacks comes amid gradual collapse of momentum for reform and slow rise in resulting tensions. Tensions also evident around eighth anniversary commemorations of end of civil war 18/19 May, which saw starkly divergent events in Tamil north and east and Sinhala-majority south. Speaking to military and political leaders at formal “remembrance day” ceremony, President Sirisena promised no reduction in size or strength of military; commemorations in north, some framed as memorials to genocide, closely watched by police and intelligence services; event in Mullaitivu district at location of final battles forced to relocate, with Catholic priest organiser questioned by police for possible violation of anti-terrorist law. European Commission 16 May announced Sri Lanka had regained GSP+ tariff preferences despite govt failing to finalise new rights-compliant counter-terrorism legislation; new trade regime, which EU estimates is worth €300mn per year, came into effect 19 May. Cabinet reshuffle 22 May saw pro-reform foreign minister take over finance and media ministries, with former finance minister moving to foreign ministry. Cabinet 2 May approved long-delayed national reconciliation policy, published 9 May, which endorsed principle of “power-sharing as the means of reaching a political settlement ... [to address] the grievances and aspirations of all communities”. Late May rains brought major flooding to south west of island, with half a million people affected, more than 200 killed; govt criticised for lack of preparedness and disjointed relief efforts.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

9 Mar 2017
There is work to be done by both Sinhala and Tamil activists [in Sri Lanka], in persuading Sinhalese voters to support the new constitution and make the case for a shared interest in ending impunity. Daily Financial Times

Alan Keenan

Senior Analyst, Sri Lanka
26 Jan 2017
China sold a lot of weapons and lent a lot of money to Sri Lanka and remained a useful ally even in the Human Rights Council, all through the end of the war. Quartz

Alan Keenan

Senior Analyst, Sri Lanka
7 Dec 2016
There was always a doubt about the commitment of the [Sri Lankan] president and prime minister. As time goes on, those doubts have grown. The New York Times

Alan Keenan

Senior Analyst, Sri Lanka
1 Sep 2016
With the UN’s help, Sri Lanka could yet build a state that respects the rule of law and protects the rights of all its citizens. Inside Story

Alan Keenan

Senior Analyst, Sri Lanka

Latest Updates

Op-Ed / Asia

Sri Lanka’s Transition to Nowhere

The bloom is off two years of hope that the rule of law can be restored for all and that a 60-year failure to grant Tamils a fair share of power, in the Sinhala majority island, can be rectified.
 

 

Originally published in The Diplomat Magazine

Op-Ed / Asia

Unfinished Business in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Op-Ed / Asia

Time to seize the moment in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Our People

Alan Keenan

Senior Analyst, Sri Lanka
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