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Sri Lanka

CrisisWatch Sri Lanka

Unchanged Situation

Amid ongoing govt divisions, political discourse continued to be dominated by extreme and violent statements from Sinhala and Tamil nationalists. United National Party parliamentarian Vijayakala Maheswaran 5 July resigned as state minister for child affairs following widespread criticism of 2 July speech in which she said return of LTTE (“Tamil Tigers”) was necessary “if we want to walk freely, if we need our children to attend schools and return back”, in wake of high-profile murder of northern Tamil child. PM 20 July condemned late June statement by Sinhala nationalist retired admiral calling for death penalty for alleged treasonous actions of chairperson of National Human Rights Commission. Controversy generated by late June New York Times article about Chinese govt companies’ control of strategically located but economically unproductive Hambantota port, particularly allegations of payment to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidential election campaign in 2015, continued. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe promised to reopen criminal investigation into alleged campaign contribution, which company denied, while Rajapaksa-aligned legislators denounced story. Govt 17 July tabled in parliament bill to create office of reparations, which would be second of four key transitional justice institutions promised in Oct 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution; bill being challenged in Supreme Court. EU delegation and member states representatives, with Norwegian and Canadian ambassadors to Sri Lanka, issued 16 July statement requesting President Sirisena not to follow through on his 10 July decision to end 40-year moratorium on implementation of the death penalty.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

24 Jun 2018
It is particularly damaging that the reasons the U.S. Government gave for leaving the Human Rights Council – for being hypocritical and biased, echo so closely criticisms that the previous Sri Lankan Government and many Lankan politicians in opposition and in the current Government have made about the Council’s engagement with and resolutions on Sri Lanka. The U.S. withdrawal will have lasting damage and will strengthen governments and politicians across the globe who prefer to be left to their own devices, even when this involves violating the fundamental rights of their own citizens. Sunday Observer

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
8 Mar 2018
There is good reason to believe [the Sinhala Buddhists attacks in Sri Lanka] are partly designed to provoke a Muslim response, which would then justify more violence against Muslims. Al Jazeera

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
6 Mar 2018
Many Sinhalese and Buddhists have [the sense] that Sri Lanka [is a] Sinhala and Buddhist island, and [that] other communities are here on the sufferance of the majority. The Guardian

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
18 Feb 2018
The [Sri Lankan] government will need to figure out how to come together. They need to go back to the drawing board and return to their fundamental principles and start to deliver. CNN

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
15 Feb 2018
[Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa] has a strong core constituency and a good set of issues, whereas the government has to pull together a range of minority constituents. The Economist

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
7 Nov 2017
2017 has seen a worrisome return of violence and hate speech in Sri Lanka. U.S. News

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka

Latest Updates

Watch List 2018 – First Update

Crisis Group’s first update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on Burundi’s dangerous referendum, militant Buddhists and anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka, the impact of the Venezuelan crisis on the region, and the situation in Yemen. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

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

Report / Asia

Sri Lanka: Jumpstarting the Reform Process

Seven years after its civil war ended, Sri Lanka’s democratic space has reopened but strains are building from a powerful opposition, institutional overlaps and a weakened economy. To make reforms a real success, the prime minister and president should cooperate with openness and redouble efforts to tackle legacies of war like impunity, Tamil detainees and military-occupied land.

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Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
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