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Sri Lanka

CrisisWatch Sri Lanka

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

President Sirisena’s 26 Oct decision to withdraw his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) from national govt and form new govt with controversial former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as new PM plunged country into constitutional crisis, provoking unrest and prompting concerns over progress of reforms and ethnic reconciliation. Sitting PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and his United National Party (UNP) rejected Rajapaksa’s appointment as violating constitutional procedures and called for vote in parliament to test what Wickremesinghe claimed was his majority support. Sirisena 27 Oct prorogued parliament until 16 Nov, giving time to Rajapaksa to win over UNP parliamentarians needed to gain majority. Sirisena 29 Oct appointed first dozen ministers to his new cabinet, including crossovers from UNP, and named new senior officials to ministries and govt departments. Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya 28 Oct affirmed Wickremesinghe as sitting PM and called on Sirisena to reconvene parliament; leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan same day called for speaker to reconvene parliament; leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) 29 Oct also rejected suspension of parliament. U.S. 28 Oct, followed by UK, EU and Canada 29 Oct, called for Sirisena to immediately reconvene parliament. In 29 Oct meeting with foreign diplomats, Sirisena defended legality of Wickremesinghe’s sacking, pledged to continue to “strengthen democracy, human rights, media freedom, peace and reconciliation”. Attorney general 31 Oct refused to endorse Wickremesinghe’s sacking. Pro-Rajapaksa govt employees stormed state TV stations 26 Oct and evicted Wickremesinghe-appointed staff; one person shot dead 28 Oct, two injured, by bodyguard of UNP Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga as crowds of Rajapaksa supporters tried to prevent Ranatunga from entering his office. Tens of thousands joined peaceful UNP-organised rally in Colombo rejecting “illegal” appointment of Rajapaksa as PM, calling for return of parliament. Parliament 10 Oct approved law to establish Office of Reparations to provide relief to victims of civil war, second of govt’s four promised transitional justice mechanisms.

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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

Commentary / Asia

Impunity and Justice: Why the UN Human Rights Council Must Stay Engaged in Sri Lanka

As the United Nations Human Rights Council meets in Geneva this month, it’s time to assess how far Sri Lanka has come since last year’s passage of a landmark resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights.

Op-Ed / Asia

Time to seize the moment in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Our People

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
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