Bridging the gap: prospects for reform and reconciliation in post-conflict Sri Lanka
Tennakoon, Chaminda Arjuna Bandara
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Seven years into the peace following Sri Lanka's civil war between the Sinhalese and Tamils, society remains divided. Yet, a permanent peace between both communities is essential to the nation. This thesis examines the prospects for a post-conflict durable reconciliation process in Sri Lanka that can create a lasting solution to the Sinhalese–Tamil dispute. It argues that if the joint leadership of the Sinhalese and Tamils embrace accommodation, tolerance, and compromise, then a meaningful reconciliation may follow in Sri Lanka. Similarly, by establishing an internationally engineered Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine the alleged human rights violations at the last stage of the conflict, Sri Lanka may complicate the reconciliation process and may even further polarize the Sinhalese and Tamils. To support these arguments, this study evaluates the core issues and the past reconciliation efforts by different stakeholders in the conflict. Additionally, this thesis explores the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a case study to find its relevance in the Sri Lankan context. Subsequently, the study identifies the prevailing obstacles to the reconciliation process after analyzing the perceptions of the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, and the international community. Finally, it reveals that a degree of uncertainty overshadows the ongoing reconciliation process mainly due to the absence of a meaningful dialogue among the Sinhalese and the Tamils in the country.
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