Sri Lanka’s failure to address its wartime past nearly a decade after its bloody conflict jeopardises any hope of a lasting peace in the ethnically-divided island, a global rights group warned Tuesday.
In a new report, the International Crisis Group urged President Maithripala Sirisena to come good on his promise to deliver justice for tens of thousands of war victims or risk renewed conflict.
“Two years into President Sirisena´s term, Sri Lanka´s fragile hopes for lasting peace and cooperation across party and ethnic lines are imperilled,” ICG stated in its report “Sri Lanka’s Transition to Nowhere”.
Sirisena came to power in January 2015 with strong backing from Tamils, the largest ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, who bore the brunt of the 37-year separatist war that ended in May 2009.
He had promised to investigate atrocities under his predecessor Mahinda Rajapakse, especially in the final months of the war, when Sri Lanka’s security forces were accused of massacring up to 40,000 Tamil civilians.
But the president has resisted calls for internationally-backed courts to try generals and soldiers accused of atrocities, and has been critical of police investigations into the murder of a prominent anti-government cartoonist.
Progress on promised reforms has also been slow or slid backwards, the group said, raising doubts over Sirisena’s pledge to ensure reconciliation after a war that left more than 100,000 dead.
“Ambitious promises to improve the economy, eliminate corruption, restore the rule of law, address the legacy of war and write a new constitution remain largely unrealised,” the report said.
It also urged for a speedier investigation into a 2006 massacre of 17 aid workers from French charity Action Against Hunger, and the disappearance and murder of journalists and government critics under Rajapakse’s reign.
Daily Mail, UK