Why It's So Hard to Talk About Peace in Sri Lanka

  • Gilberto Algar-Faria (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic talk, debate, discussion


The Australian Government’s recent declarations about Sri Lanka’s “boat people” and, by extension, Sri Lanka itself, have brought important questions about rights, justice and peace to the fore. It is becoming common to hear that, since the end of its war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been in a post-war situation but not a post-conflict one. Plenty of focus has been lent to the conduct of the war itself, especially the final stages which are currently subject to an external investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The war was a bloody one, between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (“Tamil Tigers”), lasting almost three decades. It is unique insofar as the Government achieved a military solution to a war with an insurgent organisation. Much to the Government’s frustration, it’s what happened in the last five months of the war (from January to May 2009) that interests the UNHRC. The Government frequently complains that the UN forgets about the rest of the war, which was largely ignored by the outside actors. However, one might point to an additional factor that goes unnoticed: the nature of this post-war scenario mentioned earlier. The post-2009 context has seen a significant evolution of the conflict in Sri Lanka, and the recent proclamations about “peace” by the Australian Government have served to gloss over these. In light of this, building on first-hand recent experience of the context, this lecture will open a debate about the rights of Sri Lankan asylum seekers attempting to escape to Australia as part of a wider discussion about spaces for peace and conflict in Sri Lanka today.
Period22 Sept 2014
Held atUniversity of Sydney, Australia, New South Wales