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Think Tank: Not Enough Progress in Reconciliation in S. Lanka

May 30, 2015
Vatican Radio

According to a US think tank, there is little hope of post-war reconciliation in Sri Lanka unless the new government acts to end the oppression of minority Tamils and ensure reconciliation.  President Mathripala Sirisena's government was elected earlier this year with promises of reconciliation, but the California-based Oakland Institute said on Thursday that no progress had been made in resolving pressing human rights issues, including the fate of tens of thousands of people missing since a long civil war ended in 2009, and in investigating and prosecuting war crimes.  It said six years after the war ended with victory by the Sinhalese over the Tamil Tiger separatists, thousands of Tamils were still displaced and the military occupation of the north and east of the country continued. The Oakland Institute pointed out that an "aggressive" process of "Sinhalization" over the past six years had seen Tamil culture systematically replaced by victory monuments dedicated to Sinhalese hegemony and the majority Buddhist religion.

"A new government was elected in early 2015 with the promise that it will engage in a process of truth and reconciliation," the report said.  It pointed out such a process could not be effective with the current level of military occupation and the ongoing Sinhalization efforts.  Despite the problems, both the United States and India have said they want to cooperate with the government, raising fears they might not press enough to ensure it lives up to its commitments. "International pressure will be critical for any decisive action," the report said. 

Estimates of the number of people who remain missing since the end war ranged from 70,000, cited in a 2012 U.N. report, to a study by the bishop of Mannar of 147,000 for the Vanni region alone.