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'Sri Lanka’s killing fields cast a long shadow'

Writing on the anniversary of the Mullivaikkal genocide, Madura Rasaratnam, Interim Executive Director of PEARL & Ambikai Akilan, Advocacy Officer of PEARL, detail the need to hold Sri Lanka accountable for the war crimes committed in 2009. These crimes continue to afflict the island and Sri Lanka provides a useful lesson for the Israel-Gaza conflict, the piece maintains.

In their piece, they reflect on 2009 massacres and the similarities with current conflict in Gaza. Sri Lanka is accused of a litany of war crimes during this period which includes the deliberate targeting of “no fire zones”, food distribution centres and hospitals. The International Truth and Justice Project estimates that as many as 169,796 Tamils were killed.

The article notes that following the end of this brutal campaign, Sri Lanka “has consistently and vehemently rejected international demands for meaningful accountability and has also refused to implement political changes that would ensure real political equality for the Tamils and address the root causes of the conflict”.

The piece further details the heavy militarisation of the Tamil homeland, with “five out of seven of the army’s regional commands are stationed in the northern and eastern provinces and in some districts, there is one soldier for every two civilians”. They also detail the Sri Lankan military’s ongoing participation in the process of “Sinhalisation” and “Buddhisation”.

“Military personnel exercise a constant surveillance of everyday Tamil social, cultural and political activities that has a chilling effect on everyday life and makes meaningless any talk of ‘reconciliation’ or even a return to ‘normalcy’”, the piece notes.

The authors go on to explain how these tools of oppression are now being used to crush protests in the Sinhala South as well as to persecute Muslims and Christians. 

The piece concludes stressing that:

“Remembering and effectively addressing the Vanni atrocities is not just about the past, it is also about the future. Most immediately, it is about Sri Lanka’s future. But it is also about re-building and securing the viability and integrity of international humanitarian law and the possibility of securing genuine and lasting peace, security and prosperity”.

Read the full piece here.


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