Sri Lanka: Debate on Peace and Conflict

“The events that surround the history of the Sri Lankan conflict, their impact and interaction with other events are still highly contentious.” The Peace and Conflict Timeline (PACT) project helps to gain a deeper understanding of the conflict's roots and promote discussions and debates on the issue, according to their website.

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  • Feature: Historical roots and contemporary causes of conflict in Sri Lanka

    “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people. They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things,” Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, in an interview with Stewart Bell of the National Post newspaper of Canada, 23 September 2008.

    PACT’s overall purpose is to examine the root causes and contributory factors of conflict in Sri Lanka and to promote discussion on these themes. In the coming months, the PACT team will invite various individuals, including academics, journalists and historians, to give their perspectives on these topics and in turn we’ll ask you to give your reactions.

    Many commentators are calling for the root causes of conflict to be addressed in a meaningful way. They argue that even if the LTTE is defeated militarily, the underlying conflict will continue as a result of the non-addressal of these critical issues. Indeed, these issues existed long before the LTTE emerged as an armed militant group.

    What are these root causes and what should be done about them? This feature seeks to unpack some of these issues.

    The controversial statement above made by Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka raises issues of origin and a supremacist ideology that has roots, according to our first commentator Lakshman Gunesekara, going back some 500 or even 1,000 years. The former editor of the Sunday Observer talks to the PACT team about his views on the historical and contemporary causes of conflict in Sri Lanka and about racism in Sri Lanka, past and present.

    Our second commentator, Dr. Farzana Haniffa, an anthropologist and senior lecturer at the University of Colombo, talks to the PACT team about how the roots of conflict in Sri Lanka have impacted on the Muslim polity, and on Muslim nationalism and identity.

    Listen to interviews of our first two commentators by visiting the latest feature at

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