Leading article: Offer the hand of reconciliation

Share
Related Topics

Last year Sri Lanka's hardline President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, shook the international community by abandoning the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire with the rebel Tamil Tigers and declaring that only outright military victory could ensure peace for the island. A year later, he seems to be close to his ambition.

Having taken the Tamil Tiger redoubts of Jaffna and Kilinochi this winter, government forces now claim to have stormed the group's last redoubt of Mullaitivu and are attempting to corner the remnants of the rebel army in the jungles of Sri Lanka's north-east. Barring some extraordinary reversal of fortune, the Sinhalese armed forces should be in complete control of the island by their avowed aim of April, ending a three-decade-old war that has cost the country some 70,000 lives, many of them civilians, and crippled much of its economy.

If President Rajapaksa is now close to military victory, it is partly because of the money he has thrown into re-equipping his forces. But he has also undoubtedly been helped by support from India, which has acted to curb supplies for the Tamil Tigers from the mainland, and the wider international community, which has acted to shut down foreign funding of the Tigers.

Military victory does not ensure peace, however. Aside from the possibility of resurgent terror and a continuation of guerrilla activity (at which the Tamil Tigers have shown themselves adept) in a country desperately dependent on tourism and foreign investment, there remain all the underlying problems of the minority Tamils and Muslims. As a terror group the Tamil Tigers have at times been notoriously brutal in their methods and careless of civilians in their aims. But reinforcing them has been a very real sense of marginalisation and suppression among Tamils.

The recent assassination of one newspaper editor and attacks on journalists critical of the government and its handling of this war are signs of just how authoritarian the Sinhalese nationalist factions have become. Military victory now may make them even less wiling to offer the hand of reconciliation than ever. If that proves the case, success in the field will not bring peace but merely a resentful pause in the conflict.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis