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Defining Reconciliation

Samatha Mallempati

By Minna Thaheer , Pradeep Peiris and Kasun Pathiraja
International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, 2013, pp. 178, price not stated.


Reconciliation in post-war scenario is a complex process which involves genuine efforts by multiple stakeholders, not just the state to build a peaceful society. Sri Lanka is an example of how restricted reconciliation processes did not result in any tangible benefits to the communities affected by prolonged ethnic conflict. Therefore, this book is an attempt to go beyond conventional understanding of reconciliation (top down approach) propagated by the government and international and national agencies involved in reconciliation process in Sri Lanka by directly bringing in to limelight perceptions of affected the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese communities in the former war zones of  North and East about reconciliation.    The book presents various definitions of reconciliation by a very systematic literature survey that provides insight into the concept of reconciliation by three principal actors influencing the post-war scenario in Sri Lanka; the Sri Lankan state, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the UNHRC apart from definitions by scholars such as Galtung, Goodhand, Lederach, Raymond, Huyse, Uyangoda and Wickramasinghe to name a few. Definitions provided by scholars are contextualized to understand the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. The authors tried to address the lacuna in the existing literature on peoples’ perceptions on reconciliation through this book by adopting a pluralistic research methodology ‘consisting of field visits, in depth interviews, group discussions, and a survey with 600 non- random samples.  The war ended in military defeat of the LTTE by the government of Sri Lanka in 2009. In the past various attempts at political resolution of the conflict through negotiations failed due to intransigent positions taken by the principal aparties to the conflict, the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Lack of consensus on possible political solution among major Sinhala parties also contributed to the prolongation of conflict for thirty years. This led to the displacement, destruction, killings of innocent people by the LTTE as well as by the state security forces.  In this context the book points out to the fact that, the military defeat of the LTTE did not bring any tangible political and economic benefits to the Tamil minority community. There were large scale human rights violations by the security forces during and after the war and the UNHRC passed resolutions against the government of Sri Lanka in 2012, 2013 and in 2014 against human rights violations. Under these circumstances the Rajapaksa Government publicly acknowledged the plight of the ...

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