It has been said before, but bears repeating. A permanent political solution within Rajavarothiam Sampanthan’s lifetime is Sri Lanka’s last best hope for achieving peace within this generation. The TNA after Sampanthan will be a fragmented and disintegrating alliance, whose conflicting interests will make a final solution to an ethnic conflict that has spanned six decades only ever more elusive.
The road to Jaffna from Colombo hugs the western coast of Sri Lanka. Palms stand sentinel, a lagoon shimmers for miles under a deep blue sky, the sea an invisible presence resonating in the dry, salty wind. The road runs smooth, oblivious to the wounds of a war that took thousands of lives, displaced lakhs of people, destroyed villages and communities and deeply split this country.
A long-awaited report by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been delivered to the Sri Lankan government. The report, a result of a U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution passed on Sri Lanka in March 2014, deals largely with abuses by government forces and the separatist Tamil Tigers that occurred during the end of the country’s civil war. The report will be made public imminently.
Sri Lanka is a strategically vital island nation lying off southern coast of India, and its recent shifts away from China under President Sirisena, who won a surprise victory on campaign promises to balance away from China, could be a big blow against China’s “string of pearls” strategy.
Manmoahn Singh’s absence at the Commonwealth Summit may not necessarily push the Sri Lankans deeper into the Chinese arms, but it would definitely make it slightly more difficult for New Delhi to do business with Colombo. Given its chaotic neighbourhood, India needs to keep its friends; not turn them into indifferent acquaintances.