WASHINGTON, DC: The Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank, has released two reports that call on the international community to play a larger role in Sri Lanka to ensure that “the culture of impunity is replaced with a culture of responsibility, accountability, and fulfillment of full rights of the Tamil community and all other minorities in the country.”
The primary report, titled “The Long Shadow of War: The Struggle for Justice in Postwar Sri Lanka,” describes the situation on the ground, as the government continues to claim and hold land that should be returned to its rightful owners, the Tamil population. “I Speak Without Fear: Where Are Our Loved Ones Who Have Been Abducted, Arrested, and Disappeared?,” the second report, contains testimonies of individuals still searching for loved ones that are missing or imprisoned – even six years after the end of the country’s civil war.
“We commend the Oakland Institute for conducting this vital field researching showing that more must be done in Sri Lanka,” said Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, executive director of the Tamil American Peace Initiative (TAPI), a nonprofit that seeks to promote peace, prosperity and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. “The Sirisena government should immediately work with the international community to create meaningful reform on reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. All ethnic and religious groups in our country deserve to live in a safe, free and tolerant society, not one of arbitrary arrests, illegal land grabs and missing persons.”
Based in Oakland, California, the Oakland Institute seeks to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues in both national and international forums. The two independent reports take an in-depth look at the ongoing militarization in the North and East and the systematic discrimination against Tamils at the hands of the country’s Buddhist Sinhalese majority.
Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May 2009 after 26 years of conflict. Since then, despite claims from the former Rajapaksa government and the current Sirisena administration, land that has been illegally seized by the Sri Lankan military has yet to be returned to its rightful owners. Incomplete and failed domestic inquiries on abuses committed during the war have caused Tamils and other minority groups to distrust the government, as it refuses to release information related to missing persons or political prisoners, many of whom are being held without charge.
The Tamil American Peace Initiative (TAPI) was formed by a group of Tamil Americans to help bring lasting peace, justice, democracy and economic development to Sri Lanka; to work toward true reconciliation in Sri Lanka by promoting justice, accountability and transparency; and to support a Sri Lankan government that will defend the rights and well-being of all its citizens.