Floods and Violence in Sri Lanka

“The last few weeks have seen some regions of Sri Lanka battered by heavy rains and floods affecting over a million people. Not only have tens of people died in the eastern and central regions, but agriculture has been affected in a major way -- contributing to increasing living costs, particularly of food items. Sri Lanka is in need of considerable assistance by international agencies to address the consequences of the floods,” says Asia Society Associate Fellow Ahilan Kadirgamar.

“In a worrying trend in the northern peninsula of Jaffna, the Tamil community is again enmeshed in a climate of fear due to a sudden rise in unexplained crimes including a series of gruesome killings. The heavy presence of the military in the peninsula has led local residents to claim these crimes could not happen without the knowledge of the military. The government continues to alienate the Jaffna Tamil community by its approach of militarization and centralized development initiatives with little local participation in ensuring security and shaping governance and development.

“President Rajapaksa left for the United States on a private visit last week, leading to much speculation in the local press on its purpose. Among the possible issues are the president’s approach and the U.S. response towards the process of accountability and reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka. The months ahead are likely to bring attention to the completion of the work of the panel of advisors to the U.N. Secretary General and the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by President Rajapaksa.  Attempts to bridge the work of the U.N. panel and the Sri Lankan Commission in order to address the concerns of Western governments regarding accountability issues have not been successful.”

Ahilan, who is based in New York, has just returned from Sri Lanka. He is spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum. To arrange an interview, contact the Asia Society communications department at 212-327-9271 or pr@asiasociety.org.