In Sri Lanka, The COVID Response is Exacerbating Religious & Ethnic Tensions

UN Dispatch logoby Mark Leon Goldberg, UN Dispatch in cooperation with Stanley Center for Peace & Security, June 22, 2021

Podcast interview with J.S. Tissainayagam at In Sri Lanka, The COVID Response is Exacerbating Religious and Ethnic Tensions | UN Dispatch

Sri Lanka war crimes

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets one of the internally displaced persons receiving humanitarian assistance at the health clinic in the Manik Farm Camp. 23 May 2009 Vavuniya, Sri Lanka UN Photo

In May 2009, the long running civil war in Sri Lanka ended with the defeat of ethnic Tamil insurgents by the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan armed forces.

The manner of this defeat was a mass atrocity event.

Tens of thousands of ethnic tamils were trapped in a thin stretch of land as the military bombarded the area. Since then there has been no accountability for the atrocity crimes committed, nor has there been any meaningful post-conflict peace and reconciliation efforts. In fact, many of those most directly involved in this atrocity are now the most senior political leaders of the country, including the president of the Sri Lanka, Gotobaya Rajapaksa.

Research has demonstrated that countries are more vulnerable to atrocity crimes if there is a recent history of atrocity and now real peace or reconciliation efforts. As my guest today J.S. Tissainaygam (Tissa) explains, this is certainly the case in Sri Lanka. Tissa is a journalist who recently reported a story examining how the government of Sri Lanka is responding to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that have deliberately exacerbated ethnic and religious tensions in Sri Lanka in a bid to assert Sinhalese dominance over ethnic minorities.

Mark Leon Goldberg is the executive editor of UN Dispatch


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