Rethinking Post-War Diaspora Advocacy for Accountability

Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka

by Mytili Bala, ‘International Human Rights Law Journal,’ 2015

Transitional_Justice_in_Sri_Lanka_Rethinking 2015

Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to a bloody end in May 2009, amidst allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity on both sides. Since then, Tamils in the diaspora, long accused of funding the war, have become vocal proponents for war crimes accountability. Some might label certain forms of diaspora advocacy as “lawfare” or “long-distance nationalism.” However, these labels fail to account for the complex memories and identities that shape diaspora advocacy for accountability today. In order for Sri Lanka to move forward from decades of conflict, transitional justice mechanisms to seek truth, pursue justice, and provide redress will need to address collective memories of violence. Inclusive transitional justice mechanisms could incorporate a diaspora component to vindicate the rights of diaspora Tamils as victims to truth and redress under international law. Ultimately, opening the door to diverse narratives,including competing narratives within the Tamil diaspora, could serve as a starting point to come to terms with the past and explore hopes for a shared future.

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