See More on Facebook

Analysis

Country Profile: Sri Lanka

A cursory look at Sri Lanka and the forces that shape her going into the 21st century.


Written by

Updated: January 25, 2018

A civil war in Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern tip of India, raged intermittently between 1983 and 2009 – fuelled in part by tensions between the ethnic majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils.

Over 1,00,000 Sri Lankans were driven out of the country as part of the anti-Tamil pogrom in the early 1980s. These refugees continue to live in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu with their state of homelessness lost on most.

The violence that started in 1983 ended in May 2009 when the government forces seized the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. The fight against the government was led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant organization founded by V Prabhakaran that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

The island nation – Ceylon as it was called then – was ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and then finally by the British for nearly 150 years until 1948 when the country gained its independence.

In recent years, the country’s President Maithripala Sirisena ordering the reinstatement of ban on women buying alcohol or in places where it is served. The President’s order came days after the finance minister revoked the 38-year ban in this mostly conservative Buddhist nation.

Protecting former army chief

The President was in the news in 2017 for vowing to protect a former army chief accused of crimes committed in the final phase of the country’s civil war in 2009.

“I state very clearly that I will not allow anyone in the world to touch Jagath Jayasuriya or any other military chief or any war hero in this country,” the media reported the President as saying.

Sirisena’s statement came a week after rights groups filed criminal lawsuits in South America against Jayasuriya, who served as the country’s envoy to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Suriname.

The lawsuits allege that Jayasuriya oversaw military units that attacked hospitals and killed, disappeared and tortured thousands of people.

Human Rights Violations

More than 100,000 people are believed to have been killed in Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, including 40,000 to 70,000 in the final phase. At the height of the conflict, some 800,000 people were displaced.

In a joint resolution in 2015 at the UN Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka promised, among other things, a judicial mechanism to prosecute those accused of human rights abuses.

However, little progress has been made.

Hambantota Port

Sri Lanka made headlines in 2017 when it sold a 70 percent stake of its Hambantota port, which straddles the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, for US$1.12 billion to a Chinese company.

The China Merchants Ports Holdings will run the newly-constructed port over a 99-year period. The President said the deal will help Sri Lanka tide over mounting debts and add another important link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis

What does Vietnam’s new cyber law mean for online dissent?

Will Facebook kowtow to the Vietnamese government to keep its market share. Facebook is in violation of a Vietnamese new cybersecurity law by allowing its users to post content critical of the communist government on its platform, the Ministry of Information and Communication announced on Wednesday of last week. The news came just days after the law went into effect on Jan. 1. The new legislation requires internet companies to comply with government demands to remove user-posted material it doesn’t like. The law also stipulates that information technology companies—Facebook and Google for instance—may be required to set up local offices and store customer data domestically, a feature which human rights advocates worry might make it easier for the government to track and charge dissidents for their online activities. This new legislation follows a pattern of increasing digital scrutiny by th


By Quinn Libson
January 15, 2019

Analysis

Seat belt warning as storm clouds loom in 2019

A look at potential headlines in 2019 by the Straits Times’ Warren Fernandez. You have been here before. As you settle into your comfortable seat for the long flight ahead, a voice crackles from the cockpit. “Our flying time today will be 12 hours, 40 minutes, and we expect a smooth journey ahead, but there looks to be some pockets of turbulence along the way,” your captain says, sounding vaguely assuring. “We suggest you keep your seat-belt on.” So was said on my recent Singapore Airlines flight home from holidaying abroad. It prompted several hours of meandering musings from 30,000 feet in the air about what lies ahead in the New Year. Some of the storm clouds that appear to loom on the political horizon include: 1. US-China: rivalries among frenemies Three recent developments sum up the precarious state of relations between the world’s two main powers, now on a tentative


By The Straits Times
January 7, 2019

Analysis

Afghan war helped Pakistan keep nuclear option: US papers

US backing for anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan may have enabled the Pakistan bomb. Torn between preventing Pakistan from going nuclear and fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States appears to have decided that pushing the Russians out of Kabul was more important, shows a set of documents released by the US State Department. Official US memos and letter — released under an arrangement to make public official documents after 30 years — show that Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (in office from 1978 to 1989) also played a key role in convincing Washington to continue to support Islamabad despite its nuclear programme. Timeline: History of US-Pakistan relations A confidential State Department report, dated Aug 20, 1984, shows that by 1984 Washington knew Islamabad had acquired the


By Dawn
December 24, 2018

Analysis

What caused the Sunda Strait tsunami?

A volcanic eruption may have been the cause of the cataclysmic event. Questions still abound about what caused the tsunami that hit beaches in Lampung and Banten on Saturday night, killing at least 168 and injuring 750. The lack of a powerful earthquake or strong volcanic eruption caused the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to initially announce that the waves did not constitute a tsunami but were instead caused by high tide. “The BMKG has not recorded any earthquake occurring tonight. What happened in Anyer [Banten] and the surrounding area was not a tsunami, but a tidal wave. There is also a full moon tonight, which causes high tidal waves. Stay calm,” the BMKG stated on its Twitter account on Saturday night, in a tweet that has since been deleted. It was only discovered hours later that the tide was three meter high, and potentially caused by volcanic activity of Mou


By The Jakarta Post
December 24, 2018

Analysis

Bangladesh most gender equal country in South Asia

Close behind is Sri Lanka at second place with Pakistan lagging far behind. For the fourth time in a row, Bangladesh held the top position among South Asian countries in ensuring gender equality. The country has slipped only one notch down to the 48th position among 149 countries worldwide, but is still ahead of all other countries in Asia except the Philippines, according to World Economic Forum’s ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2018’ published on Monday. “Bangladesh consolidates its position as the region’s top performer and breaks into the top five in the global index on the Political Empowerment sub-index this year, recording progress on closing its political gender gap, despite a widening gender gap in terms of labour force participation,” said the report. Its South Asian neighbours on the index are Sri Lanka, ranked 100th, Nepal ranked 105th, India ranked 1


By Daily Star
December 20, 2018

Analysis

Japanese views of U.S. ties worsen in poll

Respondents were less likely to respond positively due to recent developments. A significant decrease in Japanese respondents who called current Japan-U.S. relations “good” or “very good” can be seen in a recent joint survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun and the U.S. survey firm Gallup. In the survey, Japanese respondents who said relations are “good” or “very good” stood at 39 percent, down by 17 points from the 56 percent in the previous survey last year. The 17-point drop is the largest decline since the method of the poll was changed to a telephone-based survey in 2000. Those who said relations are “poor” or “very poor” also stood at 39 percent. That figure is up from 23 percent last year. The joint telephone survey was conducted from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Japan and from Nov. 26 to Dec. 3 in the United States. In Japan, 1,036 randomly selected people responded to the su


By The Japan News
December 20, 2018