This week marked the first anniversary of the Sri Lankan armed forces victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The military triumph last year brought to a close a civil war that had wracked the country since the early 1980s. In its wake, the regime of President Mahinda Rajpaksa has evinced little or no generosity toward the anguished Tamil minority population of the country. Many within that population weren’t avid supporters of the LTTE, but nevertheless harboured genuine grievances against the Sinhala majority. Even today, they continue to nurse a deep-seated sense of injustice.
Sadly, the ethnic triumphalism that has characterized the ruling regime will do little or nothing to assuage their concerns. If anything, they’ll be ever more convinced of their second class status as citizens of a nominally democratic country that is actually becoming an ‘ethnocracy.’
Worse still, the regime is deftly playing off two of the regional powers—China and India—against each other as both states are keen on courting Sri Lanka to reduce the influence of the other. Under these circumstances, the hopes of the Tamil minority for the redressing of their grievances may be dashed further. Such a prospect is hardly conducive to the long-term stability of Sri Lanka, despite its decisive if brutal defeat of the LTTE last year. A marginalized, frustrated and alienated ethnic minority should hardly constitute a source of jubilation on the part of the majority community, even in the aftermath of the end of a harsh, internecine civil war.