“Sri Lanka After the Easter Attacks – An Assessment”
Mr Jeevan Thiagarajah
Chairman of the Center for Humanitarian Affairs
Ms Noorita Mohd Noor
Senior Fellow and Deputy Head
International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Sri Lanka is a country long bedevilled by religious and political violence, ranging from a series of youth insurrections in the 1970s, to the 30-year civil war involving the ethno-separatist LTTE group which waged a viscous campaign for a separate homeland for the minority Tamil community. More recently, radical religious groups and hardline right-wing elements the Sinhalese community have instigated riots targeting Muslim and religious minorities. The recent suicide attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, one of the worst jihadist attacks since 9/11, has introduced a new conflict dynamic, with the involvement of a group of radicalised Sri Lankan Muslims with suspected links to the Islamic State (IS), as suicide bombers. The weeks following the attack saw communal tensions spill over into episodic violence involving hardline right-wing elements and militant Sinhalese groups and some minority Muslims. Social media was also used to spread Islamophobic propaganda, including a call to boycott commercial establishments owned by Muslims. The episode was one of the worst outbreaks of communal riots seen in the country since 1983.
This presentation will assess the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday, which represents a shift from previous conflict episodes in Sri Lanka. What failed? Who gains? Whither now Sri Lanka?
About the Speaker
Mr Jeevan Thiagarajah is Chairman of the Center for Humanitarian Affairs, a non-profit organization based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He has worked in the non-profit sector in Sri Lanka since 1984 and has held executive positions in several humanitarian and human rights organisations. He has also consulted for the Sri Lanka government as well as multilateral bodies such as the United Nations, advising on policies related to population displacement, the marginalization of minority communities, counter violent extremism (CVE) programs and the disbursement of development aid.