Regarding “Holding Sri Lanka to account” (Editorial, Feb. 4): Your call for accountability for what happened during Sri Lanka’s tragic 30-year conflict with terrorism represents a narrow focus on a complex reality. For peace to take hold, one must tread carefully to establish the conditions for successful reconciliation in more areas than justice alone. Much has been done in the war-affected regions to remove mines, resettle displaced persons, repair damage to infrastructure and re-establish social services.
Sri Lanka is calm and steps are being taken to stabilize the country and seek reconciliation. But this is a two-way street, and some elements of the Tamil body politic seem intent on seeking international punishment for the government of Sri Lanka, which at the same time is being criticized for not moving fast enough on reconciliation with the Tamils.
A premature and interventionist effort to seek justice will put these hard-fought gains at risk. Sri Lanka cannot be expected to allow an investigation into the conduct of its forces alone, and only during the last few weeks of the war. One needs to look at the totality of the war, including the atrocities committed by the Tamil Tigers. Following the war, the government granted amnesty to more than 11,000 former Tamil Tigers, some of whom had committed grave crimes. To open an investigation would cause them great anxiety and may cause some of them to revert to arms.
The process of healing has just started, and it is in our interest to complete it at our own pace in a sustainable manner.
JALIYA WICKRAMASURIYA, Washington (New York Times)