Sri Lanka’s Failure to Confront Its Past and Present Casts a Shadow on Its Future

Sri Lanka’s Failure to Confront Its Past and Present Casts a Shadow on Its Future
Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil women sit holding placards with portraits of their missing relatives as they protest outside a railway station in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 6, 2015 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

JAFFNA, Sri Lanka—More than eight years have passed since Sri Lanka declared the end of its nearly three-decade long civil war. Since then, the small island-nation in the Indian Ocean has made significant progress. The country has remained mostly peaceful; tourists have started arriving in droves; and investors, especially from China, have started pouring billions into Sri Lanka, given its strategic location.

And yet Sri Lanka’s march toward a stable, peaceful and prosperous future is threatened by two closely related problems: its hesitant approach to dealing with the events of the past, and its reluctance to tackle emerging tensions.

In both instances, the difficulties stem from the ethno-religious differences at the heart of much of the country’s politics.

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