America fears alienation of Tamils

The continuing centralization of development and political activities by the Sri Lankan Government may further alienate ethnic and religious minority communities — including Muslims, Christians, and Hindus — and fuel expanding fears over the governments commitment to equal political rights and civil liberties, the U.S Government has said.

The US noted that while it has been five years since the end of Sri Lankas 26 year civil war, circumstances are more challenging than they were a year ago.

Although Northern Provincial Council elections were held in September 2013, there has been little movement on reconciliation or accountability by the Government of Sri Lanka, the U.S Government has said in a report to Congress.

“Indeed, the positions of many in the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamil populations have hardened, and steps towards reconciliation are increasingly seen as a zero-sum game. The continuing centralization of development and political activities by the GSL (Government of Sri Lanka) may further alienate ethnic and religious minority communities — including Muslims, Christians, and Hindus — and fuel expanding fears over the governments commitment to equal political rights and civil liberties,” the Obama administration added.

The U.S Government says its strategy in Sri Lanka is to work to protect democracy, rule of law, and human rights country-wide. Though USAIDs programs primarily operate in the former conflict zones of the north and east, they seek to appeal to moderate members of civil society and to empower youth and women throughout the country (more than a quarter of Sri Lankas households are headed by a female as a result of the conflict).

A broad range of U.S. programs provide funding to civil society partners that strive to maintain a democratic voice in the country and strengthen media freedom. U.S. programs also support the large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have yet to be resettled, as well as populations which have been resettled but continue to face pressing concerns in the areas of livelihood, shelter, demining, and sanitation. USAID programs continue to focus on the transition from relief to development.

The U.S says addressing the disparities between the post-conflict regions and the rest of the country will be a critical component in achieving a lasting peace.  (Colombo Gazette)