Sri Lanka war crimes
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets one of the internally displaced persons receiving humanitarian assistance at the health clinic in the Manik Farm Camp. 23 May 2009 Vavuniya, Sri Lanka

A Ten Year Old War Crime is Sowing Instability in Sri Lanka Today

One of the worst mass atrocities in recent times took place in Sri Lanka during the final days of that country’s long civil war. In May 2009, tens of thousands of people were killed by Sri Lankan armed forces over the course of just a few days as the military sought to deal a final blow to an insurgent group known as the Tamil Tigers. In the process, they killed as many as 40,000 civilians.

No one was brought to justice for this crime against humanity. And the lack of accountability for those crimes is a key factor in that my guest, Kate Cronin- Furman, argues is contributing to political instability in Sri Lanka today.

Kate Cronin-Furman is an assistant professor of Human Rights in the Department of Political Science, University College London. In this conversation, she explains what happened during the final days of that civil war when this massacre occurred. We then discuss how the forces that carried out that crime against humanity are posing a big challenge to the political life of Sri Lanka, which entered an extremely tumultuous period this fall in which two people claimed to be prime minister at the same time.

We kick off discussing the Sri Lankan civil war and its brutal end days before having a longer discussion about the ways in which the lack of accountability for those events are undermining the political stability of Sri Lanka today.

This massacre of 40,000 people was second only to the genocide in Darfur as the worst mass atrocity event of the first decade of the 21st century. As you will learn in this episode, Sri Lankan politics is still defined by this atrocity in ways harmful to a healthy democracy.

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