Home Contact Us  

South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4896, 6 July 2015

Dateline Colombo

Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

There is an unofficial leader of the opposition. What we have is confusion; there are MPs of the same party in government as well as in the opposition.”
Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, JVP Leader

With the parliament of Sri Lanka in a state of dissolution and elections looming ahead, the costs confronting the nation remain high. Rupees 3 billion was spent on the last election, and 4 billion on the upcoming election, according to the election commissioner. It is hoped that the return on investment for the people’s money will be worth the exorbitant spend. Colossal expenditure in the name of statecraft should help reap rich benefits, and the country awaits the promised gains. Now, the priority is to elect the best representative for the next few years in parliament.

In the name of regime change and developmental politics, the country faced a large scale re-shuffling of roles in the public service with strategic points in the nation’s administration being vacated overnight. Will August see a repeat of January’s changes? If so, the year 2015 will be marked as the year wasted. It is hoped that the same old actors do not emerge in the political arena: small nations such as Sri Lanka cannot afford years fallen to this kind of politics.

As a fulfillment of the LLRC recommendation, the Foreign Minister held discussions with the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) in London. The direct engagement with these groups (some former sympathisers of the LTTE) ensures multi-faceted debate. While some see engagement with the GTF as a positive step others brand it illegal. GTF and many other diaspora organisations supported the ideology of LTTE and were therefore deemed terrorist fronts by the previous government through a gazette notification. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1373, 15 LTTE fronts were proscribed with effect from 1 April 2014.

Recently, Suren Surendran and GTF requested a review of the list of organisations and individuals proscribed in a gazette notification and proposed a four-pillar strategy. If the government take them off the list, this would have a serious impact on the re-engagement process with the diaspora. It may open the door towards greater reconciliation. On the other hand, it may also risk strengthening the LTTE set-up and cause its re-emergence. How does the government decide whom to talk to and whom not to? Are the listed organisations willing to drop the LTTE ideology of a separate state?

Of local parliamentary opposition to the government’s actions, the opposition raised the all-important question as to how the Foreign Minster could engage in such talks without prior approval from the cabinet, President, or without informing parliament. It was further noted that it is illegal to engage in discussions with an organisation listed as ‘terrorist’. MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said, “They should first give up the Eelam objective and declare that they are not aligned to the LTTE anymore.”  MP Prof GL Peiris said that post war stability was at stake due to the government’s failure to take tangible measures to counter the threat posed by the LTTE rump.  According to Ven Sobitha Thero this is a positive step to re-engage with GTF.

Given the opposition’s response, it is important to reach consensus to introduce solutions to bridge the gap between the Sri Lankan diaspora with those residing in Sri Lanka.  What should be the way forward? First, Eelam ideology should be fully given up and without any further engagement with and support to the LTTE. Following this, the reconciliation process should engaged in with the genuine intention both sides to commit to it sincerely. Finally, after this, a review of the list could be considered. It was Suren Surendran who defended the LTTE recruitment of child soldiers and accused the Sri Lankan military for using cluster bombs in his interview with Al Jazeera in 2009. The process to engage with a person who defended the LTTE’s position will take time, and therefore, a step-by-step method rather than a one-off process should be looked at. A process that includes the engagement of all stakeholders - not only the government but also civil society NGOs. An organisation such as Interpeace could be looked at to facilitate and assist the process, rather than involving nations with a significant diaspora population. It is important to learn from countries that have worked on reconciliation such as South Africa, Rwanda and others. Sri Lanka should also develop its own process. Joint discussions such as the South Africa-Sri Lanka joint seminar conducted last year on reconciliation with renowned thought leaders who engaged within their own countries is important.

The Diaspora Festival was proposed by the Foreign Ministry as a means to re-connect with their place of origin.  A comprehensive diaspora re-engagement plan should be prepared by the Foreign Ministry and presented to the parliament. Rather than taking ad hoc measures, a systematic approach to engaging with these groups is necessary. The engagement plan could have recommendations such as to assign diaspora officers at embassies to engage with the disconnected diaspora, gather information, and attend to their requests. Many more useful ideas could be looked at and included in this document which should be compiled with inputs from all stakeholders including the opposition members of parliament, all political parties, and the general public.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Changing Political Horizons in Sri Lanka?

The Geopolitics of Floating Bases and the New World Order

Monuments Over Mortality?

Sri Lanka: Leveraging the Politics of Geography

The Forgotten Professions: The Plight of a Nation

Crisis and Foresight Analysis

Steering Co-operation Across Oceans

Sri Lanka: National Interests in a Globalised World

Re-building Sri Lanka: An Island at a Crossroads

Forecast 2017: Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Foreign Policy: Diaspora and Lobbying

Securing Sri Lanka's National Interests

Understanding our “Blindspot” to Make Peacebuilding Comprehensive

Oceans of (Dis)trust

Death and Democracy

The Island and the Mainland: Impact of Fisheries on Indo-Lanka Relations

New Delhi-Tamil Nadu Relations and India’s Sri Lanka Policy

Remembering Tagore in Turbulent Times

Politics of Promise: Between Sirisena and Rajapaksa

Conflict to Co-existence: Debating Heritage and Homogenisation

Forecast 2016: A Roadmap for Sri Lanka

China Prepares for a Modern War

Riot and Responsibility: Governance in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka and the World: Terrorism and Effective Reconciliation

Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.