“Sri Lankan Solution” Will Not Work in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (1 October)- After more than 25 years of armed conflict, the civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009.

The military victory of the Sri Lankan government over the rebel Tamil Tigers is now touted by hardliners and hawks as a model for resolving festering armed conflicts in the world.  In fact, some government and military officials in the Philippines have been advocating the same “Sri Lanka solution” in ending the armed insurgencies in the country.

But did the conflict really end in Sri Lanka?  A gathering of peacebuilders from all over the world meeting in Davao City this week believes that this solution is not applicable nor even workable.  In fact, it would spell disaster if applied in the Philippine or Mindanao contexts.

Representatives from the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) met with peace advocates from Mindanao for Learning Sessions on Peacebuilding amidst Ethnic Differences, and Experiences with Early Warning and Early Response at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao.

Sri Lankan Professor Amal Jayawardane said that the Sri Lankan solution should not be a model for other nations seeking to achieve peace. Jayawardane, the Executive Director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS) based in Colombo, Sri Lanka said that the conflict ended neither as a military victory nor with a successful peace agreement.

The Government of Sri Lanka declared victory in May this year over the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) when they captured the last remaining LTTE stronghold and killed their leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran, ending decades of bloody civil war. However, the defeat of the LTTE did not address the root causes of the conflict. It is essential to find a political solution for these urgently, Jayawardane said.

Other areas dealing with conflict can learn from the experience of what happened. The disengagement of the LTTE from the negotiations, left no other option for the government than an all-out military response. Jayawardane warned legitimate revolutionary armed groups in Mindanao, “If you want to prevent what happened in Sri Lanka from happening to you, it is essential to continue to engage in dialogue.” He at the same vein said that government must also leave room for the same.

The Learning Session was attended by participants from Burma, South Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam. GPPAC South Asia, Caucasus, Western Balkans and West Africa and the European Centre for Conflict Prevention, GPPAC Global Secretariat also took part in the session with members of the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), an organization of civil society groups in Mindanao and Manila active in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

GPPAC is a world-wide civil society network that works to promote the importance of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The Davao-based IID is the Regional Initiator of GPPAC in Southeast Asia. From September 30 – October 7 the different peacebuilders of GPPAC are meeting to update each other and plan its activities for the coming years. Part of this work is the need to learn from each others’ experiences.

The GPPAC delegates will also be visiting conflict-hit communities in Central and Southern Mindanao to interact with communities caught in the conflicts, local government and military officials and armed groups.

For further information:
Myra Principe
IID Communications Officer
(+63 82) 29925-74 and 2992575
Email: myra@iidnet.org

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