Nine Years After: On Ninth Anniversary Of The End Of Civil War In Sri Lanka –

Nine years is perhaps too short a time for deep wounds to heal, but it is enough time to begin to introspect. However, going by the polarised views around the anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, there are few signs of that. For the Tamils who gathered in Mullaitivu district in the Northern Province on Friday, it was a day to remember loved ones killed in those savage final days of the war that ended on May 18, 2009 — according to UN estimates, nearly 40,000 died. The southern Sinhalese political leadership, on the other hand, makes it a point to celebrate “war heroes” around the same time, hailing their efforts to bring peace. Even this year, national leaders, including President Maithripala Sirisena, saluted the soldiers for their sacrifice, while offering nothing but silence to the civilians who were caught in the conflict. The two disparate narratives of trauma and triumph can never meet, and in such a context, the chances for fruitfully negotiating this hard-won peace will remain slim. Time will only make it harder for the two communities to resolve the ethnic division that has outlived the war. The government led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came to power in 2015 promising, among other things, a political solution to Sri Lanka’s national question. It initiated the drafting of a constitution that would potentially devolve more powers to all provinces, including the Tamil-majority north and east. Preoccupied with the persistent tension within the ruling coalition, the leadership has done little to take the exercise forward at a convincing pace, let alone complete it. Even the welcome initiatives of the government in the affected areas, such as the release of military occupied land or efforts to probe cases of enforced disappearance, will have only limited appeal or impact in the absence of a durable political solution. The international community has spared the government of pressure on the accountability front, hoping that it would proactively address other concerns that linger for the Tamil citizens. If initiatives on the political front have been so stalled, efforts to revive the economy do not offer much promise either. Almost every family in the north and east is neck-deep in debt and young people are desperate for employment. To say that time is running out is to state the obvious. Addressing the present challenges is one way of helping a wounded people cope with their troubled past. The memories that haunt them may never die. But some healing may be possible if they have a better future to look forward to. This government, which came to power with the overwhelming support of Tamils, must not let them down. It must not add to the list of missed opportunities.



Meaning: Examine one’s own thoughts or feelings.

Example: “what they don’t do is introspect much about the reasons for their plight”


Meaning: To cause something, especially something that contains different people or opinions, to divide into two completely opposing groups.

Example: The debate is becoming polarized and there seems to be no middle ground.


Meaning: Extremely violent, wild, or frightening.

Example: a brutal and savage attack.

Synonyms: Attack, Condemn

Antonyms: Praise, Commend


Meaning: Greet.

Example: “he saluted her with a smile”

Synonyms: Acknowledge, Greet


Meaning: Essentially different in kind; not able to be compared.

Example: “they inhabit disparate worlds of thought”

Synonyms: Different, Dissimilar

Antonyms: Homogeneous


Meaning: Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis.

Example: “the event is relived with all the accompanying trauma”

Synonyms: Shock, Distress


Meaning: A great victory or achievement.

Example: “a garden built to celebrate Napoleon’s many triumphs”

Synonyms: Victory, Win

Antonyms: Defeat


Meaning: Producing good results.

Example: It was a most fruitful discussion, with both sides agreeing to adopt a common policy.

Synonyms: Good

Antonyms: Worst, Fruitless


Meaning: (of something abstract, especially a chance or margin) very small.

Example: “there was just a slim chance of success”

Synonyms: Slight, Slender

Antonyms: Good, Strong


Meaning: Relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition.

Example: “ethnic and cultural rights and traditions”

Synonyms: Racial, Genetic


Meaning: Survive or last beyond (a specified period or expected lifespan).

Example: “the organization had largely outlived its usefulness”

Synonyms: Outlast, Survive


Meaning: Transfer or delegate (power) to a lower level, especially from central government to local or regional administration.

Example: “measures to devolve power to a Scottish assembly”

Synonyms: Delegate, Assign

Antonyms: Centralize, Retain


Meaning: Continuing firmly or obstinately in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Example: “one of the government’s most persistent critics”

Synonyms: Tenacious, Determined

Antonyms: Irresolute


Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “a coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union


Meaning: Caused by necessity or force; compulsory.

Example: “a period of enforced idleness”


Meaning: To prevent someone from having to experience something unpleasant.

Example: Luckily, I was spared the embarrassment of having to sing in front of everyone.


Meaning: The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.

Example: “lack of accountability has corroded public respect for business and political leaders”

Synonyms: Responsibility, Liability


Meaning: To take a long time to leave or disappear.

Example: After the play had finished, we lingered for a while in the bar hoping to catch sight of the actors.

Synonyms: Staying, Remaining


Meaning: Give new strength or energy to.

Example: “the cool, refreshing water revived us all”

Synonyms: Revitalize, Refresh

Antonyms: Torpefy


Meaning: (of a person) having a great need or desire for something.

Example: “I am desperate for a cigarette”

Synonyms: Craving, Wanting


Meaning: Be persistently and disturbingly present in (the mind).

Example: “the sight haunted me for years”

Synonyms: Torment, Obsess


Meaning: Very great in amount.

Example: “his party won overwhelming support”

Synonyms: Enormous, Immense

Antonyms: Small