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Coming out of the margins : Justice and Reconciliation for Conflict-Affected Muslims in Sri Lanka

Research Papers

Coming out of the margins : Justice and Reconciliation for Conflict-Affected Muslims in Sri Lanka

Now, nearly nine years after its civil war has ended, as Sri Lanka reluctantly limps towards transitional justice and peace-building, conflict-affected Muslims find themselves at the margins of post-conflict reforms in a climate where they are having to battle a rising reputation as the new enemy of both the Sinhalese and Tamils. During the course of the country's three-decade ethnic conflict Muslims were frequently affected by the conflict but were not considered party to it and not effectively included in conflict resolution and peace-building processes. When the prospects of post-conflict reform, transitional justice, constitutional reform, and reconciliation, are all largely trapped in a toxic combination of insufficient political will, incompetence, and majoritarian politics, this report aims to understand the positions of Sri Lankas conflict-affected Muslims on post-war reforms.

The report explores the wants and needs of Muslims from the governments proposed transitional justice process and the internal issues impeding the community from fully accessing these mechanisms. The report finds that the engagement of Muslims in the national processes of reconciliation is greatly limited through a trifactor of damaging politics, parochial religious leaders, and less-empowered civil society. While largely considering Muslims living in the North and East who were directly affected by armed violence, the report also considers the more recent attacks against Muslims living outside of the North and East and makes a case for these incidents to also be included in the transitional justice and reconciliation process. The perspectives of Muslims, as presented in this report, are crucial because they simultaneously have the potential to challenge and enhance post-conflict reforms; emphasise the systemic nature of minority rights abuses and the fragility of the current security context; and affirm the importance of truth, justice, and reconciliation for long-term sustainable peace.

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