The Identity Politics of Peacebuilding: Civil Society in War-torn Sri Lanka

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Camilla Orjuela

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    List of Abbreviations

    ADEPAssociation of Disabled Ex-Service Personnel
    CBOCommunity-Based Organisation
    CPACentre for Performing Arts
    CWCCeylon Workers Congress
    ICESInternational Centre for Ethnic Studies
    ICRCInternational Committee of the Red Cross
    IGOInternational Governmental Organisation
    INGOInternational Non-Governmental Organisation
    IPKFIndian Peace Keeping Forces
    JVPJanatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front)
    LTTELiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    MIAMissing in Action
    MIRJEMovement for Inter-Racial Justice and Equality
    MPMember of Parliament
    NGONon-Governmental Organisation
    NIPUNational Integration Programme Unit
    NPCNational Peace Council
    PAPeople's Alliance
    PLOTEPeople's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam
    PPFPeople's Peace Front
    RsSri Lankan Rupees (Rs 100 is equivalent to approximately 1 USD)
    SLFPSri Lanka Freedom Party
    TULFTamil United Liberation Front
    UNHCRUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
    UNICEFUnited Nations Children's Fund
    UNPUnited National Party
    UTHR-JUniversity Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna)

    Acknowledgements

    Since I first visited Sri Lanka in 1992, I have been preoccupied with the whys of the ongoing war and the hows of peacemaking. This book is an outcome of a process which has been far larger than that of writing an academic text. There are many things which cannot be captured in a book like this. Among these are the face-to-face meetings with participants in peace demonstrations and seminars, the sleepless nights thinking about what human rights violations really are about, the admirable enthusiasm of leaders who have committed their lives to peace, and all the laughter and grief that I got to share. It has been a privilege to listen, learn, discuss and observe, and to get insight into people's lives and their strivings for peace. With this in mind, the critical approach of this study might seem impolite and troublesome. Who am I to come and ‘problematise’, and to turn the stories and struggles of people who have been living through violent conflict into academic jargon? This book is written in a normative peace research tradition, which sees non-violent conflict resolution as desirable and peace movements and people speaking out against war as hopeful. Indeed, peace work is often considered so hopeful that we tend to ignore the difficulties involved in such work. The war situation itself generates enough problems to keep us busy. Nevertheless, I believe that to be able to promote peace successfully we must also examine and problematise what we do and how we do it, make the dilemmas we encounter explicit and discuss the questions with which we constantly wrestle. Peace work is simply too important not to be critically analysed.

    I am deeply thankful to the many individuals I encountered, interviewed and shared sections of my life with, throughout the long research and writing process which led up to this book. What I learnt from them has not only gone into this book, but also into a lifelong engagement and concern for peace in Sri Lanka. Just as a book can never satisfactorily capture the complex realities of, and the many perspectives on, war and peacebuilding, my thanks to all those who have contributed to this book will never be complete. I am grateful to a long list of persons for inspiring discussions, creative ideas, careful reading of the manuscript in its various versions, translations, assistance with contacts during fieldwork, housing, warm-hearted hospitality and delicious food, moral support, love and friendship. Although this list is in no way exhaustive, I would like to specially mention and warmly thank: Hans and Kristina Andersson, Ingela Andersson, Dorine Arulanandam, Christine Bigdon, Natalie Birch, Gunilla Blomqvist, Suhada Buhary, Ken Bush, Visaka Dhramadasa and Somenath Parua, Tyrol Ferdinands, Andreas Godsäter, Fr. G. Jagath Premanath, Monica Gunapala and family, Jenny Gustafsson, Malin Hasselskog, Asoka Herath, Dhammika Herath, Björn Hettne, Peter Johansson, Monica Kagdis, Alan Keenan, Drew Lehman, Mona Lilja, Jonas Lindberg, Helena Lindholm Schulz, S.P. Nathan, Joakim Öjendal, Andrés Orjuela, Diego Orjuela, Jehan Perera, Premalatha (Rajitha) and Sam Pratheepan, Senthil Ram, Mahinda and Dhammika Ranjith, Jan Aart Scholte, Michael Schulz, Maria Stern, Stellan Vinthagen and Shanti Nandana Wijesinghe. Special thanks also to the staff of National Peace Council (NPC), leaders and members of Centre for Performing Arts in Trincomalee, Haputale, Alampil, Vavuniya, Jaffna and Colombo, and leaders and members of the Association for Disabled Ex-Service Personnel. Finally, I thank the Research Council of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the funding which enabled this research.

    Map of Sri Lanka

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    About the Author

    Camilla Orjuela (PhD) is a peace researcher at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She has specialised in Sri Lanka studies since the mid-1990s. Her research interests are identity-based conflicts; diaspora politics; the role of civil society in peacebuilding; development assistance; post-war reconstruction; and reconciliation. She also works as a journalist and a development consultant.

    E-mail: camilla.orjuela@globalstudies.gu.se


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