Meeting discusses peace in Sri Lanka

Issue 

On September 21 about 200 people attended a forum on Sri Lanka organised by People for Human Rights and Racial Equality, a group comprising Sri Lankans of different ethnic groups living in Australia.

The main speaker was Professor Joseph Camilleri of Latrobe University's Centre for Conflict Resolution. He spoke of the need for "dialogue at many levels" — not only between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but also between groups of ordinary citizens belonging to different ethnic groups.

Most of the other speakers at the meeting advocated a federal system in Sri Lanka as a solution to the conflict. There was a tendency to blame both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE for the failure to reach a solution. The government was criticised for insisting on a unitary Sri Lankan state, the LTTE for demanding an independent Tamil state.

In reality, the root of the problem is the deeply racist character of the Sri Lankan state, which led to the LTTE taking up arms to fight for independence. The LTTE has, however, stated its willingness to consider a federal solution.

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