Date: 06-22-2001

The East-West Wire is a news service provided by the East-West Center. To see other recent East-West Wire stories, check http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-en.asp

For more information, contact Susan Kreifels at 808-944-7176 or eastwestwire@eastwestcenter.org

Included in this Wire report: 1. New East-West Center Publication: "Dysfunctional Democracy and the Dirty War in Sri Lanka" 2. What Climate Change Means for Pacific Islands 1. New East-West Center Publication: "Dysfunctional Democracy and the Dirty War in Sri Lanka," by Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake (8 pages). See the full publication at http://www.eastwestcenter.org/stored/pdfs/api052.pdf

Sri Lanka recently announced it would set up a presidential commission to determine the cause and perpetrators of the July 1983 riots that left hundreds of ethnic-minority Tamils killed. The weeklong carnage is widely considered the beginning of the 18-year-old civil war there.

From a distance, the war appears to be an ethnic conflict between the government’s Sinhala-dominated military and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). But the view from the war zone reveals something much more complex, says researcher Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake. Politicians and members of the defense industry and paramilitary groups have used the armed conflict to acquire personal and political profit. Violence by paramilitary groups and military forces alike has become routine and includes torture, rape, massacres, and summary executions.

"At various stages of the country's postcolonial modernization process, both (sides) have acted to foster the culture of violence through competitive and lately bloody politics for personal power and profit in the guise of ethnic liberation," Rajasingham-Senanayake writes in the East-West Center's new publication, "Dysfunctional Democracy and the Dirty War in Sri Lanka."

The country's "dirty war," according to Rajasingham-Senanayake, reaches across ethnic and national boundaries, undermining civil-military relations and democratic practice, eroding multicultural social structures, and creating hidden economies of taxation and terror.

After more than 50 years of independence, Sri Lanka, once a model democracy, has been devastated by a war in which approximately 87,000 people had been killed or "disappeared" by 1999, according to official estimates.

Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, an anthropologist and senior fellow at the Social Scientist's Association and the International Centre of Ethnic Studies in Colombo, can be reached at dr214@slt.lk or (94-1)501-339.


HONOLULU (June 22) -- The El Nino of 1997-98 showed the significant impact that climate variations from year-to-year have on rainfall, tropical storms and fisheries in the Pacific.

"Changes in climate matter to individuals, communities, businesses and governments who call islands home," says East-West Center President Charles Morrison in a climate report coordinated by the Center. "Your valuable natural resources, traditional ways of life, critical economic sectors, community support, infrastructure and, to a great extent, your future depend on developing an effective response to the challenges presented by climate variability and change."

The draft final report of the Pacific Islands Regional Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Variability and Change (Pacific Regional http://www2.eastwestcenter.org/climate/assessment. Public comments on the report will be accepted until June 30. Email them to Climcomm@eastwestcenter.org

Eileen Shea, the East-West Center's climate project coordinator, can be reached at sheae@eastwestcenter.org

or (808)944-7253.

This is an East-West Wire, copyright East-West Center