Colombo, Diaspora, Identity, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Post-war Sri Lanka: A conversation with Shanthi Sachithananthan

Shanthi Sachithananthan, the Chairperson of Viluthu has been featured on Groundviews during the war. This interview, conducted late 2009 after war’s end, considers significant developments over the course of the year including the demise of the LTTE.

Shanthi talks about the need to change the timbre of political interactions between the South and the tamil peoples. She also speaks about the Tamil diaspora, noting that their tactics at the time pandered to the mindset of the Tamil people in the country. She noted that in the future, more constructive engagement was necessary, pegged to treating Tamils in Sri Lanka as agents of change, and not just as helpless victims.

Noting that post-war, there is greater space for civil society in the North and East in comparison to the South, Shanthi observes that the dominance of large political parties in the South leave no place for independent groups or smaller political parties, leading to elections where the winners are not necessarily the best candidates. In response, I asked her to imagine whether this space for dissent and democracy would have been possible under the LTTE.

Shanthi also talks about what it feels like and means to call Sri Lanka home, and using this as a metaphor, talks about enduring need for Tamil self-determination.