Appeal for Peace and Democracy in Sri Lanka


We write to support the historic opportunity for peace in Sri Lanka. We welcome the courage of the political actors who have embarked on this road, and applaud the political will of the larger public in all parts of Sri Lanka, who have in their different ways pushed and encouraged their leadership to invest in the peace process. It is in this spirit that we would like to join our voices with those forces in Sri Lankan civil society who have urged that the peace process be guided by, and aimed at, broader norms of democracy and human rights.

In a context where our euphoria regarding the peace process may tempt us to turn a blind eye to human rights violations, some protagonists in the conflict may exploit the ceasefire to attack dissidents and quell dissent. In fact, in recent weeks some have used the fragility of the peace process to condemn human rights NGOs who have advocated closer scrutiny of ongoing human rights violations by the major protagonists.

We advance this appeal to argue that a fragile peace process is precisely the context where we have to be particularly vigilant in ensuring the space for dissent and broader civil society participation, in pressing for the democratic accountability of the major protagonists in the peace talks. This vigilance is critical, particularly in the unfortunate event that the peace process disintegrates — we should ensure that the peace process does not end up defeating movement towards democratization. It would be the most regrettable of ironies if the ultimate impact of the peace process were to be a disempowered civil society whose dissenting voices have been crushed in the name of peace. In contrast, if open dialogue accompanies the peace process, even if a formal agreement is not reached, the broader conversation may have moved forward to a new level of understanding. Movement toward peace is often an incremental process and in encouraging wider dialogue and debate, each step that is linked with the democratic process will also be a step forward towards the long-term goal of a sustainable peace.

As we know, the Norwegian mediation will address the modalities of discussion between the negotiating teams of the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE. However, we would like to urge that the peace process be recognized as extending beyond the negotiating table to the civic life of the populace. Currently this has been interpreted primarily in terms of the easing of embargoes and the lifting of security checkpoints. These initiatives go a long way towards transforming the living conditions of ordinary citizens and should be encouraged and strengthened.

Simultaneously however, we also see ‘normalization’ as a political process that should move us towards the demilitarization of political institutions, the democratization of political culture and the furtherance of human rights norms. The legitimacy of the peace process depends not only on the cessation of hostilities, but also on broader questions of democratic accountability. Being open to a plurality of voices, including those critical of the participants in the peace process, provides a crucial starting point for strengthening the legitimacy and enhancing the substantive direction of the peace process. It is from this standpoint that this appeal focuses on the space for dissent as crucial for the sustainability of a peace agreement. Among other issues, we trust that robust public debate will also help to bring to the table the concerns of Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese not represented by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

We would like to urge that the Norwegian mediators set-up a formal process of human rights monitoring; such a process could support NGOs, the media and other institutions of civil society that seek to hold the principal protagonists accountable to norms of democracy and human rights. We appeal to the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to protect the space for dissent and affirm that their participation in the peace process is informed by a commitment to democratic principles. In closing, we also applaud those human rights advocates who have had the courage to take an independent stance in scrutinizing the conduct of the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

Signatories

1.Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa. 2.Lord Eric Avebury, Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, House of Lords, United Kingdom. 3.Dr. Arun Gandhi, Founder Director, M.K. Gandhi Institute, Christian Brothers University, Memphis TN, USA. 4.Dr. Ursula M. Franklin C.C. FRSC, University Professor Emeritus, Massey College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 5.Prof. Henry Steiner, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, USA. 6.Dr. A. Sivanandan, Director, Institute of Race Relations, UK. 7.Prof. S. J. Tambiah, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. 8.Dr. Hanna Newcombe, Director, Peace Research Institute, Dundas, Ontario, Canada. 9.Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA. 10.Dr. Metta Spencer, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 11.Prof. David Little, Dunphy Professor in Religion, Ethnicity, and International Conflict, Divinity school, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. 12.Prof. Richard Gombrich, Boden Professor of Sanskrit, University of Oxford, UK. 13.Prof. Robert Perinbanayagam, Hunter College, New York, NY, USA. 14.Dr. Vasuki Nesiah, Senior Associate, International Center for Transitional Justice, New York, NY, USA. 15.Gary Purdy, University Professor and Director, McMaster University Center for Peace Studies, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 16.Prof. Robert Rotberg, Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. 17.Prof. H. L. Seniviratne, University of Virginia, USA. 18.Prof. Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh, UK 19.Elisabeth Boetzkes, Director, Women’s Studies Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 20.Hilary Charlesworth, Director of the Center for International and Public Law, Australian National University, Australia. 21.Dr. S. Nanthikesan, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA., USA. 22.Prof. A. Kumar David, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China. 23.Prof. Valentine Daniel, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. 24.Clarence Dias, President, International Center for Law And Development, New York, NY, USA 25.Prof. Maya Chadda, Council on Foreign Relations, USA. 26.Prof. Guenter Frankenberg, University of Frankfurt, Germany. 27.Rev. Janet Garvey Stangvik, Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living, Napa Valley, California, USA. 28.Prof. Anthony Anghie, University of Utah School of Law, Salt Lake City, Utah. 29.Prof. Malathi De Alwis, Visiting Professor, New School University, New York, NY, USA. 30.Prof. Quadri Ismail, University of Minnesota, USA. 31.Prof. Pradeep Jeganthan, University of Minnesota, USA. 32.Dr. Kashyapa Yapa, Director, Ozogoche Irrigation Project, Committee for Local Development, Guamote, Chimborazo, Ecuador. 33.Prof. N. Shanmugaratnam, Professor of Development Studies, Agricultural University of Norway, Norway. 34.Ahilan Kadirgmar, New School University, New York, USA. 35.Prof. Yosuke Yotoriyama, Niigata University, Japan. 36.Prof. Richard Young, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, USA. 37.Dr. Therese Onderdenwijngaard, Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 38.Prof. Fabienne Peter, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. 39.Rakesh Rajani, Executive Director, HakiElimu, Tanzania. 40.Dr. Dharini Rajasingham, International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University, NY, USA. 41.Ratna Kapur, Director, Center for Feminist Legal Research, Delhi, India. 42.Dr. Celestine Nyamu-Musembi,. Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK. 43.Dr. Chandra Lekha Sriram, International Peace Academy, USA 44.Sharmini Fernando, Center for Refugee Studies, York University, Hamilton, Canada. 45.Wenzhuo Hou, Migrant Worker Program, Beijing, China. 46.Ameena Hussein, Writer, Geneva, Switzerland. 47.Sangeetha Nesiah, Creekside Education Trust, UK. 48.Dilshika Jayamaha, Journalist, New York, NY, USA. 49.Kevin Shimmin, Union Representative, UFCW Canada, Locals 175 and 633, Canada. 50.Ceylon Mooney, Board member, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, USA. 51.Mithran Tiruchelvam, Independent Scholar, New York, NY, USA. 52.Sara Zucker, Director, Project on Justice in Times of Transition, Harvard University, USA. 53.Aaron Moore, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA. 54.Benoit Pasquereau, Marconi, UK. 55.Blake-Burr-McNeal, University of Memphis, USA. 56.Christopher Pollmann, Noel Fellow at European Union Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA., USA and Metz University, France. 57.Cynthia Milton, Coordinator, Legacies of Authoritarianism Research Circle, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. 58.Darshan Ambalavanar, Department of Religion, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. 59.Dr. Anna Doney, Clinical Psychologist, Cambridge, UK. 60.Dr. Anne M. Blackburn, University of South Carolina, USA. 61.Dr. Donald Woodside, Faculty of Health Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 62.Dr. Richard J Preston, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., Canada. 63.Dr. Alan Keenan, Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethno-political Conflict, University of Pennsylvania, USA. 64.Dr. David Dickson, Assistant Director, IMBA Program University of Memphis, Memphis, USA. 65.Dr. Derek Paul, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 66.Dr. Elizabeth J Harris, Honorary Lecturer, Birmingham University, UK. 67.Dr. Frederick Knight, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia, USA. 68.Dr. Gordon McCline, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 69.Dr. Jack Santa-Barbara, Associate, Center for Peace Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 70.Dr. Jasmin Habib, Postdoctoral Research & Teaching Fellow, Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 71.Dr. Joanna Santa Barbara, Center for Peace Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 72.Dr. K.M.Wilson-Yang, Research Co-ordinator, Department of Anesthesia, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 73.Dr. Len Lothstein, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA. 74.Dr. Louis Bickford, Senior Associate, International Center for Transitional Justice, New York, UK. 75.Dr. Mary-Beth Raddon, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Canada. 76.Dr. Daniela Dohmes-Ockenfels, Judge, Braunschweig, Germany. 77.Dr. Michael Polanyi, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 78.Dr. Mohamed M. Arafa, Georgia DOT, Georgia, USA. 79.Dr. Pablo Policzer, Institute for International Relations, University of British Columbia, Canada. 80.Dr. Paul Younger, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 81.Dr. R. Rajmohan, Independent scholar, Toronto, Canada 82.Dr. Ram Manikkalingam, Research Fellow, Open Society Institute, USA. 83.Dr. Robert Chase MD, Dept of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. 84.Dr. Robin Lucy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 85.Dr. Ron McDonald, Pastoral Counselor, Church Health Center, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. 86.Dr. Seddiq Weera, Director, Afghanistan Peace Program, Center for Peace Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 87.Lalith Lankatilleke, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, New York, USA 88.Lisa Kois, Independent Scholar, New York, NY, USA. 89.Mangalika de Silva, Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 90.Harriet Woodside, Occupational Therapist, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 91.Peter Rosenblum, Director Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, USA. 92.Prof. Alice Fothergill, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA. 93.Prof. Andrew Muller, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 94.Prof. Anne Warner La Forest, University of New Brunswick, Canada.. 95.Prof. Chris Rodrigo, George Mason University, USA. 96.Prof. Corinne Dempsey, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, USA 97.Prof. David Germano, University of Virginia, USA. 98.Prof. David Kennedy, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA., USA. 99.Prof. Dell Hymes, Commonwealth Professor of Anthropology (emeritus), University of Virginia, USA. 100.Prof. Dennis B. McGilvray, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. 101.Prof. Donald Wells, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. 102.Prof. Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA., USA. 103.Prof. Frederick H. Damon, University of Virginia, USA. 104.Prof. George Sorger, Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 105.Prof. H.M.R. Meier, Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 106.Prof. Harvey A. Feit, FRSC, Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 107.Prof. Jeanne Marecek, Department of Psychology, Swarthmore College, USA. 108.Prof. Jerry Frug, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA., USA. 109.Prof. Kerry Rittich, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada. 110.Prof. Marc Howard Ross, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor, Department of Political Science, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA 111.Prof. Mark Vorobej , Department of Philosophy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 112.Prof. Martha Minow, Harvard Law School, USA.

113.Prof. Michele R. Gamburd, Portland State University, USA. 114.Prof. Nancy Howell, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. 115.Prof. Obiora Chinedu Okafor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada. 116.Prof. Patricia E. Perkins, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada. 117.Prof. Robert Wai, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada. 118.Prof. Sanjay Reddy, Barnard College, USA. 119.Prof. Tayyab Mahmud, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, USA. 120.Rev. Dev Anandarajan, Uniting Church in Australia, Victoria, Australia. 121.Rev. Cathy Hird, St. Andrew’s United Church, Ripley, Ontario, Canada. 122.Vikram Singh, Columbia University, USA. 123.Wayne Lewchuk, Director, Labor Studies Program, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 124.Dr.Marlyn Tadros, Visiting Fellow, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA. 125.Prof. Kofi Quashigah, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana. 126.Lareef Zubair, Columbia University, New York, USA.

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