FULLY BOOKED Reactive Media Talk: Sri Lanka – a hollow victory?

Talk Tuesday 24th February, 2009

The Tamil Tigers are looking closer than ever to military defeat as government forces continue to overrun the last remaining rebel strongholds in the north of the country. With an end to the military stalemate and the 25 year civil war potentially in sight, what is the future for the LTTE and what are the consequences more generally for Sri Lanka?

Will a military defeat for the LTTE mean a return to its insurgency roots and will the Tigers continue to use their notoriously heavy-handed tactics on the Tamil people? Or can we now expect to see a new era in Sri Lankan politics with the government and the LTTE returning to dialogue and peace-building? What will happen to the thousands of displaced persons and injured civilians that have resulted from this war – a situation that the international aid agencies have declared to be a humanitarian disaster?  And what is the likelihood that the end of the war will bring with it a return to press freedom and an improved human rights record?

Frances Harrison was the BBC’s Colombo correspondent from 2000 to 2004 during the last peace process between the Tamil Tigers and the government. She is now a freelance journalist. 
Charu Lata Hogg
worked as an international journalist in India and Sri Lanka for over 12 years, writing for numerous publications. As Associate Fellow in the Asia Programme at Chatham House, she has briefed governments, NGOs, corporations and the media on a range of issues in South Asia covering political, economic and security trends. She is currently also researcher with Human Rights Watch and covers developments in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Pearl Thevanayagam is an exiled journalist from Sri Lanka from the Tamil minority. She has been a print journalist since 1990 for various newspapers in Sri Lanka including the Weekend Express (independent English weekly) where she served as a news editor until she was forced to resign under pressure from the government in 1997 and had to go into hiding until 2001. She was also Colombo Correspondent to Times Of India. Pearl is a founder member and secretary of  EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) and in October 2007 was co-organiser of the Press Freedom Forum on Sri Lanka in the UK parliament to highlight the increasing threats, murders and abductions of media personnel.
Lal Wickrematunge is the managing editor of the Sunday Leader, the newspaper founded by his brother Lasantha Wickrematunge who was killed on 8 January 2009.
Raj Jayadevan is the leader of the Tamil Democratic Congress and the General Secretary of the recently formed Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka (APRSL). He has been involved in Sri Lankan politics since the mid 1970’s and came to the UK to study in 1979 following anti-Tamil violence in 1977. He was taken captive in 2005 by the LTTE and released after 62 days.

Priyath Liyanage is head of the Sinhala Serviceat the BBC