Why is it so hard to talk about peace in Sri Lanka?

In this talk to Sydney Ideas, recorded by ABC Big Ideas on 22 September 2014 and broadcast on Australian national TV the following month, I spoke about the challenges of labelling Sri Lanka as peaceful. The talk centred around a July 2014 quote from the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot: “Sri Lanka is not everyone’s idea of an ideal society, but it is at peace.

I heard this quote when I first arrived in Australia in the same month it was uttered. My talk was planned and took place in the context of a debate in Australian politics about the treatment of so-called “boat people” – mainly Sri Lankan Tamils – seeking asylum in Australia. Therefore, following the first 30 minutes of the talk, a discussant section covered issues in Sri Lankan and Australian politics, before the floor was opened to questions from the audience, including a particularly colourful exchange that I would recommend all of you watch.

The talk is available to view or download from the ABC Big Ideas website – to access the video, please click the image below:

ABC Talk

Written by Gilberto

Gilberto is a Politics PhD Candidate at the University of Bristol. His research is located within international development and critical security studies. Presently he is completing his thesis on civil society in post-war Sri Lanka.

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