S R I L A N K A C A M P A I G N
Adele Barker and Damian Kingsbury, public domain, SLC file

Two Leading Academics Join the Council of Advisers

March 1, 2010 Sri Lanka Campaign Comments Off

The Council is delighted to welcome two new Advisers, both renowned academics

Adele Barker is a specialist in Russian and Slavic Studies at the University of Arizona and has a deep knowledge of NGOs in Russia, having run government sponsored exchanges between the University of Arizona and academic institutions in Turkmenia and Kazakhstan. She is the author or editor of five books on Russia and the Soviet Union.

She first went to Sri Lanka in 2001 as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and has returned to the island for two extended stays. Her recently published work of creative non-fiction Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka (Beacon Press, 2010) is part-memoir, part-travelogue of her own life on an island at war with itself. Prof Barker is deeply concerned about both the physical and psychological problems faced by those who have been displaced by the tsunami and the civil war and believes “that military victory achieves only a temporary absence of war but no real peace.” The urgent need, today, “is that the Tamil grievances that led to this war be addressed and that a truth and reconciliation commission begins to be formed. Otherwise, I worry that the divisions on this island will become etched even deeper.”

Professor Damien Kingsbury is an expert on political and security matters in South-East and South Asia, has written widely on these issues and advised both the Australian government on a range of security policy issues and also the Free Aceh Movement during the historic Helsinki peace talks. During this process, Prof Kingsbury drafted the negotiating points and negotiated much of the final agreement, including the critical issue of local democracy.

In a recent article he highlights the major economic problems facing the country (external debt greater than its annual economic output, and inflation at close to 25%), the need for a “genuine political solution” for Tamils after “decades of structural alienation” and “a return to free media, a more participatory approach to governing and a decentralisation of political power”. Sadly, he concludes that “None of this is likely, however, from Sri Lanka’s triumphalist President” and warns that “Sri Lanka’s Tamils will continue to feel outcasts in their own land, and will continue to try to flee, or perhaps again to fight. Sri Lanka’s presidential election is over, but the problems that led to its long civil war continue.”

See Adele Barker’s article: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adele-barker/heartbreak-in-post-war-ja_b_446328.html

See Damien Kingsbury’s article: 

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/has-sri-lanka-stumbled-on-path-to-democracy-20100128-n1ro.html