EFSAS discusses recent attacks in Sri Lanka, China’s expansionism and growing radicalization in South Asia with Expert at Erasmus University
Representing the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), Mr. Dušan Vejinović (Senior Research Analyst EFSAS) and Ms. Yoana Barakova (Research Analyst EFSAS), held a meeting with Dr. Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits, Assistant Professor in Conflict and Peace Studies in the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Dr. Jayasundara-Smits’ research and teaching focus broadly on the inter-connections of governance, development, violent conflict and peace(building), and more specifically on the politics of war and peace, state-building, war economy, processes of post-war transitions, civil-military relations and external interventions in fragile and conflict areas. Her main geographical area of specialization is the region of South Asia and particularly Sri Lanka.
The delegation of EFSAS and Dr. Jayasundara-Smits discussed in-depth the growing radicalization and violent extremism in South Asia, using the recent example of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka as a case study. Dr. Jayasundara-Smits argued that numerous factors such as the history of violent inter-ethnic conflicts, bloodstained civil war, weak governmental system and rampant corruption have created a certain political vacuum in the country, which has given oxygen to the flourishing of radical elements. Dr. Jayasundara-Smits conveyed her apprehensions that not only the exact details surrounding the attacks, including perpetrators’ profiles and their support structure, are still wrapped in ambiguities and social and mainstream media fallacies, but in addition to that the social cohesion of the community could be severely damaged as a result of these ongoing misconceptions, which disproportionately target certain communities.
Ms. Yoana Barakova and Mr. Dušan Vejinović (EFSAS) with Dr. Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
EFSAS and Dr. Jayasundara-Smits further deliberated upon the Chinese expansionist design in South Asia, particularly in Sri Lanka, highlighting the oft-repeated case of the port of Hambantota, which was leased to China for 99 years after Sri Lanka was unable to repay its loans accrued under the Chinese ambitious multibillion dollar Belt & Road Initiative. She maintained that only the highest echelons and political elites of the Sri Lankan society seem to benefit from this so-professed economic developmental project, leaving the common people in an inequitable and unjust position in regards to job opportunities and economic and social growth. She further stated that the international community should contemplate certain introspection and ask itself how China managed to reach its current vicinity of an economic superpower, highlighting the gaps that have been left and overseen by other countries. Dr. Jayasundara-Smits argued that such misplacement of responsibility could be further observed when one analyses the fact that Europe appears more content that the expansion of Islamic State takes a direction towards East, far away from its neighbourhood, and therefore does not seem too willing to intervene in the volatile reality of the region of South Asia.
EFSAS and Dr. Jayasundara-Smits exchanged views on various possibilities for future collaboration and agreed upon the importance of raising awareness among the international community about the aforementioned issues through the organisation of joint events and partnering projects.