The End: Atrocity in a State of Denial

  • Rachel Seoighe
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Compromise after Conflict book series (PSCAC)


The Sri Lankan state’s official conflict narrative of the End was designed to deflect and deny responsibility for mass atrocity. It relied on a number of inter-relating discourses that were generated in the context of embedded, antagonistic social relations between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, the ‘internationalisaton’ of the conflict and its resolution, and the global paradigm of the ‘war on terror’ that allowed for easy depoliticisation and denigration of the LTTE. The overarching effect of these discourses was to facilitate the construction and consolidation of a national security state under the Rajapaksa government, which was characterised by techniques of denial and misrepresentation. This chapter sets out an analysis of Sri Lanka’s national security exceptionalism under Rajapaksa and examines the concentration of power under his Executive Presidency. At the End, the state relied heavily on techniques of denial to avoid external investigations, interventions and condemnation. These techniques were part of a carefully crafted discursive framework developed throughout the years of war and augmented at the End to facilitate and conceal the violence required to finish the war militarily. Domestically, the establishment of this conflict narrative necessitated a reliance on practices of state terror, to suppress dissent and induce support from the wider population. The national security state built by Rajapaksa relied on the state-sanctioned lexicon of war, which was perpetuated and consolidated by non-state actors.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Seoighe
    • 1
  1. 1.Middlesex University, UKLondonUK

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