You know there is only so much you can give and there is only so much you can take. But how much do Catholics—not the ordinary Catholic person, but one of the IRA—how much do they want to take without giving anything? You cannot keep on taking and not give. And I have not seen them give too much up to be honest with you, since the peace process started.

 They get everything handed to them on a plate. Sinn Fein does anyway. We are just getting pushed further into the ground. Years ago the Catholics always said they were second class citizens; now we are second-class citizens.

—From Northern Ireland

 


INTRODUCTION

Few things are more complicated and contentious then the meaning of peace. Love, perhaps, takes the cake. Yet fairness—something so simple, something we (try to) teach our children and often fail to live out ourselves—is at the heart of war and peace. A sense of unfairness and injustice causes many a fight—from the playground to the battlefield. These fights often further perpetuate the original offending unfairness.

Many respondents described the unfairness of the aftermath of peace processes in terms of winning and losing. Some criticized the framing of war and its aftermath in terms of winners and losers as a damaging trivialization of human drama and loss. Others bemoaned their status and that of their community as losers. Is victory always a zero-sum game in which one side’s victory inevitably means the other side’s loss? Or is it possible for both sides to win, or at least for neither to lose so dearly they feel the need to fight again? This depends on both sides’ perceptions of the fairness of the terms of the aftermath.

Fairness of all kinds—economic, political, legal, and social—was sorely lacking, according to many interviewees. This begs the question: does peace without justice count as peace at all? Or is it merely a staging ground for new conflicts built on the foundation of old and entrenched inequalities? In the words of one Sri Lankan respondent: “There is no fighting and no more killings in the country. But neither is there peace in the country nor among people because there is no equality in the dealings of the power-holders.”


1) Q: Has the peace process been fair to every group?

A: It has not been fair to every group because one group is favoured over the other. Sinhalese are favoured over Tamils. Sinhalese are given all the rights and the freedom, whereas Tamils are deprived of all of these. Still Tamils are experiencing hardships and their life has not been improved at all. So it is not fair to every group in Sri Lanka.

From Sri Lanka

 

There are so many divisions among people even after the war, among ethnic groups and among religious groups. Affected people are still in their same old condition and there is a lot of discrimination against Tamils. The Tamils are neglected and there are planned political activities targeted against Tamils and there is no one to speak for Tamils. So, it is not fair by the Tamils.

From Sri Lanka[/expand]

 


2) What also happens is that we are in the rural area, and we are away from town, and most of the guys that were with us, they all benefited due to the fact that they are in an urban area. And our problem is because we are in the rural area; we are disadvantaged by that. And we feel they are in a position to assist us because they are in a position of power and influence. But they are not using their position of power and influence to assist their comrades now. ­

—From South Africa

 


3) Have I come out of this gaining or losing? It has put a different perspective on my life. It makes me see things in a different way. I wouldn’t be afraid to speak out and say things openly, more now than I would have in the past.

I think it is important that the words winner and loser are not put in the media. I think that would destroy. It is almost like a football arena; even though we say we are going out to play a game, there always have to be winners and losers. It is not a game. These are human lives.

From Northern Ireland

 

White people were the winners; they were the winners. Because what did they lose? Nothing! Everything is still normal for them. They still live in their large houses, they still have money in their hands, and money is power.

—From South Africa

 


4) I think…looking back at it, the deal that was struck was maybe the most practical one at the time, given the balance of forces and all the other issues. But looking at where we are now, I think for many of your rural poor and your working class people in what we would term African communities…if you go to Gugulethu or Nyanga, Khayelitsha, et cetera, I think the change hasn’t been fast enough. And we realised and we knew at the time that it wouldn’t happen overnight. It would be long and slow, but I think it is happening too slow, and things could have done a bit better. I think too much was given away, and too many compromises were made, especially at the economic level.

—From South Africa

 


5) Q: It is important that the peace process is fair to everybody?

A: It should be fair to everybody, but it is not.

Q: Is it fair to victims?

A: No. You take the money the government has spent on some enquiries into people that have killed in the Troubles. Now you take the thousands and millions of pounds that were spent on the people in Londonderry, that independent inquiry, there was no call for that. What was the outcome of that? To get an apology. You take that money and that money could have been put to better use.

Q: So do you think that victims have not been compensated enough?

A: There is no call for these enquiries. To spend millions of pounds. You take how many people are dying. Kids committing suicide, people dying with cancer. People are looking for enquiries for this and enquiries for that for something that has happened years ago. What for? To say they are sorry? For the government to say sorry to them at the end of it? What is the point in that? To me there is no point in it. When they would have been better saying to them people, “Yes the government was at fault, we are sorry for it, what can we do to make amends?” Rather than spend millions of pounds to say that. Sure, they could come out at any time and say that. They do not have to spend millions of pounds. There are children dying every day of cancer. Well, they could put money into that instead of spending it on independent enquiries. And put it into work and jobs, creating jobs for people. ­

—From Northern Ireland

 

I think it was harder for victims and people who had people injured in the Troubles and people killed in the Troubles. They do not believe in it at all. Because to me the government are only in it for themselves. They are not worried about the people in the streets.

—From Northern Ireland

 


6) If there is injustice, if there is no redistribution of resources, then there will be fights. Then there will be struggles. Then there won’t be peace. For peace to be established in any country, there should be justice; there should be the possibility of expressing one’s views. Laws should be fully just. Everyone should have the right to education. It is through all these things, that peace is established.

—From Sri Lanka

 


7) But I think that the anger is more generally about the way in which reconciliation—as a sort of national project—was approached. And I think in particular, people are angry about the way in which perpetrators were dealt with. There is a real belief, a widespread belief…that perpetrators got away with murder. Literally. They got away with it.

—From South Africa

 

Mostly, justice for South Africa is not good. Because if there were a fairness it would be equality. But there is no equality and justice…. I am going to talk about my sister now. They murdered her just opposite her house—she was murdered—so the police were phoning me to tell me to look out for the murderers. That’s not my job, I said.

—From South Africa

 


8) To me it wasn’t a fair settlement. Because firstly of the land issue…. Because those people who owned the land, they still own it…. Now that settlement there is outdated…because that was the agreement they had seventeen, eighteen years ago, and it is not relevant now. You can’t still base your whole future on that.

—From South Africa

 


9) All the people in the country ought to be looked at from the same angle; economic and other resources must be distributed equally. Presently, even the law is not impartial. These practices should end. Everybody should have equal access to government services irrespective of their social status. Such injustices affect peace. If only justice is meted out to all in every sector, the expected peace would dawn.

—From Sri Lanka

 


10) I think there is a lot more to it. When we look back again to 1994 and the Good Friday Agreement, for me, the laying-down of arms to stop the killing. You know no matter what society you are in…if that is what is happening—it is happening in Syria at the minute. The world is crying out for them to stop bombing Homs. That is an immediate thing that needs to stop. It was the same here. Shooting people and blowing people up needs to stop.

But in many ways—whenever you peel back the layers of the onion. The racketeering has to stop. The intimidation also has to stop. Justice has to prevail. And it also has to be seen to be prevailing.

Equality and fairness across all things. Be it employment laws or the right to go somewhere. And dare I say it, even the ability to walk down a road. In many ways the Orangemen in Portadown have every right to have a grievance in not being able to walk down Garvaghy Road. If I take my own medicine here. That is a whole new debate, but for the point we are making here, you have to then consider that peace is not just about stopping violence; it is about all those other elements.

—From Northern Ireland