19 June, 2019

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Enough Is Enough!

By Shiranee Dissanayake

Shiranee Dissanayake

Enough is enough! Having lived through the gruesome experience of 30 years of terrorism of the brand of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the people of Sri Lanka be they Sinhala, Tamil Muslim Burgher or Malay have experience the ultimate in physical and mental suffering. The LTTE was allowed to thrive on Sri Lankan soil, expand internationally and develop into the most dangerous, ruthless terrorist organization in the world. Although there were many attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully, political, religious, racial and other considerations by the politicians as well as civil society groups deterred the process from constructively moving forward. Looking back at 71 years of independence it is evident that those who wielded the reins of power have not had the foresight, the qualities of leadership or the political commitment needed to ensure lasting peace, let alone prosperity for this our motherland. The horrific senseless killings of innocent civilians on 21st April 2019, by the ISIS based Islamic terrorist organization the National Thawheed Jamath (NTJ), which has been operating in Sri Lanka for over 12 years, speak volumes for the lack of concern and  commitment, and incompetence of the political leadership in handling issues of this nature. Indeed, another violent odious, terrorist organization is the last thing that Sri Lankans want on Sri Lankan soil. They have already had enough.

When the war ended in 2009, under the political leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the military leadership of Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, backed by the total dedication and commitment of the armed forces and the unstinted support and co-operation of the people of all communities who collectively deserve the credit for this victory, the door finally opened to usher in lasting peace and prosperity. However regrettably, the era that followed was one of bribery, corruption, politicization of government institutions and autocratic family rule. 

This prompted the educated elite, the intellectuals, professionals and civil society groups to band together under the guidance and leadership of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera to vote Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa out of power. As Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe was unable to summon the majority support of the people to run for the presidency, a common candidate in the form of Maithripala Sirisena was put forward by the UNP as the presidential candidate. His promise of a Maithri Palanayak, Sthawara Ratak, appealed to most Sri Lankans who had suffered at the hands of the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, within a stagnant economy, for more than half of their lives.The Rajapaksa reign of politicization of government institutions, widespread bribery and corruption, and big time robbery of the wealth and resources of this country prompted the people to opt for the national government proposed by the UNP with Maithripala Sirisena of the SLFP as the common presidential candidate.  

To cut a long story short, there were great expectations that the national government of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe would give priority to salvaging the country from the economic morass it was engulfed in. It was the fervent hope that this ‘national’ government would do away with racism, religious extremism and inequality. It was the people’s dream that it would ensure justice for all bring about an era of peaceful coexistence among the different ethnic communities and steer the country towards economic prosperity. 

However, the performance of the President and the Prime minister after four years of their term of office, has left the voters and all who worked day and night to ensure their victory, in a state of bewilderment and utter disgust followed by a total breakdown of trust and confidence in their leadership. 

One of the main reasons for this is that the President has got his priorities wrong. His first priority was to be the leader of the SLFP and nurture the party instead of adopting an apolitical stance, committed to protecting and developing the country in keeping with his position and his promise of a ‘Maithri Palanayak, Sthawara Ratak’. As time progressed, it became abundantly clear to all, that his first priority was not the country but his own political future.

The sudden indiscriminate sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the installation of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister on October 26th 2019 with total disregard for the provisions of the constitution, put the lid on the collapse of the Maithri/Ranil coalition. Judging by the evidence that has emerged since the April  21st ISIS attack on innocent worshippers in Catholic churches, and guests top ranking  tourist hotels, it is clear that national security of the country has been given little or no priority by either of the two leaders. 

Looking back at the tragedy of 21st April where 243 innocent people were ruthlessly killed for no fault of theirs and nearly 500 seriously injured, it might be relevant to examine how the government in power handled this severe threat to national security. It has been established beyond doubt that information regarding the impending attacks was communicated to the security top brass as well as His Excellency the President more than two weeks before the attacks took place. It is also clear that there has been a sense of complacency or even indifference among all concerned, regarding the impending danger to the security of the people. 

If one examines the reason for this it becomes clear that there was no consultation or communication between the President and Prime Minister regarding this vital issue of national security. The fact that the President left the country without handing over his duties to the next in command clearly indicates the callousness with which he treated the security of his people. His animosity towards the Prime Minister seems to have superseded his responsibility towards the people who brought him into power. Although the Prime Minister claims that the information was not communicated to him, he too should take responsibility for this unfortunate incident for not being more vigilant in the absence of the President. It was reported in the media that his attempt to summon the Security Council soon after the attack, was foiled, due to “instructions from above”. What is most disgusting is that at a time when the country is plunged into a tragic cataclysmic situation, it is being used to gain political advantage in order to wrest power. So much, for the statesmanship of our political leadership.

So now, the vital question is what is the fate of the 22 million people comprising Sinhala, Tamil Muslim, Burgher and Malay who consider Sri Lanka their motherland? When will the communal, religious, economic and societal problems which have plagued the country for the past 71 years be resolved, so that people of all races and religions will be able to live in equality, peace and harmony with each other? Sri Lankans of all communities have gone through enough pain and misery due to the insensitiveness and incompetence of the political leadership and the rigid mindsets of Sinhala Tamil and Muslim communities. It is now clear that as long as the Sri Lankan population see themselves as majority and minority communities their interests will never see fruition.  The time has come for all sections of the Sri Lankan community to start thinking out of the box and change their old parochial attitudes and ideas which have been a deterrent, to the forward march to peace and prosperity.  It is now evident that this problem will never be solved satisfactorily as long as any form of divisive thought is entertained within the Sri Lankan social fabric. 

In an article written by this author during peace talks with the LTTE, published in the Daily Mirror as far back as 9th September 2002, under the heading “In Pursuit of Peace and Survival” this problem was highlighted and discussed. I quote “So how do we address this problem in a way that the grievances of all communities are addressed equitably? The currently held perception that   a particular ethnic community should be represented by a political party characterized by its ethnicity, has spawned a political culture which seemingly strives to champion the separate causes of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim interests. And so we are confronted with ethnically motivated political parties such as the Sihala Urumaya, The Muslim Congress . . . . to name a few. As for the interests of the depleted Burgher community, they have been relegated into obscurity’. . . . . . The question is, is this predilection a healthy sign for the future?” 

It is now clear that this line of divisive thinking has only created chaos enmity and religious sectarianism in the country. I quote: Therefore, what the country needs now is firstly a new beginning divorced from the old perceptions, race hatreds, prejudices and sectarian politics.  

Secondly, the creation of a new political culture where political parties will be identified by their vision for the future of the country as a whole, and not the interests of only one ethnic community.

Thirdly, to inculcate a sense of togetherness and belonging among the different ethnic communities, so that a new breed of leadership will emerge, who can see their role extending beyond the confines of a particular ethnic/religious group.  

For this process to be effective, it is important to bring about attitudinal changes among the political leadership and civil society towards being more liberal and open to serving and being served by those who belong to other ethnic groups, dispelling perceptions that are ethnically prejudiced. Only then can we hope to achieve a lasting peace in this country” 

It is indeed regrettable that the political and religious leadership at the time did not see the problem through this lens even after it was highlighted in the press. Now it is evident that the problem has escalated into dangerous proportions while the political leadership is still bent on preserving their own narrow political interests and the religious leadership is splitting hairs over Sri Lanka being a Sinhala Buddhist country.  

So as it is plainly clear that ‘racial integration’ which has been bandied about for so long should mean that all races be absorbed into one single entity and treated as a single community with no racial affiliations or prejudices.  In this scenario no one will be treated as a minority group and all citizens will have equal rights according to the constitution of the country and be amenable to a single legal system which will apply equally to all. In this context fighting for their rights becomes superfluous as it is already ensured. 

All citizens who consider Sri Lanka as their motherland should have a right to their motherland. If a sense of togetherness and belonging is cultivated among all ethnic communities without bringing race and religion into the equation, they should be able to identify themselves as members of one community for the purpose of ethnic integration and peaceful co-existence. The political representatives and leaders should be able to see their role in a more holistic manner rather than being confined to any ethnic or religious group, as this will only cause more divisions and divisive thought. Members of any community who wish to enter politics will then be able to identify with, and relate to the people, irrespective of their race and religion.

As for the question of Sri Lanka being accepted as a Sinhala Buddhist country, it will be beyond dispute if all Buddhists who form 75% of the population, sincerely follow the teachings of the Buddha and practice the Dhamma in the manner that Lord Buddha intended it to be. Rethinking Lanka’s future on the above lines to overcome the current problems is an option that all communities should seriously consider.

It is indeed sad, that 243 people had to die for the necessary environment to be created for Sri Lanka to change for the better. Let us hope that the martyrdom of these noble sons and daughters of Sri Lanka will not be in vain. Let it be our prayer that those who can bring about this change by changing their rigid parochial mindsets even at this late stage  will do what it takes to transform this resplendent isle of ours into a true Dharma Dweepa. In the current context where our beloved motherland has been plunged into a dark age of fear and uncertainty, it would be appropriate to close with these words of Rabindranath Thagore which undoubtedly will be the prayer in the hearts of all peace loving Sri Lankans.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

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Latest comments

  • 22
    4

    “The LTTE was allowed to thrive on Sri Lankan soil, expand internationally and develop into the most dangerous, ruthless terrorist organization in the world”

    allowed?

    by whom?

    • 18
      9

      By Chingkalla racist like the author of this article who blames everyone else but her own Chingkalla community who are the root cause of all this. The LTTE were not the biggest terrorists it is Chingkallams both Buddhist and Christian who are the biggest racists and terrorists. They did most of the killing ,war crimes, ethnic cleansing and discrimination but want to blame everyone else. Enough of your articles racist Chingkalla woman

    • 8
      1

      Shiranee,
      I’m certain that you & all most all those who believe themselves to be the great pundits on this issue have presented or heard about so many theories explaining the root causes & solutions, changed Gvt based on the election promises to do better, and at the end, find yourself in the squire one back again & again after each ethnic violence and/or terrorist attack! Doesn’t this shows that something very important, other than politics & civilized social norms taught in all religions, is missing somewhere! Don’t we see that Buddhist principles & teachings are not practiced even by the vast majority of Buddhist monks themselves; politicians not only engage in corruption but also encourage followers do so in return for loyalty (a kind of indirect bribe); public workers abuse power & privilege to enrich themselves instead of spending time on the job; and so on and on? All these means that we have a corrupt & inefficient social & administrative system that feed each other into a continuous vicious cycle. How does this relate to terrorism and ethnic violence?
      Terrorism & ethnic violence are not always the same but ethnic violence, if supported by long-term discrimination can lead to terrorism as in the case of LITTE. But, as with ISIS, terrorism can arise by other reasons as well. However, such external causes can be magnified by local events such as racial hatred (Digana incident). Whatever the cause may be, within a systematic strong Gvt, there can’t be any reason for spontaneous events develop into a level of well organized terrorism if there are efficient mechanisms within the national security system to catch them at fledgling stages. What is clear since 1971 is the lack of such a system. What is the use of an intelligence service if it failed to confirm a planned attack even after a repeated detailed tips? No theories, no matter how good they are, will work until this issue is left unresolved!

    • 2
      0

      The politicians.

  • 6
    1

    These people are crooks.
    people who have brains must think deeply and expel them soon when you have a chance to caste your precious votes.

    They already have destroyed this country.
    Please think about our future generation and about this wonderful country.

    It does not matter whatever they say about people. Whatever they have promised, already they have broken them.
    Do not trust and believe what they say.
    These people definitely go to HELL.

  • 12
    2

    Enough is enough is a slogan heard number of times. What is vital is CHANGE which will alter the course of attitude, if the people of Sri Lanka are to lead a peaceful life with mutual understanding forever. As there is uncertainty, a change becomes vital. A change is the base for everything. Since independence, the achievement Sri Lanka has been the penetration of terrorism on racial and religious line and the ruling political leaders have never given any room for considering Federalism. Political leaders have been absorbed in a senseless version that Federalism is separation, when, in fact, it denotes an expansion of democracy with equal rights to every one without any discrimination. The political leaders failed to find a suitable answer for the cause of such terrorism and left a legacy of poisoning of the mind of the Buddhist priests and the majority Sinhalese that it is separation. Malaysia and Singapore which gained independence 19 years after Sri Lanka are thriving economically. Had Federalism been experimented, there would have been room for Provincial governments and the Federal Government to form a sound economic policy in utilizing natural resources of Sri Lanka resulting in foreign investments with opportunities for employment. The absence of a sound economic policy eventually resulted in blackmailing by the Middle East countries and threatening the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. It is in Federalism that integration is possible which would lead the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers to unite themselves as Sri Lankans. Bribery and corruption will just disappear if there is Federalism and there will be transparency which will lead to good governance. Politicians are under the impression that politics is their asset and rely on family bandysm with autocritic rule, when, in fact, it signals the lofty ideals for the welfare of the people and development of the country.

  • 16
    3

    Enough is Enough of Sinhala Buddhism. Practice real Buddhism.

    “The LTTE did not come into being or grow into a world-class terror outfit in a vacuum. Without the Sinhala Only, the Tiger may have remained unborn. Without the Black July, the Tiger may not have grown exponentially. If the B-C Pact and the D-C Pact did not miscarry (thanks to the midwifery of Sinhala extremism), the LTTE, even if it was born, would have remained a fringe group.
    The Tiger was born out of Tamil discontent and alienation; it fed on Tamil fear and anger. ” Tisaranee Gunasekara

    • 3
      0

      Anpu!
      To agree they must have great minds. But they conduct themselves like fools and look for another set of fools who may not differ.

  • 11
    2

    First of all, Sri Lankans need to ask themselves , is Sri Lanka a secular state or Buddhist Sinhalese state? if the answer is later, are majority Sri Lankans following true Buddha doctrine. The one preached in near recent times by Late Rev Shobita Thero. A true Buddhist monk is all sense.
    From the happenings of late by some Buddhist clergy, Gnana Thero of BBS and Ratnaike Thero to name a few. This is definitely not Buddhism and it is some thing else. Also, we see the catholic cardinal joining this band wagon. This does not bode well for Sri Lanka, as religious interference in politics has not worked well for the past seven decades.

  • 3
    0

    “All citizens who consider Sri Lanka as their motherland should have a right to their motherland. If a sense of togetherness and belonging is cultivated among all ethnic communities without bringing race and religion into the equation, they should be able to identify themselves as members of one community for the purpose of ethnic integration and peaceful co-existence”.

    Thank you Ms Dissanayake for speaking for us. My hope and prayer is that discussions on these lines will contribute in some way towards building an environment in our country where each individual will first believe in, live up to the ideal of and support each other in taking concrete steps to make this a reality,

  • 9
    1

    The author has muddled thinking to be kind to her.

    The Sri Lankan state, its rulers and its agents violated the RULE OF LAW in massive scale when it came to the periodic Sinhalese terrorist riots and pogroms on innocent Tamils.

    Can you expect peace and prosperity when the RULE OF LAW is violated when the terrorists are Sinhalese mobs, which are aided and abetted by some Sinhalese politicians and the security forces?

    Don’t pretend not to know the facts above.

    Don’t think the minorities are fools to believe your cock and bull analysis.

  • 3
    1

    Excellent article! Please read it.Until we think Sri Lankan and as you rightly say change our attitudes we will not make any progress. Hope to read many more articles like this in the future.

    • 2
      0

      Nelun Gunasekera, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt, – you are innocent!
      Shiranee Dissanayake who has lived through the brand of VP terrorism is not.
      .
      What worries her is not terrorism, but the brand of VP. How did she accept the decades of terrorism prior to the introduction of the VP brand.
      .
      உள்ளொன்று வைத்துப் புறமொன்று பேசுவார் உறவு கலவாமை வேண்டும். Do not associate yourself with those whose spoken words conceal the thinking of their inner self.

  • 10
    2

    Hello there. LTTE was created by Lankan governments by harassing the Tamil community. Soon after they were done with Tamils they started with Muslims and ended up creating NTJ (see the evidence coming out of PSC). Simple as that. There was no LTTE or NTJ, after independence. But there was harassment and discrimination against minorities by successive governments Senanayakas, Bandas, JR/RW and Rajapaksas (worst) for political and self serving purpose. There are some bright young authors like Suranimala, Koddippili, Kasun , Grusha who have written on this matter. Please read that for reference. Without true and genuine reconciliation there will never be peace. As long the public and the rest are in denial , they will be enabling the problem and not helping in coming out. So good luck.There is light at the end of tunnel , but the tunnel never ends in Lanka.

  • 13
    2

    Shiranee Dissanayake:

    You talk about the 30 years of terrorism which we call fight for Freedom from the clutches of Sinhalese tyranny with politicians the attack on innocent Tamils. Where were you during the 70 years of brutality unleashed on Tamils and the hardship suffered as a result of STATE TERRORISM..

    Let me analyse and see whether you have any regrets for being the majority wilelding power.

    1) Enough is enough! Having lived through the gruesome experience of 30 years of terrorism of the brand of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the people of Sri Lanka be they Sinhala, Burgher or Malay have experience the ultimate in physical and mental suffering..

    *** Have ever given any thought to the sufering we endured from the white van syndromes , abductions in the middle of the night never to be seen and the carnage of Nanthikadal all because of STATE TERRORISM
    2) The LTTE was allowed to thrive on Sri Lankan soil, expand internationally and develop into the most dangerous, ruthless terrorist organization in the world.
    *** Under the patronage of the THUG “MR ” CRIMINAL “GOTHA” BBS was allowed to thrive.

    3) Although there were many attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully, political, religious, racial and other considerations by the politicians as well as civil society groups deterred the process from constructively moving forward.
    *** You make me laugh. How many attempts please.

    4) Looking back at 71 years of independence it is evident that those who wielded the reins of power have not had the foresight, the qualities of leadership or the political commitment needed to ensure lasting peace, let alone prosperity for this our motherland.
    *** Because hatred of Minorities in your Gene. Kill a Tamil is the Motto. Sea to the South and Tamils to the North and the place is a bit cramped. ( Gemunu)

    5) The horrific senseless killings of innocent civilians on 21st April 2019,

    *** This is Crocodle tears. What about the countless Race Riots for which you hold the World Record. Sho remorse my friend.

  • 8
    5

    Thank you Shiranee for the article. I have seen enough blood bath in the 71 years. I was just 1 year old when Ceylon gained independence. I have seen and participated in peaceful protests and from the age of say 10 or 11 years. From 1956 onwards. I am surprised with your statement that the LTTE was allowed to thrive. I don’t think that is true because not ALL Tamils supported the LTTE or other militant groups in the North and East. But the main problem is the previous government brain washed the Singhala masses that all Tamils were tigers and to get that off the mind of the Singhala masses will be a very difficult task. Once again a well written article. Seyan

  • 2
    5

    You have missed out on the bond scam

  • 1
    3

    For those who are busily typing away to blame SWRD, please remember that when the Sinhala Only Act was presented to parliament, both the UNP and SLFP voted for it. The LSSP and the Tamil parties opposed it.

    • 7
      1

      Taraki

      It was JR who first proposed Sinhala as the official language and replace English of this island in the State Council in 1944.

      LSSP not only opposed it but Dr Colvin R. de Silva went further and warned
      ” “… Do we want an independent Ceylon or two bleeding halves of Ceylon which can be gobbled up by every ravaging imperialist monster that may happen to range the Indian Ocean? These are issues that in fact we have been discussing under the form and appearance of the language issue… One language, two nations; Two languages, one Nation…” – http://www.dailynews.lk/2017/11/15.

      Even the legendary Liberal Colvin who drafted the 1972 constitution could not bring any changes to the Language issue. Who was under the spell of the weeping widow.

  • 8
    1

    present crisis in the country who is to be blamed for the last 70 years who ruled the country head of state right throughout it has been a sinhala Buddhist majority of the cabinet ministers Sinhalese and last 25 years head of state was from one party UPFA so who has to take the blame the Sinhalese
    no point blaming the Tamils and the Muslims point the finger at Sinhalese at least now the power hungry Sinhalese politicians wake up UNP and UPFA are equally has to take the blame specially the UPFA presidents ruling the country for last 25 years

  • 5
    1

    Dear Ms. Dissanayake
    Thanks for an objective, well balanced article with lots of logical reflection on the Sri Lankan scenario.
    I must agree with you on most issues, you are stating how things are and how they ought to be.
    However it is my sincere opinion that for us to change our modus operandi we must be able to reason to a very high degree like you are doing.
    Now, ideally it is no biggie for a true Buddhist ☸, but the reality on ground is very different. Our main challenge is the average half baked Buddhist monks whose Sense of reasoning is below par and primal in most cases.
    I don’t blame them for being so ultra conservative and racist as they are trying to make up for what they lack mentally with what comes naturally to them. After all they too need to keep their relevance in the society, racism is the easiest resource.
    If I should reason further and state the obvious (the elephant in the room) we have to accept the fact that Buddhism is a very deep philosophy and according to our belief if takes many lifetimes to go from one level to the next. So it is practically impossible for a person to take a quantum leap to that mental state just because he happens to wear a saffron robe. Lets not forget that in our country it is the less fortunate that get into monkhood due to circumstance, most time not by their own choosing.
    So in as much they learn to recite gaathas and perform rituals etc, there is no guarantee that their reasoning will be topnotch at the same time.
    There in lies the problem. We have to start using absolutely empirical, impartial and reasonable logic to decide the fate of the country in the future. Then things will turn around.

  • 5
    0

    How many people in the South know that there has been 21C Psychological Operations going on in the North/East for the last 10yrs?
    Under the current international system of governance there is no future for minorities oppressed by their own governments. Tamils have been oppressed in the last 71yrs since independence by the ethnic majority governments.
    Of course if enough Sinhalese Buddhists become true Buddhists there may be a change .

  • 1
    6

    “The sudden indiscriminate sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the installation of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister on October 26th 2019 with total disregard for the provisions of the constitution…Although the Prime Minister claims that the information was not communicated to him…”

    Bottom line, MR should have been the Prime Minister. Even Maithree understands RW is inefficient. You cannot be PM and deny responsibility when the jihadi trees are growing in your backyard. Terrorists were wandering around Colombo with backpacks and vans full of explosives, while PM Ranil was doing shopping jaunts overseas.

  • 4
    1

    Shiranee Dissanayake betrays her ‘Us & Them’ mindset. The ‘Us’ is the Sinhala-Buddhist majority and ‘Them’ are the minorities. Are her references to ‘racism’, Aryan/Dravidian based?
    Almost 99% of the people of SL (formerly Ceylon) are from the same race and ethnicity. The SL-ethnicity based on language/religion is not universally recognised.
    .
    Shiranee mourns the years of ‘Us’ suffering LTTE. Not a word about the past pogroms against minorities.
    .
    The ‘Culture’ of corruption/nepotism/impunity was on the rise and rise. On 08 January 2015 Lankans replaced a regime but soon found out that the replacement as bad. This is our bane Shiranee.
    Shiranee avoids discussion on the hero-status accorded to the BBS-Buddhist Gnanasara Thera. BBS is more rightwing nationalist than PHU which is an offshoot of JHU which is an offshoot of Sihala Urumaya. Gnanasara was directly involved in anti-Muslim tirades/pogroms.
    .
    Shiranee has added one more to the hundreds on the ‘tragedy’ that was the 2019 Lankan Easter Sunday.
    Enough Is Enough!
    PS: Why not take up the danger/desirability or otherwise of BBS? Is BBS damaging our brand name?

    • 1
      1

      “Gnanasara was directly involved in anti-Muslim tirades/pogroms.”

      What are these “pograms” Gnanasara was involved in? 4 people died in the Aluthgama riots. These monks are harmless.

  • 0
    0

    Enough was enough could have been said long ago :-

    http://www.nesohr.org/files/Lest_We_Forget.pdf

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