31 October, 2020

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Let Us Celebrate, Let Us Mourn Too

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Four years ago the nation, which had held its collective breath in fear and uncertainty, breathed again.  It was a deep breath that was taken and the exhalation was naturally long.  There was dancing in the streets.  This was called ‘triumphalism’, with the word laced with derisive commentary.  Let us, at this moment when Sri Lanka celebrates the 4th anniversary of the vanquishing of Eelamism’s military apparatus, it is a word that is worth reflecting on.

When Sri Lanka beat Australia to win the World Cup in 1996, there was celebration.  It was a triumph that warranted celebration.  There was ‘triumphalism’.  When US security forces pinned down suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing, killing one and arresting the badly injured other, people cheered.  Triumphalism.  True, it was accompanied and preceded by a lot of religious intolerance and anti-Muslim invective, but there was unmistakable relief expressed by a citizenry that had been kept on its collective toes for several days.

Sri Lanka took almost 30 years to remove terrorism from the political equation and the daily lives of the nation.  That’s thirty years of not known when you or your loved ones would be killed or how or where. The recovery of breath, the expansion of the dimensions of hope, the freedom from unnecessary fear and the return of predictability were all cause for celebration.  It was called ‘triumphalism’, as mentioned earlier, in derisive tone.  The Sinhalese were supposed to be celebrating the defeat of ‘Tamils’.  In other words, Sinhalese, routinely accused of conflating ‘Tamil’ with ‘LTTE’, couldn’t celebrate the defeat of the latter without celebrating, simultaneously, ‘a defeat of Tamils’.  It seems that the true ‘conflators’ were these very same objectors.  After all, it was fashionable at one time to say ‘The LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamil people’.  So, THEY, more than the Sinhalese read ‘LTTE defeat’ as ‘Tamil defeat’.

People cannot be denied the right to celebrate the recovery of freedom, even if only in part.  Mis-educated or ill-informed or myopic onlookers, spoilers and others who preferred different outcomes can read things as they will of course.  They too ‘won’ some freedom of movement, for bombs and suicide-bombers don’t check and separate friend from enemy when launching random attacks.  Some relief may have slipped out of their lungs but they would never admit nor applaud those who made that kind of exhalation possible.

It is good to celebrate, to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives to give us that moment as well as the terrorism-free years that followed, especially since Eelamism is not dead.  Eelamists in reduced circumstances haven’t stopped trying to achieve objectives in the little-now-more-later manner through relevant myth-mongering (using the 13th Amendment as stepping stone of course).  It is also important to mourn the massive loss of lives of those who fought and those who were caught in crossfire and terrorist attacks, regardless of communal identity and political loyalty. They were all citizens of this country.

We have celebrated enough, I feel.  We’ve mourned very little and this is not only because we are a resilient nation that has its ways of achieving ‘closure’ and moving on. There has been forgive-and-forget, but there’s been selectivity in this, political allegiance being a critical factor. There has been rehabilitation and reconstruction, facilitation of skill-development and re-integration into society of LTTE cadres, captured or surrendered.  But if KP and Karuna are forgiven and forgotten, then there’s nothing to stop the Government from facilitating and even encouraging the open mourning by friend, family and others of the LTTE dead, Prabhakaran downwards.  No Sinhala Buddhist can object to this because this has been part of the ‘Sinhala Buddhist story’ in all conflicts and invasions they’ve lived through.

There will be those who would abuse such sanction, but the benefits, moral and otherwise, would far outstrip these irritants.

Today, therefore, is both a day of celebration as well as a day of mourning. Celebration because there’s reason to be happy, to be grateful too, and mourning because of the lost years, lost opportunities, needless deaths, childhoods that were destroyed and most of all for the reluctance to mourn and sanction mourning and consequent detracting of something of our common humanity.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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    It’s high time we stopped celebrating, mourning and complaining and started thinking of reconciliation in true sense. We cannot keep living in the past reminiscing the glory or defeat for ever. We must move on but in the right direction if we are to reap the real benefits of ending a brutal war. As a friend of mine rightly said a while ago on Facebook, there’s no winners in any war, only lessons to be learnt. But unfortunately the current trend doesn’t seem to show that people, some so called intellectuals and the leaders (from all sides) have learnt their lessons. Society is getting polarized day by day and sadly the country is moving towards a ‘divide and rule’ path. I am sure we can do a lot better if we get rid of such crooked tactics. Addressing those issues in the right way should be the utmost priority for any person who is truly concerned about his or her country.

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      Reconciliation depends on integration. While separate political parties based on ethnic and religious divides exist their will be no integration.
      All such party’s should be banned. Any party should have 5 to 10% of members from other communities in Sri Lanka.

      Where is the integration. They want integration in Colombo and the south but TNA and their cadres, all want Tamil conclaves in the north and East.

      It is time for President Rajapakse to ban political party’s based on ethnic, racial or religious overtones.

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    Finally acknowledgement by Malinda that the Tamils who died in the war, LTTE combatants and civilians, were also human beings and sons and daughters of Sri Lanka and their relatives have the basic human right to mourn their demise. This would help in a big way to ameliorate the anger and resentment the Tamil people have towards the Sinhalese whose insensitive triumphalism has helped to fester hatred towards them. I hope the Rajapaksas realise this rather than continuing to play racial politics for their personal advantage.

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      Well Said Piranha!
      “I hope the Rajapaksas realise this rather than continuing to play racial politics for their personal advantage.”
      Please keep writing this in all three languages. It pains me to hear ‘so-called educated people’ rationalising attacks against minorities, due to false propaganda by Government supported factions!

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      No one stops or has the right to stop another person from mourning their loved ones. The families of LTTE cadres have the right to mourn their dead but in private. No public remembrance services to LTTE suicide bombing maniacs. Does the western governments allow the Muslims in their countries to celebrate the death Osama bin laden and other combatants! Are the German gestapos mourned by the Germans, but the west carries out a victory parade every year and remembers the armed warriors who laid down their lives for their brothers and sisters.”We will never forget them”. Are you saying that we Sri Lankans do not have the human right to do so?

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    Go on celebrate, and enjoy. Time will tell…..I don’t its too long. There is a reason for everything in this world, Tamils had enough suffering since 1948. Hope they will enjoy freedom just like every free world in this world….hope its soonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

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      If you don’t like it put and end to it unfortunately your uncle prabha is not there to make you a suicide bomber.

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    alright why not celibate the victory against the JVP in 1971 again in 1989 Srilanka is the only Nation celebrate the victory against it’s own people.

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      Your confusion as to why the Sri Lankan state did not celebrate its victories against the JVP but is celebrating its victory against the Tamils is due to your own flawed understanding of nationhood. It is not the Sri Lankan nation that is celebrating its victory over the Tamil Tigers, it is the Sinhala Nation (masquerading as the Sri Lankan Nation) that is celebrating the victory.

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      Very Good KK! My opinion too! BTW, I am a Sinhala Buddhist.

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    Non stop celebration, day after day, month after month, year after year. Anything achieved by this??? Non stop mourning for some people, even the graveyards have been demolished.

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    “…..Celebration because there’s reason to be happy, to be grateful too, and mourning because of the lost years, lost opportunities, needless deaths…..”

    Malinda, your above comments fits into what has happened to this nation in the last 4 years, after the war! In fact we are mourning (and moaning)with greater intensity now than before the war.

    Perhaps it may serve better purpose if you could comment on the post-war disaster inflicted on our innocent citizens by this dictatorial, corrupt and profligate regime.

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    Why aren’t Tamil celebrating the defeat of the tyrants who kept them under their control for decades? Believe me… There would be a massive celebration, one of the massive ones in the recent history of Sri Lanka, in the Tamil areas, Muslim areas, and Sinhalese areas if ‘something’ happens to Mahinda or Gothabaya Rajapakse. Can anyone say NO to this hypothetical situation?

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    …thousands of people celebrated when Premadasa (who gave orders for thousands of Sinhala youth to be killed) was killed.
    The victory day of the Tamils and other minorities including some Sinhalese will also come one day when the Rajapaksas’ get the justice that people like Gaddafi/Saddam (killed), Idi Amin/Ben Ali (exiled) and Mubarak (life imprisonment)got. The other option is natural death of MR after which his and his families dynastic dreams will end.
    The only reason I say this is because, the Rajapaksa family have changed the constitution with the idea of staying in power for ever. In other words they consider themselves rulers for life.

    I also agree fully with what AKP said.

    “It is not the Sri Lankan nation that is celebrating its victory over the Tamil Tigers, it is the Sinhala Nation (masquerading as the Sri Lankan Nation) that is celebrating the victory.

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    Rohan

    Very dangerous construction!

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    Malinda Seneviratne is the torch – bearer of Sinhala – Buddhist hegemonism. After 4 years Seneviratne grudgingly concedes the right of the Thamils to mourn their dead. What does celebration in Colombo and mourning in the Northeast denote? That there are two nations in the island of Ceylon viz the Sinhala Nation and the Thamil Nation. There is no such thing as Ceylonese/Sri Lankan nation. Persons like Seneviratne keep on repeating derisively that the LTTE is a “terrorist” organization. But for we Thamils they were freedom fighters. They enjoyed the support of the entire Thamil Nation, barring a few turncoats and traitors like Karuna, Pillayan, Douglas etc. I think ex-president Chandrika Kumaratunga herself made it clear. She has said that Prabhakaran is a creation of Sinhala racism. She is right on that score. The Sinhala Nation has defeated the Thamil Nation by exploiting the single word “terrorism”. Mahinda Rajapaksa during the war claimed he is offering military solution to the LTTE and political solution to the Thamils. That was a BIG lie he repeated ad nauseam to hoodwink the international community. Today, the war against the Thamils have been stepped up in the form of Sinhalization, militarization and Budhistization. To Seneviratne I proclaim you can kill people but you cannot kill the idea and the ideology. We will pass the baton to the next generation of Thamil youths who are more sophisticated and articulate. Remember throughout world history, no freedom movement was defeated.

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      Could you spare a thought here of what the freedom fighters did to the Muslims of Jaffna? Even the current Tamil leaders are now belatedly acknowledging that crime against humanity. Was that ethnic cleansing an act of terrorism or not?

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      Thanga, I think you are going Bunga, Bunga (with apologies to Berlusconi and his saucy virgins) with your praise of the dreaded LTTE as a freedom fighting organisation.As Malinda would rightly put it, it was nothing but a hard-core terrorist outfit and as Malinda would correctly wont to do, condemn it for all its destructive and ferocious evil.There is no running away from this fact and terrorism simply has no place in decent civil society. So, please take your ideology elsewhere and try convincing your admired ex-president that Prabhakaran was a creation of Tamil opportunism which went miserably wrong and NOT a creation of Sinhala racism. Also, tell her to stop playing dirty politics at the expense of the nation.You have the right to label Malinda as a torch bearer of Buddhist hegemonism but you certainly cannot label him as a terrorist sympathiser. We, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims need to jointly condemn and reject terrorism in any shape or form, whatever the cause, justified or otherwise. And hats off to Malinda just for that.

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    Thanga. Please do not destroy the next generation of Tamil youth just like you did the former. The Country of Sri Lanka is way too small for a two-state solution. That’s the honest truth. Please stop the deafening war cry. No one sane is listening to this Rhetoric anymore. Please ask the next generation of Tamil youth to fight for their rights within a united Sri Lanka as Sri Lankans. That would be the greatest favor you could do to them.

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    what’s there to celebrate. if the sinhala black monkey army has fought an external war and won then there is reason to celebrate. on the other hand sri lankan rebellion was an internal one and it was violently put down by the sinhala black monkey army. how could black monkeys became heros i will never know.

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    Well said Malinda. I would like to add something that our tamil friends should celebrate the end of war more than sinhalaese because they suffered more than sinhala people at the hands of LTTE by sacrificing their lives, properties, paying high cost living, fines, giving their loved sons and daughters. Most importantly those left island under the label of refugee status and got foreign citizen ships all over the Europe and west must salute LTTE for the good work they done for them to leave vanni jungles and start speak broken English wear trousers instead wetti and sarees, drive a used car and many more. If they were in Sri Lanka its a day dream for them for ever I believe. Anyway I am happy as they are being Sri Lankan born & grown guys. However today Jaffna people live happy and peacefully owing to Mahinda Rajapaksa Govt though they will never say that because their attitude as tamils. Today more development is done for North by the Government which ruined by Prabakaran Gon Thadiya. (bloody pool.
    Unfortunately Tamils have a bad attitude that they dont like sinhalaese and live together as brothers and sisters instead they wants a wenema rajyak, (a separate state) its a mental problem and it will never happen. Here we go!

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