22 September, 2018

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Letter To Secretary Kerry On His Visit To Sri Lanka

By Thisuri Wanniarachchi

Thisuri Wanniarachchi

Thisuri Wanniarachchi

The Honorable John Kerry,

Secretary,

Department of State,

Washington, DC

Dear Sir,

Welcome to the Pearl of the Indian ocean. They used to call us the tear drop of the Indian Ocean, and rightly so, but we always preferred Pearl. Despite everything we’ve been through, we have always believed that a better day is possible. And today, we can say with much certainty that the better days are here and we are striving to sustain them. Your support in this time of transition is invaluable, and I believe, I speak for all the youth of our country when I thank you whole-heartedly.

As you may notice in the coming days, we Sri Lankans are a proud people. Although conflict has attempted to divide us, we have always united in our pride. We take pride in our paradise of an island: its turquoise beaches, golden sunsets, green hills and the good earth blessed by the foot prints of the Buddha. We take pride in our heritage of scholars, Ceylonese architecture, literature and our diverse faiths and languages. We also take pride in producing some of the world’s finest teas, spices and cricketers. Most of all, we take pride in our resilient, hardworking citizens who have been through so much, yet who stand strong and united in their fight for democracy.

Having been enslaved and colonized by multiple nations until we gained independence in 1948, then put through a brutal 30 year war just decades later, and then abandoned by an authoritarian regime at a time of great desperation and need for reconciliation, we have seen it all. Truth be told, my generation, like most children of war, have never had much trust in our adults. Their irresponsibility cost us our childhoods. We’ve seen things no child should have to see; fear was our bread and butter. To us, democracy has always been a distant dream.

The strides we’ve made as a nation in the past few months have been refreshing. It has restored our trust in the adults. I believe you can fathom how much this transition truly means to us. It gives us the hope that our children will never have to see what we’ve seen or feel what we’ve felt, a place no child deserves to be. Like most things in life, this transition is difficult, gradual, and sometimes frustrating, but we are getting there. Thank you for being with us, as you have with many other nations around the world as we make our way through the path to democracy.

Have a safe journey.

Yours truly,

Thisuri Wanniarachchi

*Thisuri Wanniarachchi, 21, is the author of novels The Terrorist’s Daughter and Colombo Streets. She is Sri Lanka’s youngest State Literary Award winner and the world’s youngest national nominee to the Iowa International Writers’ Program. She is currently an undergraduate student of Bennington College studying Political Economy and Education Reform.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    6

    Dear Kerry, welcome to meet your local puppets in Sri Lanka, Ponil , gon sira and chora queen. Here is another chance to revive Sri Lanka for terrorism and control as banana state. We know how good you are doing this in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We know how you treated Sri Lanka during the 30 years of war. SL may not be able to finish without China, Russia and Pakistan help. These US conspirators never helped us.

  • 12
    8

    Thisuri Wanniarachchi

    which planet are you living on my sister and let me give you my assessment of
    your open letter to Mr.John Kerry.

    Dear Sir,

    1) Despite everything we’ve been through, we have always believed that a better day is possible. And today, we can say with much certainty that the better days are here and we are striving to sustain them. Your support in this time of transition is invaluable, and I believe, I speak for all the youth of our country when I thank you whole-heartedly.

    *** When you say that you speak for all the youth of our country do you narrow it down to your Sisters and Brothers. From what has happened since the Tamil Tsunami dethroned the Fallen King nothing much has changed for the Tamil youths.

    a) The mothers are still looking for their missing sons and only Gotha and your Armed forces know where they are all buried. But if you ask Mangala Samaraweera he will tell you that the Armed Forces have a clean hand and that leaves the question of missing sons and daughters unanswered.

    2) As you may notice in the coming days, we Sri Lankans are a proud people. Although conflict has attempted to divide us, we have always united in our pride. We take pride in our paradise of an island:

    *** Where is the unity that you are talking about. We are as divided and polarised as never before. Tamils dont feel part of this Nation when those who are responsible are protected by the current regime. The Army is roaming the Streets and there is no press Freedom in the North. Journalists are being arrested and brought to Colombo for interrogation.

    3)Its turquoise beaches, golden sunsets, green hills and the good earth blessed by the foot prints of the Buddha.

    *** You have answered my question. Our beaches at Nathikadal bears the Scars of death and destruction and we are banned from even building monuments to those perished by shelling. The only foot prints we have are of those who tried to escape the shelling.

    4)We take pride in our heritage of scholars, Ceylonese architecture, literature and our diverse faiths and languages. We also take pride in producing some of the world’s finest teas, spices and cricketers.

    *** You take pride but the minorities are moaning destruction of Temples Mosques and Collection of Rare Books ( The Jaffna Library ).

    5) Most of all, we take pride in our resilient, hardworking citizens who have been through so much, yet who stand strong and united in their fight for democracy.

    *** What Democracy are you talking about. The majority of you ( 5.8 Million) voted for more of the same.

    6) Having been enslaved and colonized by multiple nations until we gained independence in 1948, then put through a brutal 30 year war just decades later, and then abandoned by an authoritarian regime at a time of great desperation and need for reconciliation, we have seen it all. Truth be told, my generation, like most children of war, have never had much trust in our adults.

    *** When did you gain Independence. You are still a Colony. Now an Indian Colony. The 30 year old war you are talking about was a war for Freedom for the Tamils from Sinhalese Tyrrany

    7) Their irresponsibility cost us our childhoods. We’ve seen things no child should have to see; fear was our bread and butter. To us, democracy has always been a distant dream.

    *** You have the luxury of saying it cost us our Childhoods. Buy for Tamils it has cost their lives.

    8) The strides we’ve made as a nation in the past few months have been refreshing. It has restored our trust in the adults. I believe you can fathom how much this transition truly means to us. It gives us the hope that our children will never have to see what we’ve seen or feel what we’ve felt, a place no child deserves to be. Like most things in life, this transition is difficult, gradual, and sometimes frustrating, but we are getting there. Thank you for being with us, as you have with many other nations around the world as we make our way through the path to democracy.

    *** Have you heard Neil Armstrong”s words.

    ” A small step for a man but a giant leap for Mankind.

    A small step for Tamils to be part of dethroning MR but a Giant Leap for the Sinhalese to fool the World by deceipt that everything is back to normal.

    • 4
      5

      Reply to Thisuri and Kali
      Thisuri says she had lost trust in adults and trust is being restored over the past few monthsa. Her implication is that the current government in power is responsible for this change. She also implies that all the former governments of this country have betrayed the trust of its people.
      The present government, as the writer is well aware, is run by the prime minister , and alone calls the shots. Tke for example the appointment of an independent committee to inquire into the massive fraud at our most cherished financial institution, the Central Bank amounting to 42 billion rupees.
      The appointment of this committee is the prerogative of the elected executive president. but The prime minister has usurped the presint’s authority and appointed three lawyers who are party members. In any other country which claims to be a democracy the governor would have been sacked., but Mahendran, the governor still enjoys the patronage of the prime minister
      Thisuri Wanniarachchi, if person with an iota of any self respect would not resort to such duplicity and dissimulation.
      Ihave only one word of advice toKali.
      Would you please apologise for the heinous crimes commited by LTTE? just one example: the mass murder of 670 policeman in one day, who laid down arms and surrendered to ltte police stations in the East. these will not be forgotten nor can be forgiven unless you change your separatist tune

      • 6
        3

        gigurawa

        I find your request shocking for the following reason.

        1) You are asking the Victims of Sinhalese atrocities committed by both private citizens during Race Riots and more shockingly by elected representatives such MR & Gotha to apologise.

        2) The LTTE were not elected by the Tamil citizens but created by you lot.

        How dare you ask me to apologise when your elected reps have refused to comply with UN.

        You need to grow up and learn to respect Rule Of Law

        • 3
          4

          I donot erxpect you to apologise. Do you nedd reminding that evry time race riots occured in Srilanks it was initiated by tamils by murdering sinhalese living there; Yes every single riot was initiated by you. and you say you are not responsible for actions of LTTE ., you diaspora still keep funding LTTE residues.
          You LTTE killed and massacred innocent children with mothers and fathers in villagers in north central province. Not only that you killed every democratically elected leader of this country for 25 yrs. What you could not achieve by terrorism , you are now trying to achieve with the help of Americans who want a foothald in indian ocean, aided and abetted to religious minority groups among sinhalese who want to destroy buddhism.
          Ranil is the only leader who had a free run during the 30 yrreign of terror by your master Prabakaran.
          The problem with you is this.You think your motherland is tamil nadu and not the country called sri lanka. Yes, truth is unpalatable for separatists like you.

          • 5
            2

            gigurawa you illiterate

            If proof was ever needed as to why you and i cant reconcile you have provided it. This was MRs attitude. By all means kill the Tamils but always deny it. You are a quick learner.

            • 2
              3

              There again. Only crime Mahinda Rjapaksa committees was to end the terrorism of 30 years of separatists who killed innocent poor helpless sinhalese, attacked and desecrated most sacred and historic shrines- sri maha bodi, dalada malgawa. What reconciliation are you talking about ? When you don’t own up to the crimes agaist humanity your leaders , LTTE committed. Please note. The americans with blood on their hands have only caused mayhem and left only a trail of destruction, from Vietnam, Panama,Chile, Iraq, Palestine- though the americans and british call it Israel-. We the sri lankans will not allow this country to be a second vietnam or Iraq or for that matter ‘Israel’. You must be mistaken if the decadent UA and the west which are losing their preeminence in their world are having a last hurrah on the back of tamil diaspora. We will fight till our last drop of blood. Unlike USA which annihilated millions of indigenous native americans e have a greater civilisation spanning over 2500 years.

      • 1
        1

        The answer to your one question : “mass murder of 670 policeman in one day”, is in your own hands- Karuna was the one who carried out the merciless killing of 670 policemen and the whole Sinhalese population knew it at the time it happened. You are such a dud not knowing it. Karuna has screwed the entire Sinhala Race and he is now happily, (and safely) enjoying wine, women and the pampered hospitality of the Sinhalese. What are you talking about “will not be forgotten nor can be forgiven”. Just join the crowd that is behind Karuna, and I will guarantee, you can attain nibbana.

  • 4
    2

    Reading through the comments, it’s obviously clear that Sri Lanka is a really scarred place where people don’t understand their own situation. Thisuri is correct. At least we’ll have something for our next generation.

    • 0
      3

      Hello xfernando you say “Reading through the comments, it’s obviously clear that Sri Lanka is a really scarred place where people don’t understand their own situation. Thisuri is correct. At least we’ll have something for our next generation.” Yes ‘Sri Lanka is a really scarred place’ As there have been no attempt for reconciliation. Thus we still stand as a divided nation!

      You say that ‘At least we’ll have something for our next generation’. What is this ‘something for our next generation’? People like Weerawansa, Vasu, Denish, Sripal de Silva, and 40 other clowns in the parliament and 5.8 Million who voted for M R. Will not help the next generation. Already MR has setup the burden for the next generation to pay back the borrowed loans to Chinese. If not we will become a colony for China.

  • 1
    1

    At 21 book education does not mean wisdom. I learnt it myself. Thisuri too will learn. At 21 I too thought Americans are the answer. Now i see that it was wrong.

    Is there any country in the planet that is doing well with American intervention?

    Kerry hints of elections and warns us that reconciliation will take time. Is he the invisible ruler of our country. People get educated overseas are also educated accordingly.

  • 1
    1

    Hi Thisuri Wanniarachchi you write thus “Having been enslaved and colonized by multiple nations until we gained independence in 1948, then put through a brutal 30 year war just decades later, and then abandoned by an authoritarian regime at a time of great desperation and need for reconciliation”. I welcome your writing, but get the facts correct, don’t rely on stories and anecdotal information’s. “Youths are the future prosperity of any country”. They should not be way led. Politicians are the criminals! To hold on to their position or to come to power they say would lie to corrupt the voters mind. You as a writer have the power to do research and write the truth and disseminate them. Below is my understanding and answer to your above Para”…”

    Yes we were enslaved to an extent by the three colonial rulers, by forcing their religion and culture on our natives. However they also had provided us with good schools and gave us western education. We got our independence without any spillage of blood, unlike our Neighbour India. But it is the duplicity of the Sinhala Politicians that caused this 30 year war. It was the sequel to what took place between the year of independence and this war.IE; from 1948-1983? you need to research this well. Moreover, the Sinhala ‘Neo colonial rulers’ were subjugating all the minority groups. Firstly the Tamils, by saying that they were favoured by British, thus cut them down. As you know, that the Tamils had a kingdom of their own before Portuguese came in the sixteenth century. Kandyan kingdom was ruled from 1739 -1815 by successive 9-Tamil kings from Vellore South India. However,This Brutal war was fought on the pretext of ‘counter insurgency’ under the shadow of 9/11. Before the final war started in April 2006- to May 2009 already over 100,000 Tamil Civilians were killed by aerial bombing and use of Multi barrel shelling. Over a Million and a half fled from the shores of the Island of Srilanka, to India and to countries around the globe. This brutal War had ended and the weapons were made silent, but do you know that the Tamils are still suffering under the occupying Army? According to UN internal report 70,000killed in the final 5 months, there are war widows in North and East accounting to 90,000 and orphans amounting to 120,000. I think John Kerry knows all this, but do you know? Moreover, USA is only interested in the Geo-Politics in and around this Island. We the inhabitants of this Island should shed the past ‘mythical stories’ and change our ‘Mind Set’ in this 21st century and treat each others as humans and respect their Human rights. Start to see and accommodate all as citizens and as equals. Most of the younger generation like you have been forcefully fed with false mythical stories as the truth, and hatred instilled by Buddhist Monks. please try and get the youngsters out of this box- ” Frog In the Well”.

    • 1
      1

      1.5 million tamilsfrom north fled the country during the elam war! That is morethan the whole population of tamils in srilanka, of course parents left the LTTE dominated area to save their underage children from conscription. Then LTTE eliminated all other politicians.Example;Selvaratnam and 240 of his young supporters were killed in one day in1986, Then 80,000 were given orders to flee within 24 hours or be killed , They fled to Anuradhapura.Farmers in Kilinocchchi who had cultivated the same lands for generations were killed or forced to flee; Their land now appropriated by tamils. both muslim and tamil villages were attack in north and east massacring mothers huddling their babies in their sleep. not satisfied by these cruel tie Tamil separatists stormed in the mot sacred place for buddhists and killed24 meditating nuns.
      UN should first implement 104 resolutions passed by the membership agaist the Israels . Un should first investigate the war crimes of USA and UK in Afganistan, Iraq; and UN is yet to submit a report on UShuman rights violations in Guantanama Bay; Waterboading still goes on there despite ptoests from Amnesty International. US the evil axis of the world ha no moral authority to pounce on others, using UN as its mercenary
      Weas a nation will stand up to these bulleys and thugs when the time comes.

  • 5
    0

    Thisuri, I well remember the day Ceylon said ‘cheerio’ to the last colonial master and settled down to breathe the fresh intoxicating air of freedom. I was very young then, and I was, like you are now, the future. I rejoiced when the great SWRD declared ‘Sinhala Only’. But my rejoicing was short-lived because I saw the consequences of that decision. First, the exodus of the Burgher community whose only crime was their harmless and unrelenting pursuit of happiness. Then others of the various communities (guess!) who could not master the language were marginalised, and they too left our Paradise with sadness in their hearts. Then the dark clouds of separatism descended, and it soon became obvious that SWRD and his cohorts were really hell bent on arousing and appeasing Sinhala nationalism from whence came their democratic mandate. The rest, as they say, is history. Like your generation, I and my peers too saw the bodies pile up, and the bombs go off from as long ago as 1958.It went from bad to worse. More good people, young and old, were forced to flee the carnage that we inflicted on each other in our desire to be the chosen masters of Paradise. The truth is that most Sinhala politicians since independence have been mindful of the need to keep the rabid core of Sinhalese-Buddhists – 75% of the electorate – onside, in order to prop up their democratic mandate. So much for democracy. (Secretary Kerry, please note.)

    I smiled, Thisuri when I read “”””and then abandoned by an authoritarian regime at a time of great desperation and need for reconciliation””””. Child, that was some abandonment; do you know, MR fought tooth and nail to stay, and perhaps screw us a little longer (pere et fils, perhaps). Still, if you could have been a fly on the wall in Temple Trees, in the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty on that pre-dawn, 9th January morning, you would have marvelled at the way Gota with a weary smile persuaded his brother to go, and perhaps live to fight another day.

    It has been hard chipping away at the complexes at the many and encouraging them to break free from the fear that voting for good people will somehow lose your heritage. IF ever there is a foreign threat, it will be a UNITED Sri Lanka that will repel it; not a fragmented and divided nation.

    Thisuri, several decades apart, YOUNG YOU and OLD ME are on the same side in our fervent hope that the future will be one of reconciliation, unity, harmony, respect for each other, and most of all, PEACE.

    • 0
      1

      Spring Koha, you’ve mentioned “… you would have marvelled at the way Gota with a weary smile persuaded his brother to go, and perhaps live to fight another day.”. If the news widely reported at the time was true, Gotabhaya Rajapakse was engineering a coup for his brother Mahinda to remain in power but failed as he could not mobilise other necessary parties. You have also implied that the defeat of the LTTE was a victory for the Sinhala Buddhists only. Wrong. It was a victory mostly for the Tamils and the Muslims too as they too suffered in equal measure with the rest of the country.

      • 1
        0

        Sylvia: just a couple of points in response.

        1 IF Mr Gotabhaya Rajapakse wanted a coup he would have had one. He persuaded his brother/s (and others) to take the harder option i.e. live to fight another day.

        2 Apropos the defeat of the LTTE, I implied nothing of the sort. The defeat of the LTTE was as welcome for the entire country, as was the defeat of the JVP. The only question that remains is, why did it take so long for the elected government of this country to defeat the LTTE? (Think carefully, dear Sylvia, about. The answer is blowing in the soothing winds of Vesak).

    • 0
      1

      1.5 million tamilsfrom north fled the country during the elam war! That is morethan the whole population of tamils in srilanka, of course parents left the LTTE dominated area to save their underage children from conscription. Then LTTE eliminated all other politicians.Example;Selvaratnam and 240 of his young supporters were killed in one day in1986, Then 80,000 were given orders to flee within 24 hours or be killed , They fled to Anuradhapura.Farmers in Kilinocchchi who had cultivated the same lands for generations were killed or forced to flee; Their land now appropriated by tamils. both muslim and tamil villages were attack in north and east massacring mothers huddling their babies in their sleep. not satisfied by these cruel tie Tamil separatists stormed in the mot sacred place for buddhists and killed24 meditating nuns.
      UN should first implement 104 resolutions passed by the membership agaist the Israels . Un should first investigate the war crimes of USA and UK in Afganistan, Iraq; and UN is yet to submit a report on UShuman rights violations in Guantanama Bay; Waterboading still goes on there despite ptoests from Amnesty International. US the evil axis of the world ha no moral authority to pounce on others, using UN as its mercenary
      Weas a nation will stand up to these bulleys and thugs when the time comes.

  • 3
    2

    Forgotten
    1. the best liars
    2. White van
    3. Mass murder
    4.Carpet bombing
    5.Detention without trial
    6. Humanitarian operations – people go missing
    7. Corruption
    8
    enough for the time being

  • 2
    2

    Thisuri Wanniarachchi

    Kerry backs justice for war-hit Tamils
    May 3 (AFP) US Secretary of State John Kerry ended a visit to Sri Lanka Sunday after pledging support for minority Tamils following decades of ethnic war, a local Tamil politician said. Kerry met heads of the TNA, the main political party from the ethnic minority, a day after holding talks with President Sirisena. “He (Kerry) said he will do his best to support us to resolve outstanding issues,” TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said.

    *** It is obvious your letter got lost in the post. But dont worry it will be returned to the sender with the following.

    ” Return to sender not known at the address. Gone away”

  • 2
    0

    Hi Thisuri

    Thank for the inspiring thoughts. Thanks to you I have hope in your generation who are educated, well read and have the wisdom to discern the truth.

    Hope you go from strength to strength :)

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

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