By Ratna Bala –
An Appeal to Honourable MP Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, Give peace a chance and help people live with dignity and respect.
Few years ago in the midst of the war I have made an appeal to you on behalf of tamil Diaspora to have courage and vision to move the country forward. I have humbly requested you to do the right things to unite the people by making them all feel they are proud Sri Lankan citizens. For some reason by the end of war you choose the wrong path, very wrong path to engulf the nation in corruption and destroy the harmony and unity of Sri Lankan people belong to different ethnic culture and history. Although repeatedly promised, couldn’t demonstrate your genuine commitment to resolve ethnic problem. 13A plus, APRC report and LLRC report all went down the drain silently. You have paved the way for international players to achieve their objective and exploit our nation. Although you have taken a long journey in the wrong direction still it’s not late for you to acknowledge your mistakes and co-operate with the new government to help Sri Lankan people find their country in peace and live their lives with Buddhist values of compassion and coexistence with respect, dignity and equality. Here I reproduce my appeal as it is still very relevant at this juncture.
His Excellency Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa,
Thank you for this opportunity. I am speaking on behalf of certain sections of the Tamil Diaspora. This obviously would not reflect the opinions of entire tamil Diaspora community
Mr. President we do not have any reason not to believe that you and your government have every intention and motivation to establish conditions conducive to preservation, expression and development of ethnic identity of minorities in Sri Lanka and treat every citizen as equals regardless of their religion language and culture. We also don’t under estimate the enormous pressure on your shoulders and the hard work lies ahead to find a settlement to this ethnic conflict.
Since independence several proposals have been put forward to resolve the difference between ethnic communities. So far they have failed to produce any constructive results.
We are not experts on settling ethnic conflicts. They say the devil is the detail and we are not aware of every detail of the issues involved. Best ways of settling these issues with the approval of majority of people definitely need every possible help of the experts. We believe you will get all the help available in the world to solve this conflict without much delay.
We could say that Sri Lankan government shifting very hesitantly from politics of control to politics of recognition of its ethnic minorities. Unless this transformation takes place soon with substantial devolution of powers, maintaining unity with all its diversity and having peace will remain a distant illusion.
May be we are trapped into this tragedy because of our past colonial history and experience we gained from them. For centuries our colonial masters have used divide and rule strategy for their own benefit. Internal antagonism and existing differences were used for control and keep us under British Empire. Mr. President we as a nation have to make divide and rule as a past colonial strategy. Our previous leaders as they belong to the elite class and being loyal to royalty, inspired by British empire, maintained this divide and rule tradition perhaps to keep the power to themselves rather than sharing it with ordinary people. We have to take new inspiration to move out of this farce if we want to live as one family.
But Mr. President you are quiet different. You are the first president not belong to that elite class. You represent grass root people. You represent millions of ordinary people of this country. If you determined to make this divide and rule a history of the past whole country will lend their support. I see in your self the ability to deliver. Everyone in the country pray that you have the heart as well.
Once we open up our hearts and mind, we can clearly see that politics of recognition of ethnic minorities is the only way ahead. Our people have suffered enough. Not one or two years. More than 30 years of continuing death and destruction. It is time to stop these suffering. We have everything in our possession to solve this problem. All we need is change of heart leading to change of political methods. We are not far off from what is to be done. We only have to take another extra step with courage and confidence to reach this goal.
Mr President I believe you have that heart and have the muscle to bring peace to our country. People have selected you as their president only for this purpose. I am sure you will not disappoint them. I hope you make your country proud and help all the sprits of our people killed in this conflict to rest in peace.
Although you have taken certain bold measures in the right direction, finding a solution to this national problem and peace remain elusive. There are claims that government forces are involved in certain atrocities. Today killing has become an act of no consequence in our country. Although so many people were killed on daily basis no one was punished even as an image buildings exercise. Government armed forces should not be allowed to use crimes committed by LTTE as an excuse to do similar or worse crime against humanity.
We have to also keep in mind continuing ethnic conflict could encourage and cultivate high level of crimes in the society. They feed each other. Once things moved beyond a certain level we may not be able to contain the growing crime in the society even if we solve the ethnic conflict successfully.
There are elements on either side of the ethnic divide want to benefit by escalation or maintaining ethnic conflict by continuing the war. They ignore the people’s sentiments and indulge in cheap politics for short term gains.
We believe Mr. President that you will place yourself not in the interest of one side or the other but with whole Sri Lankan people regardless of their language and religion.
I could say few words about India. When India achieved independence they ended up with partition, communal violence cost one and half million lives and highly charged communal tension. There was a strong case for India or Hindustan to become a Hindu state like Pakistan became a Muslim state. But Indian leaders at that time had better vision to create a secular India to give respect and right to participate to all Indian nationalities and protection for every small minority. May be because we achieved independence without much sacrifice our elite leaders could not have a vision for equality and better future for the nation than looking after their own interest.
Already there is a smear campaign to say you represent Sinhala Buddhist supremacist ideology and only appear to reasonable to satisfy international donors. They say you have covert and overt warfare plans and no intention to resolve the conflict amicably and equitably. I believe you will prove them to be wrong.
When it come to Buddhism it place great emphasis on rationality and respect for dissent. Lord Buddha made this declaration more than 2000 years ago.
“Do not accept anything on hearsay thinking thus we have heard it for long time. Do not accept anything by mere tradition. Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures. Do not consider anything be merely considering appearances. Do not accept anything merely because it seems to the multitude acceptable, not jet because the monk who preaches it is respected by you. But when you know yourself these things are moral, these things are blameless, these things when performed conduce to well being and happiness you should live and act accordingly”
We should also remember that Lord Buddha and his disciples spend more time in the quest for peace at times of war.
Therefore being good Buddhist you have more responsibility to solve this conflict to bring equality and justice to our people. Only substantial devolution of powers to tamil speaking people will end the stalemate and to look with hope for a new future. I am sure you will do everything possible to do this and we will be proud of you as great president who helped to bring peace in our country.
Mr President today I make this humble request on behalf of tamil speaking people that you will give the assurance and declare that your intentions and determination to solve this national tragedy as our president. Please help our country and its people to achieve peace and justice to face the new millennium with full of joy and happiness. I am sure generation after generation our people will pay their gratitude to you. It is time to bring peace and justice to our beautiful nation and very beautiful people.
Finally I thank you for giving this opportunity to express our views. I hope I have spoken few words which may be of some use to promote peace in our country.