By Vallipuram Srikanth –
As a person who is from the Northern part of the “Land like No Other” or the “Miracle of Asia”, I have my own questions regarding the events which occurred and the events which are unfolding around me. I don’t remember the very first day I went to school, but I remember the very first day I experienced the explosion of an artillery shell in close proximity. It was when I was four years old on a “thaipongal” day, and believe me, I was not a combatant. Thanks to the Artillery Regiment which was based in Palaly Military base at that time who in fact does not target any civilians.(Note – if any civilians were killed by the artillery shell attacks, it is purely due to the carelessness of the deceased, prior to their cessation)I am not a professional columnist or a political Think Tank who goes to the roots of the current ethnic conflict (if you believe so) or otherwise the malicious propaganda against the mother land by the Tamil Diaspora and the LTTE rump, analyses and gives a conclusion which would always be inconclusive. Of course, it is not the fault of the so called Political Think Tanks to give a conclusion, as the conclusion itself is beyond their capabilities and they are just mere commentators of this unending game.
Let me explain you why I am making such an introduction. I go through most of the Sri Lankan English language electronic media (just like you). The most interesting part would be not the news section, but the comments section. Whenever there is a news item posted about the ethnic conflict or Tamil National Alliance (TNA), an interesting pattern of comments would be made. The following generalisation could be made out of it.
- LTTE rump and the Tamil Diaspora are trying to divide the country.
- TNA is a part of the LTTE rump.
- Any media which release news about alleged human rights violations is funded by Diaspora.
- India and TNA leaders are the sole reason for the decades long civil war/Terrorism.
- The issues of TNA and the Issues of Tamil people are completely different, If not Tamil people does not have any issue at all.
I do not have any sort of intention to criticize these well implanted attitudes as it is one’s fundamental right to have an attitude regardless it is correct or not. At the same time I would like to exercise one of my fundamental/democratic rights that is to ask a few questions to my fellow citizens of “Land like no Other” who possess these ideas or are possessed with this ideology.
On 18th May, 2009 the country celebrated the end of the war with firecrackers while over 300,000 civilians were herded into IDP camps. The War victory celebrations were as if the Celebrations of Sri Lanka Cricket team winning the World cup. What was the intended message of this to the Tamils of the country? It would have made more sense if there was a celebration with “kiribath” and firecrackers when the IDPs were settled in their own lands.
Another interesting observation is about the number of civilians killed in the final phase of the war. The President stated that the war was carried out with a zero civilian causality. Many may ask how practical it is to conduct an all-out war with zero civilian causality. I was thinking over this issue for a while and finally found out how it is practical. It is very simple. Just make an assumption that all the Tamils who were killed in the war are LTTE, no matter even if it is an infant. After all, assumptions are invented by scholars to make the life easy. Isn’t it?
The Panel of experts appointed by the UN Secretary General, better known in the “Land like No Other” as the “notorious” Tharusman Committee stated the civilians killed in the final phase of the war was about 40,000. The present Archbishop of Mannar questioned about the over 100,000 missing people citing the census records. The Defence Ministry of Sri Lanka conducted a census in the war affected areas and put the estimate to be 8,000 and said which mostly comprise the LTTE.
A credible international investigation would have solved all the questions. But the government is adamant, not to allow any UN expert to do an investigation. It is a common procedure that all the deaths by natural causes or unnatural needs to be investigated by a Government Medical Officer and a certificate needs to issued prior to the disposal of the deceased. There is no record of investigation for the dead in the final phase of the war.
There is no doubt that minorities, especially Tamils are discriminated in the “Land like no other”. But the question was, “to which extent?” In a country, where the killing of cattle is protested through the strongest possible terms, why the killings/deaths of fellow citizens are not bothered about at all?
The general opinion about this number game amongst the Sinhalese people is that these are the malicious propaganda of the LTTE rump and the INGOs. It may be true and the best way to prove the credibility this general attitude is conducting a transparent investigation by an international body. But the majority Sinhalese people do not pressurise the government for it. For my ordinary mind, this is an inexplicable phenomenon.
The on-going issue of Northern Provincial Council is a matter of concern for various stakeholders. There are eight other provincial councils functioned with the 13th Amendment. But when it comes to the Northern Province, why the government is so much desperate to remove the land and the police powers? If the majority Sinhalese fear about a possible separation of the province, what they need to do is, reconcile with the people in the Northern Province, not removing the only minimal powers they are given through the constitution to govern themselves.
It is evident from the present approach by the government regarding the Northern Provincial Council, that the thinking pattern of the south has never changed and it is not willing to devolve any power to the Tamils.
The government is not shy about its structural genocide unleashed on the minorities of the “Land like No other”. It is obvious that Halal has done no harm to the people of this country and most of the people know that is its part of the Buddhists fundamentalist’s agenda to crush the businesses of the Muslim community. Some elements of BBS and other fundamentalists effectively use the social media to cause disharmony amount the communities. Be that as it may, the democratically elected so called Muslim leaders have become lame ducks and some even do their best to please the Rajapaksa siblings acting just like a clown in a king’s court. I still don’t understand how they openly make a statement in the parliament that no Muslim religious places came under attack, while there was wide media coverage on the attacks.
Tamil people has been victimised by all the elements of the Sri Lankan governments since the day of the independence of the country. The war has caused immense losses to the Tamils, but by no means can anyone expect that the Tamils would compromise to a provincial council with menial powers. As the people of the country with a long history and unique language and culture, they have the right to exist and retain their own homelands.
I would like to make a clear appeal to the people in the south, that if they really believe in a united Sri Lanka not only in constitution but also in the communal harmony, the initiative by the government to water down the powers given to the Provincial Councils should be protested through the strongest possible terms. This will be the best way to bring the post-war reconciliation.
But will the community which is possessed with its own concept of false patriotism listen to this plea?