26 September, 2020

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What Do We Do With Our Horrible Past?

By Namini Wijedasa

Namini Wijedasa

Dear friends,

Thank you for having me here. It is truly an honour. I must confess at the outset that I don’t have grandiose solutions to offer you; only small hints.

I am a journalist. I have covered the conflict for the most part of my career. And now I cover the absence of war. I don’t have any book learning in conflict resolution or in reconciliation. What I speak about today is what picked up on the field, from interacting for many years with fellow Sri Lankans. I have discovered one dominant truth. Reconciliation is not rocket science.

I want to start on a personal note. I spent part of my childhood in Bahrain in the Middle East. The Sri Lankan community there was large and diverse. We had Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims but there was no animosity towards one another. Although the war was in full swing at home, Sri Lankans in Bahrain organized events through the Sri Lanka Club and socialized without discrimination.

We didn’t categorise ourselves as Tamil diaspora or Sinhala diaspora. We were simply the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain, united against the world. Maybe I’m being naïve. Maybe this is how the child in me remembers it. But I think it’s true.

When I returned to Sri Lanka as a 14-year-old, I had no concept of race or ethnicity. For the longest time, I just called myself Sri Lankan. What are you? People would ask. Sri Lankan, I would reply. No, no, they would say, Sinhala or Tamil? Muslim?

Why was that even necessary?

Did you ever stop to think that today we ask each other what our race is even when that information is not necessary? Indeed, in day-to-day interactions, it really doesn’t matter. But if someone joins an office for the first time, we wonder what his race is. We check out surnames to decipher what a person’s race is. We even assess someone’s appearance to determine what his race is. And we often categorise shops and businesses by the ethnicity of the person who owns them. Muslim hotalayak, we say. Demala kadayak. Sinhala mudalali kenek.

Think about it. The majority of us first define each other by ethnicity and only later by other attributes.

What is my point? Don’t. Don’t do it. It is not right. My daughter entered school for the first time this year. I filled three separate set of standard forms that asked me what her race was. I couldn’t understand why my six-year-old’s race was relevant and in what context. This is not right.

Politics and history have destroyed the way we look at ourselves. As a journalist, I see and analyse it repeatedly. And do you know what worries me the most? What worries me most is that the more we do things the wrong way, the less we realize it is wrong.

Reconciliation is not rocket science. We Sri Lankans don’t need banners or books or flyers or academics to teach us about the benefits of reconciliation. In our hearts, we already know how to reconcile. We were born with the natural ability to mingle and to live in harmony. We know what to do.

We know to sit cordially with each other and to share a meal; we know to play sports with each other and not treat defeat as humiliation; we know to laugh and to smile through tears; we know to feel happiness for one another and to grieve with one another.  We all bleed red and we all feel pain and sorrow. So many things unite us. But the few people with the capacity to divide us are winning.

When LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran held a press conference in 2002 soon after the A9 road was reopened, I was among the many, many journalists who went to Wanni to cover it. We sat around a lot as the LTTE filmed us and spied on us. They were deeply suspicious of us.

Under a tree, on a widescreen, their propaganda films played continuously. There were scenes of wailing Tamil mothers and unspeakable destruction. There was footage of dead Tamil men, women and children, of shelling and bombing. Even without understanding Tamil, it was clear to me that the message was anti-Sinhalese and anti-Government.

The LTTE was overwhelmed by the numbers. That night, they struggled to find places for us to sleep.  A group of young female LTTE cadres was placed in charge of a group of female journalists including myself.

This was the first time that I had met members of the LTTE. In the beginning, the women were cold and distant. But it didn’t take long for the smiles to come out. Communicating without knowing each other’s language can be quite amusing.

We slept in what seemed like a small house. They gave me a bed. The place was teeming with insects attracted to generator-powered light bulbs. I was tired and fell asleep quickly but the insects kept bothering me. I tossed and turned and flapped away at the annoying little creatures.

Then, almost as if in a dream, I heard one LTTE cadre bend over me and tell another, “Pavam”.  I don’t know what happened but when I woke up the next morning I was under a mosquito net.

So you see, even in the most controlled of circumstances, humanity does triumph. We are first and foremost humans. Only afterwards are we everything else that they tell us we are. My earnest appeal to you, as young people, is to absorb and live that message.

But the Tamils among you might ask me, what do we do with our history? What do we do with those horrible last months of the war when so many of our loved ones were slaughtered by your people? What do we do with the last thirty years of war? What do we do with the deprivation of our rights? What do we do with the continuing triumphalism?

There is no easy answer. But I can tell you this. I have interviewed thousands of people throughout my life. Everyone has suffered at different levels.  Could you have guessed that I lost an aunt in the Central Bank bomb blast? Could you have guessed that my father was in the last bus that passed the Central Bank before that bomb exploded?  Just people don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean they were not affected.

I have been to Sinhala villages where families slept in the bushes at night for fear that the LTTE might kill them. One such family was later massacred by the Tigers in broad daylight as they made sweetmeats for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. During the last stages of the war, I visited an impoverished Sinhala village where every family had a son at the front. Many were dead or missing. I have witnessed intense, gut-wrenching grief and heard harrowing sobs. I know for a fact that anguish has no caste, creed or colour.

The levels are different, I admit. Some people suffered infinitely more than others. But pause a moment and consider this. It is conservatively estimated that between 40,000 and 100,000 people were killed or disappeared during the JVP insurgency of the 1980s. Many were tortured and died in agony.

That was the JVP’s second insurgency. The first one was in 1971 when, within a space of five weeks, more than an estimated 20,000 were killed. This was Sinhalese killing Sinhalese.

Listen to this extract from a book on the insurgency by Rohan Gunaratna, an academic from the National University of Singapore:  After April 5, a single day did not pass without a hundred youth being killed. Some were hung, or beaten to death and displayed, while others were lined up and shot. For days mothers searched for their missing sons. Many of them were shot for pasting posters or following lectures. Most of the villagers had followed the lectures through mere curiosity. After all, the contents of the lectures were about problems, which were very relevant to them. Some were purposely disfigured or made permanently disabled and at times parents themselves were detained and often beaten until their children surrendered.”

Here was State terror against the Sinhalese. I have come to believe through personal experience that Sri Lankan Governments will brutally crush any person or group that threatens their survival, regardless of ethnicity.

But you and I are not the State. You and I are not politicians. So what do we do with this horrible past? We deal with it together. We empathise and understand. We accept that wrongs were committed on all sides. We admit that some wrongs were more grievous than others. We apologise. We make amends. We forge friendships and we move forward. And we never, ever repeat the same mistakes.

No Government wants to see the people unite, certainly not this one. That is why you see so much tolerance, even sponsorship, for hate speech. Governments can deal with pockets of people and divided communities. They are terrified of a strong, universal front. So that is what we must give them. We all have common dilemmas. Let’s join hands on those. Then it will become easier to arrive at solutions to our unique problems.

Toss the politicians and their divisive messages away. And watch how reconciliation takes care of itself. It really isn’t rocket science.

*Speech delivered at the Fifth Sri Lanka Unites Future Leaders’ Conference in Galle on 29 June 2013 by Journalist Namini Wijedasa.

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Latest comments

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    As long Sinhala Buddhist ideology alive and saffron clad thugs and criminals influencing Sinhala veerayas no peace possible….sorrryyyyy

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      Most believe that the world is a far better place with the Religions – christianity and Islam. Because, both those two religions have created lot od sadness and social -disharmoney to the world.

      Buddhism is not a religion.

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        Correct to say, Buddhism is not religion but a philosophy.

        However, it has been considered as a religion by many countries including ours.

        The word “religio” has lot to so with the relationship between man and a god – since no god is described under buddhism, it is not comparable to Christianity and Islam.

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        JimNutty:
        As usual you don’t make any sense. Do you ever read what you’ve written before you post it?
        CT: you should, perhaps, have a staff person in charge of translating the idiocies of this man (and a few other contributors to this site) so that readers can at least understand what is being said.

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      Singala, buddhist, thugs

      The three most frequent words in j.muthu’s posts. Bursting with hatred. Reminds me of the BBS.

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        Taraki

        “The three most frequent words in j.muthu’s posts. Bursting with hatred. Reminds me of the BBS”

        J Muthu is wrong.

        They are saffron clad thugs.

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        Not only J Muttus, but mine too.I am a Sinhala Buddhist

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      j.muthu

      When the going gets tough the tough gets going.

      Meaning:

      When the situation is difficult, it’s time for you to show you can make it(the brave person acts).You face the difficulty, you don’t run away.

      – Urban Dictionary

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    I think most people do not think on the basis of race and religon. It is only a vociferous few with some ulterior agenda who want to bring these into the equation. It is either for political and economic power or to destroy the unity of the nation and implement their own warped mindset.

    Even the govt, I think would rather have a united and peaceful country based on multiculturism and secular principles. The few who are die hard racist or religonist elements are the ones actually stirring the pot with the hope of converting the country into a sectarian theocracy.

    Since they are unable to gain popular support through the democratic electoral process, they resort to hate speech, violence and thuggery to arouse the masses. Fortunately such elements are still in the minority and the Govt should make all efforts to stymie there efforts. Leaders of civil society and moderate right thinking people should speak up to dissuade such anti social elements.

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    Excellent speech which very politician should read.

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      Let alone, politicians should read the paragraphs in which the author has made very clear govts have no interest to see people become united.I think today top leadership is an embracement to us all.

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    Dear Namini Wijedasa,

    I appreciate your article about the brutalities of the Sri Lankan state against the Sinhalese, also of the fear the Sinhala villagers had of the LTTE. I sympathize with the victims whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or others.

    However, your article is biased: You don’t mention the Tamils have suffered under the Sri Lankan State sponsored pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1977 and 1983. Tamils have also been subjected to many brutalities by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the war from 1983 to 2009. About 300,000 Tamils died asking for freedom in a so-called democracy.

    During the last 139 days of the war, mass extermination of Tamils took place in the war zone, and worse precisely directed killing of Tamil civilians in the government declared no fire zones and Red Cross identified hospitals inside. About 150,000 innocent Tamils: men, women, children, injured people and invalids were deliberately killed. This genocide of Tamils is well documented in a 90 minute scrupulously authenticated documentary video titled; “No Fire Zones, Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” by Callum Macrae. I saw it today. It is a horrendous story of the Sri Lankan State war crimes and crimes against humanity directed from the very top. Impartial International Investigations are awaited to bring justice and reparations to the victims.

    I think the Sinhalese people should also demand international investigations into the crimes against humanity in the case of the Sinhala youth killed arbitrarily by the state.

    If you included all the above, and the present attacks on Hindu, Muslim and Christian interests by the BBS and the like, your article will become more balanced.

    Thank you for your compassionate attitude towards all human beings.

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      Dear Thiru — Does Callum Macrae believe 150000 were killed?

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        The number of innocent Tamils killed deliberately by the Sri Lankan state during the final stages of the war has to precisely established by an Impartial International Investigation. This can only be established by the investigation after listening to all the witnesses, who should be given the guarantee of protection from harm by the state.

        The same can be established in the case of tens of thousands of Sinhala youth killed arbitrarily by the regime. I’m sure that the mums and relatives, if given protection, will be coming forward to bring justice to their loves ones who disappeared without trace.

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          So, when you call for an investigation, just call for an investigation; don’t suggest already that it was genocide or the number killed was over 150000. Just say lot of people died, which is true. Don’t you think you are weakening the case for an investigation by exaggerating the figures. Also, why you say “deliberately killed”? Is it not true that they were being deliberately held against their will by the terrorist who wanted to save his own life? Do you not know that the Tigers shot and killed people who tried to escape? You ask Namini to be balanced, but how about you? What is your view on the terrorist? In your comment did you criticize any of his actions?

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            jagath

            “don’t suggest already that it was genocide or the number killed was over 150000. Just say lot of people died,”

            A lot of people could mean 150, 1,500, 15,000 or 150,000. In the absence of any credible independent investigation the numbers could be anything. It is not an issue to quote conservative or wildly exaggerated numbers.

            If I were you I would stick to the principle than the figures.

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          It is sad to see people with vengeance in their mind! What do you gain by having a credible investigation and finding out how many were killed during the LTTE final stages or the during JVP time? First it was 7,000 then it went to 15,000, and then to 20,000, 40,000 50,000 60,000, 100,000 and now it stands at 150,000? Is it being increased to build up the pressure for the Government to take action? The JVP claims that they lost more than 60,000? what exactly do you want the government to do? catch all the soldiers who killed these people? How will the government know whether the soldiers killed in self defense or shot the innocent? or bombed a location that was firing rockets or innocent people? Most of the comments are made on assumptions!

          The article written by Namini is an eye opener to every one who write adverse comments on this forum! Most of the comments are written with hatred! Nothing good will come out of hatred! Hatred begets hatred! These comments don’t help to create harmony among races!

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            All right Ruwan, would you have accepted if the same thing happened to your community? Then you mean those who have lost their sister, brother, mother, father should leave and go on..How do you expect them to cope the life? what kind of justice is this? And don’t pull LTTE did this and that as it is no more living entity.

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              We too lost our brothers and sister during the JVP time! I nearly got shot on the road going early morning to get a loaf of bread! get the hatred out of your life and look positively at the future and contributing towards racial harmony!

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            RuwanL

            “The JVP claims that they lost more than 60,000?”

            One prominent human rights activists told me the number was 130,000 including those who were mercilessly massacred by JVP.

            Three commissions appointed by Chandrika recorded 30,000 death. All three were abruptly terminated. The reports were never published. The murderers were still at large.

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        Yes, many believe

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          How about yourself? Do you believe as many as 150000 were killed? What is the basis of your estimate — and how reliable is that?

          And while at it, how would you answer the second part of my question to Thiru (about the role of the Tigers in forcibly holding the population as shield)?

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      Would you believe the mercenary Macrae or the pro LTTE website Tamilnet?. According to Tamilnet daily reports less than 8000 civilians were killed from January to May 2009.Tamilnet does not differentiate between the deaths of civilians and LLTE cadres.

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    at least our future is better than the horrible past ..

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    Ms. Namini Wijedasa:

    People need a leader. IT does not matter, in reality he is one without a backbone. IF he shows in front of the people that he has a backbone, people will accept him.

    It is like the new born infant’s need of a mother. They don’t care who it is.

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    Ms. WiJEDAsa”

    the best example is the animal world. New born animals are happy even with the hugh teddy bears if it looks like a mother. In the real life enemies become mothers to infants of their preys or enemies.

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    Thanks Namini for a honest viewpoint. Unfortunately today we write either for the government or against it. Its time we start thinking and writing for the people.
    The country has come to a turning point. We go towards a dictatorship like in Burma with tourism being the main economic factor, racial and religious extremists encouraged to create situations where government can suppress democratic opposition and ruling party and their supporters given all the comforts to carry on a corrupted regime bleeding the country. Soon we will end up like Sudan a failed state with people fighting each other for their daily provisions.
    The Tamil Diaspora is still campaigning on a war crimes platform which will never happen but help them to keep their refugee status in the western World.
    Its time for Sri Lankans living in Sri Lanka to shed their racial and religious clothing and move together to reclaim their basic rights to live as free citizens not bowing down to corrupt leaders and state executives bleeding the economy.
    Lets all get together without racial or religious affinity to create a better Sri Lanka for all.

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      Dear Optimist,

      You are being unfairly optimistic. You want to sweep
      all atrocities of the Sri Lankan regimes under the carpet and get on with life as if there is no need to find justice for the atrocities committed by almost all the regimes since independence.

      Victims must find justice and must be compensated. I can vividly remember all the injustices that have been inflicted on the Tamil community since 1956, and is continuing. More than 100,000 Sinhala youth have been indiscriminately killed by the state in the past. Their next of kin must get justice. Muslims and Christians are being terrorized by extremist Sinhala Buddhists. Tamils, Sinhalese and the Muslims, have suffered injustices, but they don’t cancel out: They must be added together and justice found! First the Majoritarian mind set of the Sinhala Buddhists must change. Will it happen in the near future? I doubt it, unless there is a Hiroshima.

      All injustices must be investigated by independent, impartial international investigators and all those found guilty must be commensurately punished. After all the past injustices are investigated and redressed, your utopia of peace and tranquillity can occur in Sri Lanka, provided the Sinhala mind set is changes.

      But as you say, it is moving towards a situation similar to that of Sudan. Buddha, Siva, Allah, and Jesus bless Sri Lanka for peace and prosperity.

      Regards,

      Thiru

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        Optimist raises a valid point.

        Just criticism frequently made against the rulers ALONE cant bring much but may be sine quo non. In order to unite and see a great future, much more should be done. Got to know from Boston lanka lately that there are non profit, 100% voluntary organisation like

        http://www.unitymission.lk
        Achieving peace changing their minds will take long, but we each should take part in the long process.

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          Past is horrible, but if we each would not wholeheartedly work on it now, future will not be different the past. This the evidences prove that the youth in the NE, that are traumatised by war or tsunami are feared of before being known their so called monsters who are the sinhalese from south. We the sinhalese thought the same about northerners led by Ltters. But the example can be taken from COLOMBO being multiethnic for the decades – should be taken when explaining the children born into war in nothern parts. So reality of implementation of reconciliation is a mammoth work that will go years long.

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      Optimist

      “Lets all get together without racial or religious affinity to create a better Sri Lanka for all.”

      The name itself is divisive. When Ceylon became Sri Lanka it was the Parliament which had 2/3rd Sinhala/Buddhist majority voted for it. People were excluded from the process.

      Sri Lankan flag is another symbol which makes the country more divisive than a source of unity.

      State structure itself and its governance over people is another source of contention.

      We can go on listing what divide this island than what unites it, of course until cows come home.

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        ” go on listing what divide this island than what unites it, of course until cows come home”

        True. But will doing that help make progress?

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          jagath

          “But will doing that help make progress?”

          The island can make great progress once it reevaluate and take stock of its past.

          No point repeating the Sinhala/Buddhists mantra, one nation, one people, one leader which took us to where we are now, Mahindaland.

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            Dear Native Vedda,

            I agree with you. First the truth of what has been
            happening since independence must be laid bare so
            that everybody sees objectively what has happened.

            Then justice must be done all peoples irrespective
            of whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Burghers.

            The Sri Lankan state must apologize to the victims; communities or individuals for not protecting them according to the law.

            Compensations or reparations must be paid to the victims. Any unjust actions must be reversed.

            Then people must be educated to free themselves from prejudices against other communities. Further, people must understand that in a true democracy aspirations of the minority communities or nations in the island must be protected in an amicable manner.

            If majority of the people are not willing take an enlightened path, as Buddha would have prescribed, then chaos will continue.

            Thiru

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              Thiru

              The country cannot let the LTTE go scot free.

              The LTTE apologists and former supporters must own up their role in LTTE’s atrocities and ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Sinhalese in the border villages.

              Therefore theoretically the only mechanism available is appointing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A credible independent investigation will help to bring all sorts of unsettled human rights issues closure.

              Investigation should cover the period from 5th April 1971 to date.

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        Sinhala Buddhist Racism is what divides the country and the Core Problem.

        It is actually Buddhism and the Monks.

        So, if you can ship the Buddhism and the Monks, BACK to Bihar and Orissa, the problem will be solved.

        After all Bali, Indonesia is 94% Hindu and peaceful.

        Lanka was peaceful before Buddhism, and had a great civilization.

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    “But you and I are not the State. You and I are not politicians. So what do we do with this horrible past? We deal with it together. We empathise and understand. We accept that wrongs were committed on all sides. We admit that some wrongs were more grievous than others. We apologise. We make amends. We forge friendships and we move forward. And we never, ever repeat the same mistakes.”

    Dear Namini Wijedasa,
    Your call for a reconciliation is much appreciated, unfortunately, you and I as individuals only can try to make friendship by forgetting the past and our friendship cannot live last as long as the state and politicians are going to exist for ever.It is not you and I made the mistakes, it is the state and politicians who made the mistakes before the war, during the war and even after the war. It is going for nearly six decades. Who is going to stop the mistakes of the future states and politicians? We couldn’t even stop the emerging religious extremism of BBS and land and power grabbing of the state even after the country faced unwarranted suffering of the people. You cannot move forward until you find solutions to the past mistakes!

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    THE TRUTH ABOUT SRI LANKA IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN CONGRATULATIONS ———THANK YOU INDEED —

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    Being a Sri Lankan belongining to a minority community, in all my life I have NEVER been asked the question “What are you?” – a question Namini asserts is always asked of you in S/Lanka. As for me. nobody cares and nobody has so far wanted to know. Maybe they make a wild guess or my mannerisms, speech and dress sense reveals something about me which satisfies their inner curiosity about my community and background. But in reality, nobody cares and nobody bothers. They just accept me for what I am and treat me like a Sri Lankan would treat another Lankan compatriot. C.mon! Sri Lankans are not all that uncouth. We are certainly a cultured lot and are aware of etiquette and the boundaries of civil taboo. So Namini, please dont make an issue out of a non-issue. And good luck to you.

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      Problem arises when communities try to make an emphatic display of their communal identity by dress.

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      Aroosi, I know your type. With that last sentence of yours you have yourself away as yet another nationalist sympathizer. “Don’t make an issue out of a non-issue”. Really? Simply because it hasn’t happened to you personally, you assume she’s lying? I’m a Sinhalese myself and I recently had to Intern at a leading company in Lanka as part of my uni work. One of the first questions I was asked by the other interns there was, in a hushed voice, “are you Tamil?”. And this all because I had been introduced to them in English and spoke to them in English!

      I for one know very well how most Sinhalese people are concerned with race. Maybe they don’t ask “who are you”, but that doesn’t make the observation that there is this racial profiling going on a wrong one. These aren’t “non-issues”. These are issues that people of your ilk would rather not have people talk about. Just like some people lie to themselves and say “what ethnic issue? No such issue is there in Lanka! End of story!”, you’re no better!

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    Dear Namini Wijedasa,

    If a sizable number of journalists of your caliber come forward, definitely Sri Lanka can have a Mandela of her own.

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    @Aroosi it is certainly not a non issue in current Sri Lanka…. it was a non issue some years back specailly in the main cities… and even as I grew up in a multi racial community in Sri lanka.. race was never a deciding factor or even a consideration in our daily lives.. my freinds were just my friends ..i never thought of them along the lines of their race and religion….but sadly times have changed… people are increasingly becoming racial minded and make sweeping judgements based on race and ethnicity….people i never imagined would think racially have now begun to sterotype people based on their respective race and religion…this is indeed very sad… well i wish the utopia you live in actually exists … sri lanka sans uncouth non racist people…. who will accept people simply for who they are ….

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      Suduhamiyoooooooooooooo@
      You are right to some extent, but I really dont think that significant numbers of the lanken society go after race today. I believe in the past only they did so. Sadly, people attitudes have changed distinguishably in SL and other devleoping world in the last decade. That has nothing to do with ethnic problems. People seem to have lost human values in general. Whenever I travel back to homeland, once a year though, I feel, many dont respect the other. No manners at all, even if they are used to greet you with ” Budusarnai “. Above all, the behaviours of buddhist monks have changed to a violent manner. Today, though some people belonging to some radical movement like BBS are trying to spread on the name of buddhism. In buddhism, you would not find anything like that.. instead has taught avinhisa should be the way for peace.
      Today, I read somewhere, that a buddhist monk has beaten a man in Galle to death – did we hear this kind of brutal acts in the past ( two decades ago). ? no.. there, buddhist monks were polite enough to guide their lay people well. Today, for some reasons, almost everyone in the homecountry have changed sadly not to good.

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    The article is very nice, but mostly missing the half done to Muslims by both Tamils & The so called Budhists. My question is WHAT did the Muslims DO, to be hated by both. How many Muslim women & children massacred by machetes by LTTE , while they were sleeping. Muslims were shot while they were praying inside the mosque. WHY ?
    Now the BBS doesn’t like the Muslims because they where different and doing well in business . They blame the Sri Lankan Muslims who have been living in harmony for centuries mixed with all communities, to be terrorists since some groups of Muslim in other countries being terrorists. Have you ever heard of any terrorist acts done by Muslims in Sri Lanka? Did they keep any road side bombs, did they blast bus stations killing civilians in hundreds, did they bomb any buses , why the so called Budhists doesn’t like the Muslims. These are the questions . The powerful politians behind them think they can fool the masses to be in power. The don’t know the real TRUTH is :
    All Budhists are nor with fundamental Budhists like BBS.
    All Tamils do not support LTTE.
    All Muslims do not support terrorism.
    I hope a change of power could clear this.

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      Just to clarify a point. Buddhist fundamentalists are the good kindly people. The nasty ones like the BBS are not fundamentalists at all. They are the mutants.

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    This is an excellent presentation. However, it is too shallow to be taken as some kind of “gospel” for Sri Lanka.
    It might be “second-hand” now, but the only logical tool for any real attempt at reconciliation is the (South African) Truth and Reconciliation model.
    Pussy-footing around the atrocities of three wars – the LTTE one and the two (Sinhala) insurgencies will NEVER work. And quoting that charlatan and “expert-for-hire” Rohan Gunaratna adds nothing to Namini’s presentation. Using sources like him only tend to damage the essential decency and honesty of her presentation.
    Is there truly no will to “grasp the nettle” and begin the process of building real amity for the future? Pronouncements like this, no matter how sincere, don’t make the grade, unfortunately.

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    Fine speech. Echoes what good Sri Lankans are yearning for without success for many, many, years; and even when that dream is almost here, Mahinda Rajapaksa has arrived to take it away and have it all for himself.

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    The title of this article is not the correct question to ask given the current realities of the world. Considering the increasing likelihood that the UN is going to conduct an investigation that will conclude that the elected Government of Sri Lanka willfully and deliberately committed genocide on the Tamil people, the question Namini needs to ask herself is:
    “If the international intervention that’s underway results in a new UN protected state in the NE, should I congratulate the Tamil people on achieving independence, or should I join the mobs who will try to burn down the US embassy and the UN headquarters?”

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    Hats off to you Namini!

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    very well written. keep up the good work.

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    Reconciliation without justice, not sure even Buddha will agree to it.
    starting point would be to stop the illegal settlements and to give the people their land and home back rater than doing business on their land by the same military that occupies us.

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    ‘Sinhalese killing Sinhalese’ can’t be a excuse for ‘Sinhalese killing Tamils’ vis versa.
    No killing can be justified with another killing.
    Tamils tied so much to find solution for their political aspiration under unitary state for so long. No successive governments recognised Tamils as human being! Enough’, we seen enough of promises! Now, we want a permanent stop, that’s why we say self-determination is only solution.

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    If I grow a beard and cut my moustache – I am seen as a muslim
    If i clean shave and dark – sinhala
    If i grow a moustache – sinhala/tamil
    if i grow a moustache and very dark – tamil
    If I am really fair – burgher

    Why Sri Lanka Why?
    If my name ends with nam, suren, – tamil
    if my name has a z, or a Muhammad – muslim

    Why?
    In America they have so many people from different nationalities. Do you hear them go
    – WE ARE FILIPINO AMERICANS WE ARE PROUD or WE ARE JAPANESE AMERICANS
    no they call themselves “AMERICANS”

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    ” I couldn’t understand why my six-year-old’s race was relevant and in what context. This is not right.”

    Simple. This information is required to decide on the medium of instruction.
    Why read a malicious intention in that?

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      I had to reply to this one: She was already selected to the Sinhala stream. She was already in Grade 1 and I was given a form to fill in her personal details. What does race matter at that point?

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      Then why not ask “Desired medium of instruction” on such forms, like civilized people?

      If you’re trying to take a girl to bed, do you approach her and say “come and sleep with me”? There’s a way of being polite about these things. Although from the current group of bulls in an infinite number of china shops running the country, one can expect no better, eh?

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