Have We All Become Such Barbarians That We Are Totally Disregarding Basic Human Decency And Compassion In Our Quest To Fight Terrorism?

By A Concerned Expatriate

Some people are claiming to be scholars and said to be working in the best interest of Sri Lanka, but somehow their work continuously fails to convey this message. Perhaps one has to read between the lines of political mud slinging, racial slurs and closed-minded arguments to grasp the hidden message. I am appalled by the lack of motivation and insensitivity of certain writers towards the current peace initiative to find a lasting solution to the Sri Lankan problem. Why is it so difficult to understand that in order to reach any deal that is acceptable to both sides both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have to learn to trust each other and make compromises? This means that each side may have to give up certain things to achieve a greater good.

Friends, we have two choices: we can either go to war, or to the negotiating table. We have already tried the first option for twenty years without much success, and we are left with over 64,000 people dead, several hundred thousands displaced and a shattered economy. Now we are at an impasse with no clear victory in sight for either party. We attempted the second option few times but could not make any progress due to lack of genuine commitment from both sides. Now we have been given another chance at the second option, and this time with lot of international support. Lets use this opportunity for peace wisely and not do anything foolish, because the effects of war are much severe than anything that you may have to sacrifice to implement peace. The only way out is the current path, the cessation of hostilities and resumption of dialogues to achieve meaningful, constructive and long-term political solution. You might say that you would rather die than to give up some of your ideals. So be it. You go a head and die for your ideals, it is your choice, but don’t claim that your ideals reflect that of majority Sri Lankans.

You see, for people like Prof MacLean who is relentlessly opposing the current peace plan and praying that the peace talk would fail, the more bombs that go off in SL and the more people are killed, the happier they become, because it gives them a reason to gloat in an otherwise pathetic, miserable and lonely life. It gives them a reason to have a drink and toast “I Told You So….”. Others (including Prof MacLean) believe that USA should either expand the war on terrorism to Sri Lanka and drop a few Daisy Cutters (those 2000 lbs. bombs) in the Northern and Eastern regions or setup a permanent base in the island under the guise of economic development and be a watchdog. Little do these fools realize that if the Washington had considered LTTE a major threat to the US and to the world at large, it would have taken care of the LTTE by now. Besides, if the US were to use the Trincomalee harbor for its Asian theater of operation, it would need the support and the cooperation of both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE. They would want to operate without any distraction. Targeting the LTTE at this crucial moment in time would be proven more difficult and costly than what you might expect. Why do you think the US still has not issued any heavy-handed ultimatum or threat to the LTTE? Instead, the US is using very diplomatic and encouraging words when commenting on the SL issue while making it very clear to the rest of the world of their position on fighting terrorism. So, my dear good sport Mac (and others who share his views) please don’t hurt yourselves thinking that uncle Sam is going to extend his Axis of Evil to Sri Lanka any time soon.

In addition, proscription of LTTE in US, Canada, UK and Australia are nothing more than a political strategy to appease the Sri Lankan government and to “show” solidarity in fighting terrorism. After all, LTTE is an illegal organization. One might wonder, while LTTE is banned in countries mentioned above, why are they not banned in other countries, such as the other members of the European Union and other Asian nations, except for India who has its own reasons? Is it because they openly admit endorsing LTTE terrorism or is it because they suspect (or know) that Sri Lankan government has a greater role in the civil war than just being a victim?

It is easy for others who are not subjected to atrocities committed by the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Forces, to sit back at a safe distance and criticize any and all peace efforts between the warring parties and promote military solution. If you (Yes, I mean you uncle Mac, and any other war mongers like you (Tamil & Sinhalese)) are so sure that long-term solution to the Sri Lankan problem can only be achieved militarily, then why not enlist yourself and your sons and daughters with either the SL forces or the LTTE and spend some time at the front lines fighting and dodging bullets? Does the thought of getting blown to bits or worse, being disabled for rest of your life or losing a loved one make you little squeamish? Well....., it should if you are normal. Now think about the thousands of men and women (both the military and civilian) and children who are faced with this horror on a daily basis. Does it not bother you that these people have been suffering for the last two decades? Do you not have any conscience? All you care are the “territorial integrity” and “sovereignty” of Sri Lanka and the preservation of either “Tamil Nation” or “Sinhala Nation”. Yes, these are valid concerns, but what good are these territorial integrity and sovereignty if people cannot live freely? And how can you talk about integrity and sovereignty when people are afraid to travel, when people live in constant state of alert, as they would not know where and when the next bomb might explode, and when people cannot make a decent living because of disintegrated economy caused by political instability? Where would the nation’s integrity and sovereignty be when it has to kneel by the curbside with its hands stretched to the international community for handouts? It is shame to see a nation that is rich in culture and resources reduced to mere panhandling. What would be the state of these so called “Tamil” and “Sinhala” Nations when people that constitute these “Nations” either emigrate (the lucky ones) or are killed off, or simply don’t give a damn because they are preoccupied with their day-to-day survival? Those of you who contribute to Lankaweb regularly and who are considered “distinguished writers” and/or said to have “intelligent” minds are too shallow to think about aforementioned simple points.

I whole-heartedly agree with uncle Mac and Mr. Gemunu Kumara that LTTE would not have been able to carryout its campaign successfully without the support from Tamil expatriates. These people’s hands are forever stained with the blood of many innocent lives in Sri Lanka. It is equally true for the support of US, Pakistan, India, Israel and Sinhala expatriates for the Sri Lankan government. These countries provided military aides, training, and other resources to help with the war effort. And Sinhala expatriates donated funds to the same cause. Some of these resources were later used by the Sri Lankan Forces to take many innocent lives in the Northern and Eastern parts of the island. The difference between these two cases is that the LTTE was carrying out illegal terrorism while the Sri Lankan Forces were carrying out state-sponsored terrorism. It all depends on how one perceives and interprets facts.

The problem with Sri Lankans is that instead of accepting the reality of the situation and finding ways to rectify the haunting issues, we look for excuses for things that had gone wrong. In order to solve the current ethnic problem and to mitigate any future ones, we have to identify and eliminate the root causes. Without this approach, we would only be treating the symptoms; and symptoms have the tendency to surface every now and then. The root of all of our problems lies with uneducated, self-serving, and power hungry politicians who were (and are) more interested in exerting their authority and accumulating wealth than serving their constituents and the nation. Prabaharan is just one of the byproducts of such politicians. Now look at what we have created. Within a span of twenty years, the LTTE has transformed itself from bunch of sarong-wearing local gang with pistols to a highly organized, trained, disciplined and formidable military machine with armaments and manpower similar to that of a small nation. Within a short time they were able to organize their military to have land, air, naval, and intelligence wings as well as a political wing; they were able to setup political/propaganda offices all across the world; they were able to implement their own judicial system with police force and courts to maintain law and order; they were able implement their own banking, tax and revenue, and economic development systems; and they were able to set up a highly sophisticated international network to procure resources. Not bad for a banned organization started by a fellow who has only a grade eight education. So, lets not blame the Norwegians, the British or the Christianity for the current problem; we let it come this far. We are just reaping the poison fruits from seeds sewn by our predecessors.

As morbid as it may sound, perhaps we can all learn from the LTTE. To set up and run an organization successfully, we need a very determined, capable, goal-oriented and focused leader who has the respect of his/her colleagues, ministers, and the public. And ministers should also be capable and committed to the same cause, and be held accountable to their leader as well as to the public. If we, as Sri Lankans, don’t act diligently and only elect those people who can effectively serve the public and bring prosperity and tranquility to the country, we will always be faced with characters like Prabaharan. Who knows? May be the next Probaharan might turnout to be more ruthless and dangerous than the present one. Do we want to take this chance? I think not. So, uncle Mac (and others like you), before you start recriminating and making accusations and getting your panties in knots, take a close look at what is happening in Sri Lanka and events that have occurred in our recent history, and get the big picture. Just think about your actions and how they may impact others. For a change look beyond yourself and consider the lives of others.

I do understand the fears of the majority Sinhalese who are concerned about the fate of their language, religion and territory if a separate state is granted to the minority Tamils, as this might not only pave a way for other Sri Lankan minorities, like the Muslims, to raise arms and stake claims on different parts of the island, but also be a first step towards further expansion of “Tamil Territory”. No right-minded people would want to see their country split into pieces and have their existence threatened. After all, we are humans, and humans are very territorial. But deep within, we all know that Eelam, in its original context, will not and cannot materialize, and even if it does, it will not survive. Internecine fighting and lack of international recognition will ensure of that.

Even with the strong support from the international community and the people of Sri Lanka, no one can guarantee the success of the current peace process. As some of you are hoping, the peace talk might actually fall apart and the situation might revert back to the glorious fighting days filled with the sweet sounds of soaring fighter jets and thundering artillery blended with melancholy machine gun fire against a backdrop of sheer human misery. But let’s hope that it doesn’t. Thus far, the Prime Minister has been very successful where his predecessors had failed; it is a fact that cannot be disputed. After a very long time, Sri Lanka has been blessed with a politician that has some level of respect from other world leaders,

So, my dear good friends and fellow countrymen (& women) lend me your ears: Instead of using your precious minds for postulating conspiracy theories, spreading paranoia and hatred, promoting the ethnic divide, insulting people who are genuinely interested in peace, and involving yourselves in the proverbial “Paraya” work, use your minds collectively to come up with ideas to ensure long-term peace. As the old saying goes…, ”Mind is a terrible thing to waste”.

We have rest of our lives for war, but this is the time for peace. Lend your support and bring smile to those faces that haven’t experienced it for a very long time. Thank you.





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