Posted in May 2009

Sri Lanka, a new future ?

Last week was a very memorable one for all Sri Lankans, in whatever way you look at it. End of a 30 year old conflict is not something you forget that easily IMO. Younger generation today (me included) hadn’t seen a day without a war. Each month (some times every week) there were bomb blasts going on…people dying here and there… so it’s not a great wonder to feel relief after such a devastating conflict.

But I can’t really enjoy it either.

The cost of ending this brutal war has been massive. The war has brought so much grief to most families in north..family members dead .. closer to 300,000 displaced in camps…more than 6000 army soldiers have sacrificed their lives (in last 3 years of war alone, according to recent stats)…most people have lost whatever they had..so it’s not a party time either.

At most it’s bitter sweet.

But due to all these sacrifices from Sri Lankans, it has brought a new chance to look at the future in a new light. But it should be remembered specially the tri-forces who had put their life at risk and some who have laid lives, secretary of defence for his unwavering goal to finish the war and president for supporting it. They have done what four Sri Lankan presidents, eight governments, and 6 cease-fires could not. No matter whatever blunders the government has done, I don’t think any one can really blame government for going at active war…because they have tried everything possible through peace processes to come to a solution. Specially previous government through its MoU and even President Chandrika Bandaranayaka earlier with her willingness to give north to LTTE for 10 years without an election shows the desperation Sri Lanka wanted to have a peaceful solution. It’s no wonder because with the ongoing war country was basically at a stalemate when it came to the economy and growth. Prabhakaran never gave a compromise (even backing down a notch) from what he wanted and there was a limit the government could promise, which was a federal solution..which he despised. So when one party is not willing for a compromise, it’s a fact that there’s a conflict or a war in this case whether you like it or not.

But here we are…so what should be done ?

To where ?

First and foremost, there are about 300,000 displaced people in the north that are in very hard conditions. Also according to stats, it takes around Rs 3 crore per day and around 1 billion Rs per month to maintain these camps. Without a doubt they have to be resettled back asap and hopefully within 6 months as suggested by the government. But not only resettling them, rest of the country have to provide all the help they can to bring back these destroyed cities and villages to normalcy as much as they can be. Also it’s required to have a rapid development plan in these areas to bring them to the level of rest of the country.

But the real rock and hard place will be to bring peace through some political solution that’s acceptable to everyone.

Peace and a new future ?

As many believe Prabhakaran may have been a very skilful military leader…but that’s the only thing that can be said about him. If he had an iota of political sense most of this destruction could have been avoided through any of 6 peace processes underwent. Then what about all lives he took of intellectuals (specially that of Tamil leaders that didn’t go well with his ideology, or terror) ? That will take many years to fill that gap.

Through terror he shut down most of powerful moderate Tamil voices and except for a handful all were fearful of raising their voices. Personally, I feel there’s a lot of resemblance between the character Lord Voldemort of Harry Potter series and Prabhakaran in many ways. Both were megalomaniacs who thought they were like deities and made people even fearful of uttering their names much less voicing different opinions.

So now with the end of the war, the bottleneck is gone and Tamils have the freedom to express their opinions without a hindrance.  Also it’s government’s responsibility to let the freedom go to people.

People should use this to send representatives (preferably not idiots like some of those who are now in Parliament) who really care about them. Then use them to bring their grievances to discussion table and resolve it politically and peacefully.

The responsibility of the government is to use this golden opportunity provided by sacrificing thousands of lives by soldiers to bring all parties together (mainly UNP, as they have suggested their agreement to support the government in a political solution to get necessary votes in the parliament) instead of watering its self image (it may be justifiable to a certain extent because this is politics after all, but extreme is always ugly).

Also general public should think in terms of their contribution to the country. If a soldier can put their lives at risk and work 24 * 7 without a holiday, shouldn’t the rest at least work their 8 hour work load per day dutifully ? What right do we have to talk about soldiers if we can’t even do that ? [“Even after increasing it from 116,000 to 200,000, a soldier still cannot get seven days leave a month, he pointed out.”]

So we are at a cross road…I really hope it leads to somewhere better than past three decades.