Fear Psychosis, State of our Nation, Terrorism and Sri Lanka, our Motherland

Double standards as it may seem Lasantha’s murder was a rude awakening for many, including me. Why I call it a double standard is that many lives were previously lost and I chose to ignore it under the justification of national pride and war for the sake of our country’s sovereignty. Well at least I confess to be guilty as I did. However, as I have always said, I am loyal to my country, I am a nationalist, a patriot, but I refuse to be a blind one.

The latest development where the Government of Sri Lanka has requested for public information on any dissent to the war effort strengthen what I would call fear psychosis. Journalists, bloggers, key decision makers in the community, peer leaders have all attributed this to the days of Hitler when one was rewarded for one’s Nazi loyalty. I question this new public information telephone number, we do have emergency numbers to call, and so as citizens do we now need another to report those who dissent against the war? Dissent against terrorism we must, as everyone in the world does, but if our voices were and are to be heard in a working democracy, isn’t this call for patriotism for the want of a better expression, working against the very freedom we seek to establish by fighting this war against terrorism for the very sovereignty of our motherland?

I take Afghanistan, the Taliban and the fundamentalist way of life as an example. Originally Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein stood out as individuals to be targeted in the war against terror. 9/11 changed the world forever. The war against terror now has moved on from individuals to a collective of individuals. In a lawless country like Afghanistan where the warlords ruled the day. For those who had the power, in this instance the ability to kill, ruled. Indiscriminate bombing, ill planned military presence has now allowed what I call a collective of individuals against the western world. The warlords were disarmed, but individuals, families were wiped out in this war against terror. The west as always not understanding the simple facts of life in the developing world and its ways. It’s simply personal now; if you bomb my house I will seek you out for revenge. So as an answer, do we now wipe out whole villages, kill whole families and ensure that none are left to nullify future quests for revenge?

Sri Lanka’s war against terror now confined to four kilometres proves easily quenchable. The government propaganda and war machine understand the importance of identifying the Tamil Eelam program to its leader Prabakaran. His death is imperative, for with it, they hope the end will come. A weak opposition, macabre politics with former terrorists in parliament, a severely disappointed Tamil Diaspora all clearly show us that democracy has ended in Sri Lanka. So the end not only is Prabakaran’s.

A family government with enough trusted and most loyal generals waiting in the corridors of power. Filial connections, none fragile.

The aspirations of the Tamil people flow in ashes in the many rivers of Sri Lanka. So do the blood of its people.

We prayed another 1983 would never happen again, we watch in vain as 2009 is happening before our very eyes. Through battle we create another generation who will grow hating Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan’s and Sri Lankanarism’s. We ourselves lay the first stone to the building of another Prabakaran.

We create the need for revenge again. We created it amongst the Tamils in the south in 1983. Prabakaran took it to the north. Now we strengthen his claim of inequality by those we destroy now. We make him more credible.

The battle is already won in Sri Lanka. Prabakaran’s justice will be quick death.

Aspirations for freedom will never die, no one deserves to live in a land they call theirs subjugated.

Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan’s and Sri Lankanarism’s largely depend on the whim of a large family. Warlords… Kings… Call them what you may defend them as you may.

As we fight to eradicate terrorism from our country and fight for our countries very freedom we ourselves through the right we call democracy create demagogues within our country. Through election.

I wonder about the former Soviet Union, culture, creativity, pride, national war assets, and music all under the umbrella of communism. Now their gift to the world is human trafficking, blonde prostitutes and the Albanian mafia, all in the name of freedom.

Thailand best economic progress under Sinawata’s quasi dictatorship.

China, the best of communism and culture, all without the freedom to speak.

So is a dictatorship what we need? Sans the freedom?

Are you with or against us rises the clarion call of the Rajapakse’s.

We respond in our typical Sri Lankan manner. Best summarised through what I heard recently from a friend in Colombo. “Machan, the world may going through a recession, all kinds of problems and people in the US and UK may find life hard, in Colombo it’s business as usual. We’re eating, drinking and partying hard!”

Spoke to a friend in London. “Machan, I don’t blog about MR or I am really careful for I don’t want them to turn me back from the airport when I holiday in Sri Lanka.”

The Sri Lankan’s who are Tamils among us suffer in stoic silence. The Tamil Diaspora scream in protest. The Tamil Tigers die. The Tamil people in the north die in the crossfire. We breed a new batch of Tamils, hatred and a new cycle of violence.

The Tamils suffer death, indignity and violence.

The end is what never was. All of us watch in silence. Democracy disappears very like the ashes swept and washed from the opposition leaders home hearths.

Thanks to Prabakaran and LTTE terrorist tactics we lost any proper leadership that Sri Lanka may have had through suicide attacks. We are left with what we have now.

So are we with them? Is this the value of democracy, that it can be twisted to meet your needs? The needs of those in power?

Unite Sri Lanka is another clarion call, who’s calling please?

Stop the violence. Please hear us.

Stop.

  • max

    you guy’s will run out of business, i guess that’s why, u scream!!

  • Disgusted

    Stop? Stop and do what?

    Stop and let Prabhakaran and his international terrorist mafia (pro-LTTE diaspora included) keep bombing and killing innocent civilians, in the hope that Sri Lankans will finally be exhausted, and cave in to their unreasonable demand for an Eelam?

    Stop and appease the power-hungry few who have been brain-washing and sacrificing the destitute in the Wanni to fulfill their quest for revenge and establish some racist la-la-land, under the guise of emancipating them? They would have some credibility if the LTTE weren’t shooting them in the back.

    Stop and let terrorists get their way with human shields, child soldiers and every crime under the sun, setting a good example for other terrorists to follow?

    Stop and let terrorists and their ruthless supporters continue taking the lives and futures of 20 million people hostage for another 30 years?

    Your appeal would have made an iota of sense only if Prabha had been amenable to some reasonable solution to this problem.

    I ask again, stop and do what?

  • jmn

    Disgusted,

    The answer is Stop killing thousands of Tamil civilians. Yes, the LTTE is holding them hostage. But in a hostage situation is the answer to bomb the living hell out of the hostages with no regard for the civilians trapped?

    If 50,000 Sinhalese citizens were being held hostage by the LTTE, would you be so willing to sacrifice their lives? Would you support these killings so callously if they were happening in Hambantota, Galle and Matare, if it was your own mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter caught in the middle?

    You seem so willing to brush aside the lives and feelings of tens of thousands of people and their extended families, just because of the LTTE.

    And please my friend – those of us who live in Sri Lanka only know too well of the killings, corruption, kidnappings, brainwashing, and racism that exist in Colombo itself. Shall we obliterate Colombo’s citizens to get rid of the racists and murderers?

  • Disgusted

    jmn,

    If you can highlight the line where I advocated the killing of 50,000 civilians, or indeed even one civilian, you are welcome to point it out.

    The point is not that civilians should be massacred. Every care must be taken to protect their safety, and I have on more than one occasion welcomed pressure in that regard.

    It is a different matter altogether to stay stop!

    My question remains, stop and do what?

    Please refrain from trying to colour my point with a racist brush. Unlike you, I don’t see people as Sinhalese or Tamils but as human beings first and foremost. So your presumption that I look at this issue from a racist angle only lays bare your own blind prejudice.

  • Dhammika Dharmawardhane

    @ disgusted
    STOP – The first step to anything right now is to first stop killing innocent civilians for the Government of Sri Lanka to maintain any sort of credibility.
    Common man, they are Sri Lankan’s too, what you clearly infer is thats ok, because they are Tamils.
    Sri Lankans first, then Tamils. You forget this. Yes, that makes you a RACIST.
    And a coward to boot when you fail to comment under your own name.
    Shame on you.

  • Sarath

    I say keep going and finish off the Tamil Tigers. Most Sri Lankans feel this way, they have voted with their feet for the current government. The democratic voice of Sri Lankans has already spoken. Your biased pleas have no receptive audience.

  • Disgusted

    Dhammila >>

    I’d once again be grateful if you refrain from putting words into my mouth. I repeated my claim that every effort must be taken to safeguard civilian lives. Yes, they are indeed Sri Lankans and I have already stated that I do not see any person based on their ethnicity. But you somehow infer that I think it’s alright to massacre Tamils. Where have I said this? Kindly refrain from using red herrings to evade the point and using a holier-than-thou approach to justify your ill-thought appeals. And my pseudonym should not detract in any way from the truth, after all, the truth is not a name, a color or an ethnicity is it?

    So kindly dismount your high-horse and enlighten us with that which evades us: stop the war and do what?

    Let me clarify if you had a hard time understanding the question. I agree with you that every effort must be taken to save civilian lives. This is the 3rd time I’m repeating it. The govt. *must* make every effort. If a temporary ceasefire can save lives, do so. No disagreements whatsoever there.

    But it still doesn’t answer the question: how do you propose we end this? In other words, stop the war and do what?

  • Dhammika Dharmawardhane

    Dear Disgusted
    You have agreed civilians must not die. That must stop. So you have already agreed with me on this. Stop.
    And do what?
    If Karuna who killed so many Sri Lankan’s is now a SLGov Minister purely because he denounced the LTTE why not call a ceasefire and ensure the safety of those trapped in the war zone.
    Disgusted when Lasantha was killed someone planned it out. Not necessarily the government for arguments sake. His murderer’s have yet to be found.
    For the same sake of argument lets say the government says there’s nothing to be done keep fighting we must win and more civilians are killed.
    So basically because the government were elected to power they can make decisions that favour the majority of a country at the cost to a minority.
    Anyone who says otherwise is a traitor. Read my post again my friend, you seem to be quite intelligent, what has happened to democracy and freedom in Sri Lanka?
    Soon we will all be subjugated. What then?

  • Nicolai

    Actually that is a very good question. Stop the war and then what?

    I believe Dhamilla. So far all you say is stop the killing.

    Ok so the govt agrees to a permanent ceasefire. So now we have 4 Sq. Killiometers still under LTTE armed rule. They also have 50K civilians who will continue to remain in their custody. We have Navy all over them at sea. There are army divisions all around them. This will be the scenario. What is the next step?

    Here is my suggestion, The Navy ships go back to Colombo?
    The Army packs up and heads back to their families and look for jobs.
    We then call up the Norwegians with our tails between our legs and ask them to organize some peace meetings at the Cinnamon Grand on Wednesday. That way Praba can feast on the wonderful all you can eat buffet at Echo restaurant. Wine is half price too.
    We can then agree that the 4 remaining LTTE members become democratic rulers of Ealam with their 50K people. Karuna will be called in as a special adviser to the Norwegian peace brokers.
    The barriers in Colombo will be soon removed. No more road closures, checkpoints or anything else.
    All of the diaspora members give up their comfortable existence abroad and return to help faithfully rebuild Ealam. They will help form an opposition party and we will soon have a democratic elections in Ealam.
    And we live happily ever after.

  • http://www.nsa.gov Danny

    Tamils are a minority in every single country they live. They are a unhappy bunch as they have no place to call home. A bit like the jews before the establishment of state of israel. Only, unlike the Jews who achieved economic and educationals status and used political and economic muscle to ultimately gain what they need by directing their influence through places like UK & US, the tamils have resorted to putting children in the line of fire (did you see all those kids on that highway bypass in toronto?), suicide bombers (jews didnt have those, the palestines do.. thats why there is a jewish state and no palestine state), etc etc.

    Whats the solution? We can go the malaysian route.. make a bhumiputra policy and satisfy the sinhala racist. But unfortunately, unlike the chinese in Malaysia, I dont think the Sri Lankan tamils are capable of building economic empires. Thats why tamils are where they are in Malaysia (dont talk to be about the richest man in malaysia.. cos he is just 1). When I lived in malaysia.. once a riot brokeoff when some malay dude killed a tamil in an improvirished area where lots of tamils live. The gov blocked off the whole area for a week… and bared news papers from reporting anything. Then pressured/threatened tamil community leaders to calm the people down, which they did. Tamils are not at peace in Malaysia.. thats why they have prabhakaran hanging in their taxis.
    Same story is applicable in Singapore, UK (where most london gangs are Tamil), Canada…. tamils are just second class citizens everywhere.

    The only country where Tamils hold a little bit of power is India, where they could kill the prime miniter in Tamil Nandu.. and not have a racial backlash.. like that resulted in the death of indira ghandi (who was killed in revenge). Indira is responsible for what LTTE has become (She was crap at geopolitics). So its the karma in action when Rajiv was killed by what she helped strengthen. Anyways… so yah.. we need to have the indian model in Sri Lanka.

    But the tamils dont want it. Wait.. let me correct my self. Prabha doesnt want it. Why? Ask the ghost of Uma Maheswaran. Prabhakaran is a military leader who would not know how to swim in a political landscape. Thats why he killed Maheswaran.. With no War… Prabhakaran would have trouble maintaining his iron fisted centralized control. K.P. wont be able to make millions from his smuggling network. It all breaks down. LTTE doesnt want a political solution. It needs war… and then it needs to run Eelam like North Korea.. if it every achieves that dream.

    So the way forward is to create a tamil nandu in the north & east… and completely destroy the LTTE leadership. I want Dr Neelan Thiruchelvam’s dreams to come true. I want every single Tamil youth to get to know what he lived for. Every single Tamil youth should understand what Neelan Thiruchelvam wanted for the tamils. Along with a federal system.. only then will we have peace in Sri lanka.

    Alas… tamil kids all over the world thinks its cool to carry a gun and commit suicide.. without ever knowing what its like to growup in the north knowing only war. These kids love the flag.. cos it got a tiger and guns. I know these kids. I live amoung them. They have no identity.. they seek the coolness of being called a “Tamil Tiger” without knowing what its like to go hungry for days…and being forced to fight with a gun you cant even lift.

    Alas… as long as we have these lost kids all around the world.. who have no identity.. and as long as people admire prabha over Neelan.. we cannot have a tamil nandu in Sri lanka.

    Malaysia it is then. You had it all…. until that is…. you let MGR win elections in sri lanka on the back of prabha… and Indira tried to play geopolitics by supporting LTTE. You killed every single bit of it.. when you killed Neelan.

    For every single wave of a tiger flag in paris… canada.. you are condemning the tamils in sri lanka… to remain the second class citizen.

    Shame

    I was doing a gametheory analysis on the current situ…. coldblooded as it may seem.

    The only win win scenario I can see is for the gov push on sans mortar attacks into the zone. That will slow the SLA down a lot… and people in the zone will starve…. at least there is a chance that they will turn on those who stop them from leaving, even if it means beating up ure own daughter who is only 15 and is holding a AK47 on you.

  • jmn

    Disgusted,

    You were quite clear in your first post that the current offensive should continue unabated regardless of the ongoing mass civilian deaths. That in itself makes you a callous person at the least and a racist at the most. That you are blind to race in this matter is the silliest thing I have heard considering it is the most obvious known fact that every civilian dying in the North today is a Tamil!

    How about actually stopping heavy artillery fire for one? When you have the enemy trapped in a 4 Sq. km radius, completely surrounded with no room to escape – why continuously bombard the area knowing there are tens of thousands of civilians being held hostage there? An official assurance was given that heavy artillery use would be ceased to ensure minimal civilian casualty, but yet it continues. If you really look at everyone as Sri Lankan regardless of race, why aren’t you bothered by this? Would your “Stop and do what” argument still hold if it were tens of thousands from your own community being bombed to death?

    You keep saying “every effort” should be made to minimise civilian casualties. Well, is “every effort” being made now? When 6,500 people die and countless more are severely injured in period of a few months, are you telling me that every effort is being made?

    BTW I do not say stop the war and let the LTTE escape! They need to be defeated and dismantled. But don’t ask me what the solution is – I am not a military expert nor am I privy to the actual ground situation. Perhaps the answer is as simple as covert ground operations to rescue civilians and destroy LTTE targets, or maybe to allow a UN force to come in to rescue civilians.

    Whatever it is, the current military wave is unacceptable and every Sri Lankan should stand against it.

  • Literal

    Danny, I must say i love your game theory analysis. Was that you PhD Thesis? von Neumann would be so proud!

  • Sajith

    What needs to be stopped is Prabhakaran and his LTTE goons.

  • Disgusted

    Jmn >>

    The fact that you keep thinking of this only from a racist angle, I insist reveals only your own prejudice. The fact of the matter is that this is a humanitarian catastrophe, an ongoing one for the past 30 years, affecting all Sri Lankans regardless of race. You keep trying to tar me with a racist brush and get free debating points, but it really didn’t answer the question did it?

    Please read Nicolai’s response. He’s understood what I’ve been trying to say, although you seem to be unfathomably dense in grasping the point, possibly because you are too busy concentrating on the current situation and fail to realize that my question is with regard to the end outcome.

    You and I are in complete agreement on the current situation. The artillery fire must stop and yes, every Sri Lankan should indeed stand against it. What should happen is possibly your suggestion of covert ground operations, which is exactly what the govt. “claims” it’s doing.

    But it’s an altogether different matter to say stop the war! Stop the war and do what?

  • Observer

    If you think Lasantha was murdered by the government then revise your logic. Maybe take a refresher course in discrete maths.. whatever…

    As much as many in the public, army and other establishments engaged in the war against the LTTE wanted Lasantha to go away and stop his B grade tabloid journalism, no one actually wanted to kill him. It was a worthless thing really. In fact anyone with half a brain knew it would do more harm than good for the government and its efforts. Then you’d stop to think who’d exploit such an opportunity. Please ponder a bit.. My multiple choice answer list has:

    A. UNP
    B. LTTE
    C. A collaboration of the above

    Damika, you are highly alarmed right now about a military state in Sri Lanka, but understand whatever it may seem like – that is what the people want. They’re suffering economically like at no other time yet they are happy at least our biggest curse is being dealt with proper leadership and tough action (the sort of action that was lacking before). At least most people believe that and hence the overwhelming support for the current administration. So all I can say is SUCK on DEMOCRACY!

    It is in human nature for people to put up with adverse conditions to see a greater good. It’s an inherent resilience built into human kind that has seen us achieve amazing things. Hang in there for a bit, your liberal utopia is on its way. When the war is somewhat dealt with and people see no need for a staunch leadership and the current one doesn’t adapt then they will chose something else.

  • Disgusted

    Nicolai >>

    Thank you for clarifying the point I was trying to make. Sadly, it seems to be evading jmn despite repeated explanation.

    Dhammika >>

    In case you haven’t noticed, we are already subjugated. We have no freedom to go in a bus, because one minute you may be bound to Pettah, and the next, arriving in style at the pearly gates. We are afraid to go watch a fireworks display, because the next brain-washed zombie might decide to join and set off some fireworks of her own. So I’m not accustomed to this freedom which you speak of? There is little point in talking about higher liberties when our basic liberties are in peril. I was in the middle of writing this response when I noticed that Observer has already mentioned this.

    It’s your own racial outlook which prevents you from seeing that this is not merely a racial catastrophe. It’s a humanitarian catastrophe which is taking its toll on all Sri Lankans, be it average people, soldiers, LTTE suicide-cadres, little children with AK-47s and on the existence and future of a country with 21 million people.

    You and I are not very far in our outlook with regard to the value of human life. The difference is in how this can be resolved. Let me explain a realization that dawned on me and continuously reinforces itself the more I interact with certain kinds of people.

    Irrational entities cannot be negotiated with or appeased through any reasonable means.

    The govt. has tried for over 30 years to atone for the events that led up to 1983. Tamil has been made a national language, govt. officers are required to learn Tamil to advance beyond a certain station, govt. forms and communications include Tamil, many identity campaigns have been launched and it gives me joy to see the results of these campaigns as young people identify themselves as Sri Lankans, instead of by race. On the part of the people, the Sinhalese have been shamed for the actions of 1983 and they have endured indicriminate bombing and mayhem silently. The average Tamil person has endured suspicious looks, extra checks and the destitute people in the Vanni, Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese have endured deprivations beyond measure.

    Yet the racism of a few is too great to see this. So much has been endured, so much has been corrected. Are things perfect? No, but things have improved so much, that the only visible discrimination is due directly or indirectly to the LTTE (i.e. Extra suspicion at checkpoints).

    Yet, the Eelamists continue to beat their separatist drums. Pro-LTTE elements flood capitals demanding Eelam. Read my discussion with Vasantha Raja. I asked him to list the current grievances that could not be addressed through reasonable means. The moment his reasoning was challenged, his only response was to simply decree in effect that: Eelam is the only way, no further discussion.

    Look at what happened with negotiations with the LTTE. Ranil W. virtually walked backwards with his trousers down. Ready to give everything except an official “Eelam”. Still no dice.

    So who are you planning to negotiate with? Who are you planning to pander to?

    MR might not have an oxford-educated english accent, the sophisticates might not be impressed by his country bumpkin ways, or his lack of “class” and he has been accused of thuggish tactics, but perhaps that itself helped him realize that rubbing shoulders with the elites trying hard to be “Politically Correct” was not the way to solve this problem. The solution must be given to ordinary, reasonable people, not to extremists.

    And another realization I’d like to share with the crowd clamouring for political solutions. While I share your disgust for Sinhalese ultra-nationalists, do not let that disgust and guilt for past events blind you to the truth. These Tamil ultra-nationalists are just as despicable and they have been riding on this collective guilt to further their own racist ideals. Tell me, why are they not demanding equality but a separate state instead? Why do all their solutions revolve around cementing racist divisions? Why do they keep ignoring the improvements that have taken place to the lives of ordinary people, despite the scourge of the LTTE? If their demand was for equality, we’d all be marching with them any day of the week, but that’s not what the fight is for is it? Open your eyes.

    The people have always been pawns. None of these racist “political solutions” are really designed to help them, but to help the ruling classes. Explain to me, what happens to the Tamil people, the majority of whom still live in the south? How do these proposed racist divisions help them reach the supposedly lacking equality? Will thet ever really get equality through anything other than educational campaigns which uplift people’s conciousness? If someone can elucidate, I’m listening. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to devolution of power along *non-racist* lines, if it really does solve the problems with our centralized govt. But any political solution that enforced ethnic divisions? Right, we can see to whom that gives a bigger share of the pie to.

    Don’t let the racists win. Equality? Of course, no questions. Pandering to racism under the misguided notion of solving problems? Count me out.

  • jmn

    Disgusted,

    In your first post you responded to Dhammika’s plea to “stop the violence” with a whole bunch of reasons against stopping the violence. At no point did you agree that the violence should be stopped or display concern for the civilian deaths. It is to the meaning of this post that I based my comments to you on.

    Since then you have clarified your stance so I will leave it at that.

    You need to stop painting a picture of all Sri Lankans suffering equally at the moment. This is obviously not true. It is only hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians who are being bombed, shot at, and housed in IDP camps. Yes all races should be equal in Sri Lanka, but let us also keep our eyes open when it is obviously one race suffering more than the others at the moment.

    You are right, I am too busy being concerned about the current situation – if we do not deal with the current situation now the end outcome will include the deaths and permanent scarring (both physically and emotionally) of too many innocents. I cannot fathom people keeping quiet and pondering about end outcomes and end scenarios while right now people are being killed.

    I agree with you that this war cannot be stopped. But I also think that a true peace cannot be won on the graves of thousands of civilians.

  • Disgusted

    jmn >>

    My concern was to interrogate the writer’s plan after stopping the war. Any human being in the 21st century *should* have enough sense to realize that massacring people is certainly unacceptable and it’s quite silly to have to belabour the point. I think that few people are that tremendously stupid and ethically impaired to not realize this, at least I hope not on this forum anyway. Either way, my apologies for not explicitly mentioning the fact.

    The point I was trying to get through to Dhammika was, it’s all too easy to make bold moral statements standing on the sidelines. Yes, let’s stop the violence. Let’s give good ‘ol Prabha a pat on the back and tell him to let bygones be bygones. Let’s all forget this silly racist nonsense. put it behind us and get back to living together like human beings should – in a plural society where everything is hunky dory.

    Unfortunately, it’s much harder to achieve those goals in practice. So Dhammika belaboured the obvious point, stop the violence, what he failed to mention was, what is to be done to save these people and end this violence permanently?

    This is what I wished him to confront. I realize that my tone was strident and that Dhammika meant no harm, but I have little patience for people who keep criticizing whatever steps are taken to solve the problem, without mentioning how those problems can be solved realistically. It’s irritating when people think the rest of us are callous, racist, stupid or ethically impaired to be given elementary lectures on why it’s wrong to kill people. Again, no question about minimizing civilian deaths, but just as you see no peace built on the graves of thousands of civilians (which I agree with), I see no peace in mere calls to stop the war.

  • jmn

    Disgusted,

    I fully understand you now, thanks for the clarification. However, though every human being *should* realise that civilian massacre in unacceptable, too many are willing to be silent on the matter. Our country is right now sitting by idly while a catastrophe is unfolding in the North in the belief that the end (defeat of the LTTE) justifies the means.

    I agree that we are in a complicated situation. To merely stop the war means allowing the LTTE to regroup/ re-arm/ escape etc and therefore prolong this cycle which has been going on for 30 years. To continue it as it is means huge Tamil civilian casualties and further wide ethnic estrangement.

    Real peace in this country can only be won, in my opinion, by winning over hearts and minds. This means appealing to every citizen regardless of ethnicity or race, to think together as Sri Lankans and bringing extremism and ultra-nationalism to the middle ground. This means convincing the minorities that changes *will happen* and making simple gestures, whether via action or official statements, to this fact. This means telling every Sri Lankan that this country belongs *equally* to all it’s citizens and that no one race or religion shall prevail over the other. This means taking a hard stance against racist politics and politicians.

    I do not see this government, however, looking at this situation this way. While a part of me admires Mahinda’s steadfastness in a difficult situation, the continuous comments coming out from people in his administration are largely worrisome. For example, Sarath Fonseka states that this country “belongs to the Sinhalese” and Gotabhaya says that any dissent against the government is “treason”. These are people who hold the presidents closest confidence. What worries me is that this war is being conducted on these principles, rather than on a true commitment to peace and equality for all.

    In the South there is a propaganda campaign which compares Mahinda to King Dutugemunu and likens this war to his war against King Elara. What kind of sentiment does this stir in the common man, whether Sinhalese or Tamil? Does this not implant in the grass root level a feeling that we are different, that one has to win over the other? Is this not the same type of propaganda that contributed to this whole mess in the first place?

    I worry that we are on the brink of making the same exact mistakes all over again, while instead we should be looking at today’s situation as the ideal opportunity to finally begin building this country the right way.

    The LTTE became a large force to be reckoned with after 1983 where thousands of disillusioned Tamil youth flocked to join them. While it was only a few who partook in this 1983 massacre, the larger majority stood by silently though they were dead against it. We need to make sure that the same mistake isn’t repeated in 2009.

  • Observer

    Liberals make great peacetime governments. True! Conversely right wing conservatives make great war time governments. I am yet to witness a war time period in any country that did not retract at least to some extent civil liberties. Of course it’s wrong! You don’t need essays pointing out the obvious to realise that. What you got to understand is it is a natural happening.

    War is dirty business that no one wants to venture into unless absolutely necessary by all means. When you do, you have to dig into the trenches and see it through. As a government you have an obligation to provide the best of best conditions to the soldiers that are risking more than life and limb in the hopes of achieving the ultimate goal. And if that means suppressing demoralising baseless dissent so be it! Free media is lovely during a rosy peace times. If you don’t win the war you will lose more than free media in the long run. You could even lose the freedom to exist! Now how do you worry about free media when that happens?

    All the government was asking was to not demoralise the troops or endanger their safety in anyway by irresponsible reporting. Which I think is fair enough! Saint Obama (the rain maker) wouldn’t allow the release of some photos because he thinks it will endanger US troops actively engaged in various fronts. Does that make Obama administration guilty of fear psychosis? I think not!

  • Disgusted

    jmn >>

    I agree with you that too many are silent on the issue and I may have inadvertently been in commission through omission. That was wrong and I hope to not make that mistake in future.

    I agree with you on your criticism of the present administration. However, I think we can’t address too many problems at the same time. Quite honestly, I don’t see how reasonable, non-violent people can deal with a violent group which has no ethical constraints whatsoever (as has been amply demonstrated) and refuses to negotiate. It requires people of a dubious ethical standing, like MR, who are willing to bend ethics and talk to them on equal terms. Moderate people can negotiate with other reasonable people, but we can’t negotiate with bullets.

    Coupled with the internal and international forces arrayed against the govt., I think he cunningly played all cards available to generate the cohesiveness necessary to address this issue. It’s a miracle he succeeded. Unfortunately, it may have once again sparked off an excess of Sinhalese nationalism.

    But, here’s the bright side, if that nationalism remains confined to words, and not to bullets, unlike in the Tamil case, moderate people on both sides can discuss and create the climate necessary to marginalize these hard liners, gradually, as we have done in the past. Take a look at post 1983 Sri Lanka. Tell me, is there any serious discrimination at all other than that brought upon Tamils by the LTTE? I’ve asked this question many times but am yet to see a convincing answer. Things aren’t perfect, but we are a vastly matured country from the one we were back then.

    The serious Sinhalese hard-liners have already been marginalized to some degree. Even they are willing to live and let live. If anything, the LTTE experience has hopefully taught them a sound lesson: don’t try to bulldoze minorities into submission.

    Not so with the Tamil hard-liners, but that’s what is in the process of being rectified, with the imminent demise of the LTTE.

    Once these violent forces have been destroyed, it will be up to moderate people to voice their opinions and gradually start building the society we want to see. I like taking the example of black people in the US. From far worse conditions (segregation) they rose to having a black man for a president within a mere 50 odd years, with nowhere near the violence we’ve seen.

    We are starting way ahead, and we’ve already seen signs of a Tamil prime-minister in Lakshman Kadirgamar (perhaps that also was a major consideration for the LTTE to assassinate him, a Tamil prime-minister would have rubbished their claims of discrimination).

    I’m hopeful that we can overcome these less serious obstacles with economic prosperity and awareness campaigns.

  • Observer

    I agree with most of Disgusted have said in few posts. I don’t think a black July will ever happen again! Regardless of people who are overly jubilant over the demise of LTTE. 3 decades of battle scars are sure to leave reminders of hasty, short sighted and racist actions. Both sides made grave mistakes that made this war drag on for so long. Although the fire is out, there’s still heat under the ashes. People will be extra careful in my opinion to make this juncture in history of Sri Lanka evolve into something positive for both sides. At least I hope!

    Quite frankly I think both sides just about have had enough of this senseless tug a war. When I look at both soldiers and civilians faces I see that they just want to see the end of the violence and LIVE! LTTE was the stubborn nuisance that prevented this and breathing its last few breaths. Only way we can nail its coffin is to restore dignity and equality for the fellow Tamils.

  • http://www.researcherid.com/rid/A-5934-2009 Suniti Karunatillake

    Dear Disgusted and Dhammika:

    I would appreciate if you assess (or list) historical instances when governments concentrated military and legislative authority among a few individuals and exempted them from public criticism during war (e.g., exploiting the power granted by the PTA), but *voluntarily* relinquished all such powers after victory. Neither a new post-war government redistributing power nor a government relinquishing power under international/internal duress would count as examples.

    Please cite your sources in your response.

  • Disgusted

    Dear Suniti,

    I’m not aware of any such instances and I would be surprised if there has been any such voluntary relinquishment, although I’m no expert in political history. I sense that you wish to make some connection with your question and what we’ve been discussing so far?