Photo credit: Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images via Foreign Policy
I am no writer, no Political Scientist, Economist, Historian or Human Rights Lawyer.
I am a simple citizen who has lived most of my life in this country.
Recently I was at a funeral of a relative in Matara. The father of my cousin’s husband passed away after living a full life and having seen his children and grand children. At this funeral I heard he had two younger brothers who went missing during their teenage years in the ‘71 insurgency. No one knew what happened to them, but no one ever saw them again. Their parents and sibling lived with their memories till they died. However, their stories are not told to the world.
I watched the funeral video of Nimalaruban and saw how devastated his poor parents were to see their only child beaten to death while in Police custody. They too will remember him and live in pain till they die. Similar situation, but the difference is, his story will be heard by many, because it is a different time now.
We react in anger when the US and other Western Nations point fingers at us. How can they throw stones from a glass house? True. What moral right they have to tell us how to govern when they don’t know how to? But political games are not played out like human relationships. We are fortunately or unfortunately, a small country in a strategic location. Those who say they want to help us are actually more interested in taking control of us, like the Portuguese and the Dutch and the British. Yes, history repeats itself. And, if our house is divided, they will move in.
So, my question here is – why are we giving them the room to meddle in our affairs? Why can’t we put our house in order to avoid foreign economic invasion? We cannot tell our people to keep quiet, to not go to Human Rights Council in Geneva, when human rights are abused to such extent in this country. What we need to do is to create a peaceful environment (which by the way is not the absence of war), so that people will not have a reason to take their cry outside. And, then the super powers will have no excuse to take control, be it India, China, the US or any other…
We need to demonstrate justice that gives true freedom to all.
Those of us who look down on the west and look at them as our archenemies, must consider this question – if given a chance to go and live there, how many of us will not take it? If these countries announce today that anyone who wants to migrate will be accommodated, tomorrow, there will be queues for miles on end at their embassy offices. I am talking about our normal middle class citizens who form a large portion of our population. Otherwise, why people are going to Australia, risking such a perilous journey, not only from the North, East but the South too? I have heard the stories of those who land there …they don’t see our country giving them equal rights and opportunities. So, certainly, although we name these countries as horrible and sinister, our people are voting for them with their feet, aren’t they? Not only simple uneducated people, but also the educated cream of our country, most of them having received free education, are going in droves.
This is because they don’t see an environment in Sri Lanka where they can live, work and contribute to a better tomorrow – the environment they look for is not just development in roads and tourist hotels.
What they need is justice and equal opportunities for all.
We need to pay attention to two important areas to keep our people from leaving or complaining and other governments from entering or controlling.
We are committed to development and many plans are underway. However, everyone knows that there is money in development. It is no secret that development is driven, and sometimes at any cost to the people and environment, because of this money. This should change. Corruption is a plague and can be treated by punishment only. We need to remove it entirely from our system. This is one.
And this plague is spreading far and wide. Today, a lot of people believe you are a fool if you don’t make money in the wrong way when opportunity presents itself. Money and power are as dangerous as drugs or worse. They are very attractive, but seductive, because we can never have enough once we get the taste. And, people die feeling unsatisfied, useless and empty, if all they did on this earth is earn money and power, in the right way or wrong way. It is a hundred times worse if we chose the latter. Our lives will become miserable, however much money we have, if we cheat the poor and voiceless, the widows and the fatherless or even if we cheat the rich and the powerful. History is full of such people – Almost all the dictators and business tycoons who built their empires on unjust gains, on the blood of innocent met their end tragically or died feeling poor. So, let’s stop going after it, it is not worth the trouble.
We need to do justice against corruption in any form.
Secondly we need true reconciliation to move from the past. Building roads or applying lessons learnt will not help in this reconciliation. Because, no human being can forget the past until and unless the painful memories of the past are brought out to the open and dealt with. Think of a painful memory you have – can you forget it? And, memories are killing not only the victims, but the perpetrators as well. The Truth must be told, compensation made and forgiveness asked and given by both sides for us all to go forward. More importantly, worse than what the super powers can do, God is not going to be silent when innocent blood is shed; when the poor and voiceless cry out…again this has happened again and again in history and will happen again. Most of us in this country believe in a God. The wrath of God, or Karma, will visit us and/or our children one day to bring justice, if we cover up and carry on like its business as usual. Standing piously at Temples and Churches cannot avert it – it can only be averted only when truth is honored.
We must respect justice and truth and ensure it always prevails.