On May 19 six years had passed since the war ended. Six years ago former president Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke to the people of Sri Lanka commenting the final battle of the war: “Our troops went to this operation carrying a gun in one hand, the Human Rights Charter in the other, hostages on their shoulders, and the love of their children in their hearts.” In Colombo people were singing and dancing in the streets. The war was over and so were an everyday life in fear of suicide bombs and public attacks. Meanwhile in the Northern province, few were celebrating. Some people call Sri Lanka the divided island – separated on May 19, 2009 between the so-called winners and the losers.

The Rajapaksa-government faced a huge challenge in the post-war years uniting a country so badly torn apart. Six years has now gone by and it’s time to evaluate how far Sri Lanka has gone in relation to reconciliation and re-building – physically and mentally. Groundviews visited the Northern Province and talked to citizens. Here are their stories and through them, an insight into the post-war realities in an area still very much affected by the aftermath of the war.

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  • Kailas Pillai

    Pre-colonial 16th century Serendipity aka Taprobane (now Sri Lanka) consisted of a Tamil kingdom and two Sinhalese kingdoms. The last colonial power Britain merged the kingdoms for ease of administration. Migration of Eelam Tamils occurred but without any state assistance. After independence in 1948 the politicians found it easy to exploit the ethnic divide and this has continued. A mindset has been created that the island belongs to Sinhalese. For example in 1981 the Jaffna Library was set on fire. About 90,000 very rare manuscripts went up in flames. Two Cabinet ministers who saw the destruction claimed that the incident was “……..an unfortunate event, where [a] few policeman got drunk and went on a looting spree all on their own”. A direct quote from a then United National Party Lawmaker WJM Lokubandara in Parliament in July 1981 “……….If there is discrimination in this land which is not their (Tamil) homeland, then why try to stay here. Why not go back home (India) where there would be no discrimination………. “. On 23 September 2008 the Lankan Army Chief Sarath Fonseka told the Canadian National Post “……I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities… must not demand undue things”. From 2006 till 2012 Tamils were indiscriminately taken into custody because the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa felt that all Tamils are terrorists. Corruption, nepotism and culture of impunity were the main issues at the January 2015 Presidential election – first time ethnic divide was not. Mahinda lost. The Armed Services are a bit confused right now and waiting for a Mahinda comeback. There is plenty of treasure in the ethnic divide mine.

  • puniselva

    The bullet and the cracks built into a huge wall(built while IDPs were trapped in Menike Farm camps surrounded by barbed wire and the army) in the heart ofKilinochchi on A9 says everything – the choice of the picture for the article is perfect.

    • puniselva

      This ”memorial” bullet and cracks in a huge wall should be removed as the first step in finding justice, peace and reconciliation.