Saturday, January 10, 2009

What next?

The A9 is open. Hands up those who have booked the van for their next/first trip to Jaffna? Hands up those who cancelled the trip to Bentota to frolic instead in the clear blue waters around Point Pedro? Yeah, as I guessed, none. 

Freedom from terror to me means not having to be checked at twenty check points on my way from Colombo 5 to Colombo 6 and asked for my ID. Freedom from terror would mean not being apathetic to the news another bomb has gone off in a train. Freedom from terror would mean not being stuck in traffic jams for hours at end due to a politician more terrified than me travelling 1km away from me. 

It is but delusional to think any of this will change just because the army captures Elephant Pass, Kilinochchi or Mullativu. There can never be any victors in a war. As we celebrate these victories with fireworks, we celebrate too these freedoms we will never have. Sri Lankans will forever live terrified that the next Central Bank attack will be at their building. The next Taj massacre will be at their hotel. 

Sri Lanka is a nurturing ground for terrorists. The tamil people are still, after 25 years of war, being treated as second class citizens of their own country. They are viewed with suspicion and treated with contempt. How many Tamil people do you know that can speak Sinhalese? Now, think how many Sinhalese do you know who can speak Tamil? The discrepancy is wide. Will this suspicion end because the war is over? When the govt has no idea where the LTTE are? 

Will this mean that just because we are able to place Sri Lankan flags and many an army soldier in the land that has been won up north that the Sri Lankan people will be able to finally forget this unncessary issue of language and go about their lives in peace? NO it won't. 

It is NOT ok that Tamil youth are abducted daily all around this country. It wasn't okay when Premadasa did that to the Sinhalese youth suspecting they were JVP and it is NOT ok that it is happening now. It is NOT ok that countless journalists have been harrassed through out the past 3 years for speaking the truth, what the ruling parties don't want to hear. It is NOT ok that our fundamental rights are daily stripped away under the war pretense through the passage of emergency laws. 

Human life is valuable. Whether they are Tamil, Sinhalese or Muslim. Palestinian or Israeli. We have lost more than one generation because of this war. How many more do we sacrifice before realising that its NOT ok?


David Blacker said...

Rather blinkered view, I'm afraid, Rambler. Your post suggests that the war is something that's being conducted just for the fun of it. You ask when the next Central Bank attack will be or the next Taj? Very good question -- when was the last? Twelve years ago. There hasn't been a SINGLE successful attack by the LTTE in Colombo in the last two years. Surely something's being done right? The reason this war is continuing is because neither side could win it. When you go to war, the question must be 'how do we win?' not 'how do we stop?'

Rine said...

Hmm.. good point Mr Blacker. However, although the last Central Bank bomb was 12 years ago, the airport attack was a lot more recent. Its not a matter of how long ago the LTTE succeeded, it is a matter of whether we felt safe everyday although they didnt succeed. True, something is being done right. Thats the purpose of the checkpoints I would hope. But the fact that nothing severe has happened in the recent past, doesn't seem to allow anyone to feel any more secure in this country.

It all depends on what your idea of victory in a war is. If its conventional victory, then yes SLA is winning at this moment. Thats great! But the cost of war is too high in this case. We have an economy brought to its knees (far before the global recession took part), a war effort that cannot be supported for the longer term, a terrorist organisation that will resort to guerilla warfare once the SLA claims itself victorious and a minority population that will always be second class citizens.

So in that case, how would you suggest we win this war?

David Blacker said...

Well, first of all, I don't think it's the checkpoints keeping us safe. A lot of it is intelligence gathering in the north, and the fact that the LTTE is hard pressed on the battlefield.

To expect safety now is a bit premature. In WW2, even while the Allies were turning the tide after Dday, British citizens were still under heavy threat from V2 rockets. Overall, though we're much safer from LTTE attack than traffic accidents.

My point isn't that nothing bad has happened recently. It's not unlikely that a bus can be blown up in Colombo. But the LTTE's ability to be effective has been heavily restricted.

As for victory. Military victory will be the defeat of the LTTE's ability to control the people or land of the Northeast -- in others to make them ineffective. That point is still a long way away. Right now we are seeing the closing moves of the conventional phase of this war, which began in 1990 with the emergence of the LTTE's ability to capture and hold territory.

However, with a military victory must come a GoSL plan to address the grievances of the Tamil community so that the next generations of SL Tamils won't see a need for arms.

Rine said...

By safety, be it through intelligence gathering or checkpoints, you mean we are still alive. How about the countless number of people who have been abducted over the past few years? Those that have received death threats and whose complaints to the police have not been acted upon? People's definition of safety varies depending on their circumstance.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones that do not have to worry about personal attacks on a daily basis. That is possibly why you can say that nothing bad has happened recently.

I appreciate your viewpoints and would prefer to agree to disagree on this theme. I guess the most important lesson we can take away from the recent events within Sri Lanka is to learn to tolerate different opinions.