Jansila Majeed of Puttalam has done Sri Lanka proud. She received the 2010 Woman of Courage award on Wednesday. Yesterday, we carried a picture of the winner flanked by the US First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The US deserves praise for recognising Jansila for `grassroots activism and minority community leadership on behalf of women and girls, their empowerment, peace building, relief work, the resettlement of internally displaced persons and a commitment to bringing society together`.
It is a supreme irony that in recognising Jansila`s yeoman service, the US unwittingly owned up to a serious lapse on its part as a world leader championing human rights, albeit selectively. Jansila has been one of the IDPs in Puttalm, who have been languishing in welfare centres for over two decades. What caused their mass displacement and untold suffering?
In 1990, the LTTE chased all the Muslims away from the North at short notice. They were allowed to take with them only a change of clothes each. The LTTE plundered all their wealth and even went to the extent of relieving women of their ear rings. Their expulsion had all the trappings of Idi Amin`s forcible eviction of Asians from Uganda to loot their property. Ethnic cleansing by the LTTEleft the North devoid of Muslims and the Sinhalese but the international community turned a blind eye to the plight of those LTTE victims, maybe because they lacked lobbying power in western capitals unlike LTTE backers and the worst affected happened to be Muslims.
Jansila became a heroine because she moved in to fill a huge humanitarian void for which successive governments, the international community and the various INGOs and NGOs should take their share of the blame. Together they provided a perfect foil for a courageous Jansila.
Awards usually inspire people to devote themselves to worthy causes and Jansila`s achievement may motivate more persons to emulate her but not even one million women of her calibre would have been able to deliver the IDPs of Mannar and other terror-affected people from their suffering once and for all. The only way to eliminate suffering is to get rid of the causes thereof. It was the eradication of LTTE terrorism that helped liberate terror stricken people including the IDPs.
Regrettably, those who are hugging and kissing Jansila stand accused of having striven to save the LTTE leaders responsible for ethnic cleansing, massacres, child recruitment, extortion, mass displacement, political assassinations, bombings etc. If they had succeeded in their endeavour, the terrorists would have had a new lease of life.
The LTTE backers masquerading as human rights activists have manifestly shaped America`s Sri Lanka policy and succeeded in making a cat`s paw of some influential US officials including former diplomats to avenge the killing of Prabhakaran and in a bid to revive terrorism. If their mission reached fruition by any chance, the North and the East as well as other parts of this country would again become a hellhole for civilians.
The best way to honour courageous women like Jansila who bore the brunt of terrorism is to help Sri Lanka battle the LTTE rump active in the West and ensure that terrorism will not raise its monstrous head here ever again. Most of all, while social workers serving the IDPs and other war-affected people are recognised and befittingly rewarded for altruism, intrepid men and women who were instrumental in wiping out the root cause of people s suffering too deserve such recognition.
Those who reward the champions of the causes of terror victims, while sponsoring the failed terrorists responsible for their predicament, stand exposed for their hypocrisy.