|Please guys read this piece and digest it. Get rid of your warped and twisted brain and look at it in a realistic and productive manner if you are a real patriotic citizen. Please make sure that patriotism is not rabid racism. Constructive criticism is not threatening one's sovereignty or coming from an LTTE agent! Change your traditional mindset.
by Ayesha Zuhair
When the Sri Lankan military defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009 ending nearly three decades of brutal terror, I alongside millions of my fellow citizens was elated.
Sri Lankan handicapped soldiers in wheelchairs call for the defeat of a U.N. resolution calling on Sri Lanka to probe wartime human rights abuses in Colombo March 22, 2012.-pic by Reuters-courtesy: DayLife
For me, Eelam War IV was without any iota of doubt a war worth fighting and I was overwhelmed. With the world s most ruthless terrorist outfit finally gone, a more peaceful and prosperous future seemed imminent.
The military victory could not have come at a better juncture in my life for I was expecting my first (and so far only) child. I felt reassured that this child would grow up in a stable and secure environment, and would know the peaceful country that I did not know in my childhood.
I was certain that Sri Lanka would rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, that it would seize the opportunity to build a cohesive and tolerant nation, and that it would accord national integration the highest priority.
Almost three years down the line, I am less certain and the hopes that I then entertained remain far from fulfilled. Yes, terrorism has been wiped out but the country is still very much in a midst of a bitter conflict and ethnic polarisation continues to run deep. We are yet to move (or at least show any real signs of moving) from a post-war to a post-conflict milieu.
In May 2010, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was appointed to reflect on the conflict phase and the sufferings the country has gone through as a whole and learn from this recent history lessons that would ensure that there will be no recurrence of any internecine conflict in the future and assure an era of peace, harmony and prosperity for the people.
Instead of becoming the focal point for reconciliation efforts in the country, the LLRC s final report, which was tabled in Parliament in December 2011, has now become the bone of contention.
The LLRC was conceived as a domestic mechanism that would ward off foreign intervention. However, the LLRC report is now being utilised by the international community to pressure Sri Lanka, and the government continues to resist that pressure.
With the impending passage of the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council, an external mechanism looks increasingly inevitable. Though couched in subtle, diplomatic language the message in the resolution is strong and clear: stop dilly-dallying investigate allegations of war crimes and work to secure political reconciliation.
Pertinent questions have been raised in many quarters about the moral authority of Western powers to sponsor such a resolution when its own track record on human rights is highly questionable. But that is beside the point. Where did we go wrong and why have we found ourselves in such a predicament today?
To me, this government has failed on two fronts:
First, the government has failed to address the genuine grievances of the people, choosing instead to either ignore or downplay some of the most pressing problems that have long persisted. The longer the government ignores the issues of reconciliation and accountability, the more it waters poison trees. Focusing on economic development alone will not suffice.
Secondly, it has failed to engage sufficiently with the international community the US and India in particular who have now demonstrated that little Sri Lanka is no match for world powers. No matter how proud a people we are the reality is that we simply cannot afford to lock horns with the rich and powerful, and expect to emerge victorious theoretical assertions of sovereign equality have no practical validity.
The absence of a cohesive strategy has now paved open the way for international involvement. Thus while the government must be applauded for having defeated the LTTE, the same government must be blamed for having created the ripe conditions for external meddling.
Frustrated local groups were left with little option but to use the Human Rights Council to force the government to listen to its own people. Those with hidden stakes too have joined the bandwagon but this does not take away from the fact that this government has failed to fulfil the aspirations of its citizenry.
It does not help to label activists who are drawing attention to some of the real issues confronting the people of this country as LTTE agents . An attitude of either you are either with us or against us will not work. True reconciliation can only be possible if the government is willing to listen to its people. The truth is this government has been unwilling to take the key issues of reconciliation and accountability seriously.
The government keeps asking for time and space but in the enthusiastic manner in which it rushed the 18th Amendment to Parliament, the government could have undertaken many confidence-building measures which would have won the hearts and minds of all its people as well as the international community.
It is unfortunate that the government has been forced to make confessions and concessions on an international platform, further hitting home the fact that this government cannot be pushed in the right direction sans external pressure.
As a Sri Lankan citizen who is grateful to this government for having wiped off tiger terrorism, I live in the hope that at least now my government will do what is necessary to win the peace, and pursue, in earnest, a comprehensive process towards attaining t