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Sri Lanka: Abuse, Disbelief And Bitterness Persist

Categories: South Asia, Sri Lanka, Disaster, Ethnicity & Race, Governance, Human Rights, Humanitarian Response, War & Conflict

The Sri Lankan government's civil war [1] for over 25 years against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [2] (LTTE) ended a few days ago when the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed [3]. The question remains that “has the dream of many Tamils of having a separate state free from discrimination died with him?” Although Prabhakaran is deemed as a mass murderer and terrorist, many still revere him as a fighter of their cause and some are still in denial mode [4] that he really has been killed. Many theories emerged [5] making Prabhakaran's death controversial and some also resorted to Photoshop [6] to prove that he is still alive.

The polarized Sri Lankan Blogosphere is buzzing with a lot of analysis and counter analysis on the developments.

Although the Sri Lankan government has been successful in finishing off the LTTE insurgency, its methods were controversial and much criticized. In Mutiny quotes a Time article [7] which lists the Rajapakse doctrine of counterinsurgency.

Serendipity is critical [8] of the Western media for not portraying the feeling of many Sri Lankans who were relieved and have celebrated the news of the end of the bitter war. The blogger accused the Western media for using sensationalism in their writings and urged [9] the Sri Lankan blogosphere to help balance the biases by raising their voices.

Reacting on the news that the EU wants to organize a tribunal to investigate [10] civilian deaths by Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE, The Whackster's Lair [11] challenged the world to come to Sri Lanka and see with their own eyes whether the alleged war crimes happened for real. However sporadic incidents of kidnapping Tamil activists [12] are still being reported in the media.

Criticizing the ban of foreign journalists and aid workers, renowned journalist John Pilger wrote [13] that the sufferings of the Tamils are being unnoticed by the world and distant Tamil voices are not being heard. In recent times we have seen that the pro Tamil voices have become feeble due to intimidation and fear [14].

Sujai at Desicritics is not a supporter of LTTE but supports [15] Sri Lankan Tamils’ desire and aspiration to establish a separate Tamil state on that island and asks:

“Can we ignore the history of how Tamils were targeted, discriminated, and marginalized in Sri Lanka? Does Sri Lanka have a prior record which suggests they are going welcome Tamils participation in that country? Can a Tamil become President of Sri Lanka the way a Sikh can become Prime Minister of India?”

Tamil protest in london, Image from Flickr by danie, under a CC license [16]

Tamil protest in london, Image from Flickr by danie, used under a CC license

Musings from Toronto questions [17] the Diaspora support for the LTTE:

I don't understand why they support the LTTE. [..] I don't understand how they claim the LTTE is any better than the government of Sri Lanka.

But it would be wrong to think that all Tamils are supporting the LTTE. Amardeep at Sepia Mutiny posts a video [18] of Tamil Canadian journalist Ignatius Sellah talking on CBC which tells a different view, that the Tamil protests in Canada were instigated by the LTTE arm in Canada.

Terms like “Genocide” have been indiscriminately used by LTTE which has overshadowed the real problems. Nilanjana at Sepia Mutiny quotes the human rights abuses of both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE and writes [19]:

Terms like “genocide” (and “terrorism,” for that matter) raise our blood pressure and focus our attention on those who have committed violence, but they don’t even begin to address how minorities can be more effectively represented and fairly treated in the future.

Indrajit Samarajiva at Indi.ca [20] tells the Sri Lankan Diaspora:

It is not enough to lobby the UN or the ‘international community’ or the consciences of the fashionable thinkers of the global elite. [..]

To change Sri Lanka you need to reach the kid in the IDP camp, you need to work with the police office in Hambantota. You need to chat with the Muslims in Galle and the tea pluckers in Nuwara Eliya. [..]

Sri Lanka still needs its bright children to come home.

Gunaratne at Groundviews is amazed [21] at “the mobilization of young people from the Tamil Diaspora around the world to organize protests against the Sri Lankan government’s purported human rights violations.” But the question is how to end the cycle of hatred?

Maybe once the conflict is over, they will come back to Sri Lanka to rebuild the country together. However, there is long way to go for reconciliation between the two communities as so much hatred has manifested, especially amongst the Diaspora overseas.

Appu's advice to the Tamils is to try something different [22]:

Invest in your people, your lands, your future. You work wonders for your employers in other parts of the World, now do it for yourselves.

To do that however, you need to walk away from the bitterness that you are entitled to feel.

But how can the bitterness and disbelief be removed when there are still reports of human rights abuses? According to the latest reports, women were raped and men “disappeared” [23] from the Sri Lankan refugee camps and the Red Cross has been banned [24] from the entering the camps. Reports of revenge on Tamils [25] have begun to appear. So sense of disbelief and worry is still present in many Sri Lankan Tamils. The future of many refugees in the IDPs is uncertain. The world needs to be aware of the situation and take measures to stop these human rights violations to pave the way for some kind of reconciliation.