The stakeholders of Sri Lanka must consider these arguments if any attempts are being taken to do the opposite of what we expect from reconciliation
By Shenali D Waduge
The word reconciliation has become quite effective of late. Use the word with any statement and it gets the nod of international approval. However, before people get carried away there is need to make some matters clear. Reconciliation must bring people together and not be used as a bogey to create a separate piece of land, a separate identity and separate norms.
- If the noble attempt of reconciliation by the UN, human rights organizations, foreign envoys and all other peace facilitators is to make people live in peace and harmony the new constitution cannot include any provision to divide, separate, break up or promote any system of governance that one ethnic community is given a separate area to rule themselves. This has to be very clearly agreed upon and adhered to.
- The other factor that is often ignored is that there was never a time that the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Burghers were living in disharmony. We live as neighbours, we work together as colleagues, we go shopping to the same places, we stand in queues, we share food and festivities, we cheer our national teams, we share good times and bad, we come to each other assistance in times of emergency – the common people have nothing against the other. In fact we have been living in harmony all the while that the propagandists say we have not. Nobody listens to this part of the story because happy stories never sells. What the people feel never really gets relayed over media. It is only those with agendas and who have money to campaign that enjoys fanning warped versions to enable them to enjoy undue privileges.
- Another key factor often ignored is that in 2009 the Sri Lankan military ended an internationally banned terrorist movement. The military defeated the LTTE. If so the question arises why the nation needs to reconcile with terrorists because we never needed to reconcile with Tamils as the people were moving well with them. A good example of this can be proven in statistics that shows that more Tamils are living among Singhalese (by choice) than they are living among their own. Moreover, in the areas that Tamils are living among their own there are more differences than similarities. The Northern Tamils will not eat with the Eastern Tamils, both together denounce the Estate Tamils. If reconciliation needs to take place at all it is the need to break the caste divide among the Tamils. Let us remind everyone that Prabakaran (low caste) waged his rebellion against the Tamil caste system. This aspect has been slowly swept under the carpet because it is more appealing and more sensational to promote one ethnic group over another instead of highlighting caste divide amongst one’s own! The dubious hands involved in drafting the constitution must take this factor into account as well for reconciliation cannot divide people either by ethnicity or by caste!
- Reconciliation cannot also omit other victims. So far since 2009 the world has been made to feel that only Tamils have been the victims while Sri Lanka Military are the perpetrators and the LTTE’s crimes have not even got honourable mention! In fact none of the UN’s resolutions have even suggested that LTTE’s crimes be investigated and LTTE’s victims be compensated. The Sinhalese & Muslims have been conveniently erased from getting international attention for their plight and misery. This is very unfair and unethical of the UN office to openly disregard two communities that suffered much. Both Sinhalese & Muslims were virtually ethnically cleansed from the North in the 1980s by the LTTE.
- Reconciliation cannot go after one party and slowly disregard the other from investigation. All of the 3 resolutions on Sri Lanka have been about the supposed war crimes of the Sri Lankan Military but the scale of crimes committed by LTTE over 3 decades have not been tabulated or reported and UNHRC has never bothered to call for an investigation into how LTTE started, who LTTE was armed, how LTTE was trained, how LTTE campaigned abroad, how LTTE collected money, how LTTE purchased weapons, how LTTE promoted themselves etc. Why is this kept secret?
Reconciliation is certainly a nice word. The people and organizations formulated to promote reconciliation have a wonderful opportunity to set these discrepancies right. Afterall, given that they are the experts at showing how people should live in peace and harmony, they must show us that blueprint without creating a constitution that aims to do the opposite.
Let’s see what they offer as solution. We have been waiting for 30 odd years for this wonderful reconciliation pill from these entities that have been watching people get killed and blown to bits. We finally hope that their reconciliation pill is worth the wait.
The stakeholders of Sri Lanka must use these arguments if any attempts are being taken to do the opposite of what we expect from reconciliation.