Ending the war, the last study circle summary

Once again the study circle convened on a Thursday afternoon. This time around emphasis was given to discussing as to what conditions would and should prevail if the current prevailing war was to end. There was an interesting array of opinions put forward by the enthusiastic participants, many claiming that the deeply entrenched animosities between the Sinhalese and Tamil would take even upto three generations to subside.

A point well made considering that bombs and bullets can kill terrorists/people (upto you to decide) but not ideas, this implied a possible continuation of attacks by isolated groups of individuals still espousing strong nationalist ideals even after the end of the war.

However it should be noted that there was also one participant who claimed that it would not take a significant period of time to bridge the differences between the Tamils and the Sinhalese if the L.T.T.E. was to be defeated. Another issue that was put forth to the participants by the host was regarding their general take on the ethnic conflict.

Unsurprisingly with the propounding of this specific subject, I witnessed a clear polarization in the group on the lines of people who believed that the prevailing war should be continued to bring about the eventual downfall of the L.T.T.E. and those who claimed that the continuing war was pointless, citing the loss of human life and the viscious cylce of violence and hatred that has ensnared the community with the intensification of the implementation of measures targeted at the Tamil community by the Sri Lankan government which many would consider draconian and the ubiquitious nature of terrorist attacks targeting civilians. Several other interesting talking points were articulated by certain memeber such as there being progressive elements within the L.T.T.E. who would possibly gain strength to voice their opinions and rebel against the tyranical regime of Vellupilai Prabhakaran if the military approach was to continue weakening the L.T.T.E. Some claimed that considering that already much progress has been made by Sri Lankan Armed Forces in relation to the capturing of previously L.T.T.E. held territory it would be “senseless” to halt the military approach which has the potential to defeat this group branded world over as a terrorist out fit.

With the conclusion of this discussion many of us painfully realized that it was impossible to conduct a war against the L.T.T.E. without victimizing the Tamil community and this in turn would prevent a majority of Tamils aligning behind the Rajapakshe government in their bid to defeat the L.T.T.E.

As you can see much was discussed during a period of 1 1/2 hours, but most importantly the discussion was carried out by youth themselves who put forward broad based principal arguments based on facts but also contributed in terms of their personal experiences with the ramifications of the ongoing conflict.

Yohan Senarath
Editor, inmutiny

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3 responses to “Ending the war, the last study circle summary

  1. “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”, “The conflict lies within ; not without” cliched quotes these are!! But I use them like so many others have, for a cliched war this is, that we are fighting!!!

    I was born in ’83. In August. My mom nearly lost her husband to the Black July of ’83 just months before she had me. I brought the war with me, as it were. Never have I lived in a Sri Lanka that was peaceful.

    I am trilingual, thank god! I don’t know how many of you have frequented government offices in Sri Lanka. But you should. Just walk around with a tamil friend, or if you are a tamil speaker then that would do. Be a bit shabbily dressed if possible. This exercise will, forever, kill the myth that Sri Lankans are a hospitable, helpful nation. oh, we are that to outsiders! But for our own people?

    Let me tell you a story…

    In 1956, knowingly or unknowingly the “Man with the Silver Tongue”, gave form to a hitherto largely invisible devil. Language, all of a sudden, became a problem to the ceylonese pupulation. Remember, the educated adults of that time were all English speakers. They just took up language as a tool to reach the people. Democracy in its most cruel outing, is what I see it as!

    The swabasha movement was a failure in itself for there was more than one swabasha. Ironically, both the languages have the same word for that concept. But what it did do was, it took away our capacity to broaden our horizons.

    How does the story end?

    It ends with us being a bilingual nation, where the governement officers are not bilingual. I have pretended to be a speaker of the tamil language only, in our esteemed government offices and even hospitals. Not just in Colombo, or the south but even in the North West. Same story. At the best you get a blank stare, but more usually a rude reception and an insistence that you speak the Sinhala tongue. Then if they have some iota of decency in them, they go looking for someone who speaks tamil.

    Do you recall the bomb blast at the offices of then PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike? They had to call in an innocent worker from inside the office to answer the queries of a tamil speaking woman at the gate!! This is the attitude of the PM’s office.

    The armed conflict may or may not end. My feeling is that it will end sooner rather than later because the L.T.T.E is hard pressed for Human Resources. But what about the war with our warped attitudes? our constant need for one-uppance? Until and unless there is a conscious and concentrated effort to integrate the people of Sri Lanka, until and unless we have a Mandela among us, that war will go on. More frustrated young men will become freedom fighters for that cause.

    And until such a day, we’ll keep quoting the cliches , “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”, “The conflict lies within ; not without” !

    Zainul Mahas

  2. Pingback: Cosmopolitan Nationalism — Sri Lanka isn’t ready « In Mutiny

  3. Pingback: Zainul’s personal experiences and views on the conflict « In Mutiny

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