|Saturday, 19 January 2002|
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The heart-cry from the Vanni
A lap top computer which is no more a novelty for the majority of middle class children in Southern Sri Lanka, proved a crowd-puller in the Vanni. Our front page colour picture yesterday, should have told it all.
The foreign journalist operating a computer of this kind in the middle of nowhere in the Vanni, drew scores of wonder-eyed children. As the picture revealed, the children were not only hungering after the things of a material nature, which their counterparts of the South are quite familiar with, but are also seeking knowledge and learning, epitomised forcefully by the computer.
We hope the peace process which has been boldly relaunched would enable these hitherto forgotten children of Sri Lanka to enjoy what are considered the good things in life, to which they are perfectly entitled.
It is blighted lives and the sense that there is no hope for tomorrow which compel the young to rebel against their lot. Peace, stability and the benefits which flow from them, such as an uninterrupted education and the possibility of pursuing a rewarding livelihood, are some of the best remedies to the sweeping discontent among a community.
This is the main rationale for the current peace bid and, as our lead story yesterday said, the people of the Vanni are hoping very ardently that it would succeed.
The wide cross section of people interviewed by our reporters in the Vanni were unanimous in their wish that the government and the LTTE would steadily work towards a negotiated, just settlement of the ethnic problem. While they were overjoyed by the prospect of fulfilling their material necessities, now that the goods embargo on the Vanni has been lifted, it is the belief that concrete measures are being launched to realise peace, which is giving their lives hope and purpose.
This heart cry of the Tamil people for peace is a further consolidation of the electoral mandate of December 5th, which was essentially a vote for a negotiated political settlement of the ethnic problem.
The Government has demonstrated amply its desire to forge ahead with this mandate. It is up to the LTTE now to reciprocate this peace gesture and help in taking the process of reconciliation to its logical conclusion. An inability to do this would be tantamount to undermining the aspirations of the people.
Meanwhile, we appeal for a spirit of reconciliation in Southern Sri Lanka. Splitting hairs over terms, conditions and extraneous issues is likely to prove counter-productive at the present juncture.
The prime need is the resumption of the peace process. Contentious issues could be resolved when the negotiatory process is got well under way. Problems are resolved on the basis of goodwill and the latter is a product of close dialogue and confidence building measures. Broaching divisive issues at present would amount to putting the cart before the horse.
The communal forces of the South and the North need to remember that there is simply no possibility of playing the chauvinist card now.
The electoral result of December 5th proved clearly that communalism is a spent force. On the other hand, the writing is on the wall that all moderate political forces should get together to usher peace. This is the historic undertaking awaiting us.
Produced by Lake House