A noble goal
The LTTE, now gasping for breath in just 20 Sq Km in
the North, is certainly not winning any friends with its
despicable conduct. It earned worldwide condemnation for
blasting a human bomb that killed 15 people at a religious
function on Tuesday. The international community has realised
that the so-called 'saviours' of the Tamils are in fact their
The international community repeatedly called on the LTTE to
release the civilians virtually held hostage by them in their
last remaining strongholds. The LTTE not only dismissed this
appeal, but also shot civilians trying to flee and exploded
bombs amidst those who had crossed over to cleared areas. That,
in essence, is the LTTE's attitude towards the Tamil people.
The European Union, a Co-Chair of the Peace Process, has
adopted a resolution "condemning the LTTE's violence and
intimidation which are preventing civilians from leaving the
conflict area" while calling for a ceasefire by the Sri Lankan
Army and the LTTE in order to allow the civilian population to
leave the combat zone.
The EU has made it clear as to who is harming and harassing
civilians in the Wanni. As for the Government's stance, it has
already stressed on several occasions that an automatic
ceasefire will follow if the LTTE lays down its weapons and
surrenders. That is clearly the single option left to the LTTE
now as total annihilation is the only other prospect.
Many EU MPs have correctly comprehended the LTTE' strategies.
As British Conservative MEP and Chairman of the 'Friends of Sri
Lanka Group' Geoffrey van Orden told the EU Parliament, "the
LTTE is now in a desperate end game and, typically in such
situations, is turning to international apologists to get it off
Among these apologists are certain NGOs and INGOs which have
authored reports critical of the Government and the Forces while
virtually whitewashing the Tigers. The refusal of many European
MPs to believe such reports will be a massive blow to the Tigers
and their sympathisers.
As several European MPs pointed out, total surrender by the
Tigers will lead the true liberation of the Tamils, as opposed
to the Tigers' unique interpretation of the word. In the words
of one MP, if the LTTE lays down arms and releases the civil
population, people can begin to look forward to better lives and
all Sri Lankans can get back on the path of democratic politics
and building a fair and more prosperous society for all its
citizens, free from terrorist oppression.
This is exactly the Government's aim as well. All local
political and civil society groups as well as the international
community must support the Government fully at this juncture to
realise this noble goal.
A fitting reward
Dinesh Sandakelum is an ordinary nine-year-old boy who
had the extraordinary courage to plunge into raging waters to
save the lives of three people who were about to drown. He did
not care about his own life when he saw several persons
struggling in the waters of a canal in rural Mahiyangana.
Without a second's hesitation, he jumped in and saved three of
the four. He could not save the life of the fourth person, which
he laments deeply.
Sandakelum's feat is remarkable in every way. He saved
several adults many times his size through his sheer
determination and will power, expecting nothing in return. The
fact that he saved three precious lives was an adequate reward
for little Sandakelum. The persons he saved as well as their
families will forever be grateful to this little hero.
The society must recognise and reward such brave individuals,
especially children, who have risked their own lives to save
total strangers. Sri Lanka does have a highly recognised
civilian bravery reward scheme which fetes such brave
individuals every year. These are people who risked injury or
death to help others in distress, be it a fire, accident,
terrorist bombing or a natural calamity.
But can a citation and a medal or even a huge cash reward
truly compensate for the immense risks they had endured to save
the life of fellow human beings? They certainly help, but the
society can recognise and reward them through lifelong
initiatives that constantly remind us about these special
people. This is exactly what Nalanda College, Colombo, and its
old boys have done in the case of little Sandakelum.
Nalanda has enrolled Sandakelum and offered a full
scholarship for the duration of his stay at the school. This is
a fitting tribute to a heroic village boy who never dreamed of
coming to Colombo to study at one of its best schools. This is
also a fine example to other institutions who may wish to reward
brave persons in a similar manner. We applaud Old Nalandians and
the school administration for this magnanimous gesture.
Bravery may not always mean jumping into a river or braving a
blaze to save people. It could be a simple act of kindness or
vigilance. Spotting a bomb-laden parcel and informing the
relevant authorities could save hundreds of lives. Bravery is in
all our hearts - we just need to apply it without hesitation
when life calls.