Victory and Beyond
Sri Lankan Security Forces achieved victory that many
thought was impossible, by totally eliminating the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Even many respected military
experts believed that such international terrorist organizations
cannot be defeated or crushed. But events in tiny Sri Lanka have
proved them utterly wrong. The LTTE, which was finally crushed
by the Security Forces this week, was one of the most formidable
terrorist organizations in the world. The fact that the
Government and the Security Forces achieved this triumph amid
unprecedented local and international pressure to halt the
humanitarian mission is even more significant.
The cancer of terrorism spread to every nook and corner of
Sri Lanka during the last 30 years. The LTTE's terror was not
limited to the North and the East, though these provinces bore
the brunt of it. The damage caused to the country by the LTTE,
in terms of lives lost and properties destroyed all over the
country, is immeasurable. With its annihilation, the LTTE will
no longer be able to destroy the fabric of our Nation. That in
itself is a major victory of all our peoples.
Many more steps have to be taken to complete this magnificent
victory. The most immediate priority is National Reconciliation.
In his Victorious Address to the Nation from Parliament on
Tuesday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that there would
be no more minorities in Sri Lanka, only those who love their
country and those who do not. This is a very laudable statement.
Politicians from all hues have exploited the word 'minorities'
to meet their own ends all this time. President Rajapaksa has
put a full stop to this practice. 'Majority-minority' is now
seen as an outdated concept all over the world. We should aim to
think and act as Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity and
religious beliefs. The country belongs to all communities. Sri
Lanka is the 'traditional homeland' of all these communities.
The President also emphasized that the Government does not
believe in a military solution. A political solution is
essential to meet the aspirations of all communities and Sri
Lankan political parties and civil society should rise to this
challenge. It is imperative that this solution is found from
within Sri Lanka, not imposed from outside.
In the short term, the Government faces the challenge of
rehabilitating and resettling the Internally Displaced People
who had been subject to untold hardships by the LTTE, including
using them as human shields. Although there are calls for
resettling them immediately, this would be virtually impossible
given the extent of destruction in the Northern region
previously dominated by the LTTE. These areas have also been
heavily mined by the fleeing Tigers and it could take years to
Furthermore, housing facilities and nearly all infrastructure
facilities will have to be re-built before all the civilians
could be resettled. This is a Herculean task by any standards
and the international community should assist Sri Lanka to
reconstruct the North, which the Tigers turned into one of the
poorest provinces in the country. The Government has already
drawn up plans for Northern development through 'Uthuru
Wasanthaya' (Northern Spring) along the lines of the highly
successful 'Negenahira Navodaya' (Eastern Resurgence).
The restoration of civilian administration and democracy
should follow resettlement. This process has taken place
successfully in the East. The Tigers stifled civil liberties and
silenced all dissenting voices in a bid to build a mono-ethnic,
fascist empire. Thus democracy will be a novel experience for
most Northerners. The Vanni people should get an opportunity to
elect their own representatives to local bodies and ultimately,
to the Provincial Council. The youth should be given
opportunities to contest these polls, so that they could address
the grievances of the Northern youth population. No room should
be left for any organisation to exploit such grievances for
their own gain, like the LTTE did.
All these should be a part of a peace building and nation
building exercise. Schools are already teaching Tamil to Sinhala
students and vice versa to mould a truly bilingual generation.
Understanding each other's language and culture is the key to
ethnic harmony and reconciliation. The Security Forces, as
depicted in the 'Together for All' campaign, are already acting
as a bridge among the various communities. With the end of
combat duties, the Forces would become a force for rebuilding
not only the conflict-torn areas but also the lives of those
affected by conflict. All Sri Lankans must set aside petty
differences and participate in this noble exercise of nation
building. That would ensure that the sacrifices made by
thousands of Security Forces and Police personnel for defending
their Motherland and achieving peace were not in vain.