Nine Years Later | Daily News

Nine Years Later

One of the biggest mistakes made by post-independence rulers and politicians in Sri Lanka was trying to divide the population on the grounds of ethnicity and religion. They largely succeeded, which led to disastrous consequences for the entire country. The armed uprising in the North evolved into a terrorist movement that became one of the most violent in the world. The 30-year conflict marked one of the darkest chapters in our history, resulting in a massive loss of life and property. It also pushed back the country’s progress by an equivalent number of years.

It was the immense commitment and sacrifice of our Armed Forces that saw an end to the period of terror perpetrated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). They should live forever in the heart of every Sri Lankan. Their enemy was, in the words of the FBI, the most ruthless terrorist group in the world. As a nation, we should never forget those who sacrificed the prime of their youth and of course, their lives, for liberating the Nation from terrorism. Apart from those who died in combat, there are those who are still missing. There are those who lost their eyes, limbs and other organs. We have to be grateful to them for all time.

In the end, their efforts will be successful only if we have permanent peace. This cannot necessarily come from a triumphant attitude and a permanent war mentality. We must cast aside the war mentality at least now and embrace peace and reconciliation. The enemy combatants were our own brothers and sisters who were misguided by a megalomaniac and ruthless leader into carrying out various acts of terror in the name of “liberation”. This was indeed the point made by Minister Rajitha Senaratne a few days ago.

This is indeed why the State has rehabilitated thousands of former Tiger combatants and turned them into useful citizens. Some former LTTE cadres have already joined the Armed Forces after their rehabilitation. There were also stories of soldiers marrying former LTTE women cadres. If the combatants themselves can forget the past and become firm friends and even partners for life, why cannot others do the same?

They say that the past is a different country. Those does not mean that we should forget the past, but rather that we should live in the present and embrace the future. It is essential that we come to terms with what happened in the conflict. The Government has rightly taken action in this regard, with measures such as the inception of the Office of Missing Persons. Being a member of the UN and the International Community, we have to adhere to International Humanitarian Laws and Human Rights norms. On its part, the Government has reassured the International Community that there will be a domestic accountability mechanism and the Army too has set up a directorate to probe whether there were any untoward incidents especially in the final days of the conflict. Both the President and the Prime Minister have also assured that there will be no persecution of war heroes.

Even more importantly, we should examine how we got to the battlefield in the first place, pitting brother against brother. We, or rather our politicians, made a series of serious mistakes that led to this situation. We have to learn from such experiences so that a conflict may never ever arise again in or country. This is part of the healing and reconciliation process. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommended a series of steps that should be taken to foster harmony among the various communities. Although the LLRC was appointed by the previous regime, it made little or no effort to implement its recommendations. This Government has implemented most of its recommendations.

But the biggest initiative is formulating an all-new Constitution that takes into account the changing post-conflict needs and aspirations. The final aim of the new Constitution should be enabling an environment to create a truly Sri Lankan identity. Even in official forms and documents, we are still asked what our race (ethnicity) is. Clearly, we have not learned any hard lessons even after a 30-year war that tore us apart. Indeed, there are politicians and others on both sides who still thrive on inflaming ethnic passions. Extremist Tamil politicians and sections of the Diaspora must realise that a separate state for a particular community is not realistic at all and extremist Sinhala politicians and hardline groups must realise that devolution of power is the only path to a lasting solution.

We have a generation that knows nothing but war. However, having gone through and suffered from the horrors of conflict, they will not want to be part of it again. We have a generation born just before and after the conclusion of hostilities who know nothing about the brutality of strife. It is these two generations that we must protect and veer away from any thoughts of conflict. Together, these two generations have the power to take Sri Lanka to greater heights sans any thoughts of animosity against one another.


 

There is 1 Comment

Not working for united country. Fragmenting the nation for selfish political gain. Land of all people will have lot of divisions society never uniform. People move go come for years settle in a place children all move marry settle . Politicians are there not to divide fragment the society. So see we are fragmented society. Give grade parliament. F for social activity

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