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People of my village know that terrorism has only a military solution.

by Charles.S.Perera

(August 19, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I come from a village not far away from Kandy. In that village there are the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim families. In the School I went to there were Tamil and Muslim students. They were my friends. They did not have the Mano Ganesan, or Kumar David mentality. We did not see any difference in each other. Some Tamil students came from the Estates around my village, and others were the children of the Restaurant keepers, Saloon owners or the boutique keepers, who were mostly from Jaffna ,except Nadar who was from South India. During week ends and school holidays we meet often in the town or groups of us visit each other in our homes.

When I was working in Matale I had two good friends one a Muslim Saujhan and the other a Tamil Loganathan. We often had lunch together, and after office met at the Muslim Hotel to have tea, and long chats about this and that before we went home. Loganathan's uncle was killed by a Sinhala gang during the 1958 riots. Saujhan and I went to see Loga to bring him a little comfort. Loga though he was grieved by his uncle's tragic death did not have any grievance against the Sinhala. It was a gang with a criminal mentality that killed his uncle, and others.

In our village the Sinhala, Tamil and the Muslim families live peacefully together. But Liyanarachchi ,who had his land between our's, and that of Ponniah's family, was an exception. He fights with Ponnaiah for one thing or another. Some times because of the branches of a tree on Ponniah's garden that stretched over his, or Ponniah's dog barks every time he sees Liyanarchchi. Lyanarachchi did not do that because Ponniah was a Tamil, but it was his nature, he fights with our family as well for some reason or another.

Other wise, there was peace in our village, every one going their way without ill will, or exchange of abuse. During Muslim Festival we received watalappan from our Muslim friends, and during Tamil festivals wade, dosai and boiled gram. During Sinhala Festivals we gave them Kavum, Kokis, and plantains.

We talked about riots without anger towards each other, but offering sympathies to those who had been affected. In our homes we talked politics, which we did not take out side our homes.

The situation may have changed a little now but even then from what I know, in our village there are no problem with the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim families, and life continues as usual.

But, with a war raging in the North against the LTTE terrorists, the prices of commodities soaring, and one or two bombs exploding in towns around our village, people are aware of what is going on. In this situation let us see like Kumar David had done in his more sophisticated article, " Eventually, war will achieve nothing. In support of a ceasefire", in the Island of the 17 August,2008, how my village folks are reacting to the war against terrorism, a ceasefire and solution of the ethnic problem,.

Mannar, Mankulam, and Kilinnochchi are far away places for them. They will not care for hypothesis for a credible best case, or a credible worst case either to the military or to the terrorists, because the villagers are practical, down to earth people. They are proud people who love the country in which they are born and share it with the Tamil, and the Muslim families therefore they would like to see the flutter of the lion flag whether in the South or in the North, without any other rival flag trying to compete with it.

They know that the terrorists in the North are trying to have the country divided. They do not understand the necessity to do that, because as they live in peace with the Tamils , and the Muslims in their village, there is no reason that Sri Lanka should be partitioned to separate the friendly Tamils, from the Sinhala and the Muslims. What is good for the village should be good for the country, they argue.

Therefore they know that the terrorists asking a separate land for them, are disrupting peace and unity. If the terrorists cannot be made to understand that simple logic, there is no harm getting rid of the terrorists with all possible means. Therefore, they agree with the government to settle the problem with terrorist by military action.

In agreeing with the government they are prepared to make sacrifices, and suffer the inconvenience of soaring prices. They are also ready to help the government by allowing their children to join the armed forces to defend the country against the terrorists. They also know that the government has great difficulties, to fight a war and carry on development projects. But they are proud for once they have a President who is like them , who understand their problems. Therefore they will make sacrifices to bring success to governments military program.

All implication after a military success such as, whether there would still remain pockets of terrorists , whether the terrorist will resurge like the Talibans, or whether the military success would be the end of terrorism and establishment of peace, unity and harmony, are lot of complicated things for them to spend sleepless nights. They have seen riots, they have heard of the world wars.

My villagers would want an end to terrorism, and they hope and wish that the army would succeed. They are not interests in what would happen in two, three, four or five years after the end of terrorism. But they hope when terrorism is ended, and peace reins, there would be time for the government to start development project, bring down prices and make life a lot more better.

The villagers know that the President Rajapakse was elected to bring peace to the country and develop the country for the common good of all people. He was not elected specially make war against the terrorists. They know that the President did his best to bring the terrorists to the negotiating table to end terrorism through dialogue, tolerance and compromise.

The people of my village now know that the President was forced to give up negotiations for peace, and to resort to a military solution to end terrorism, without which there would never be peace, or economic and social progress.

They know that the government will definitely survive very well after the war, and the President is capable of finding ways and means to stem, " portending wage-price inflation spiral, overcome the foreign debt servicing and the foreign trade deficit crises, rise above all levels of corruption, reverse human and media rights violations, and continue to win elections." The government can certainly survive without war, and bring prosperity and happiness to a united Sri Lanka.

The villagers know that "war" was not and will not be a necessary condition for the governments survival. Because the government was elected to end terrorism first, and carry out the Mahinda Chintanaya next. The "war" became inevitable, when all the efforts of the government to negotiate peace with the terrorists failed, and the terrorists were determined not to negotiate but reinforce their military power under the cover of an existing CFA, to fight against the government forces and establish a separate Eelam State.

They have heard of what happened after signing the CFA. They totally agree its withdrawal. Now they do not agree to a ceasefire, and would like the Government Forces continue until they eliminate the terrorists. That is what they want now, they are not worried about what would happen later. Because an experienced army with capable Commanders, and a President who is peace loving, sincere, and capable of giving proper leadership could find ways and means to overcome any future eventuality.

My villagers do not understand ethnic differences. They know Sinhala, Tamils and Muslims. They know that after a military success it is up to the Tamil people to make a success of the victory by getting closer to the Sinhala people, by not being prejudiced against them. They should take the initiative to unite the Tamils, Muslims and Sinhala in to a Nation of Sri Lankans.

The people of my village would like the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim leaders to be like what they are in their village, simple, peaceful, understanding, ready to settle their problems peacefully in friendly dialogue.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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