We need pacifists and peace-makers; no more gun bearers

By Jayan Deivendra

(February 26, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) The tragic irony of the Wanni situation is that the man who was principally responsible for the development of this region has been unable to visit it ever since the LTTE became the masters there. Whatever good that happened there when Veerasingam Anandasangaree was its Member of Parliament have been destroyed and laid to waste. The enormous cost to lives, properties and infrastructures are beyond count and Wanni, the granary of Sri Lanka, will take a long time to recover from the LTTE menace that broke its backbone.

The people of Wanni are devastated. They have lost many of their children to the ravenous and insatiable Tiger war machine. Even older people were pressed into becoming gun-fodder material and several young men who worked the fields and farms have been killed and their remains lie under infamous mass burial monuments, LTTE’s hideous bequest to the people of Wanni. The LTTE still continue to mercilessly shoot in the back people who flee from their hostage grip.

It must be a heart-rending and horrifying experience for Mr Anandasangaree who is most adoringly considered as the Father of the Wanni people. Single-handedly he has appealed constantly for solutions to the ethnic problem and the menacing LTTE presence in Wanni. He is a man of great courage and stood for principles that are enshrined in democracy.

He refused to be cowed down by Sampanthan and his coterie who betrayed the people, the ones who elected them and became the stooges of the LTTE. He has made several personal appeals to Prabhakaran which the latter, had he listened would have helped the Tamils to regain their rights.

Mr Anandasangaree is a pacifist. What the Tamil community needs urgently today is to build a team around him and help embark on an intensive development programme for Wanni in particular. Mr Anandasangaree’s familiarity with Wanni and what would be a ready acceptance of him by the people there will facilitate the kind of work needed to bring Wanni back as Sri Lanka’s model agricultural community.

The LTTE not only cluttered Wanni with concrete bunkers some of them deep into the earth some thirty to seventy feet down, but also built concrete fortress-style structures purely for military purposes. It has even caused considerable damage to tanks vital for Wanni’s agricultural needs.

A region rich in precious wild life from elephants to wild boars, deer even leopards and bears have been abused indiscriminately to the point of extinction in that area. Precious timber has been felled and even the kind of underbrush necessary for Wanni’s soil health has been destroyed to a great extent.

Technically Wanni was under a dictator and the people had no voice whatsoever. Children and young people were snatched to serve a dictator’s obsession for a separate state that was never going to be. While the dictator was operating in Wanni, he was encouraged and supported by distant elements that were virtually promoting terrorism insensitive to the sufferings of their kith and kin in Sri Lanka.

There was the state on the other hand which could not understand that it is its discriminatory actions against the minority Tamils that gave birth to terrorism. And there was the LTTE that turned out to be a predator of the Tamils; call it triple jeopardy.

The LTTE not only became the marauders of the Tamils but also systematically got rid of almost all the Tamil leaders and intellectuals and literally held the entire community at gun point. Now, the inevitable end to such a movement founded and sustained on terror is fast approaching. It lasted a little longer than it would have because of two main reasons.

Colombo governments did not address themselves to the primary nourishing factor to terrorism and that is, its refusal to accept Tamils as entitled to the same rights as the majority Sinhala community. Sinhala racist and Buddhist fundamentalism continued to engineer the government unsympathetic to the rights of the Tamils.

Colombo’s lawmakers did not have the vision that racial discrimination will eventually affect the entire country and its economy would suffer let alone the peace and harmony among all people that are crucial to a country’s stability. Even now, many Tamils opposed to the LTTE are quite apprehensive and uneasy that Colombo government may still evade a just solution to the ethnic problem. While Sri Lanka has been bereft of statesmanship, patriotism has been polluted with racism.

Secondly, the LTTE was supported by the Tamil Diaspora angered by the successive racial riots against the Tamils and the 1983 racist explosion had all the signs of genocide against the Tamils. If only Colombo had addressed itself positively to the rights of the Tamils, the LTTE would have died a natural death and the Tamil Diaspora would have become a significant factor in the development of the country.

Sri Lanka spirited away such a great asset all because it continued to be impacted by racists and religious fundamentalists, both an insult to the community and the Buddhist faith.

Sri Lanka yearns for good, honest leaders. The country needs pacifists and peace-makers. Anyone who has had connections or truck with terror groups should not be encouraged or considered for positions of responsibilities.

When such needs arise once the civil war comes to its inevitable end, we need to begin with a clean sheet determined to bring Sri Lanka back to stable footing not only economically but more especially in inter-community understanding, relationships and appreciating each other’s unique cultures and traditions as enriching elements in the making of a united Sri Lankan nation.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

ARCHIVES FROM AUGUST 2007 TO JANUARY 2015