Lalin’s Coloumn: Let not their sacrifices have been in vain
The last Presidential election was not about who won the war but who bore the brunt and paid the price of war that brought in peace. Those wonderful and great people have given their verdict.
They were supported by all others who shared their pain, supported them in their grief and identified with them in every way, both in the North and South, in no unmistakable way. The cost of the 30 year terrorist war which will never be properly assessed must have been no less than 100,000 dead, double that wounded, of them at least 10% disabled and over one million displaced.
One will at last recognize that the dead are not only dead for the duration of the war” (Cynthia Asquith daughter in law of a former British Prime Minister)
According to lanka e news Gen Fonseka had said amongst other things in Washington on 27th October 2009 that 5,000 soldiers died in the last 10 days of the war. This has not been challenged or denied. The people in the villages know the truth however much anyone may have hidden or magnified the count. They voted for the President in being.
We have had enough of blood letting. If anyone wants to start war the people will not easily be misled again, especially to designate a part of its own population by race as enemy and say as it was said in 1977 and not opposed by even one UNP politician to date that “if they (community) want war they will have war”. Shades of Hitler but with no final solution attached.
Nineteenth May 2009 brought to an end for millions in the villages of the north and south, 30 years of appalling strife, helpless terror, sudden death, debilitating injury and wide spread mayhem. Village families sent their young men to the war year after year to fight for the country. Death came to the villages in the form of terrorist murder by axe, sword, iron bars, knife, bullet, bombs and sealed coffins. The gaps left in the families as a result are only evident to those that suffered. Daily in the newspapers the ‘In Memoriam’ columns tell the heart rending story of fathers and brothers and even sisters who died in the war and the innocent mothers, sisters, wives and children who were bombed to smithereens or butchered at their work places or while traveling in buses, trains or walking on the roads in the villages and towns, time and again.
Those wounds are not easily healed even if the Colombians and politicians who travel in Pajeros, Monteros, BMWs and Mercedes cars who never suffered, lost no one dear to them, spoke only evil about our troops and their commanders, visited no homes of the affected to offer solace or help in any way or visited the wounded in hospital. Instead these privileged people sneered as they saw the trucks carrying dead bodies parked at the under takers and surreptitiously spread concocted casualty rates of soldiers killed and fantasies about military reverses with grievous intent to create despondency, fear and alarm. To them the war was as far removed as Hambantota is from Jaffna. But they did affix smart Poppy wreaths on their cars, to advertise their ‘affinity’ to the forces but really to get through the check points.
They spent the last 3 years of the war undermining the effort of the Government simply because it was not UNP, while making money as never before, stashing foreign currency away in foreign lands where their children were being educated, buying luxury apartments and estates in SL and abroad, holidaying abroad, gambling in casinos or spending their money wining and dining in 5 star hotels.
They were united in cursing the rural born and bred Rajapakses for competing with them until their beloved Golden Key/Ceylinco bubble burst blocking their black money. They firmly believed that pots of money to enjoy la dolce vita would be theirs if only there was a change in the political landscape. They dreamed of a coalition win and suddenly forgot all the evil they had spoken about the General all along.
They had cared a damn for the poor or the rising cost of living before but were now galvanized by both. They made full use of the flyovers while fulminating over how much their friends and relatives were deprived of by not getting the contracts to do so. They got their cheap thrills by inventing and spreading rumours until they were totally out of contact with reality.
They were completely out of synch with the rural people who made all the sacrifices during the war. They belittled patriotism in the poor by saying that the soldiers joined the army only for the money and not because they wanted to fight for the country. This was their way of salving their consciences for being merely squawking spectators during the war of liberation.
They despite their education were the ones when the ‘war’ began that said ‘the only good (name of community) was a dead (community)’ especially during and after the 1983 communal riots when the UNP was in power. Nazis again.
They were the first to support the General. They looked to the West for inspiration and support and painfully tried to slavishly imitate it. They did not turn a hair when the JVP that covertly espouses fascist ideology and were ever ready to restart their unrepentant murderous activities which left 60,000 Sinhalese dead in one year (1988) again, joined them. These are the chosen people of SL and they care little who they follow.
The mental scars and wounds of the people who had to bear the brunt of war did not heal with its ending. They remembered and they voted. They did not lose sight of reality. They did not want to revert to war in their life time. They wanted not only to show their gratitude for the man who brought them peace, tranquility, a promise of the future and stood up to the not inconsiderable power of the West when it tried to intercede on behalf of the terrorists when they were on the brink of defeat. They did not forget that he was also the man who despite the danger often visited the bereaved in remote parts of the land, looked after the NOK of the dead, the disabled and their families and gave an impetus to the development of rural communities as never before. Housing estates with all ‘mod cons’ for the troops, enhanced hospital facilities and benefits, model schools with swimming pools and gymnasiums, adequate transport and second careers opportunities were given to the troops and their families. A splendid memorial to honour the war dead was erected at the Parliamentary grounds after 29 years of fighting. The people remembered.
The Colombians while circulating wild and exaggerated details about corruption and nepotism, which is not new to SL, were stoking the fires of separatism again by joining with the agents of communal terror, their co signatories and the unrepentant murderers of 60,000 Sinhalese. They hoped the country had forgotten their past. The people were not fooled.
This was a country about which Transparency International had said that all the bits and pieces of the civil society (public and private) in SL were absolutely corrupt for decades. The fire brigade speakers of a Colombo 7 government (free) school are fully aware that parents coach their 4-6 years old children to lie blatantly at admission interviews to get their children into that school. There are thus generations of dishonest children encouraged to lie in the premier government (free) school of SL by their parents. That type of corruption prevails elsewhere too beginning with those who bribe public servants from constables to court and land clerks to CEOs of private companies. Read the COPE and Auditor General’s reports for details of free falling massive corruption.
As for nepotism one has only to look at the way SL society looks after itself. One army commander (not Hakirat W Singh) had 20 close relatives in the army to monitor not the business of the army but his personal interests. The UNP was well known to be the Uncle Nephew Party and its vestiges are still there for everyone to see. Nepotism was the game for which the sophisticated demanded to have an unchallenged licence. Envy is their basic motivation never altruism.
While both these evils must be roundly condemned it is best done and corrected by those who are not tainted themselves. It must not be motivated by jealousy and greed as was apparent in those who shouted themselves hoarse. All they wanted was another better planned crack at the game themselves. Nor should the saviours be those who advocate slitting throats even as they do not admit it is murder!
Maybe some one could enlighten the people why amongst others the officer who was responsible for the massacre of Tamils in Kokaladichcholai in the 1990s, another who was dismissed from the army accused of being an extortionist were working in the General’s office and Generals who were charged before the Bribery commission and gifted weapons to the LTTE got on stage with him. Is this a country that is deaf to murder and treason?
How could the state achieve reconciliation with the Tamils if it had accepted the former army commander’s recommendation to increase the army by 100,000 (50%) for garrison duties (army of occupation) in the Wanni after the war? Why doesn’t Jehan Perera the man who jubilantly quoted 3 wheel drivers as to how the silent vote and ‘kata katha (shades of JVP’s chit instructions of 1989) was going to usher in a Messiah, write about the oppositions plans to win the peace instead of giving the government endless lists of points for consideration like his warrior Messiah? He should have known that 3 wheel drivers of Colombo are better able to speak about all the devilish vice that thrives there than politics. He must also stop making oblique references to Buddhism, opposition to which is also the bonding glue of the SLMC and the TNA. .
Meanwhile Sambandan wants revenge not reconciliation and believes the international community cheated his beloved LTTE. He incites North bound popular rancour but offers no way forward. Acting not unlike a fool he speaks of a Tamil/Muslim alliance when every Tamil has said that it was the Muslims who let them down in their ‘struggle’ by saying they had nothing in common with each other. It is unlikely that the Tamils will forget although Sambandan still looks forward to whip up agitation. Huckhim with a hot potato in the mouth veneer of sophistication and enlightenment for the western media is unable to hide rank communalism every time he speaks especially when he gave Fonseka a free certification on the subject. People must remember that at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Oluvil Hospital he could not resist retorting as to what was wrong with having a (government) hospital only for Muslims! After all the people know which way Huckhim turns according to the weather vane. It is for the benefit unfortunately not for the Muslims or the Tamils but for Huckhim with considerable talent who also condones pole vaulting in politics to suit his own escapades.
The people in the South and the North cannot be fooled again.
The South is determined never to have to bear the cost of war again. Let not those errant leaders of the North, who believe that the cost of war could be justified if only the result could be reversed, mislead the Tamils again. There are wounds to heal all over SL. Militarization is the last thing SL needs and a retired General is the last person it will ever need to secure reconciliation, fast forward rehabilitation, sustain peace and usher in a better life especially for those who bore the cost of war, who are the people who matter most now.
This is the verdict of the people after 30 years of brutal war that left 100,000 dead in a country with just 17 million people. Let peace endure. Let us not forget the price that was paid.
- Asian Tribune -