International celebrities like Arundhati Roy and M.I.A.
have clumsily called for an end to the horrors in the
north. While their concern is laudable, they would do
well to address the Sri Lankan people. Roy has called
this a racist war in the Times of India and asked for
the world to step in.
wrote a letter in support of the Wanni Mercy Mission
entering Sri Lankan waters without permission. This is
simply insulting and wrong. I am Sri Lankan and this is
still our country. This is a civil war and it must
ultimately be resolved by the people of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan people elected this government, however
terribly flawed. The people being bombed now couldn’t
vote, because the LTTE wouldn’t let them. Today they
cannot leave, again because the LTTE will not let them.
If there is a party that can end this war tomorrow it is
the LTTE and if there is a party that is affected by the
international opinion it is the LTTE. Neither Roy nor
M.I.A. mention the LTTE even once.
this not to demand ‘balanced’ coverage or because I
consider them LTTE supporters. I mention these omissions
simply because they profess a desire to help. Condemning
the LTTE would help people on the ground, immediately.
Freedom under threat
true that our government does grievous wrong. To quote
the assassinated editor of this very paper, ‘Sri Lanka
is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its
own citizens.’ Our soldiers are dying in numbers we
don’t know. There are people being kept in camps without
permission to leave. As citizens, our freedom of speech
and publication is under assault.
However, through all this, it is still our government.
Our democracy has survived over 26 years of brutal
terrorist onslaught, multiple rebellions, natural
disasters and more. Granted, it is a mess, but it
exists. Even throughout LTTE occupation it was still Sri
Lankan government agents delivering health care and
education to the north and east, as they do for the
whole country. Even now the victims of war are treated
in government hospitals.
government is corrupt, inefficient and oppressive, but
it survives. And the Sri Lankan people survive. We can
change our government, and we can change ourselves.
The international community
Roy and M.I.A. blame the Sri Lankan government and
address the Sri Lankan people not at all. They act if
the government is absolutely irredeemable and the Sri
Lankan people do not exist. Instead they direct their
complaints to the ‘international community’ and presume
that any action will come from there. It won’t. That
international community simply doesn’t exist in any real
sense. They are unable to judge and fix
Lanka. Whatever their intentions, the result is to
antagonise the government (which we can fix) and
embolden the LTTE (which we cannot).
same organisations waving Tamil Eelam maps in protests
are now sending a ship to
Their face is Arjunan Ethirveerasingam, former spokesman
for the TRO, an organisation banned in the US for LTTE
fund raising and procurement. Their mission lists
foreign celebrities and British MPs as stakeholders,
ignoring us entirely. They may believe that the land
from Chilaw to Ampara is not
at all, but it is.
they actually want to help people they have to put those
politics aside and deal with the map we have. If you
actually want to help people you have to work with the
been working with citizens who are sending relief to our
fellow Sri Lankans in the north. This is only possible
through close coordination with the various ministries
of our government. There is one way you can help listed
at the end of this article. Working with the government
is frustrating and at times impossible, but it is the
only way to get things done. There are no gala parties,
but the relief actually reaches people. It may not make
much of a point, but it makes a difference.
of this is to excuse the horrors of the north. I have
seen children without limbs and there is no possible
excuse. But you must understand. The LTTE is isolated
and they are holding our relatives in the north as human
shields. The government is responding with inhuman force
to finally end this thing once and for all. Is there an
easy answer here?
cannot call in the world police because they won’t come.
You cannot launch a ship full of celebrities into a war
zone because you’ll get turned away. At the end of the
day, Eelam or not, Sinhalese and Tamils and all Sri
Lankans have to live together. We can use international
help, but ultimately it’s something we have to workout
without terrorism, through our democracy and for
you’d like to help out during this Sinhala and Tamil New
Year, Deputy Minister of Social Services Lionel
Premasiri is organising Ne Gam Yaame Viyapruthiya
(visiting relatives for the New Year). On April 9th a
convoy will begin in Tangalle collecting school
supplies, household items, dry rations, new clothes,
mattresses and plastic piggy banks with a few coins. It
seems small, but it makes a real difference.
Colombo collection point for Ne Gam Yaame Viyapruthiya
is the Shanti Foundation on Buller’s Road (near Kanatte
junction). Contact 071-377-7666 for more info.