The Sunday Leader

Remembrance Day Or Victory Day?

Declaration of May 19, the day of the destruction of the LTTE which was declared as ‘Remembrance Day’ by President Sirisena instead of ‘Victory Day’ as observed for five years under the Rajapaksa regime has not gone down well with some Sinhalese.

Six years ago these people overjoyed by the destruction of the terror group and the killing of Prabakaran went into song, dance and merry making on the streets and elsewhere for months on end. Come the anniversary, it is considered a day for national celebrations with a military parade where national heroes are created and remembered.

For the Sinhalese it is a day of celebration as well as of somber reflection for their dead, the war heroes, who perished in the battlefields fighting terrorism. They hold the view that it is not only a day of celebration not only for Sinhalese but also for Tamils, Muslims all victims of terrorism.

 

Thinking for Tamils

Since it was a Day of Victory for all those who were victims of terrorism, shouldn’t the nation continue to call it Victory Day it is asked. Tamil people suffered the most from terrorism and it is a day of victory for them, Sinhalese supporters of Victory Day claim on behalf of Tamils.

But many Tamil moderates including professionals we have come across, do not agree with this view of the Sinhalese. Tamils are silent on the issue as they do on most controversial contemporary matters after May 16, six years ago.  Are the over patronising Sinhalese putting words into the mouths of Tamils?

Tamils have taken a hell of a beating from their terrorists. They were also beaten up by the Sinhalese the beginning of their woes and the armed forces as well! Thus, there is no reason for them to sing, dance and be gobbling Kiributh, kavun and kokkis on V-Day as the Rajapaksa regime supporters did.

Some Sri Lankan commentators have attempted to compare Remembrance Day (Nov 14) which marks the end of World War 1 by the Commonwealth and V- Day May 8 which marks the end of World War 11 in Europe with the newly announced Remembrance Day here and the V- Day followed by the Rajapaksa regime.

These comparisons are obviously inappropriate for the reason that ours was simply a civil conflict: our armed forces combatting an indigenous terrorist group trying to establish a separate state while the two World Wars were widespread international conflicts between many nations.

 

Claims for V-Day

Yet it is strongly argued by some Sinhalese that the personnel in all branches of the armed services fought with great commitment and dedication under tremendous odds to wipe out terrorism from their motherland taking up daunting challenges and thousands perished in the efforts. These people shouldn’t be deprived of their Victory Day it is contended.

‘Resolution in war and magnanimity in victory’ are qualities called for by Winston Churchill with whom we agree on this subject and even though we disagree with many of his imperialist sentiments. The war is over but the Sinhalese and Tamils are still very far apart even though there is much lip-service paid to reconciliation. Reconciliation is needed if there is to be a United Sri Lanka.

Major Tamil parties have declared their rejection of a separate state and commitment to a united Sri Lanka. But how could there be united country if the two major communities are still far apart and are not speaking to each other?

Events such as Victory Day celebrations are surely not the way to reconciliation. We doubt whether there was a single Tamil in the victory parade of the military! The Sinhalese are passionate about an undivided Sri Lanka but how could that be if the two communities are far apart.

The problem of hard core Sinhalese and even pundits is that they presume Tamils think the way they do. How can anyone be against celebrating a day which marks the end of chauvinism, terrorism, racism? A pundit recently asked.

The point is that for Tamils those who perished on their side were their sons, daughters, husbands and other family members their flesh and blood even if they were chauvinists, terrorists and  racists! Blood in thicker than water.

A remarkable fact is evident from the kind of the advocates that have emerged   to support  V-Day. They are mostly those who thrived on crumbs that fell off the Temple Trees over laden table and are waiting to do it once again! One gentleman well identified with the Rajapaksa stable says: The decision to change Victory Day to Remembrance Day has arisen from a desire to vilify the former president.

How could this change in nomenclature bring about the vilification of the former president unless the thinking is that it is to take away the credit from the man claiming to be solely responsible for the victory! However, there are others of the opinion that the real winners of this war on terrorism are the countless numbers of officers and men who sacrificed their lives on battlefields and the surviving heroes who are among the living.

President Maithripala Sirisena makes no claim to winning the military conflict. But he can certainly lay claims for making moves to win the Peace. He created history when he won the presidential election by openly calling for minority rights hitherto considered suicidal for any presidential candidate.

Tamils and Muslims responded magnificently to his proposals and the Sinhalese too responded with significant proportions of Sinhala electorates shifting their allegiance. He spoke of wining hearts and minds at the Remembrance Day Parade.  He is moving in the right direction.

5 Comments for “Remembrance Day Or Victory Day?”

  1. Trevor Jayetileke

    The 19th of May 2009 is really not specifically a Remembrance or Victory Day but a “Day to Repent, for Remorse, and Regret”.
    This whole debacle is a ‘Unfortunate Episode” which was orchestrated by PM Indira Gandhi of India for personal hate for JRJ she developed as the daughter of Nehru thinking in her small mind that she was been treated like a Kid by JRJ who overtook India in the “Free Market” arena in 1978 as its little neighbor.
    PM Indira is gone along with her two sons and with the arrival of our new hope Modi things are different for our bilateral relations with India.
    Like South Africa we ( Sri Lankans ) must have a “Sorry Day” where we could “Forgive and Forget” what we have done to each other and look deep into our Hearts ( Introspection ) and say there is no LOVE lost over this Sad affair.
    To my Tamil Diaspora friends in London I met in September 2010 at the Royal Commonwealth Institute at a Seminar where Dr.Rajiva spoke I told them that we have to put this matter behind us and move forward and they agreed wholeheartedly.
    We embraced each other and we came out smiling from the Seminar.
    LOVE CONQUERS ALL., and I have photos of this happy event.
    Personally I love the Tamil People specially those I know personally and I am sure they reciprocate my sincerity towards them. After all we are all HUMAN and make mistakes. The biggest mistake I have made in life is to leave my SRI LANKA.
    GOD BLESS my people and the Sinhalese and Tamils were meant to be ONE.

  2. Sylvia Haik

    If killing of Sri Lankans by other Sri Lankans could be deemed a Victory, then Lord Help us all.

    • Sam

      it was killing of parasites. Your analogy does not work ….. tell me, wasn’t it a victory when the north trumped south in the US civil war? wasn’t it a victory when viet kong kicked US and South Vietnamese ar.. in the Vietnam war? remember taliban ruling Afghanistan? was the win against them not a victory? maybe lord should help you to clear hose cobwebs off your brain…

  3. ranjith chandrasekera

    Just to make my comment short and sweet, I would like to ask the question that LTTE being recognised by many countries as ruthless terrorist group in the world and defeating them and rescue many civilians from their terror isn’t a victory for the whole nation? If not for the victory, even today Sri Lanka would be suffering from bomb blasts, killing innocent unarmed civilians, kidnapping children to use as suicide bombers and you name acts against humanity was committed by this terror group. Should we remember these criminals on par with brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect us from their inhumane terror and bring peace to the country.

    • Swin

      Very true. We are safe (All Sri Lankans) because the terrorists were defeated. We do not want to remember Criminals.

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