I have beeen meaning to update this blog for so long that I realise i'm just going to have to write something and be satisfied that what i write is not the sum total of my opinions as it is such dynamic process living here in Sri Lanka when new information and new challenges come to light almost hour by hour, continuously.
It has been very difficult living in Anuradhpura and trying to do projects when i am so deeply affected by this conflict for better or for worse. My two poems the "War of Minds" and "Helicopters in the sky" hopefully give some idea of what I am going through.
I feel there is a lot of misinformation about this conflict also, that acts only to fuel hatred and ongoing conflict further. Also I have my own guilt that I'm not doing more.
As a sinhalese person I am always questioning whether I am being biased towards my own race, even though I myself identify with the Human race first and foremost. Perhaps this doesn't matter as long as we have key role models who identify more strongly with their ethnicity?
Nevertheless I would like to offer a reflection from Independance this year - I have already posted and exceprt from the Presidents speech in a previous post - which I feel was positive.
I was in Colombo on Independance day this year. The night before I was fortunate enought to witness a street parade, like a mini Devali - where religious Hindu devotee's were standing on floats on the way to the Kovil (Hindu temple). These devotees were parading down the street, "loud and proud", some wearing costume others just as is, talking the entire street as the entire street happily and peacefully accomodated them, with smiling on lookers who, like us, came out to observe the festivities.
The scene made me think about what messages are being portrayed overseas about Sri Lanka and who there is Genocide against the Tamils. Just one event like this doesn't stand as proof of anything per say - but it just add to my already formed perception based on personal experience that the Sinhala people nor the Sri Lankan Government are performing Genocide against the Tamil people.
I know from working in Anuradhapura hospital that often receives victims from the conflict zone and the Tamil civillians get better treatment than average patients because of the fear of being perceived at racist. This is not a trait of a genocidal nation.
If you talk to any Sri Lankan they know that the Tamil people only enrich society - it is the LTTE that is their fear beause of the threat they pose. The concept of genocide only acts to serve the LTTE's means to thier cause (ie violence, child conscription and suicide bombing).
There is no genocide of Tamils by the goverment - this is LTTE Propaganda.
The concept of genocide ("Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group" Wikepedia defnition) is so abhorrent that such a label and concept is need by the LTTE to create a sense of hatred against the sinhalese people, in both the people of the North who's mind they have degree of control over, as well as the diaspora overseas who will keep funding this war from the LTTE perspective.
There is also government propaganda which i will talk about below, which also serves to keep the war going.
I do beleive and know that Tamil people in the North and East are really suffering to this I have no doubt. They are suffering because of the war. But the real questions are why is there war? and how do we stop the killing ?
Right now the LTTE have an opportunity to let the civillians go. The Sri Lankan government are making arragement to improve the conditions of the IDPs by strengthening the hospitals in the North Central Province allow referrals.
In addition to using the Tamil Civilians as human shields the LTTE have not been letting the civilians cross over to the goverment sides. They have even been shooting at civilians which caused the latest outcry by human rights groups.
Some of these shot victims came to Anuradhapura hospital and were treated here. The treatment of these civilians resulted in Amry casualites having to be transferred to other hospitals. There are all sorts of reports of the Army trying to harm civilians - why would they do this if these civilians would then displace their army colleagues ?
This is LTTE Propaganda.
Having said that - the goverment counter propaganda is also rife - they are under reporting the action toll of casualties in civilians and the army. The hospital sees about 700-900 army casualties per month.
War is a raquet (see warisaraquet.com ) - and it is a terrible thing. There is no doubt in my mind as a doctor and more importantly as a human being, and definitely as someone who ascribes to Buddhist philosophy which respect human life.
We the civilians and supporters of any side need to work together to save this current humanitarian crisis. For this we need to end the war - and to do this there need to be a concerted effort.
I believe the fastest and safest strategy is for the LTTE to surrender to the political mainstream with the back of an international broker. However, there is no trust of the LTTE by the Sri Lankan goverment - thus they will need to show committement by having their leader show their face.
Karuna and Pilliya (former high ranking officials in the LTTE who broke away) have now joined the political mainstream and Pilliyan is the Chief minister of the east. I am sure the Sri Lankan society would even go as far as to accept Prabakaran himself into the mainstream despite the long stream of humanitarian crimes, just as long as the LTTE ceased their militiary and terrorist activitites.
There is definitely corruption withing the govermental system here - but there is in any goverment. The key is to be able to control this element and accentuate the positive. I personallly have had a very good experience working with the provincial health department and know that there are many caring and efficient individuals within the goverment system.
Oh well those are thoughts for today.