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It’s been pretty heavy on kottu this last week with all the emotional responses to the action of the government with regard to the eviction of Tamil lodgers from Colombo. Have you felt the vibe? And if so, what has it done to you? Has it in any way altered the way you think about the ‘ethnic problem’ we are immersed in, or the way we are governed, or what alternatives other than what has already been tried could be put forward? It seems to me that in spite of the differences in views – mostly which consist of the military option with the intention of defeating the LTTE on the ground against seeking a negotiated settlement with the intention of arriving at a ‘Federal’ solution, most folk want there to be peace so that they can get on with their lives and allow the country to develop instead of regress to the depths of a failed state.

Many of us I’m sure are of the opinion that most wars are based on ideological differences of ethnicity and/or religious beliefs – and the acquisition of territories that are so involved. And what usually comes in the way of a peaceful settlement is the filthy lucre that is involved – in every aspect of the conflict and attempts at its resolution. Right from the industrial complexes that process the raw materials, that in turn are used for the manufacture of all manner of ultra-complex death-machines, from supersonic flying craft, to the most sophisticated battle-tanks , to multi-barreled launchers that decimate environments and life, to the less sophisticated but equally lethal automatic and semi-automatic weapons that find their way into the hands of criminals, to the employment these actions generate, that in turn fuels economies and the stock markets. At a lesser level, we have the arms dealers and the ten-percenters and then on the lower rungs, the black-marketers and other feeders off the carrion that is left to dispose of. So, in effect, the global economy is, in a way, dependent on war. It isn’t just the industries involved in the manufacture of instruments of death and destruction that reflect on the economy, transportation by rail, road, sea and air add tremendous weight to the mass. The implications need not be detailed here, as anyone with a modicum of reasoning power could see how this stretches to encompass the very fabric of our lives.

This is not to forget the power struggle – usually with egos of the main protagonists taking a share of the space – and this of course filters down to the rest of us. Let’s take a quick look at Prabhakaran – starting off as a member of a ‘rag-tag’ group that, if what I have read is right, murdered his ruthless way to lead the group that eventually became known as the ‘Tigers’. Let’s not take anything away from this guy – not the ruthless, one dimensional track littered with corpses he pursued and also not the incredible expansion of his originally ‘primitive’ organization to what is now a multinational organization with millions of dollars behind them. And let’s not forget the degree of legitimacy that he achieved for his group to be on par with the elected government of this country when they met on equal terms to negotiate a settlement over many years – quite an achievement, given his background. Let’s also not forget the veneration that we are told that many hold him in – known as the ‘Sun God’ to his ‘followers’, and for whom many Tamils would gladly sacrifice their lives for the greater goal of the separate state they want. I have friends who think that Prabhakaran is the best hope they have of achieving autonomy and I have friends who think that his time has passed and he is now more the problem for the Tamil people than the solution to their problems. And I am of the latter view.

Then we have the protagonist on this side – Mahinda Rajapakse (and his brothers). Voted in on a combination of the ‘war ticket’ pledging to defeat the LTTE militarily, and buying out the LTTE through Tiran Alles and his coterie of Jayasundera, Basil and Weeratunge on the orders of Mahinda himself (if Sooriarachchi and Alles are to be believed), and thus scraping through to what was a hollow victory. Mahinda’s background is well documented, so details will not be required here. However, what developed within his psyche with the power he enveloped himself in, is interesting, to say the least. We saw during the lead up to the elections the number of MOUs he signed with a variety of parties and individuals – few, if any of which were honored. The MOUs he signed after he became President went the same habitual way. The much heralded Chinthanaya, which was the pledge he gave the masses has yet to be implemented.  In other words the man can not be trusted to honor his agreements – it is as simple as that – at least this is the way I see it.

Many of the bloggers and commentors on kottu felt that a ceasefire and the process of negotiations are only agreed to by the Tigers when they want to buy time to regroup and rearm themselves and I’m sure that this was the case – not to do so would be stupid. And of course the government would also use the breathing space to do what they consider to be in their best interests – no big deal. The anti-Ranil folk denigrate his efforts by citing ‘appeasement’ of the Tigers and allowing them to be somewhat ‘legit’, to allow them to open offices and to roam around freely. The many times they broke the ceasefire regulations without being penalised was also an issue, as was what perceived to be the one-sidedness of the Norwegians. It must be said that many of these assertions were justified. However, what the denigrators may not have been aware of was the subtle and cunning way that Ranil was slowly but surely cornering the Tiger by what was euphemistically described as the ‘international safety-net’ and this, we are told is the main reason for the Tigers taking Rajapakse’s (or to be more accurate, the country’s) money and denying the people in the north and east the legitimate right of casting their vote. It seems that even at this stage, the Tigers would much rather have the Rajapakses in control than anyone else, as the Rajapakses are continually making the wrong moves and, by doing so, making themselves (and the country) look to be as extreme as the Tigers.

Now that the shit has hit the fan with the massive outpouring of views on the recent eviction saga, it is time for all us bloggers (and everyone else too) to take a more dispassionate view of this mess we are all in and, instead of trying to justify our narrow views and pour scorn of those with opposing views, try to understand what the repercussions would be for us all if this war is to continue the way it is and to try to be objective in our view of whether government by the Rajapakses is good for Sri Lanka or not. The way forward is not to further fragment our society and create even more divisions between ethnic groups and between those of the same ethnicity who can not agree to disagree. A much more rational way forward must be found or we will surely be sinking deeper into the quicksand that this beautiful country is fast turning in to.

What do you think?

June 2007
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Ephemeral Ruminations by Java Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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