Day: October 19, 2008

Sri Lankan Government registers all Tamils

The Americans put all citizens of Japanese origin into camps for the duration of the World War. Did you know that?’She did not say anything.‘What if we place all Tamil citizens in camps for a period of one year,’ I asked. ‘We’d use that year to flush out and kill all the rebels hiding in the Wanni. You can’t blow up our cities when your bombers are not allowed free access to economic and civilian targets, pretending to be innocents.’‘That idea is barbaric. It is only a short step from there to the gas chambers,’ she said furiously and then brightened. ‘But I like the idea. When you start on it, the whole world will condemn you…. It will help our cause in other ways as well. We’ll have plenty of new recruits and funding from our expatriate community will increase immediately.’‘Oh, I understand that the idea is impractical but we don’t have many options.’”So goes the dialogue between Captain Wasantha Ratnayaka, the Sinhalese officer in the Sri Lanka Army, and Kamala Velaithan, a female cadre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who pretends to be an informer of the diabolical plans of the Tigers, in the much-acclaimed novel of the late Nihal de Silva titled The Road from Elephant Pass.On September 21, the Sri Lankan government almost made real this surreal scenario with its diktat that all citizens from the five districts of the LTTE-dominated North who have been living in and around Colombo (Western Province) for the past five years “re-register” themselves with the police.The professed logic of the government, or to be precise the Defence Ministry, was almost on the lines narrated by Captain Ratnayaka in the novel but with a twist. While the officer-character portrayed in the novel concurs with the illogic of its logic, the collective wisdom of the Sri Lankan establishment did not betray signs of any such reasoning. Even assuming it did, the drumbeats of war have numbed its senses to such an extent that Colombo has stopped bothering about the repercussions of its actions.The latest move by the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime is astonishing to say the least as just over a year ago the government was condemned from within and without for a similar action. Besides, it comes at a juncture when the armed forces have driven the LTTE into wilderness in its own heartland and the entire world is lined up behind the government in its war.

Profiling problem

More on the Sri Lankan government’s astonishingly appalling treatment of Tamils. Clearly, they do not view Tamils as equal citizens of Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese state bears equal responsibility for Sri Lanka’s problems. I do not know what this sudden increase in pressure from India will do. There is some indication that the Sri Lankan government is paying attention.

A day after India officially communicated to Colombo the need for a peacefully negotiated political settlement to the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa telephoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday to give an assurance that all necessary measures were being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of Tamils in the island nation.

Very empty and meaningless words. My question is, who will speak for the Tamils in a negotiated settlement. Are there any credible voices for peace on either side of the conflict?