It is very saddening to witness what is happening in Sri Lanka. Those of us who have experienced the situation first hand feel so helpless that nothing can be done for the poor civilians caught in the middle of this brutal conflict. It has been reiterated many times over that the cost of war is often greater than any benefits that may be accrued in the long term. Nothing in my opinion can make up for the loss of precious human lives regardless of whose it is. The Sri Lankan conflict is peculiar in the nature of its ideological context and the really sad part is that regardless of the government killing 50,000 Tamil civilians, the conflict will still not be resolved. Do people ever wonder why it is so difficult to eliminate the LTTE? Well the answer is not far from the fact that although they may not necessarily be the sole representatives of the Tamil people, and although the LTTE remain a brutal and barbaric paramilitary group, unfortunately the average Tamil seem to relate to them as the only group that has their interests at heart. This is simply because the government don't seem to care much about the Tamil people in the implementation of representative policies. So unless the root causes of the conflict are addressed through a united Sri Lanka that recognises the equal rights of every citizen of Sri Lanka without biase of ethnicity, religion and caste, the problem will remain no matter how many civilians are killed!
If indeed there is a military victory over the current LTTE, what is to prevent another group from sprouting up to fight for the same cause. Many people have predicted the Sinhalization of the North once all the Tamils have been dislodged. It is also no secret that the current Unitary State of Sri Lanka as espoused in the Constitution discriminates against minority groups where the majority Sinhalese still maintain a minority complex. So for as long as that is what the majority of Sri Lankan people and government of Sri Lanka are willing to accept, the ideological conflict in Sri Lanka between the Tamils and the Sinhalese will not end in our life time.
The answer in my opinion does not of course lie in creating a separate state for the Tamil people because they are Sri Lankans. What is needed is a devolved system of administrative autonomy that gives the Tamil people and their representatives equal and active participation in the political, economic and social strata of society. Such a solution should go hand in hand with a military strategy. This of course is not happening and is indeed very saddening for those of us who love Sri Lanka and its people so much so that we are angered by the helpless situation.
This is a hostage crisis, but the way to release hostages is not by killing them! It is also appalling that so many young children who have been forcibly conscripted by the LTTE are being killed. It is worth negotiating with the LTTE, not because Prabakaran will ever agree to anything less than an exclusively Tamil, totalitarian Eelam, but because others in the LTTE might be willing to do so, as Karuna and members of the TMVP have demonstrated. The government should announce that it will implement the APRC proposals made on the basis of the Majority Report of the Panel of Experts and modified by Tissa Vitharana to incorporate elements from the Minority Reports, thus satisfying democratic elements among all communities. It should ensure humane conditions - including freedom of movement - in IDP camps, and undertake to help to resettle all displaced persons and refugees in their original homes as soon as demining has taken place. It should also undertake to rehabilitate all child soldiers and other conscripts, and show clemency to LTTE fighters who surrender, especially if they can show they have helped civilians to escape from the combat zone. It should allow the UN and ICRC to monitor all these processes, so that transparency is ensured. This should persuade all but the most die-hard supporters of Prabakaran to surrender and to help civilians trapped in the combat zone to escape, thus minimizing casualties among civilians, LTTE conscripts as well as the Sri Lanka armed forces. If all this had been done two years ago, we would not have been in this horrific situation.
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