The Sri Lankan civil war

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The silhouette of the truth about what happened in Mamasapano is beginning to be seen. If there were ineptness, falsehood, terrorism, human rights violations and whatever other evils, where should we go from there?

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If the answer is war or violent retaliation, let us remember the Civil War that occurred in Sri Lanka and which lasted 25 years. Each side committed human rights violations, people were caught in the crossfire, displaced, others were tortured and impoverished, society was broken, assassinations of officials were a way of life and the country is still traumatized.

Along the way, there were many attempts at peace. Ceasefires were not followed, commitments made were discarded, suspicion was rampant on both sides. So, they opted for war.

The issue was between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority. The tensions between them arose because of colonization when one colonizing power (the British) preferred to deal and empower the Tamils because they were resilient, hardworking, and effective in administering colonial affairs which gave rise to ill-will between them and the Sinhalese. When Independence came the way of Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese majority began rectifying their position by passing language laws cutting out the Tamils by making Sinhalese the official language. This meant the loss of government positions in the civil service and a general disfavor to Tamils in opportunities such as university admission, etc.

The answer was a Tamil reaction of violence and assassinations led by a war-oriented leadership that brought on riots from both sides, and a fatal fragmentation of society. The Tamil Tigers of Tamil Eelam came into being and fought ferociously using tactics like what is now recognized as terrorism. So much so, that with their use of suicide bombers (the first to use them), assassinations of public figures (including Tamils that did not conform to their way of rectifying their position through violence), massacres of government soldiers, providing their soldiers with cyanide pills to commit suicide when captured, they were labeled as a terrorist organization by 32 countries.

While there were Tamil opposition figures that believed in struggling for their cause with peaceful and legal means, the armed Tamil elements held sway by wreaking the same violence on them. From 80,000 to 100,000 people lost their lives in the conflict.

When peace talks and ceasefires did not work because of the suspicions, ill-will and belief by both sides in the use of force to settle matters, the war went on and on. It finally ended by the use of massive force coming together with atrocious human rights violations that literally wiped out the Tamil Tigers but not the memories of war.

The armed conflict has ended but the country has been so traumatized by the violence on both sides that it will struggle for generations to erase the past. Meanwhile the war took its toll not only on the population which in turn hampered the nation’s progress. No one side really won it.

There are better ways of achieving peace. They must be found despite the obstacles that are there from the past injustices, violence, betrayals. Like anything else in life, making peace like getting married, starting a business, choosing a goal to follow, always has the element of chance that it will not work the way one wants it to, or plans it to be. Then it should go back to the drawing board, it should be adjusted in fairness and righteousness. The two sides must have those virtues, the vision of settling matters without violence.

Sri Lanka erupted into its decades-long civil war when 13 Sinhalese soldiers were massacred by Tamil insurgents.

It is a cautionary tale.

mvronq@yahoo.com

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7 Comments

  1. WAR IS A NECESSARY EVIL. THE END OF BRUTAL WAR IS THE START OF LASTING PEACE. LOOK AT GERMANY AND JAPAN. THERE WILL BE PEACE UNTIL THEY ARE TIRED AND WEARY TO FIGHT. GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US.

  2. Roy Gacasan, i think you are totally wrong, i say if only people would get rid of all these religions & just think of others the world would be a better place. Now all religions think they are right & i ask you is your religion the right religion & the one everyone should follow, whatever your answer is then think of someone from another religion & i ask him the same question, now i have 2 different answers so which one is right, they cant both be right. & if one set of religious people are prepared to act more to get people to come to their way of thinking & they becme the majority have they the right to force you to change your beliefs to their beliefs.
    Im against all religions. I think the world would be a better place & a safer place without them. Just take here in the philippines where most of you are catholics, & christians, well look how many top people lie cheat steal & still think they are religious. Look how many top people would have someone killed so they could get more power or money or if just offended by something you said, & they think they are religious. Hypocrites is what i call them.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      When you express your opinion this way, you leave no room for the opinion of Roy Gacasan. No one is really totally wrong when one is simply expressing an opinion. One’s opinion is what one thinks; your opinion is how you think. You cannot think for another. There is just no way. Your advocacy for thinking for “others” is itself hypocritical if you condemn and judge others as “totally wrong” and “hypocrites”. Now that would explain a lot of your problems in dealing with people who get so angry with you that you expressed as “ready to kill” you.

      “Now all religions think that they are right…” Again, it is people not religion. Religion does not do the thinking. So religions cannot be blamed for being right or wrong in thinking. It is people, the “others” in your opinion who would make the world a peaceful place — or not.

      Have you ever watched the british tv show, “Keeping Up Appearances”? Patricia Rutledge as “Hyacinth” makes hypocrites a source of entertainment. That is what hypocrites are: they are actors acting some role. Being a british tv show, that would be something you should watch and forget about being angry with other people for being such actors.

      Just another thing to think about: people who embrace the teachings of a particular religion are said to have faith. Faith goes deeper than just an opinion. One either has faith or does not have faith. It is all-or-nothing. That explains how people of faith can go to extremes.

      In order to lead a peaceful life, one should refrain from discussing religion and politics. I guess, you already know that.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      “…in the Philippines where most of you are catholics & christians…” shows you do not think that catholics are christians. That is a common misconception among Protestants who think they are christians and catholics are non-christian. Since you have previously mentioned your exposure to religion in early childhood, you most likely grew up in England where Protestants are called mostly Anglicans.

      Up to 1517 A.D. practically the whole of Europe was Catholic. Martin Luther rebelled against certain teachings of the Catholic Church in 1517 in Germany. Some German Dukes latched on the the rebellion as a chance to become independent of the Catholic Church. So they eventually settled for “cuyos regio ejus religio” meaning each duke chose whatever he wanted to follow and those in his realm would follow him too. In England, King Henry VIII decided to proclaim himself head of the English Church. That way he could divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon and marry/behead his subsequent queens.

      Protestantism and Catholicism. Protest is obvious as the reality of Protestantism. Catholic is not so obvious, because hardly anybody knows Greek nowadays. It simply means “universal”; it became an adjective describing the actual “gobal” phenomenon of Christianity even today. Loosely, of course, anybody who believes Jesus Christ and follows His teaching is a christian. Specifically though, only those who have been “anointed” with the holy oil called “chrism” are “christened”. This christening is what everybody in the english language understands as baptism. All catholics received this anointing with “chrism”. In Greek again, chrism means anointing. The title given to Jesus is “Christ” which means “Anointed”. Kings used to be anointed. Priests and Bishops who are catholic are all anointed. They are all truly christians. Catholic priests and bishops in turn anoint all catholics. Wheeeww. That’s a lot of anointing going on!!!

  3. I dont know what the answer is but a civil war is a truly horrible thing. One way around the civil war would be to do what the sri lankans did to eventually stop the tamils. They attacked them with all the power the country had, they forced them back to the sea to a tiny enclave & they killed most of them. It was very very brutal & totally against international law, but sometimes that is needed. Weather it is right in the philippines i would say yes & my reasons for that is because of the muslims. I think ( & i may be wrong ) they want to rule the world. I know most are peaceful but i think there are more & more who want sharia law. That is against the laws of most countries. Now once they get the majority of power they would implement it & everyone would have to accept it. Then the radicals will start to rise as they will then want power & we know how they behave & with them there is no negotiating, they will not listen, its their way or no way. So the people have to decide what they want.

  4. A great journal article. If only more people will adhere to the Book of Christ, The Gospels, these violent upheavals in societies around the world could have been avoided!