Post war Sri Lanka – the hard part begins
I never thought I’d see the day when the LTTE was militarily defeated. Or to hear that the death cult’s leader is no more. The sense of relief that the war is over is shockingly exhausting. Feels like I have held my breath for most of my life and will have to learn how to breath again. The mind buzzes with wild wild hopes too incoherent even for the keypad. This ramble is an attempt to reign in the mental fireworks. I have left out plenty but this is a blog post written on a phone, not a book.
A third word democracy is a flawed messy thing. Its reconstruction of the country will be a complicated journey into the fog called the future. It lacks the off the cuff clarity of defeating a terrorist cult with a well trained efficiently dedicated military. There will be plenty of cock-ups along the way. The flow of human history doesn’t have the reassuring qualities of a bollywood melodrama. Life will always be a moving pendulum swing somewhere between tragedy and the half way post of an unreachable utopia.
Physically, politically and psychically rebuilding a country after nearly two generations of war is no easy feat. Doing it in the middle of a global recession won’t be swift or predictable. It will involve that noisily rabble called civil society. Whose universal inanities of tribe, language, class, belief, politics blind individuals to their shared humanity.
Yet the enormity of the task ahead somehow doesn’t seem too impossible. Perhaps it is a sign of hope, dilution or a cocktail of the two. Most likely because despite a life time of cynicism, there’s an overwhelming sense that something better will emerge.
Just because the terrorists are militarily defeated doesn’t mean we are free of its threats. The terrorists still operate as a formidable criminal organisation in Europe (particularly in the UK and Norway) and Canada, while expanding to other places particularly Australia. They are still capable of funding a terror and propaganda war. Particularly exploiting any openness created by the end o the fighting and economic development. All aimed at breaking what ever bridges of trust the LTTE’s nazi ideology prevented.
Since the LTTE isn’t viewed as an Al-Qaeda linked group, most western governments won’t give a damn. Problems in Sri Lanka are just fisticuffs between darkies. For the mainstream media in these countries, Sri Lanka’s blood letting are filler stories adding variety to the grim salad of bad economic news. A few canned statements and some terrorist video (with perhaps a map and mispronounced names) tossed in between other tragedies. If the LTTE supporters were carrying Swastikas it would be a different story.
Another adversary is corruption which infects every society. The scale at which the Iraqi reconstruction fund was looted shows corruption is not just a third world thing (as if the obvious needs to be stated). The tasks of rebuilding infrastructure without ignoring the South is by itself would be huge, and the inevitable corruption factor could potentially operate as a destabilising security threat.
Then there are the so called “nationalists” whose delusions of ethnic apartheid started the whole thing. A decent to orchestrated tribalism (the ghosts of 1983 riots) threatens of the achievements of all those who gave their lives, bodies, minds, and youth in the war against the LTTE.
Sickeningly easy to give into pessimism and cynicism in the face of a myriad threats. For the ones I didn’t mention I’m sure there are plenty of paranoid minds ticking away. But I’m too tired of pessimism and too sceptical of cynicism to given in to either. Even though I can afforded to since I’m a nobody.
Yet I’m sticking to the gut feeling that no country goes through a quarter century of war and comes out unchanged. I hope the experience has created a collective consensus will carve out our future from the madness of extremist ideologues. Giving voters of the North and East the voice they were denied by the LTTE dictatorship will I think be a strategic moderating factor in Sri Lankan politics.
That won’t happen with among other things a quarter of a million traumatised people in refugee camps, a large number in overcrowded hospitals, two generations for youth (both of the North and South) trained for war and in need of a peace time future. Voice in Colombo has a lengthy post on some immediate post war priorities.
It will take a while for a society where the content of your character and not your tribal label that will define your opportunities. Or surprise us all with the human ability to heal. How or if that happens is up to everybody (at some level). At least a major obstacle to hope has been destroyed.
Once the parades have died down, we’ll have to take in the fact that history is now on another cycle. One where the voter, the citizen has a chance to influence for the better. I can already hear the engines of cynicism revving up. But this time around I want to drown it out with the thought of not just yes we can, but yes we will (create something better).
Otherwise what else to do no?