How many generations should suffer ?

By P. Silva

British Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs website says the British government’s political and development efforts in Sri Lanka have a single aim i.e.to help create the conditions in which a lasting peace can be achieved.

Dr. Kim Howells, the British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, visited Sri Lanka from February 13 – 15. The main purpose of Dr. Howells’ visit was to assess the impact of recent fighting on the civilian population, and to reinforce UK’s strong support for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

The British Government — Thank you very much for your great concern for the political efforts to create a lasting peace.

At the end of the visit Kim Howells said:

“I have been able to be open in my conversations with the President, senior ministers and others about the UK’s view of what is happening here. I have said that, as a friend. we want Sri Lanka to have the peace and prosperity it deserves. The world needs to see that the Sri Lankan Government is taking robust action to safeguard the human rights of all people in Sri Lanka. The international community can help. I met senior foreign diplomats in Colombo who all want to play their part in helping Sri Lanka find peace. But the international community needs to be reassured that the Government of Sri Lanka is committed to a peaceful solution.”

It can be inferred that —

(1) in spite of Dr. Kim Howells’ openness (in conversation) and expression of his country’s good intentions (for peace and prosperity for Sri Lanka), he was not convinced by what transpired at his meeting with the President and senior ministers, and

(2) after meeting the foreign diplomats he found out that they also want to help Sri Lanka find peace, but that they need to be reassured that the Government of Sri Lanka is committed to a peaceful solution.

So, it can be clearly seen that the international community is yet to see the Sri Lankan government’s commitment to a peaceful solution.

The international community it seems is prepared to wait even after 59 years of oppression of the minorities by the government and after 50 years of damage control exercises on national and international platforms including the UN bodies by successive Sri Lankan governments.

The minorities have been aggrandized beyond limits – tens of thousands have been murdered in several anti-Tamil riots in 50 years; tens of thousands died in the 25-year armed struggle; tens of thousands have been displaced by the High Security Zones and been living in camps without proper livelihoods for 17/18 years; several thousands died in detention by the armed forces; thousands of women raped in 25 years by the Sri Lankan and Indian armed forces; nearly a million fled the country within the last 25 years; the environment has been irreparably damaged with hundreds of thousands of life-sustaining palms damaged by shelling and bombing of 25 years and also by being maliciously cut down by the armed forces.

Children’s health was not only impaired atrociously, but the children have become stunted in growth, education of two generations has been lost through malicious government policies and then by war, livelihoods of farmers and fishermen lost through emergencies and curfews, and now road closures, bombing and shelling again and again and again….. while other developing countries and southern Sri Lanka have been perusing Millennium Development Goals and Education For All, goals……

Should the international community still believe the Sri Lankan government’s words?

Shouldn’t it start looking at its actions?

Shouldn’t the international community challenge the Sri Lankan government —

(1) Why it has been (unashamedly) telling the world that they are for peace in the same breath as they have been bombing and shelling and starving the northeast and increasing military expenditure by 45% in the budget for 2007 and making arms deals and unloading shipments of military hardware etc. when the All-party Committee (though all parties aren’t there in the first place) have even got tired of bickering and wrangling unable to make a decision on what to offer at the negotiating table.

(2) Why the very necessary SLFP-UNP MOU is aborted in its embryonic stage (conciliatory pact with the Tamils made by the SLFP was opposed by the UNP in the late ’50s, that made by the UNP was opposed by the SLFP in the late ’60s, UNP (Ranil)’s efforts were beheaded by SLFP (Chandrika) in 2003…).

The longer the conflict is allowed to grow, the more irreconcilable it becomes — Sri Lanka is part of an extremely complicated globe that’s getting more and more complicated faster and faster by the minute.

What affects a system affects its parts and what affects a part affects the system.

Yes, WORLD PEACE is affected by what happens in Sri Lanka. [thesundayleader.lk]

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