Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life without war for Sri Lankans for the first time in many of their lives :: SL President wants to retire majority/minority divisions

I like these words spoken by the Sri Lankan President on Tuesday in Sri Lanka, in a speech to the nation (from this article):

"President pointed out that the end of the war against the 'terrorist' was not a defeat for the Tamil community and henceforth, he did not want to identify them as a minority community in the country.

According to President Rajapaksa, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, and Malays are no longer minorities, all are Sri Lankans.

There are now only two national identities, patriots and non-patriots, the latter is now the minority, President stressed.

He said that following the liberation of the North the entire nation comes under the rule of the parliament from now onwards.

"Earlier the government administration did not function in a part of the country," he said.
The President said the biggest challenge was nation building and the resettlement of the displaced persons. He called upon all political parties to be partners in that national task.

Finally President Rajapaksa urged the Tamil Diaspora to return to Sri Lanka and help rebuild the nation that has been destroyed by terrorism. He said a bigger challenge is to convince the Tamil Diaspora not to help the terrorism further."

Read the rest of the article about the speech here.

It will not be an easy task to get Sri Lankans (not just in Sri Lanka, but also world wide) to shed their fears (some justified, some not) and suspicions about "the other", but then again, many believed that defeating the LTTE militarily was impossible until it happened a couple of days ago, so, perhaps this new diificult objective is also attainable.

And here's a BBC article about the mood of much of the country at the moment. From the article "Peace hopes grip Sri Lankans" (and this is the first time in my life that I am reading a BBC article like this about Sri Lanka):

"The army says its operations are ended, that rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is dead and troops now hold all of the island's territory for the first time since 1983.

Such news will have been greeted almost with disbelief by Sri Lankans, many of whom were born into war or barely remember the time before it.

"We're part of history!" says another posting. "Today is the first day of my life I'm living in a Sri Lanka where there is no war." "

Read the rest of the article here.

Looks like Year Zero of The New Sri Lanka may finally have arrived (a few months later than I predicted here, but I am extremely glad it's here). Lots of work ahead.

- Sujewa

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