Burying a dark history
The special emphasis made by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa on the need to foster communal harmony at a time the
country is on the verge of being united under one banner once
again should be taken cognizance by all citizens. Now with the
war clouds gradually disappearing in the horizon there is a need
to completely wipe from the slate all the causes that gave rise
to division and friction that tore the country asunder.
There is now a compelling need to put behind the past and
begin anew where all communities could live in harmony and
identify with each other harking back to the immediate post
Independence era where all considered themselves children of one
mother Lanka. This no doubt is the ultimate vision of the
President - to see the country emerge from it's communal
hangover of the past, and develop and prosper as a single nation
with no barriers of race, religion or ethnicity.
In a refreshing development the President himself gave the
lead the other day by addressing the estate Tamil community in
Tamil. Inherent in this gesture is his desire to see all
barriers that hitherto divided the communities dismantled and
allow all communities to view each other in a common
The President followed it up by telling Editors of national
Newspapers to take steps to foster communal harmony at a time
there is a feeling among all communities of belonging to one
nation with the national flag fluttering in all homes
irrespective of race, community or religion.
"Therefore at this juncture please do not write to encourage
communal hatred but use your pen to foster communal harmony,"
the President went on to stress at the meeting with Editors.
It is hoped the President's appeal will be heeded by all
whatever the temptation to pander to majority sentiments in the
midst of the present euphoria, by certain segments. If the
President with his deep Sinhala roots and overwhelming
majoritarian appeal could show the way in this regard it
certainly behoves on the others to follow suit.
Inherent in the President's appeal is also a need for
moderation and to do away with all forms of extremism that had
given rise to the present bloodshed and a country riven with
True, to the eternal credit of the majority community it had
not committed the mistakes of the past despite the most grave
provocation following the aberration of July '83. But it is
foolhardy to believe that the misgivings and suspicion among the
minority communities have dissipated altogether. There is a
vestige of ill feeling that has not yet been entirely banished.
The President's intention no doubt is to assure the minorities
that they need not harbour doubts any more. He has taken pains
to stress this in all his public rallies with his constant
refrain that the 'Tamils are our brothers and sisters... the war
is not against the Tamil community but against terrorism.
It is therefore the responsibility of all to back the
President's quest for communal harmony when the country is on
the verge of turning a new chapter offering the prospect of
peace and reconciliation among all groups and communities,
burying once and for all the dark chapter of the past.
It behoves on all religious leaders, civil society groups and
organisations to come forward to add weight to the President's
appeal by providing their own inputs to bring communities
together and foster goodwill and harmony.
A country united is the best harbinger of development and
Counter false and damaging
With the Security Forces on the verge of annihilating
the LTTE there is clearly a sinister move to bring discredit to
the Government and blight the reputation of the troops in the
eyes of the world community. If not how could one explain the
false story circulated in the international media and among
Colombo diplomats claiming there were 300 deaths and 1,000
injured among IDPs in the Mulaitivu district when the very
source quoted in the story had denied contact with any media.
The story was craftily disguised as an urgent appeal to the
Government, the ICRC and the UN and the international community
for medical supplies and for medical teams to be sent to
Dr. Varatharaja to whom the story was sourced vehemently
denied he made such an appeal and disowned the contents therein.
Responding to the report Health Director Dr. Athula
Kahandaliyanage has refuted the charges of a shortage of drugs
and personnel saying he was in constant touch with the other
side on the needs and had dispatched all the necessary drugs and
personnel. Besides, according to Dr. Varatharaja there were only
six deaths and 15 wounded following shells falling into the
Pudukkudiyiruppu hospital and he was not sure if these were
fired by the Forces or the LTTE. Anyway the LTTE cadres were
fighting in civilian clothes and there was no knowing if they
were civilians or LTTE cadres.
With the Security Forces juggernaut rolling in for the final
kill there certainly could be last ditch attempts to bring
pressure on the Government to slow down or call off the
offensive through such tactics.
Hence it is incumbent on the Government to take effective
measures to counter such false and damaging propaganda spread by
destructive forces to thwart the battlefield gains.