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The perils of simplistic thinking

Some positive comments on the situation relating to Lankan migrants and refugees returning from Britain to this country, in the recently released UK Human Rights Report for 2011, should alert those prone to be critical about this country on allegations of human rights violations and kindred questions, to the dangers of succumbing to simplistic thinking on issues pertaining to Sri Lanka.

The Report says forthrightly that contrary to reports in some sections of the Western media there is no evidence whatsoever that these returnees to Sri Lanka are being abused or harassed in any way by the Lankan authorities.

If one needs to have an eye-opener on the factual situation of our communities, this is it. Whereas the allegation in some quarters is that the sections of the Lankan populace in question are subjected to the grossest abuses, nothing of the sort takes place and even investigations conducted by the British authorities are confirming this. In other words, our citizens who have left this country for whatever reason are most welcome to return to this country and be integrated with the rest of the Sri Lankan public.

This does not mean that lawlessness and law-breakers would be tolerated but those who have in no way transgressed the laws of this land are most welcome to return and settle down here and prove productive citizens. They could rest assured that they would be treated with the utmost cordiality and respect.

The relevant disclosure in the UK report is a slap in the face of those who have been mindlessly criticizing this country on Human Rights and so-called accountability issues. In the face of the evidence in the British report how could one contend that citizens are discriminated against now on grounds of ethnicity?

This issue is of the profoundest relevance because all too often facile generalizations are made by particularly sections of the West on issues deriving from our conflict. Besides, issues are not probed in depth before pronouncements are made. For instance, even some members of the world community who visited this country recently and who went on an observation tour of the once war affected areas of this country, referred to those sections of our citizenry whom they spoke to in welfare centres, as ‘ethnic Tamils’, without going into any specifics.

True enough, those few persons and families who are still remaining in the centres for the displaced in the North, are part of the ‘Ethnic Tamil’ population of this country, but their situation is not representative at all of the totality of the Tamil community of this country. Therefore, referring to the displaced loosely as the ‘Ethnic Tamils’ of this country, without qualifying the use of the phrase, could convey an erroneous impression among those who are not familiar with the ‘ground realities’ of Sri Lanka.

The latter are likely to carry away the impression that all members of the Tamil community partake of the condition of the displaced and this is, of course, far from being the case. In fact, sections of the state are now concerned that such loose labeling could convey to the world outside a totally distorted picture of the condition of the Tamil community.

For instance, a substantial number of Tamil citizens live outside the North-East among other communities in Southern Sri Lanka in a most cordial manner.

Foreign observers and commentators would do well to make these fine differentiations lest the truth about Sri Lanka is distorted. To do this effectively they must study the Lankan situation in an unbiased fashion. This is yet to come to pass to the desired degree; hence the many misconceptions about this country.

Therefore, the realities of this country are complex and Sri Lanka’s image has suffered considerably as a result of the international community, willfully or otherwise, choosing to be indiscreet about the realities of this land. Concerned quarters would do well to be specific about the different sections of our citizenry they are choosing to comment on.

It is far from the truth that an ‘ethnic conflict’ is on in this country. If this were so, returnees would be subjected to the worst harassment but the world knows now that nothing of the sort happens.

If Sri Lanka were the scene of an ‘ethnic conflict’, communities would not be coexisting cordially in Southern Sri Lanka and outside. Thus, the truth about Sri Lanka is complex and could not be analyzed in simplistic, superficial terms.

Resolution against Sri Lanka at UNHRC: did the US go too far?

In March, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a United States sponsored resolution pressing the Sri Lankan government to investigate alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the war with the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement immediately after, “United States and the international community had sent a strong signal that Sri Lanka will only achieve lasting peace through real reconciliation and accountability.”

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The Human Dimension

When you are diagnosed with an illness…

One of life’s toughest challenges is when you are told by your doctor that you have an illness you never thought you would have. It is a moment of shock and sometimes even denial - you feel as if something inside you has died. You might even feel depressed; the moment of shock lasts for a few days until you get used to being a person affected by that illness.

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Satyajit Ray :

Recollections of a phenomenal filmmaker of our times

(May 2, 1921 to April 23, 1992)

‘Satyajit Ray is no more', yet that, with no doubt, is the most common feature in life. As humans, whether we are in favour or not, of life's unique modus operandi assimilated on each individual, facing the surge of events from birth to ailing, including the culmination, that shall temporarily blot the end of one’s journey on earth, shall remain intact, unable to be amended as one may, at times wish it could be.

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