18th June was declared a public holiday in Sri Lanka to celebrate the victory over the LTTE a little over a year ago. Plans to hold the celebrations in Colombo in May were thwarted by torrential rain. Many no doubt will partake in and witness the parade of triumphalism on Galle Face green, mirrored at many other venues across the country. There is of course a genuine relief in an imperfect peace, that warts and all is better than a country at war. However, post-war Sri Lanka is very far from a just peace, or meaningful reconciliation.
As an article published today on Groundviews, Celebrating war victory and banning commemoration of dead civilians: this is “home grown & indigenous” reconciliation and freedom in Sri Lanka? by Ruki notes,
“So, it is clear the army doesn’t want Tamils to mourn and grieve for their loved ones killed during the war. The thinking appears that all these events are to commemorate the killing of LTTE leader Prabakaran. Or that May 17th – 19th is a victory day, and thus, no mourning should happen, and everyone should celebrate, even if your own mother or child or husband was killed.
This seems to be the official policy of the government, with the Minister of Media and Information reported as saying that Tamil people only have a privately commemorate their kith and kin killed privately and not publicly.”
From 19 – 27 May 2010, Groundviews ran a special edition on the end of war. Over this week alone, the site received 40,000+ readers and exclusively featured 80,000+ words of original content, 1 video premiere, over a dozen photos and 150,000+ words of commentary. Thousands more have read and commented on this content to date, and it is a sui generis archive of intelligent debate, incisive critique and vital perspectives that mainstream media in Sri Lanka even post-war is too fearful to feature. For example, one memorable comment that seriously questions government propaganda featured in the special edition came from an Indian doctor,
“I am an Indian pediatrician who served with the Indian Medical Team at Menik Farm IDP center. The point I am trying to raise is this – we were managing scores of infants with bullet / shell blast injuries (some festering, mostly healed). It gives an idea of the extent of collateral damage suffered by the civilians caught in the last days of the conflict. If an infant could not be protected, imagine the plight of older children and adults. The so-called “Sri Lankan Solution” being touted as the panacea for dealing with terrorism worldwide needs a thorough relook.”
Access all the content and debates here.