May. 19th, 2009

ladymirth: (contained excitement)
Those of you who follow the world news know that there's a lot happening in Sri Lanka right now. The terrorist leader Vellupilai Prabhakaran, who has terrorized the nation for the past 26 years with his LTTE guerrilla organization, has reportedly been killed and all the land that has been annexed by them for 20 years been retaken by the Sri Lankan Army. It's purported to be a final end to the years of atrocities and fear that has stunted this country's economic and infrastructural development since the 80s. There are celebrations in the streets, fireworks from all sides and Friday has been declared a national holiday. The Commander in Cheif of the Army, His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksha has been declared the nation's favourite son, and they are carrying poster slogans of him which proclaims him to be "King Mahinda". It's suuposed to be a pretty damn big day for the Singhalese. 

For me? Not so much. I'm glad that that monster is dead, and I hope he died painfully. I'm thankful to our boys on the front lines for having unified the entire island for the first time in a quarter of a century. 

But despite claims that the LTTE was merely Prabhakran's personality cult, to me, his death is merely the cutting of a head of Medusa - another one will grow back in its place. This country has been riddled with violence and insecurity ever since 1972, first with the JVP revolts and the ensuing political unrest and constantly with religious and ethnic unrest. This entire war was a result of the 1983 riots, which were incited when 13 Singhalese soldiers were killed by the LTTE (which was at the time little more than a  gang of thugs hated by their own). Singhalese hot-heads retaliated by  hunting down and lynching innocent Tamil civilians by the hundreds while the Singhalese settled in Tamil areas were run out of their homes. Droves of Tamils migrated to other countries as politcal refugees  with  the enduring image  the Singhalese as murderers in their hearts (to this day those Tamils call the Singhalese "Sinha-ban", as in Taliban) and the persecuted Tamils ran into the arms of the LTTE, who promised to protect and avenge them. Overnight, we had ourselves created a monster that would  take the lives of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and civilians in the name of that blood debt. 

There are those who see the beginning of Independence on this day. I see a dangerously powerful government headed by a leader who himself is becoming a cult personality. Every single time we've had a political leader that was this powerful, their ego ballooned tosuch a degree that it pressed on their brain cells and they ended up making decisions that screwed the country for the rest of time. I see the voices of caution and much-needed checks and balances becoming weaker and weaker. I foresee the rise of nationalism, and with it rampant fundamentalism and racism taking root amongst our people. I see my people refusing to acknowledge or learn from past mistakes. I see growing hostilities between ourselves and the international community, culminating in devastating trade bans and the refusal of the IMF loan that we so desperately need (btw, fuck you very much, Hillary Clinton). I see war refugees being interned and mistreated, festering more inter-racial hatred until a new wave of terrorists are begot within their ranks. I see pro-LTTE factions rising up and retaliating all over the world. I see terrorist witch-hunts that eventually lead to pogroms against the minorities until rioting once again breaks out and the vicious cycle starts again...

Maybe I'm being as skeptical and jaded as only the young can be. But how can you blame me? My entire generation grew up with this war. We learned to live knowing that each day might be our last. And now, are we supposed to rearrange our mindset and suddenly learn to trust our leaders justbecause they flipped a switch and said, "ding-dong, the witch is dead"? It's a known fact that Prabhakaran's son escaped to Malaysia, not to mention the untold numbers of LTTE sleepers scattered all over the world and in the suburbs of Colombo. How long before they form splinter factions and regroup to avenge their fallen leader? Ten years? Twenty? Just in time to draft our own children into another war? 

For me, one of the most horrifying scenes in Greek Literature is the one in Euripides' Women of Troy where Hector's baby son Astyanax is wrenched from his imploring mother Andromache's arms and thrown off the battlements to his death, because the Greeks are afriad the boy will grow up to avenge his father. I've always thanked any gods that were still around that that sort of thing wouldn't happen today - and then I realized that actually, it would, only it would be done quietly and without alerting the press. What guarantee do we have that  our politicians would not have quietly disposed of Prabhakaran and his lieutenants children, whether they were full-grown rebels or babies? And yet, wouldn't it be inevitable that these children would grow up with hate in their hearts for their fathers' killers? 

Medusa, in the end, could only be defeated and killed by being made to see the reflection of her own horrible face. And until the Sri Lankan people, Tamil, Singhala or Muslim, realize their vengeful, righteous chest-thumping for the evil that it is, peace and prosperity will only ever continue to be a dream for this country. 

As for you, "King Mahinda"...beware the Ides of March!

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