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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2646

What Genocide? Are you Insane or opportunistic?

By Ven. Basnagoda Rahula

Professor Steve Baker is a close friend of mine. He teaches in the department of psychology, but we often meet each other between classes because both of our departments, mine being English, are located in the same building. Whenever we meet, we greet each other warmly and sometimes stop for a few words. I would ask him about the recession in America or president Obama’s stimulus package while he would mostly inquire about the present developments in Sri Lanka.

When he saw me last Friday, he appeared to be somewhat reluctant but eventually put his question into words. "What are they writing about?" he asked me with growing impatience, referring to a few reports and articles he had read online about Sri Lanka. "What are they talking about? Genocide and concentration camps?"

Well, I knew that Steve was impatient not about an imaginary Nazi era in Sri Lanka but about “the absolute nonsense” those writers were writing about. However, every reader is not a Steve. Some are habitually prone to accept reports as true, particularly when such reports are crafted with rhetorical tactics. Others are naturally inclined to ally with a writer when they read about ethnic discrimination.

Thus, false reports often create ghastly illusions which not only haunt the reader but also cause unnecessary adverse effects. Exposure of the truth, then, is a necessity in order to expel illusions and to bring benefits and happiness to all. Of course, justification of war is not my purpose in this article, but blatant misinterpretations of the present humanistic mission in Sri Lanka demands a truthful explanation, so I, too, should write.

As some of you are already aware, “genocide” is a repeated word used by some to interpret the ongoing war in Sri Lanka against terrorism. However, to repeat what impartial writers have already stated, this interpretation is nothing other than a vicious untruth created by the enemies of piece in a disgraceful and cowardly effort to discredit Sri Lanka, and by doing so, to promote terrorism in that country.

I would say that those who claim genocide to exist in the present liberation process in Sri Lanka are not ignorant people. Instead, they are applying survival strategies, intentionally conspiring to support such strategists, or maintaining strong links with such people.

To be simple and brief to the best of my honesty, no genocide is taking place in Sri Lanka in her endeavor to fully liberate the country. What the civilians receive is love, care, and companionate attention from the soldiers, officers, and government workers.

Tears flew into my eyes as I continued to gaze on the photos of the soldiers who were helping Tamil civilians in war-torn areas. One is carrying an elderly disabled woman; another, along with several medical personnel, is providing medial support to a sick young lady; one more is pouring bottled water into a thirsty child’s mouth while another child next to is keeping her mouth open for her turn.

In the kitchen, a large number of male and female soldiers and other workers are cooking and busily providing hot meals for the displaced civilians who have managed to reach the cleared areas. What an admirable feat the soldiers and their staff are performing!

I am fully convinced that the kind support provided to Tamil civilians by the soldiers, officers, and the government in general is not just physical or verbal; instead, it is deep-rooted in their hearts. They help because they know they should help.

When it comes to civilians’ welfare, Sri Lanka is overwhelmingly humanistic, and this noble quality is markedly visible from the highest order of the country. In helping innocent civilians, Sri Lankan authorities never think of racial discrimination.

Recently, I have had conversations with the navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda and Vanni commander Jagath Jayasuriya, and several high ranking army offices. I was fascinated by their amazingly soft hearts. I am also aware of the humanistic values of the army and air force commanders. These are the people of broad attitudes and strong moral principles. Of course, they are fearless fighters, but at the same time, they are the mothers and fathers of the innocent.

I would unhesitantly claim that a similar frame of mind generally exists among army, navy, and air force officers and soldiers of all ranks. During my visits to Sri Lanka, I have visited a few army camps and given talks. I was mesmerized by the solders’ understanding about and respect for human rights.

Kindness to the innocent is a pervasive characteristic among all in Sri Lanka’s triple forces. Even if, let’s say, one in a hundred thinks differently, he (or she) has no power, and all have to melt with the invincible moral and ethical values in the system. In brief, Sri Lankan forces do not accommodate—I mean they neither think about nor promote—evil practices against civilians.

Then, what are the so-called concentration camps some have mentioned? Again, these writers are intentionally distorting the government’s noble effort to rehabilitate the displaced civilians. For some, the distortion means to make a desperate effort for survival; for others, it is to provide the background support for those who make such efforts; still, for a few, it is to highlight themselves by creating sensational news reports. The plain truth is that they all know very well that Sri Lanka does not establish centers to torture civilians.

Obviously, rehabilitation of civilians coming from uncleared areas is a necessity in Sri Lanka. For a quarter century, they have been forced to believe that the Sinhalese are murderous villains. They have been so brainwashed that they need time and guidance to see the truth about other races, particularly the Sinhalese. Then only will they be able to mingle with the people of different races and live together peacefully. Sri Lanka will fail to achieve these objectives without rehabilitating the civilians coming from uncleared areas.

Such being the truth, if any individuals or organizations claim that those civilians should be allowed to go back to their villages without completing the rehabilitation process, they should be aware that they are making an irrational claim. Seemingly, they expect terrorist problems to persist in Sri Lanka.

One reporter has recently mentioned about barbed wires around such rehabilitation centers, alluding to Nazi concentration camps. One needs to understand that the objective of writing to media is not to create false impressions but to inform the reader in the most unbiased and truthful way.

One could easily defend one’s own news reports. "It is not my words, not my view. I’m just quoting what others say," a writer would claim. However, the tone of the report is obvious to the careful reader. Words, phrases, subordinated ideas, and unstated information all speak volumes of the writer’s intention. A noble reporter is the one who integrates a wholesome intention into a report.

If you have any doubts about Sri Lanka’s sincerity in her effort to help the displaced civilians in Vanni, here is a sure way to test your doubts: visit Jaffna and talk to the civilians who will tell you how kind and caring Sri Lanka is to them. Those who are currently arriving at cleared areas will also enjoy the same advantages, same rights, same privileges—all provided with kind feelings.

Ven. Basnagoda Rahula, the writer of this article, is Associate Professor of English at Montgomery College in Texas, USA. He is also a published author.

- Asian Tribune -

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