22 April 2019
Hostilities – Not Terrorism in post-war period
It could have been me inside St Anthony’s Church Kochchikade yesterday and one of my children inside Kingsbury hotel yesterday during the bombings. It hurt and was very upsetting – as if our home shrine and living room had been bombed. All I could do was cry. I felt I ought to have done more to add my peace to Colombo and Batticaloa also. The feeling right now is helplessness more than wanting to know why? But where faith is low, we need to know why – so intellectual pathways would be developed to escalate the problem / issue to the higher level.
St Anthony’s Church Kochchikade was often a place of refuge when I was an Accountancy student. Whenever I felt discrimination pain through unjust judgment – I ran to St Anthony’s church close to Colombo CBD. I always felt better and over time I felt that by bearing that pain I have earned equal status with those who did judge me unjustly back then. I would have lost the opportunity to enjoy that sweet return had I taken revenge even in my mind. I feel strongly that we need to lift our level of thinking to the higher level and not give up.
I believe that we need to start with our Truth and find the truth in others. Towards this we ought to not ‘judge’ or worse show off at local levels. Damage to places of worship is not new to Sri Lanka. It hurts more when it happens to our place of worship. As per Twitter message – at the political level Mr Sampanthan confirms the need as follows: ‘I call upon all people of this country to come together and stand in solidarity with those who have lost their loved ones in these cowardly and tragic attacks. Let us stay together and be strong so that these extremists will not be able to take this country backwards.………. I am deeply saddened by today’s cowardly attacks targeting Churches and Hotels in Colombo and Batticaloa. I urge His Excellency the President and The Prime Minister to take necessary steps to identify the perpetrators of these crimes and to bring them before the law.’
What can we – the ordinary citizens do? Prayers do bring us together which then means that the perpetrators are divided. As per the apparent majority ruling – the attackers are against Christians and Tourists - as was the case with Bali Bombings in 2002. Someone posed the question ‘IS ISIS IN SRI LANKA? Has ISIS infiltrated Sri Lanka? Why? What are they looking for in SL ?’
The simple response to that question is – they are looking for a stage on which they can demonstrate their superiority. Every time we use the lower pathway of revenge even at family level and there is a tendency to be excessive when we think we are winning, we contribute to the development of that stage. To the extent we attack beyond defending, we accumulate return at that level. Whether it is positive or negative – the return happens with interest with passage of time and place.
Even during yesterday’s experience many who participated in public sharing referred to the war experience as ‘terrorism’. I was happy to note that our Australian Prime Minister said hostilities – confirming allocation of responsibility to both sides of the war. Irresponsible use of the word Terrorism would include the citizen’s share to the development of hostile environment which would lead to terrorism if not cured locally.
My husband was concerned that his University – the University of Technology, Sydney which is investing in a branch in Colombo may withdraw from Sri Lanka. I said ‘no – you need to strengthen your presence so that the intellectuals would lead Sri Lanka. If the Australian High Commission had not continued in Sri Lanka – it is highly likely that the language of the educated (‘hostilities’) would not been used by our Prime Minister.’
Every leader who used the word ‘Terrorism’ in relation to the ethnic war was showing weakness in the intellectual pathway. Every word counts when we are in leadership positions. War victims who are not healed yet – are likely to ‘give up’ and take an eye for an eye if the intellectual pathway is not visible to them.
Both sides to the Sri Lankan war have escalated the ethnic problem to global level. Hence we can no longer think and find local answers but participate in global solutions. It is our duty to do so. Our Truth would help us find the global path if we stay within the discipline of our truth.
The damage to Notre Dame – a global icon - confirmed lack of respect for mothers at global level. I came to this conclusion on the basis of what Notre Dame means to me and the damage happening during holy period. It was during this period that we Sri Lankans were alerted that yesterday’s horror was going to happen. It happened in Anuradhapura at a small Methodist church. Daily Mirror reported as follows about attacks on 31 March :
[When a journalist asked as to who was behind the attack, Bishop Perera said a group led by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Councillor Nalin Siriwardena had instigated the attack on the prayer centre and threatened those who were observing religious practices on several occasions.] Daily Mirror article – ‘Mob attack on A’pura Church: Six individuals issued notices’
The local church escalated it to National level as follows:
[…“They were insisting that we should close down our worship centre claiming that there cannot be any religious places existent in the surrounding, as the Provincial Council was about to launch a development project in the particular area,” he said.
“What a peculiar development project! How can religious centres hinder a development project?” Bishop Perera asked. However, he was of the opinion that there was a political force behind the incident which became evident with the alleged involvement of the SLPP PC member in the attack.
Nevertheless, he said former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa contacted him and expressed his concern.
“He said he was deeply worried and assured that he would look into the issue and would send a representative from his office to see as to what had really taken place,” Bishop Perera said.
Meanwhile, the Bishop said UPFA MP S. M. Chandrasena, who had also spoken to him, had denied any involvement of a SLPP PC member in the attack.
The Bishop concluded saying that they would carry out a silence prayer stand on the Galle Road (opposite the Methodist Church, Kollupitiya) at 2.00 pm today to preserve religious freedom of Christians.]
The question that comes to my mind is ‘Under what authority did Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa contact and ‘show’ his concern as a leader?’ – a would-be president ?
In matters of law – one needs to take official position or become an observer and participate silently through belief. Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa being a global personality through the Sri Lankan war – would attract all varieties of militancy – including ISIS but not only ISIS. The laws we follow faithfully protect us. They could be religious laws or secular laws. But once we believe – the escalation happens naturally to the level we have invested in as if the laws were our home-laws. Likewise lawlessness deteriorates us to mob level. Taking a position we do not have confirms lawlessness.
The ‘Defence’ inquiry ought to have come from Mr Sirisena as current president who as Minister for Defence is responsible for Defence. Anuradhapura is an area where former High Commissioner to Australia – Major General Janaka Perera was killed in a bomb blast in 2008. I was thoroughly searched and closely questioned including by a Muslim officer on that day. I was on my way to Mankerni in Batticaloa – because the Tsunami refugees for some reason wanted me to be there with them. I did not know about the above bombing but did notice that I was being questioned more than others. Later when I discovered that the last person questioning me was an officer - I took it as the duty of the officer who did not use excessive force but had a pleasant conversation with me and facilitated for me to discover that he was indeed an officer in plain clothes. I could not proceed to Mankerni as if was late. I stayed at Yoga Swami Girls’ hostel at Chithandi where I leant about the above bombing. Now my positive response to the inquiries and the effort I made to go to Batticaloa reside within me as ‘intuition’ including about the Anuradhapura connection. Nothing happens accidentally to a true believer.
My question is why Mr Sirisena did not have that intuition in relation to Anuradhapura ? Had he had that intuition – he would have been alerted from within – through SLPP – in March.
Did Mr Sirisena confirm loss of intuition in October 2018 when he effectively vacated his position as president? Did that make way for Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to act in that role?
The reality is that Major General Janaka Perera was active in JVP militancy as well as LTTE militancy. When he came to Australia – he brought those genes with him. When he became politician (Leader of the Opposition in North Central Provincial Council) he took that militancy opposition genes with him into Anuradhapura where it would be ‘stored’ until invoked. With time and displacement militants lose their particular identity and become common at that level. Otherwise they must remain home to be a defence force. Going global invites others like themselves through natural forces.