Archive

racism

It finally seems that all the protests and the public outcry against the eviction have caused the Government to do something about it:

In a new turn of events to the drama surrounding the eviction of Tamil lodge dwellers from Colombo last week, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake yesterday expressed regrets to the hundreds of Tamils for their eviction from the city, saying it was a ‘big mistake’ by the government.

This ‘apology’ is one that I am heartily glad for, though we still wait for the release of arbitrarily remanded individuals.

Plenty of bloggers in our little Kottu community were quite disturbed about the evictions, which was quite heartening. It shows that there are people who still have not been deadened by this protracted conflict. But surprisingly and sadly, a few bloggers were angered by our stand. Angered so in fact, as to point fingers at bloggers and accuse others of ltte propaganda. Since when has the act of getting upset at unfair treatment been a bad thing?

Everyone knows that the LTTE is doing wrong. They are quite obviously a terrorist group. They commit acts of destruction, instigate armed conflict, kidnappings and so on. But the democratically elected Government has different responsibilities. Using the tactics of a terrorist organization against its citizens is not an option.

As RD says in a comment:

In theory the GOSL is a democratically elected government and the fundamental pillars of democracy are supposed to be liberty and freedom. That’s where I think the big difference lies between its actions and those committed by the LTTE.

The reason why the eviction caused so much commotion was because it happened in the heart of Colombo, and at our door steps as it were. If it were a security procedure to ensure the safety of Colombo, then it should have been focused on all lodgers staying in Colombo without a reason and not simply Tamils. Here is where the crux of the matter lies. A forced eviction of only Tamils for vague security reasons.

It is strange how people jump on your back when you state that peace is better than war. It makes one scratch one’s head and wonder if peace means something different in different languages. Being a moderate seems to be a new bad word too.

A comment by ‘Goran’ states sarcastically  :

A lot of the posts were hurried ones jotted up so that the authors could claim with shrill voices “look at me! I am a “moderate” too! Yay! Pat me on the back and **** me off!”

In a Buddhist country, moderate has become an insult? What ever happened to the middle path? What ever happened to conciliation? Buddhism is a religion that advocates peace and moderation, and yet those who try and practice moderation become a target.

Despite what anyone says, I don’t believe violence can be legitimate or justified. If a ‘peacenik’ is one for peace, then hell, I will become a ‘peacenik’. If a moderate advocates moderation and detests war, then I will be a moderate.  Peace is never easy, but that does not mean we will give up on it.

Opening Kottu this morning, I come across no less than 8 posts about the eviction of Tamils from Colombo, besides the emails i receive. Clearly it has upset a lot of people and quite understandably at that. The question on all of our minds now, is “bloody hell, what’s next?”  Burghers next maybe? You got to speak the language to live in Colombo? You have to have the right skin tone? Maybe scratch your groin and laugh a certain way? I wouldn’t go so far as Ranil and liken this situation to the one that effected the Jews in WW2, but it is an exceedingly stupid move. (Did I say exceedingly?)

As Indi.ca puts it,

This government is corrupt, inept, and mindless.

The government’s ineptitude maybe debated by nationalists and certain individuals may state that it is logistically impossible  to properly secure Colombo, yet I wonder what sense such persons could make out of such an inhumane move. It is such an obvious move of desperation that I wonder if we might have to conduct tuition classes in diplomacy for our politicians. It is like stubbing your toe on a rock and then kicking the rock because you are mad at it. No terrorist is going to base himself in such obvious locations for instance, and you can’t abuse bus loads of people solely because you might assume one of them is dangerous.

A lot of you bloggers are upset about this incident. And it is a scary situation. Respected Tamil families are selling  their property and leaving the country in fear of the government. I used to think we could do something about the situation in this country. I no longer think so. The PM himself states that military operations will continue till the LTTE is wiped out. And in addition to that, comes the statement:

Prime Minister Wickramanyake also said the government will continue the peace process together with the military operations. 

Now I wonder just how you carry on a peace process while actively attacking the other party. It’s like peeing with your zipper closed (pardon the expression), all you do is cause damage.

Living here saddens me now. Selfishness ruins our country and there is nothing that we could do about it. All that remains of our serendipity is simply… pity.

racial illustration

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. And I am not pulling your leg. March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. If only I got a penny for every International Day that I came across..

It got me thinking about the racism I see around me, and the racism supposedly prevalent in a country going through 2 decades of ethnic conflict. It is very difficult for a person to gauge the actual racial attitude of a group of people. For one, not many people will tell you they are racists, and at times, those who do toss around racial slurs do not always act according to their words. A former Tamil Minister told me last week, that there is no real hatred or antipathy for the Sinhalese on the part of Tamils living in his home village up north. In some villages, the people even have a good enough understanding with the army and get along fine with them. The chap then told me that most of the racist sentiments come from the cities. I cannot hazard a guess as to the truth of that statement. I have lived and grown up with people of all colours and languages. My Sinhalese friends have always gotten along with my Tamil and Burgher friends, and I have yet to see an adequately qualified Tamil lose out on a job to a Sinhalese. But then again, that is simply my experience. I do know that it is advantageous if your skin is of a lighter colour, for you do get better service in banks and some restaurants, but that lighter coloured skin is at a disadvantage when trying to bargain at Barzaars.

I might hazard a view, that racism lies under the skin of alot of people around me. It might be alright to have Tamil friends, but it will be slightly more difficult to get a Sinhalese father to let his daughter marry a Tamil, or a Muslim, or even a Burgher for that matter. It could be a question of religion, but so very often, as hard as it might be to see it, religion does often come almost inextricably intertwined in your race. I wondered once if this religious/racial difference in us is the reason for the war that drags its muddy feet across our lives. Then it occurred to me that people might not even remember the reason for the war anymore. The fact that there is a war, is planted in their heads as firmly as a toothache. How it got there doesn’t seem to matter anymore, and the government is trying to end the toothache without addressing the cause. You pluck out the tooth, eat more ice cream, and all you will get is another toothache.

How deep is the racism in this country. I wonder.

We don’t want the white man, just his money. I wonder what would happen if someone portrayed Buddha as a White Man, or an African. Will there be as much fuss as there is about the Black Madonna?

Colour does not bother me. Race does not bother me. I could trace my ancestry to several different races. And I love that fact. I am neither black nor white, but brown. And I think that is sexy. I have African friends, and I think they have beautiful skin. I have European friends, and I think they have interesting accents. I have Tamil friends who try to feed me as much as possible. I have Sinhalese friends whose fridges i raid for kavunk (is that the spelling?). It wouldn’t matter to me if Jesus were black, His teachings wouldn’t change. I learned about Prophet Muhammed enough in school to make me automatically add the letters P.B.U.H. after his name. Race doesn’t matter to me. Colour doesn’t matter to me. Your religion doesn’t matter to me, as long as it doesn’t interfere with mine. But unfortunately such sentiments are not held by everyone out there. My sincere wish is that I and everyone else is judged by what they do and not how they look. After all:

Accomplishments have no color. (Leontyne Price)