Letters / Daily Mirror,
The front page article where the Mothers and
Daughters of Lanka apologised to the Tamil Community for the pogrom of
July 1983 is an eye-opener to many of our leaders and citizens of Sri
Lanka. It is an invitation to rethink our approach towards a peaceful
On the 20th anniversary of this pogrom, when
Tamils all over the world are recalling to memory those horrific events,
not with any vengeance or desire of seeking revenge against anyone, God
forbid that, but in order that the memory of their historical victimhood
in the hands of a government, its forces and sections of a people, may
strengthen and keep up their struggle for justice and freedom in the
land of their birth. This commemoration is viewed as a source of
strength for their struggle to achieve their true and just place in the
land of their birth.
Some individuals like the late Bishop
Lakshman Wickremesinghe did express sorrow and shame at what happened.
Some Sinhala brethren risked their lives to protect their Tamil friends.
But no government or political leader up to date has publicly apologised
to the Tamil community for the death destruction and displacement caused
following Black July.
Instead of publicly acknowledging what went
wrong and going on quickly to rectify errors, the majority and its
governments have focussed mainly on the militant movement that grew up
fast against their mob-terror and state terror. There was no courageous
statesmanship to identify the roots of the conflict and seek a sincere
solution. This failure stems from the initial failure of our leaders in
not acknowledging the truth of events, feeling sorry for them and not
The then President J.R.Jayewardene, who had
all the powers to put out the flames of fire, not only failed to act
with statesmanship he allowed the horrific events for dazs to escalate
into an anti/Tamil pogrom bordering on genocide and failed to offer any
word of sympathy to the thousands of Tamil victims.
His belated appearance on the television
only to justify the events of those days aggravated the situation
further. The politicians who came after him never dared to rectify this
The Mothers group has come out courageously
and strongly condemned "the two decades of official silence with no
acknowledgement or reparation to the Tamil community." After 20
years we are still groping in the dark to find a peaceful solution to
this conflict. What started 17 months ago as a search in partnership for
truth and justice, soon degenerated, partly due to external powers, has
become a bargaining game of having more without concern for the other.
The failure of the present efforts and the
continued opposition to grant even a minimum recognition to the rights
of the Tamils exhibits the still prevailing mindset of the ruling
majority in difference to the mindset of the ruled minority.
I am convinced that no true solution can be
achieved unless and until a radically new and unbiased understanding of
the conflict is sought. The last 50 years has seen the parting of the
ways into two paradigms of thought - one a view of the oppressive
majority and the other a view of the oppressed, one which still thinks
that they are the masters and bhoomiputras and the other which struggles
to fight back to obtain justice and freedom.
The present doubts and difficulties which
the majority and its government have, even in temporarily sharing power
with the Tamils and their leadership show clearly that we are nowhere in
the direction of a peaceful solution. I suggest that we all Sinhlaese
and Tamils observe a common week of shame and sorrow before we go
Father S.J.Emmanuel Germany