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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 12:16 GMT


Can there be peace in Sri Lanka?



Until the attitude changes and people realise that they need to respect each other regardless of race, permanent peace is unlikely to prevail. It is sad to say but Sri Lanka is one of the worst racist countries in the world.
B Arul, Canada

The only person who can bring peace to the Island is President Kumaratunga. She is the only person who has a genuine interest and a solution to this issue. Politicians should put their personal interests aside and support her on this mission since this may be the last chance for peace.
Dular Niyangoda, Sri Lanka

Just two of the comments Talking Point has received so far. Read more below.

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

As fighting continues in Sri Lanka, President Kumaratunga has admitted that Tamil Tiger rebels have made significant gains. The result is that the government has lost a large part of the land it took in an offensive which ended last year.

The latest setback is one of the military's worst in the bitter 16-year-old ethnic war. It comes a month before President Kumaratunga faces an election, and seems to spell the end - at least for the moment - of any plans to negotiate a settlement to the conflict.

Government-sponsored autonomy proposals had already suffered a severe blow earlier this year when moderate Tamil politician Neelan Thiruchelvan was assassinated. He had been a key figure in efforts to broker a solution to the conflict.

Should Sri Lanka's politicians make more of an effort to find a peaceful solution? Or is the country condemned to a continuing cycle of violence until one side or the other is finally defeated. And why doesn't the international community intervene to end the bloodshed. .

Background ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

This is not a fight between Tamil people and Sinhalese people, nor is a fight between Buddhists and Hindus. They all share lot more things between than they can do with some other group. This is the faked fight between so called Sinhala politicians and so called Tamil leaders, which is immensely supported by lot of alien forces and money makers. In which poor Sinhala and Tamil innocents being taken away.
Dear Tamil friends please open your eyes, don't get carried away by propaganda of selfish leaders. We have been a continuous single country for thousands of years. Our civilisation was (and is) much superior to many those who indirectly nurture fight in our country. Just think this, If we could live together for more than thousands of years why not now and in the future. We will have peace, the day the true and genuine leader comes.
Harsha Suriyaarachchi, Sri Lanka

LTTE is a terrorist organisation serving no purpose in solving the problems the Tamil minority living in North are having. They are making a living hell for our Tamil brothers in North. That's all they have done so far.
Prasad Mapatuna, Sri Lanka

Peace seems to be far from sight. Refering to Dular Niyangodas' article, all what I could say is as long as Kumaratunga is the president there will not be peace. She came to power with solemn promise of abolishing the 'Executive presidency'. Not only has she fooled everyone, she wants a another term in the name of 'peace'. There is no link between 'PEACE' and 'PRESIDENCY', although both words start with the letter 'P'.
Politicians including Kumaratunga should put their personal interests aside and stop fooling innocent people whether it be Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims. I am not too sure whether this is the last chance for peace or last chance to fool the people and continue in power for Kumaratunge. During the next term have more corrupt deals like 'Air- Lanka' and get ready for a prosperous retired political life. 'Good Luck' Madam! Thank Goodness for tail wagging journalists.
Anthony Lakmal, Sri-Lanka

Sri Lanka will have peace, the day LTTE disarm. This can not be done over night. Majority of innocent Tamils are suffering during last 17 years without any facility. The migrant Tamils are sending money to kill their own people without any common sense. It is true that Tamil people should elect their representative for the legislator. They can governance by decentralisation of the power. But, it should not be the people who has arms. They should be the choice of majority of Tamil people.
The LTTE and their fund supporters in the world are helping to kill their own young brothers and sisters ( LTTE has 10 year old children in their army according to the report.) The LTTE does not like any body getting power of Tamil people other than them. So, Sri Lanka will have a peace. Nature will punished the killers.
Jayaweera, United States of America

Yes, if Tamil army(LTTE) can take over our (Tamil Ealam) country then there will be a peace. What happened in Indonesia (Timor),Lebanon, Israel, Northern Ireland and Kosovo. Every where peace but not in Sri Lanka. Why ?
Neruh, Tamil Eelam

There is only one way to bring peace in Sri Lanka, that is to give equal opportunity to all races and educating the public the importance in not discriminating others.
Sri, Malaysia

There will be no peace, because I think that It is a battle in which neither side seems capable of conclusive victory.
Sasitharan, Norway

Yes, Sri Lanka can have peace, if both parties are genuine in their efforts. Separate state will never be a permanent solution, as there will not be an end to that. More over most of the Tamils are living in peace in Colombo without any discrimination from the Sinhalese people.
Skanda, Switzerland

Yes! There can be peace in Sri Lanka. It is a war run by a handful of self-centred and narrow-minded Tamil extremists. I feel sympathetic towards all the expatriate Tamil Sri Lankans hooting here in these columns. Take a second look, take a second look at what you wrote, it doesn't need any more to realise who hates who, people like you are once responsible for the war that is going on in Sri Lanka and for the suffering of many innocent caught in it. It's only the attitudes of people like you that should change, peace will never come your way until then.
Dushmantha, Norway

For centuries all communities have existed peacefully in Sri Lanka. The best examples are streets with a mosque, a church, a temple and a church. What I fail to understand is the fact as to why the LTTE and the other groups that support it for Eelam, do not want to give the government a chance, to really see if a kind of federalism is workable. The Sinhalese politicians have come a long way from 1956. They have learnt many a lesson. Those people who are most affected by this war are the Tamils. The question is how many heads will roll before the LTTE realises that an independent state is out of the question, and really pursue a line of thought that could be worked out with Colombo. I have a dream that one day all communities in Sri Lanka unite and say, enough is enough.
Nazim Idroos, Belgium

No peace is possible with any of the Sri Lankan Sinhala government. None of the governments are really interested in peace. They all speak about peace to get the world support. All successive Sinhala governments deny justice to Tamils. Only solution for this problem is Eelam. Then only peace is possible.
Maravin, Canada

Yes, We can have peace in Si Lanka once Sri Lankans unite against ruthless killers of Tamil Eelam. In Sri Lanka Sihalees people have been living with Tamil people in Colombo and other parts of the Country for a long time peacefully even though they cannot go to the North side of their own Country. It is time that Tamils realise that the majority is Sinhalees and that they have migrated to Sri Lanka from India. So why not demand a part of India and leave Sri Lanka alone. Just a thought. Not a suggestion.
SS R, Sri Lanka

As a Tamil if I can live peacefully with the Sinhala people, why not the others Tigers are the biggest enemy of peace.
Chris, Switzerland

Sri Lanka can achieve peace, if the minority Tamils accept Sinhalese is the 80% majority of the country and stop asking one third of the land and two third of the sea carved out of Sri Lanka.
Chandra Wijesekera, New Zealand

Peace in Sri Lanka will only arrive when the Tamils are granted their freedom and their basic rights as human beings. Since I see none of this happening, peace is unlikely. The President and the politicians of Sri Lanka are only interested in personal gain and have spun a web of racist propaganda against the Tamils to achieve that. Therefore, until Sri Lanka elects a leader who has the interest of the country and peace in heart, peace has no opportunity in that country.
Rajan, UK

No, an independent Tamil Eelam is the only solution. World's Tamil Leader Mr.Vellupillai Prabhakaran will achieve his goal. We Tamils in India are behind him. I am really ashamed of India, I am an Indian. But my country is ignoring my fellow brothers and sisters cry in Tamil Eelam. God Bless Tamil Tigesr.
Venkat, India

My answer to your question is No. First The government must accept for a third party mediation, which they never will accept. TIGERS always ready for a third party mediation My request to the International community, now is the time you can play a role in Sri Lanka. Forget India, which will never accept for a independence Tamil Eelam.
Prathaban Siva, UK

I am still optimistic that there can be peace in Sri Lanka, in the future though it may not be very near. At least President Kumaratunga has the courage to come up with a decent set of proposals for autonomy for the Tamils. True, the proposals are falling short of LTTE aspirations. But the international community in general, believes that it is a reasonable offer and the moderate Tamils think that it can at least be the starting point for negotiation.
The biggest problem is getting the proposals approved through the parliament. If she can do that, (before that she has to win the elections with a decent majority) then I think the Sinhalese and the Tamils will slowly come to accept it - willingly or grudgingly.
Bobby Pereira, Australia

Sri Lanka, like in Northern Ireland, will achieve peace once the Terrorists are silenced. All the democratic Tamil political parties are working with the government and seeking a democratic solution, while the LTTE Tamil Terrorists are trying to enforce minority tyranny on all the Tamils and the majority. The Tamil Terrorists must be fought with military and political means and marginalised.
Umberto Gui, UK

The only way to solve the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka is to give independence to Tamils. Tamils doesn't believe the politicians.
Dharshini, USA

There will be no peace unless the Sinhala majority treats minority with respect and given equal opportunity. There must be a third party mediation or foreign intervention to end this war
Jai, Malaysia

Why not try mediation under the UN? (not UN Peace Keeping; rather, UN mediators could mean one person or not more that a small team of only a few persons agreed by the parties to mediate for a definite time period (say 6 months) or as otherwise agreed by the parties.)
Henry, USA

As an Indian Tamil who actively practices Buddhism (and my wife is an Up Country Tamil) I have always hoped desperately that peace would one day come to Sri Lanka. After Independence instead of choosing the Singapore/Malaysia model the leaders of the Singhalese majority choose to go on a very un-Buddhist path.
Discriminatory policies like restricting access to higher education to Tamils and making Singhalese the sole official language were (and continue to be) encouraged by some pseudo Buddhist monks. I hope that the majority will realise that a great amount of autonomy has to be given to the Tamils as a minimum and I hope that the Tigers will accept this short of a separate Eelam. I am an optimist. I vote for peace.
Ben Arasu, Canada

At least in the near future, peace in Sri Lanka would remain an elusive dream. There has been neither the commitment nor the political will, on the part of successive Sri Lankan governments, to redress legitimate Tamil grievances. To a large extent the various Sri Lankan governments have been satisfying the expectations of the majority of the Sinhalese public, in not giving in to the Tamil demands even if it is justified. This racial viewpoint has only served to lengthen the conflict for nearly a decade.
Unfortunately the Sinhalese only talk of wanting peace and respect Tamil dignity, when the tables turn and they are on the receiving end of costly military defeats. In this light, the Tamil Tigers are probably the best thing that could have happened to the Tamils. If not for the Tigers, the hard-line Sinhalese would be still beating their chests, screaming anti-Tamil mob chants and looking to carve up another Tamil civilian.
S Sivaskanthan, New Zealand

The only way to attain peace in Sri Lanka is to give Justice to Tamils. The Sri Lanka government should recognise the right of self-determination.
Rajiv, Australia

The Tamils have suffered so much all these years under the rule of the Sri Lankan government that they cannot now think of a life under their rule. The discrimination of the govt. against the Tamils created the LTTE forces, and as a Tamil I praise and support their courage in fighting for justice. The solution to the problem is simple - grant TAMIL EELAM. The world needs to understand this, and accept EELAM as a separate nation.
M Logasingam, UK

The mentality of Sri Lanka's politicians is just Power not the country's well being. in order to achieve power the politicians always bring up ethnic issues. Therefore no peace is feasible until this country is separated
Jude, Sri Lanka

The past history is a good evidence of how Sri Lankan Govt has deliberately ignored Tamils rights and the painful events of racial discriminations against Tamils. Therefore it is crystal clear the motive of Sri Lankan Govt. So there won't be a peace unless otherwise a strong 3rd party mediation.
Siri, Canada

Yes, there could be peace if the LTTE truly wanted peace and co-operated in peace talks.
A, de Silva, Switzerland

The fight is not for homeland or anything of that sort. It's for power. Who controls whom sort. After killing/getting killed every one in their side whom are these people going to rule over? I am surprised just hundred miles from this Island is the Land where there was a freedom struggle which took place purely based on "Ahimsa", Non Violence. And it was the most successful of all Freedom Fights.
I am sure Sinhalaese are far far better than the British of those days. Come on Comrades! There are lots of other ways to fight for Freedom than taking up Arms. Unless otherwise you realise this, only in your dreams (after you killed everybody) you will get your homeland.
Vasu Palaniandi, India

Until Singalam people accept our homeland there will be no peace.
Suresh, Canada

We Tamils (Minority) leant from the history that Sri Lankan Government was not serious about peace talks. We have been living under Sinhalease (majority) oppression for more than 50 years. There won't be any peace in Sri Lanka unless Sri Lankan government begins talks with LTTE with third party mediation.
Moreover, two nations are in conflict and it is very hard to find a lasting peace without a third party intervention. The Sri Lankan situation is comparable to situation happened in Eastimor. We have right to self-determination. The UN should put up a referendum.
Sothi Panjalingam, Canada

I don't think there is going to be peace in Sri Lanka in the near future. This is because the two major existing parties don't have a proper solution for the problem.
Jagan, Australia

The offensive codemned "unceasing waves 3" captured many strategic towns of the TAMIL people. Unless the government grants the EELAM people an independent homeland the military will begin to cripple along with the country's economics. Tamil people have always been discriminated by the SINHALA majority. A peaceful solution can occur if the government grants Tamil people a homeland, or else the government better be prepared to take major BLOWS. As a Tamil I am greatly concerned for the Tamils who have suffered losses, like their beloved ones due to fighting. I encourage the Tamil Tigers to put pressure on the government forces.
NISHANTHAN, TORONTO, CANADA

Your question should be 'Can there be peace in Sri Lanka until the Sinhalese majority and the Sinhalese leaders recognize the Tamils' right and the President Chandrika stop creating MASS GRAVES like CHEMMANY, where HUNDREDS of TAMILS have been buried by her army?" Now Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaranathunga ordered to an immediate action to those Sinhala refugees who fled form Manal Aaru (Weli Oya) These Sinhalese were colonised by the persident's father and mother (Mr & Mrs.Bandaranayaka) and JR.Jeyawardana's government. What does she going to do the Tamil refugees who forced to leave by the Sinhala Government form 1948 to 1990s? And what did she do for those 500,000 Tamil refugees who moved from Jaffna when Chandrika started the 'Operation Rivirasa' to capture the Jaffna peninsula? Not only her government, all the Sinhala governments since 1980s have been using medicine and food blockage as a weapon against the Tamil civilian.
Antony Selva, Canada

The power structure mind set of Sinhalese leadership is feudal to the core. Bhudhist priests and feudal chiefs had established a deep prejudice against Tamils. They resorted to state terrorism, and often encouraged mobs to kill Tamils for several decades. This can not last for ever. This mind set must go. It has no place in modern world. This mind set was the counter point of present struggle and this form of governance must accept responsibility and apologise to Tamils. But I think we can live together. Whether a separate state is obtained or not, we have to work to live as good neighbours. It is essential under any form of power sharing
Kumarabharathy, New Zealand

The LTTE is a very strong force and back in 1987 they had nearly defeated the Srilankan army thus Sri Lanka had to ask the Indian Army to step in and help. The Indian army drove the LTTE back but was unpopular because of the heavy hand used by them. Also they were not much liked by the politicians and thus were driven out before the mission was over but the LTTE was already much weakened by now and the Sri Lankan army could take charge. Now after 10 years of the Indian army having left, the LTTE have again gained a very strong hold and are beating the Sri Lankan army again. Who do we ask for help? Indians whom we got angry with and did not thank for their help or politicians like Premadasa who wanted to make the Chief of LTTE Mr. Prabhakaran the Chief of the SriLankan army.
Rahul Dhir, UK

Solution is simple. Withdraw all occupying forces from north and east and remove all the Sinhala settler from tamil area.If they do that then there will not be war in Sri Lanka.
Sithamparapillai, Canada

I don't think that there can be peace in Sri Lanka until both sides can learn to tolerate each other. Given that this conflict has raged on for sixteen years, there is little hope that peace will come anytime soon. The Sri Lankan conflict seems just as intractable as the conflict in Northern Ireland, or in the Middle East.
Jeff, USA

I think views of the minority have to be respected and given due concern. The problem is with the majority treats minorities as outcastes or second grade citizens. The problem lies in there. Hence educating people to respect each other solves the problem. You cannot divide country when minority-majority problems occur. It's through building mutual trust among the people the problem can be solved amicably.
Mohammed Najmuddin, India

The real problem in Sri Lanka is narrow minded politicians. The people of Sri Lanka have never seen a leader who had been leading the country without using ethnic divisions. I hope in the future both sides of the people find the truth together and work for the long lasting peace.
Anton Suresh, Norway

Peace will prevail in Sri Lanka, the moment the Majority Sri Lankas realise the true nature of problem in the country between the Tamils and Sinhalese. They must realise how much the Tamils have suffered at successive Sri Lankan governments ever since the British left. They must realise that Tamils have every right to fight for self determination.
Robert, Canada

There will be no peace without LTTE. The government should talk with LTTE to bring peace in the nation.
Chandrak Subramaniam, Canada

Peace is beyond compromise. Since the British left it had been a state sponsored discrimination angainst the Tamil people. The present president is no exception. Back in 1983 a scene of a Tamil stripped naked and burned alive by Sinhala mobs, the burning of the Jaffna library and the then President declaring that the Tamils deserved it. And the present President being indifferent when Sri Lanka Airforce bombed and killed Tamil civilians while showing great concern and awarding a lakh rupees for those killed by LTTE is sufficient.
A. Seshanathan, USA

The Tamils asked for autonomy before LTTE started the armed struggle, but successive Sri Lankan governments refused it. That's why there's a war going on now. After all these years of fighting and loss of lives, autonomy is not going to solve the problem. It's either total independence or some sort of confederation.
Pio Sebastian, Canada

Your question is incomplete. It should be "can there be lasting peace in Sri Lanka without giving Tamils their own country?". My answer to that will be NO.
Ilango, India

Having lived in Sri Lanka for long periods of time, I have to report the average Singhalese cannot accept even a FEDERAL system for the island, It will never EVER be granted by peaceful means. Since 1948 we have been asking for same but it never came close. We are different people with a different set of values to the Singhalese, we cannot accept rule under the Singhalese.
Today some Tamils want nothing short of EELAM because of the suffering our people have undergone. The LTTE is NOT our creation but the creation of the Singhala nation. The Tamil nation has reacted to Singhala nationalism by what I call defensive nationalism.
Bernard Canagasabey, UK/Ceylon Tamil

Sri Lankan government have to be taught good lesson not to kill Tamils
Nissam Mohamad, Sri Lanka

Isn't there another Tamil alternative to the Tamil Ealam? They seem to be extremists interested in only one goal and that does not seem to include peacefully co existing with either the Sinhalese or Muslims either.
Rita, England

I am a Tamil living outside Sri Lanka since 1982. My wife is a Tamil who left Sri Lanka in 1993, heard a helicopter flying frightened. I asked her what's wrong with you. She was psychologically seeing Sri Lankan army attack with artillery, helicopter and planes. This is happened in Toronto. Just imagine how was she gone through the war. Being Tamil we were repeatedly assaulted and killed by army and Sri Lankan government since the independent. We like it or not, we are forced to like LTTE by Sri Lankan government. My father, mother, sisters and brother lived in Manal Aru(Kokutholuvai) and forced with in 12 hours. It was latter colonised by Sinhalese. From there they moved to Karainagar which was conquered by Sri Lankan army. They have to move to Colombo and live in with my sisters in one bedroom until they were sponsored. Can you tell me, whom should I like? In my opinion LTTE should finish the job and have their own state.
Thurairatnam Somasundaram, Canada

Sri Lanka govt must withdraw their troops from north and east part of country. otherwise must be removed. Otherwise no peace in Sri Lanka.
Muraleetharan N, Canada

Until all Sri Lankans see each other as a person, not like a Tamil Tiger or Sinhala nationalist, there won't be any peace in the island. The entire government needs a better democratic rule. Politicians should able to address free standing press meetings. Law and enforcement must let them take their action freely. Press should be promised the full freedom to express. No sanctions. Foreign media must be allowed to visit all parts of the country. If the island can reach this status, then you can hope for the peace. Thank you.
Kugan, Canada

It is very unlikely to come to peace unless the international community gets involved. Further, the Tamil community's rights should be protected. Otherwise, even the mission of the international community's effort would also be a waste.
Siva Mayur, Singapore

We hope we will have Tamil Eelam as soon as possible then we have a peace and freedom.
Kumar, Tamil Eelam

Sri Lankan Politicians are motivated by only their personal gain at the expense of innocent civilians. No politicians are ashamed of talking racism openly in election campaigns. If a person is racist he is considered a hero by his/her ethnic community.
Sri Lankans should realise that talking and behaving in racial ground is uncivilised and inhuman. Until the attitude changes and people realise that they need to respect each other regardless of race, it is unlikely to prevail a permanent peace. It is sad to say but Sri Lanka is one of the worst racist countries in the world.
B Arul, Canada

Sri Lanka will never be divided into two countries. Either the Tamil army will capture and rule the country or the Sinhala army. So one of the them must and will be defeated in the future.
Muhunthan, Sri Lanka

The right to self-determination of every community must be recognized. The Tamils have been living under Sinhala rule for 50 years and have suffered. The Tamils want to be free and it is their right. A political solution with a united country was feasible for many years. The Singalese did not recognise it. The LTTE has been fighting and making sacrifices for the Tamil freedom. It is ridiculous to think that any one would make such sacrifices for limited autonomy. The supreme sacrifice is made for only total freedom.
Ajayan, USA

No, there is no peace
Ravi, Srilanka

Tamils are being discriminated by the majority Sihalese, they will not tolerate. Separation is the only solution.
Ami Nisar, Canada

It seems unlikely in the near future that there will be peace in Sri Lanka. There are several disturbing conclusions that can be drawn from the past. The Sri Lankan politicians do not have the will or courage to take bold decisions in order to make way for peace. On the other hand, LTTE is not a political organisation; no one can really predict their next move.
One thing that is absolutely clear to me is that spreading hate among various ethnic groups is NOT the way to build a lasting peace. You have got to win the trust of every community, and that is not an easy task. Also, ultra nationalistic policies on either side are not going to help.
Gayanath Fernando, USA

Background ¦ Your reaction

Can there be peace in Sri Lanka?

Final Vote:

100%

0%
Yes: 29% No: 71%




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