On the way home from church, we passed by a whole heck of a lot of armed guards. Seriously armed, all wearing uniforms. I thought army, but since I don’t know what the army’s uniforms look like, I don’t know how right I am or aren’t. Well, along with the President of Sri Lanka firing three ministers and declaring a State of Emergency, which, by the way, didn’t actually take place since it was declared illegal due to many mistakes in the 400 page gazette, or so I’m told, I was getting a little concerned. Like maybe something bad was going to happen. Eek!
There were, I kid you not, hundreds of these armed forces. They were all standing in formation at the side of the road for several blocks. Marlene and I speculated, but neither of us had a clue, so eventually we asked the trishaw driver. He said funeral. Oh. It must have been some pretty important guy to warrant all that attention.
I took pictures, but they’re not very good. Let me explain.
I’ve been told that it’s not a good idea to take pictures of the army or police or anything closely resembling either. The army or police can get rather nasty – for all they know, I might be part of a team preparing some kind of military strike. Okay, so for those of you who know me, it’s ridiculous, but they don’t know that.
I haven’t taken any pictures yet, and I haven’t really talked about them too much. We live close to the parliament building, and when we pass by the parliament, I can see them at their stands watching all the traffic going by. They have a legal right, I’m gathering, to stop any vehicle they want for no reason at all to see if there’s anything suspicious going on. I don’t see any reason to tempt them. I’m not here to confront anyone – I’m just living here.
Well, the civil war went on for two decades and killed more than 60,000 people, and it’s in cease fire right now, but both sides are well aware that that can change anytime. The peace talks haven’t been going anywhere. I asked Fahim a whole bunch more questions about the whole thing, and from the way I understand it, from my perspective, it seems like the LTTE is being way too unrealistic and demanding, but the government isn’t willing to do enough either. Stubborn people at both sides of the table. But isn’t that usually what causes war?
The LTTE want their own separate country. This much you probably already know. But they’re willing to concede that it isn’t going to happen. If it did, there’d be a whole heap of problems. Although there are some similarities to the Quebec situation, it’s only superficial similarities.
With the LTTE, the Tamils are one ethnic group opposing the rest of the country. The Tamils make up a fairly small percentage of the population, but in the North and the East, they are much larger by proportion. But since everyone on the island has ties to everyone else, and has relations everywhere else, if the country were divided, how would people decide which country to live in? They have ties in both. It’s not like Canada where you have people from a thousand different ethnic groups. Here, there are only three or four ethnic groups – not counting foreigners like me – and with marriage, well, you figure it out.
Sri Lankans don’t want their country divided. It’s a small country to start with, and already a third world nation. If you split it up, both parts become weaker. There are already problems like a lack of electricity and running water in parts of the country. If the government has to spend all that money on negotiations and then dividing the country, isn’t it just going to fall further behind?
The LTTE is willing to concede that they won’t get a separate country. They will, however, instead take interim governing power in those areas where they are the majority.
The government says no. Here’s a problem with what the LTTE wants.
Now you know I’m not a Political Scientist and I don’t really understand all this stuff either, right? I’m just some hack trying to understand the whole process myself. You get this, right? Good. So you won’t come back later and complain that I got some stuff wrong. Cuz I won’t feel at all bad about mistakes I make, you know that, right?
In the areas where the Tamil are in the majority, if there was a free election, there’s no guarantee that the LTTE would be voted in. The LTTE have bombed and shot people, so there’s no guarantee that the rest of the Tamil people like them or would vote for them. In an election, a Tamil would vote for a Tamil, but there would be perhaps five or eight different Tamils running. There would also be Muslims voting for Muslims, and Sinhalese voting for Sinhalese.
But to just hand over interim government to them is quite possibly a disaster in the makings. I don’t know much about the LTTE, but from what I understand, they’re a little more, oh, violent than I would prefer. Yes, I’ll definitely grant them that they should have been given more rights. Having Tamil as one of the national languages, at the very least in the area where it’s spoken in a majority, seems the least that could have happened. Didn’t Canada grant the same thing to Quebec, only on a larger scale?
And doesn’t Switzerland have four national languages? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if it’s not Switzerland, it’s a close neighbor. German, French, Italian, and Romany, I believe, or something like that. If that tiny country can handle four national languages, why can’t Sri Lanka handle two? Canada can handle two. Sure, there’s some juggling, but you get used to it.
Holy Hannah, this is a really long digression. From funerals into Sri Lankan Politics 101. Right.