End-game in Sri Lanka

18 May

It appears the military phase of the dreadful civil war in Sri Lanka is virtually over. The origins of that war do seem to have been in a series of genuine grievances. I saw this at a micro level at SBHS in the late 90s and early 2000s. Tamils, mostly of Sri Lankan origin, were in the top five language groups – way behind Chinese though. I taught a class that had a small group of Tamil Tiger supporters – that is, they were at about age 14; by age 17, as one of them told me, they had been turned off by the suicide bombing tactics and general terrorism of the Tigers, though still supporting the Tamil cause. He drew parallels with the IRA.

It isn’t my purpose today to go into this awful post-colonial conflict, except to note the civilian cost has been horrendous and continues to be so.

600_SRL_200511_WFP-Nick_Keyes_0004 Rather I remind you that fellow blogger Peter Voegtli (Worldman) is now in the thick of it. Having come out of retirement after returning from Darfur, Peter, now 66, has gone to Sri Lanka as part of the UN World Food Programme effort (pic on right).

In his latest Twitter Peter reports: “WE WILL HAVE 20’000 REFUGEES TODAY TO FEED. A BIG THING! — 11:31 AM May 16th.”

I also find it interesting that in the midst of all this Peter still posts, when he can, his wry and often very interesting memories and observations, and reads the posts of those of us he follows. His latest entry (17 May) is about trolley buses: Hello Old Fart, Hello Thom. I can’t help thinking that some who favour deadly serious blogs that “change the world” and pooh-pooh the personal and trivial as an abuse of the blogosphere should note Worldman’s blog and think about his context. I commend Peter’s sense of balance, and rather envy it, I have to say. His optimism is a tonic and an example to us all. I am very happy to have made his acquaintance via the Net.

Spare a thought for Peter and the organisation he works with, and spare more than a thought for the people of Sri Lanka.


3 responses to “End-game in Sri Lanka

  1. Peter (Worldman)

    May 18, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Thank you, Neil, for this. As you say, right now I am in the midst of this. Since the war is coming to end, the daily influx of people here is getting bigger and bigger. We have received 3’500 people three days ago, then 15’000, yesterday 20’000 and today/tomorrow we expect 60’000. Then all should be here. WFP is providing food to be cooked for the people (by the Sri Lankan NGO Sewalanka). They try to do a good job but are a bit overwhelmed. I am spending a lot of time to streamline with them. I did not post about it yet, it is preferable to be a bit low profile on this, as the authorities are a bit “touchy” right now.

    Thanks again for your support.


  2. Neil

    May 18, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Thanks, Peter. Best wishes.

  3. Matthew

    May 18, 2009 at 10:52 am

    The origin of this conflict sounds similar to that which caused the Timor conflict a couple of years ago. One ethnic group (in this case exacerbated by the religious difference) is in a position of power compared to another. As a result, perks and privileges are allocated with bias. There can also be positive discrimination.

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