Home > Politics, Travel > The unanswered issues!

The unanswered issues!

Today, the 8th of September 2010, many people in Colombo will be awaiting anxiously the result of the vote on the 18th amendment. Many will be standing in crowds around the city protesting in anticipation of an already foregone conclusion. But this mood is not going to be shared by the population around the country, for the majority of the people in the rest of the country outside of the major cities today is yet another day for them to struggle through.

The IDP camps in the North have still over 24,000 inhabitants and their plight has been forgotten by both the government and the urban dwellers in Colombo. True the arguments that are put forth about the IDP situation is that it will not improve without a change in regime or that the surrounding regions are not safe to allow them to go home. Both are valid points yet it does not give us the right to forget them or to push them aside and use their plight only when we able to gain political leverage over

The trip to Batticaloa back in May 2010 really opened my eyes to the insignificance of politics of Colombo has in the rest of the island. The drive up to Vakarai was just the start to what would be a real moving experience. Despite all the scenes I had seen so far both in the town and on the drive up I was not prepared for what awaited me. After getting out of the vehicle I was faced with an hour long trek through jungle and desolate fields. The dry heat was unrelenting and the flies provided a constant companion. We finally reached our destination, a small house buried away in the thicket of jungle overlooking the paddy field. As we arrived small children no older than 5 came out to greet us as the women of the house stood by eyeing us slightly suspiciously. We had a short chat with them and learnt that they had a family of 9. The LTTE had ‘gifted’ them the land after moving them their back in the 80s. Since then they have had little to no contact with much of the outside living a completely self sufficient life. Behind this scene of poverty and isolation there was a sense of calm in the children. There lives lack the sophistication that the urban and even an increasing number of rural children possess yet they appeared happy.

The next house we went to was the scene that has remained with me ever since. It belonged to an old lady who had lived in this region all her life. In the last 10-12 months she had been joined by her grandchildren. Her granddaughter was sent to her 8 months ago with a young child that we soon found out was her own. Her parents living in the Vanni had got her pregnant so that she would escape recruitment by the LTTE. However fearing that would not be enough they sent her, her child, her brother and younger sister to live with their grandmother. Her father had been killed in the final months of the war after being drafted into the LTTE and her mother had only recently been released from an IDP camp.

These stories are not far and few between yet we in Colombo have failed to take the time to learn about them. Today I saw first hand the protests that were taking place and even though I felt a sense of excitement I also felt saddened. Many of these people who are screaming about the 18th amendment will continue on with their lives tomorrow. They will have felt a sense of satisfaction by having taken part in the protests. Yet will any one of them stop and think what about those people up in the North and East? The protests today were the right step to take yet it cannot end today. The amendment maybe passed but that does not mean we cannot still make a difference. Leave your comfort zones and realise that what we did today was for the right cause. But our actions cannot stop today!

Categories: Politics, Travel
  1. Nanaimo
    September 8, 2010 at 9:56 am

    “…. now is not the time to be screaming about amendments and MPs”

    As someone who joined in the protests today, surely you understood their urgency?

    • September 8, 2010 at 9:58 am

      I understand the urgency by all means, but what I did say was come tomorrow people must not forget that there are other issues still out there. Issues which if left unresolved will see us in a situation we were in 10 years ago.

  2. Nanaimo
    September 8, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Agreed. My point was, if not now then when? Your sentence is phrased such that it implies that this isn’t the right time to get on the streets about an Amendment because there are other issues that deserve more attention.

    • September 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

      Fair point, I may not have expressed it clearly enough my sentiment. I appreciate you comment Nanaimo bar

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