This child cannot hold sanctions, via ACT Lanka
Sri Lanka needs all the help it can get. The lectures can wait. The country is faced with hundreds of thousands of IDPs, thousands of wounded soldiers and deserving families, and now the development needs of areas neglected by the LTTE. And many in the west are calling for sanctions and holding back an emergency IMF loan. With all due respect, what is wrong with you people? I live here and I work with the people affected by this war. Condemning or punishing Sri Lanka internationally does nothing to help me or them. In fact, it hurts us. If you are true friends and humanitarians, please help.
This is not an analogy (because the GOSL actually did something useful), but here’s how I personally relate. I recently trespassed and was rightly in Hambantota jail for a day. My family got me a lawyer, they made sure I had decent food and treatment, and they made every call to get me out. They were also ready to drive down there and bail me out till I was released. When I got back home they made sure I was safe, I was rested and I was fed. Then and only then did they yell at me. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to make fun of me for the rest of my life. But I’m OK with that, because when I needed them they were there.
Well, right now many Sri Lankans are not fed, they are not clothed, they are hungry and they are hurt. Right now the Sri Lankan government and private sector are providing immediate relief. Many in the West, however, especially the UK are now calling for sanctions and punishment against the people actually doing the relief work. Like Jeremy Page in the Telegraph. They’re not helping, they’re just yelling at us. It’s not family, it’s not friendly, and it’s not cool.
Page, for example, calls on boycotting the garment sector. So does MIA. Aside from the jobs it creates for poor people, I know for a fact that the garment industry is now providing clothes and linens for the IDPs. I work personally with garment sector employees who are both organizing relief and contributing large amounts from their paychecks. The direct affect I can see of a boycott is that IDPs have less clothes on their back, less food in their mouth, and more poverty in the south. And the west feels better about itself. Quite frankly, this makes me quite angry and sad.
Many people in the West are true friends of Sri Lanka. I mean friends not in the sense that they agree with everything SL does, but they help the people of Sri Lankan when they are in need. During the tsunami there was an outpouring of support which I found very personally moving. In the aftermath of war there is less, but the quality of those contributions and thoughts should in no way be diminished by the piccolo diplomacy of Miliband or the callous righteousness of Page.
However, I think western governments really need to wake up. When I get in trouble I’ve found enough and more people to lecture me, but only a handful that actually help. And to those people I am eternally grateful, and to their counsel I listen. Sri Lanka now is finding out who its true friends are, and the western countries are not making a good impression. Countries like China and India are emerging as friends, and new superpowers in the world. The West still, however, has much better television and I really wish they would get it together internationally.
Do not hurt the relief effort. Do not hurt rebuilding. Do not hurt Sri Lanka. I ask you in the spirit of international friendship, please help, don’t hurt.