The Brigadier was on the morning show today. It’s on YouTube, as per above, and below. I’m still a tard on TV, always looking at the wrong camera or losing my earpiece, please excuse and listen. What Brigadier L.C. Perera is proposing (in the second video below) is rather novel and rational sort of reconciliation. Mourn everyone who died since Independence, build a shared monument and – most importantly – build trust.
There are two general solutions to the conflict issue. One is for everyone to just STFU and be glad the war is over (the general government position), the other is to punish the government and be sad the war is over. Both are, IMHO, wrong. What Brigadier here is proposing is a sort of middle path.
First, to simply acknowledge that thousands of Sri Lankans have died since independence without politicizing, racializing or sectarianizing their deaths. This includes people who died in ethnic riots, in the Southern insurrection, in the Northern insurrection, by whatever hand or plan.
Second, to give people a space to mourn by erecting a simple monument. Brig’s vision was that the mother of an LTTE cadre, a soldier, a JVP cadre and the mother of a civilian could all gather and mourn in the same place. We have monuments but they’re predominantly military. This would be a human one.
I’ve said war monument in the title, but that’s explicitly not it. That’s how we think about it and I know that’s the headline that will catch, but that’s more of a limitation in how we think of things than what things are. We think of conflict in terms of ‘the war’ but countless people have died since Indendence in various violent ways – most notably the JVP insurrection. Many also consider the war to be Eelam War IV (under Mahinda) but – as the name suggests – it was only the end of a long and miserable series of events.
What the Brig is proposing is a more inclusive and less exclusive space. Let us just mourn everyone who died. Let us show that we value life. That even those who killed were children too and are missed. That even those who died on the wrong side of a political point did not just die and disappear. That our people lived, died, and that we mourn and respect them as a part of us.
I think these are sensible ideas, and Brigadier has seen and lost from the war on the frontlines. Through his Heal Lanka foundation, he’s been focused on reconciliation and reaching out to different sides, including sitting on a panel with TNA MP Sumanthiran. I think it’s worth hearing him out.