There seems to be something I call the Tamil pingback. It seems that a lot of Tamils give their wife or family a ringcut or a message every hour or so. Any delay is an alert. Prolonged delay is panic. Fellow I know didn’t pingback for a few hours and his wife was freaking out. My friend was making calls to all and sundry trying to find out where he is. After hours found that he’s with the TID (Terrorism Investigation Division). Perhaps his wife can see him on Saturday.
It’s not the unconstitutional arrest so much (that document being suspended). It’s the uncertainty. That space in between phone calls is filled with terror. It’s terrible when someone you love just disappears off the grid.
All that’s left is phone calls and influence. In Sri Lanka, luckily, neighbors and friends love trouble and helping out (even if it doesn’t help). It’s something to do. So his wife (monolingual Tamil) calls my (Sinhala) friend who calls everyone he knows, gets in touch with a Tamil MP, then gets put onto to usual Tamil lost and found.
So this dude is in jail. I know him casually. He’s a web designer. I also understand that there’s a war going on, but I wonder if people understand the very real human cost. Tamil people in Colombo live in fear. Perhaps this is necessary in the short-term (this being my lifetime) but it’s important to remember that this is a bad thing.
Perhaps the arrests have to happen, but the fear and uncertainty doesn’t. At some point rule of law, due process, have to return to this country. At some point the Tamils in the North have to be able to return to their homes and support themselves.
In the midst of arguing about why (which I think we all understand) I also hope we can all understand that these are bad things on a human level. When missing a phone call could mean the end of the world some Sri Lankans are not getting a fair shake. We need to defeat terrorism yes, but we cannot live in fear.