This is the story of the writing in the wall on the Jaffna campus, during the raging war. It shows the natural hope and determination towards reconciliation among average Sri Lankans. That is ultimately where reconciliation has to come from, not from the government or UN. It has to be between people, by people, and then politics and reports will follow. I think it can happen, and that it is happening.
This is part of a continuous series on Heal Lanka. These are some rather ugly videos of a beautiful presentation given by Brigadier (Retd) L.C. Perera. Therein, he spoke of his personal stories and emotions and the real experience of the war by those who fought and lived it. This is a much less political perspective and a far more human one. I recommend watching the other videos in the series for context. More are linked at the end of this transcript.
The darkest days in Jaffna when I was coordinating IDP correction, coordinating the essential services when the A9 road closed, in 2006 I was in Jaffna in charge of civilians, and also as the Deputy Commissioner of Essential Services.
I was wondering whether I could really feed the people there. I went into the varsity. I was probably the only officer who’s gone to the Jaffna campus and spoken to the students. Because all the Jaffna students had gone home, and the Wanni students were left behind. And they were scared. So I went in and said, “don’t worry, you’re under my care and protection. And security forces will look after you, don’t worry”.
While interacting with them, they took me to a wall where, by a lead pencil, the last Sinhalese student of the Jaffna campus had written – before they left Jaffna – “We lived like brothers. Now we’re leaving. But someday, we will come back and live like brothers again”.
Now, the interesting thing is, that campus was under the LTTE for a long period of time. They could have easily erased that, but they hadn’t. So when I saw that, I realized there is hope for our next generation.
That brotherhood they had, they had preserved.
For more stories please see the Brigadier’s previous videos on losing his own troops in an LTTE ambush, setting up an IDP camp during the 1983 riots, and setting up an IDP camp for Sinhalese after an LTTE massacre. More will be uploaded under the tag heallanka.