Shadows. That’s all that remain from the riots of 83. at least to me. almost twenty five years now I’ve been a resident in this island and this is the first year in living memory that i do not recall a single person bring up the riots of ’83 on or before the anniversary of that fateful day.
Except for Mr Cerno over here. As a matter of fact, i only remembered that black July was a couple of day’s away cos of his post.
Last year, there was uproar on the 23rd of July. From recollections of various people who were old enough to experience it to teachings of ‘lessons’ to be learned from the whole scenario, the blogosphere was full of it.
And this year? Not a hum. What’s up with that?
Prabhakaran always brought up the July riots to instill angst in the hearts of his troops. To motivate them to more death and destruction. And what did the rest of us do? We brought on the riots and painted them as we would paint a mistake; A grave wrong done to the Tamil people which we could never stop regretting.
Now the terrorist has died. I will not say our regret has died but merely the action of reinforcing it. And with that act we slowly lose the significance of the evil that led to the violent breakouts, allowing it to change into something unrecongizable and perhaps manifest itself in some other form of hate in later years. At least, thats a melodramatics take on it.
They say when you lose; don’t lose the lesson. But how about when you win? What lessons can we take home from this war? Proof of the superiority of the Sinhalese race? Lessons of how you crush a rebellion by waging complex guerilla warfare? Or proof of how bad leadership, political imbalance, extreme corruption, plain stupidity and a wanton disregard for justice and equality can lead to the ostracizing of a minority and re-emerge in the form of a devastating conflict?
The key lessons IMO still lie in times, places and incidents during and before the beginning of the war. It’s all too easy to forget the dirt under the carpet just because the couch is now clean and the TV is on.
The Americans still remember the day of Pearl Harbor to remind them of the fateful day they were compelled to enter the second world war, but they conveniently forget the day on which Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked.
They remember their victories and harms inflicted upon themselves only, but they deem insignificant their wrongs against others.
Just like in a decade from now, we’ll probably remember the 19th of May* as having more significance than July 23.
if we ever remember anything at all that is, we Sri Lankans are a forgetful bunch.