Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Reflections of another world: Sri Lanka

And so that’s the end of Conflict resolution as a course! After the grand final paper, and a big and fat steak with a close fiend I thought I need to do some justice to the hours of drooling and aimless pondering in class.

I was reading up on conflict resolution and its causes and kept wondering how the crisis and conflict Sri Lanka can be fit into a page on my page! Though ‘fitting’ Sri Lanka into a page might not really do justice to the true extent of conflict there, i hope this would help those of you who may not really know what’s going on there. While I don’t claim to know every thing going on in that little island place, I do have some amount of experience living the misery for quite sometime.

So, I would like to dedicate this post to the people of Sri Lanka, who in my opinion have been robed of their human dignity by eager political fractions (both ruling and opposition), and a rebel force.

I used my notes to help form a skeleton structure along which I shall write. I identified the following useful dimensions to explore the effects of civil war in Sri Lanka.

Social Issues:

  1. Child soldiers: LTTE’s recruitment of children as war heroes. There’s even a celebration of child worriers. Though the LTTE claims that they do not recruit any more children as worriers, this fact is yet to be proven.
  2. Civilian casualties: Government stats that have said “64000” for the past 8 years. That number is far from reality. The number of civilians dead is much higher. A huge number of people, perhaps in the thousands are unaccounted for.
  3. Drug abuse: the number of reported drug users on the rise. This also includes the increased use of alcohol. Curiously a 400ML bottle of beer is cheaper than most other beverages.
  4. Rape, abuse, and humiliation: the rape of women by the military and the militia. While media reports on this has been scarce, there have been a number of cases of abuse. Perhaps not dominant after the recent peace agreement, but that does not mean that it did not occur in the past.
  5. Internally and externally displaces persons: The flood of refugees from Sri Lanka to India, the United Kingdom, America, Canada, Australia, and Thailand have not been accounted for. The fact that people choose to leave their home country for a “better” place reflect back on an inherent problem rather than their lack of patriotism.

Health issues:

  1. Decline of Health care facilities: It is true that the health facilities in the capital of Colombo is up to ‘standards’. However, this is like saying that the health services of the USA is great because the services in Washington is wonderful. War torn regions in t he countries north and north east have long been having an inadequate health services. This issue was compounded by the ongoing war and the recent Tsunami.
  2. HIV/AIDS: as much as parties do now want to admit, there has been an increase in the number of people living with AIDS in Sri Lanka. The UNDP estimates the number of people living with AIDS based on 1998 stats and put the number in 2003 at approximately 4000 adults. But, reality lies somewhere else. ( Along with aids, Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are said to increase too.
  3. Mental health: Increase in cases of clinical depression, suicides, PTSD, and anxiety type disorders. This data has been reported from colleagues working at NGO’s in the country. In a nut shell, Sri Lanka lacks any form of meaning full mental health program or assessment there of. The reason has been that precious funds have been channelled to “facilitate” the countries war efforts.

Economic issues:

  1. Affect on economic development: Staggering economic development as indicated by the raise in inflation rates. The fall of the currency and the lack of Sri Lankan businesses in international markets.
  2. Absence of skilled workers. The brain drain. The exodus of workers to other nations. Why? You do know what happened to those who stayed on the titanic right?
  3. Country moves backward: Where is Sri Lanka compared to where it was 20 years ago? Where is Sri Lanka going to be in the next 20 years. It clearly lacks any vision. Its main focus: war. Economist have become war mongers. I say this because the government spends huge sums of its budget on defence and war. Ok.. and how are people gaining?

Political issues:

  1. Conflict that never resolves: ok, sounds like intractable conflict doesn’t it? But, is this conflict really as a result of the people choosing to conflict or two very political agendas sparking. The LTTE and the government have more to gain by prolonging conflict rather than resolving it. How about business from the sale/purchase of arms?
  2. Corruption: corrupt government officials. Bribe taking policies. For obvious reasons, i cant give you any example other than saying that each time a certain political party is thrown out of power, along with its exit, opens a can of worms that paints a picture that isn’t as virtues as the party would have had hoped to have shown.
  3. “brain drain”: lack of intelligent political planning. The biggest concern: lets prepare for conflict.
  4. Ideological focus: increase in the communist manifesto. This form of communism that propagates hatred against marginalised comities and identifies marginalised communities as the “cause” for the trouble. Increase participation of “Buddhist-monks” in politics. The spread of hate messages by the same.
  5. Role models: or the lack of it.

Psychological Issues:

  1. Mental health issues: Disorders: as mentioned under health dimensions. Outlined earlier. Sri Lanka has an absence of mental health research of mental health services.
  2. A society that has learnt that aggression as an accepted form of retaliation. More and more incidences of violent incidences that are continuously increasing in intensity have been reported from non-war regions.
  3. Children who experience aggression and violence: the cycle starts with their parents and eventually continues into the child life. The circle will continue. Where will it end? Or will it end at all?
  4. Absence of respect and recognition for youth:

And finally to you the leaders who make the decisions that affects millions of people: may you rot in hell. On the personal side, the nations has left me pondering if I will ever really fit in there any more. The picture I just painted, though incomplete, is bleak. Right now, the issues may not seem to be alot or may seem irrelavent but they probably paint a picture of the world as i once saw.

For now, home is where I am ;)


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

So much turmoil in the world. You managed to do the conflict great justice in the post.


astrorat said...

Dear Dr. D,

Thanks... i couldent agree more. :)