Farah Mihlar: Neither side has any reason to celebrate

Related Topics

Today is a momentous day. I should be celebrating, like most Sri Lankans. I grew up as a Muslim in Colombo in fear of the deafening blasts of the Tamil Tiger suicide bombings. The Tigers ethnically cleansed 60,000 Muslims from their territory. Their campaign was horrific.

But when I travelled to Tiger-controlled areas, I realised that civilians there confronted another even more powerful enemy. I met children who drew only pictures of air force planes that dropped bombs over their homes. Hundreds of women had lost their husbands – killed, disappeared, abducted or imprisoned. It was ugly and sad and unknown to the rest of the country.

This is all supposedly history now. People are jubilant. Yet, I feel unable to share in this thrill. I cannot understand how my people, my family and friends, can blind themselves to the carnage behind this victory. In the past four months alone more than 6,500 people have died, because the Tigers brutally held them captive as human shields and government forces continued their indiscriminate attacks.

The fighting is supposedly now over, but this does not mean Sri Lanka's problems are. The country still faces a humanitarian crisis that has to be viewed in the context of the Sri Lankan government's disastrous human rights record.

This latest success on the part of the government was diplomatic and political, as well as military. Every UN official, human rights group, journalist or politician who questioned them was dubbed a terrorist. Posters covered the walls of Colombo with pictures of David Miliband and Hillary Clinton with the word "terrorist" imprinted on their faces. The government brilliantly used neo-colonial arguments in the corridors of the UN to shut out Western criticism.

This deafness to international pressure cannot be sustained – Sri Lanka has already appealed for international aid to rebuild the war-torn areas. The British Government must continue to work with the US to keep Sri Lanka top of the UN agenda. They should not be put off by Sri Lanka's wrath; there are hundreds of thousands of people in displaced camps who need support.

I do not wish to undermine the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Having lived through their terror, I know what this means for the country. But for there to be a lasting peace there has to be justice, accountability, freedom and equality for all.

Farah Mihlar works for Minority Rights Group International

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam