Farah Mihlar: Neither side has any reason to celebrate

Share
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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager - (Housing Association, Prince 2) - Watford

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Manager - (Housin...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants For Multiple UK Offices

£18000 - £25000 per annum + DOE, OTE £40000: SThree: LONDON - BRISTOL - DUBLIN...

Embedded Software Engineer - Process Coordinator

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare, Bonus, Holiday : Progressive ...

Subject Leader of ICT & Computing

£21588 - £36756 per annum + negotiable: Randstad Education Chelmsford: ICT/Com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Brazil fans are devastated while watching the first half on Copacabana Beach during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany on July 8, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner advances to the final at the famed Maracana stadium.  

The response to Brazil's defeat has been a surreal exploration of loss and tragedy

Timothy Kennett
The Daily Prophet newspaper - closer to fact than fiction?  

The response to the new Harry Potter story by the muggle media is fantastically ironic

Anna Leszkiewicz
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil