Lessons for Sri Lankan rulers from the Kalinga War!

In 262 BCE when Emperor Ashoka the Great saw the sufferings of people in the Kalinga war, one of the largest and bloodiest battles in Indian history, fought between the Maurya Empire under Ashoka and King of Raja Anantha of the state of Kalinga, an independent feudal kingdom located on the east coast, in the present-day state of Odisha and north of Andhra Pradesh. The Kalinga War is the only major war Emperor Ashoka the great fought after his accession to the throne and marked an end to empire building and military conquests of ancient India, for the bloodshed of this war had prompted Emperor Ashoka to accept the basic fact that suffering is part of life, then went on to adopt Buddhism and peace dawned on all communities. For further reading visit Northern Breeze previous post @ https://northernbreeze.blog/2019/09/24/war-only-brings-suffering/

Whereas after the civil war was brought to finish in 2009, after the firing ceased the ground zero in the north within hours after the final shots were heard was a ghastly site of people fighting for a federal state in northeast region that the rulers failed to witness. Yet the ending the civil-war gave great relief to those left alive in the whole country, as it was the end of a cruel and bloody war that lasted over three decades. Unfortunately, for those who survived the war left in the previous war zones, it was a nightmare; worse still the plight of these people was not well understood by those living in rest of the country; as those grieved in war zones began picking up their battered life, to count their losses.

After guns were silenced in 2009 and fighting ceased, the grieved people waited over a negative peace decade to avail on governments without resolution of issues forced on them by the civil-war and without end in sight to many excessive considered as war crimes committed on these people after the war brought to finish in 2009. Failure by successive governments to resolve these humanitarian issues resulted in external interference from powerful nations. So much so many UN reports found credible allegations of enforced disappearances by government forces of captured separatist fighters and Tamil civilians during the final months of the war in 2009 and implicated that at the end of war among the army units worst atrocities were committed by those commanded by the current army chief and the defense secretary. The latest travel ban imposed on the army chief by the United States for his involvement during the final stage of the conflict in 2009, when commanding a battalion that has been accused of indiscriminate shelling of civilians used as human shield by the fighting separatists, who had on being told by the state had by then moved in to the declared “No Fire Zone” and later extra-judicial killing of captives.

Earlier during the bloody civil war from 1983 to 2009, between the government and the separatist, both sides committed numerous abuses and were responsible for many enforced disappearances. In particular the rulers who lacked proper understanding of Buddhist Dharma failed to accept the basic fact that suffering is part of life, allowed oneself to enjoy the pleasure of celebrating the victory. Consequently, the government efforts turned to clearing debris to reconstruct destroyed and damaged infrastructure in the previous war zones. Yet, for various reasons the humanitarian task of rehabilitation of displaced people progressed at snail phase as the heavy cost of civil-war coupled with corrupt activities that were undertaken in the three decades of conflict had pushed back development of the country’s economy by five decades; as the result the country was heavily in debt to many nations.

Bitter Truth is in Sri Lanka rulers, ruled, separatist and many friendly nations were all stakeholders in the civil-war that was brought to finish in 2009 and have all to a different degree contributed to the tragedy faced by those people directly affected by the conflict. As such for United States that was a friendly nation or any other said stakeholders shedding tears on the plight of these grieved people would only cause unnecessary delay to the process of resolving their issues. Whereas a decade ago should have accepted the basic fact that suffering is part of life, particularly in a war environment they created and therefore collectively responsible.

Ending the war in 2009 was certainly not an occasion to celebrate with negative peace; rulers should have instead concentrated their efforts on the rehabilitation efforts; accepting that the current army chief and the defense secretary were only pawns in this war game. Allowing the situation to lead to a bloody and cruel civil-war was the biggest mistake made by the stakeholders, as such good or bad the responsibility falls on them equally. Co-sponsoring UN Resolution did nothing but pain to the people and as the ruler the President should follow Emperor Ashoka the Great and serve the whole country without any form of discrimination with a trimmed legislature filled with quality members. That would help to get rid of the debt obligations to other nations and bring the country back to affluence in five years; possible only with a holistic National Plan for development for all communities in the island nation, after resolving issues of the grieved people.    

For further reading refer to Northern Breeze post @ https://northernbreeze.blog/2019/09/24/war-only-brings-suffering/