The National Peace Council (NPC)

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Don’t the defeated have a right to mourn their dead?

According to the statement of the Editors Guild the Editor Thevananth was covering events connected with a commemoration meeting held by Jaffna University students in memory of those who had died during the three-decade long northern insurgency when there was an attack on them by armed men.  

It is time we accepted that the people of the North have a right to mourn their war dead and even commemorate their war heroes just as the Government did in the South. During the American Civil war President Abraham Lincoln pursued enlightened policies which paved the way for reconciliation. The war combatants from the Southern Confederate Army who died were buried in the same military cemeteries which were set up in the sites where pitched battles had taken place. The people not only mourned the death of Confederate soldiers but they even published poems in the Virginia newspaper. Attempts to stop publication were over-ruled by the Courts.

The State can use force but it must be force according to the law and not outside the law. We see too much of force used against persons considered as enemies of the State but they are not justifiable unless they are according to law. The attack on the students of Jaffna University and the Editor of the Uthayen newspaper shows that some people never learn. In the late 1970s President J.R Jayewardene sent the Army to Jaffna and there was much force unleashed against the youth which drove them to take to arms. At least it expedited their arming themselves. Free discussion will enable the Tamil people to understand the havoc and suffering caused to Tamil leaders and innocent victims during the war owing to the cruel decisions of the dictator Prabakaran who used them as human shields.  The Tamils need to come to terms with the atrocities committed by Prabakaran for any healing process for their soul.

I like to reproduce a quotation from a writer whose name I have forgotten “Society progresses only through the countless decencies, creative acts, honest exchanges, and faithfulness to responsibilities performed daily by millions of persons, nearly all of whom will be forgotten within a few decades of their deaths.  Unfortunately, the monuments we humans build are chiefly to conquerors, tyrants, arrogant pretenders, and buffoons -- persons who, through the very acts that win them their 'honor,' help to undermine the progress promoted by the decent, unheralded many”

R.M.B Senanayake


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