Monday, May 18, 2009

the casualties of war

i woke up this morning to the news that the sri lankan civil war is over. just like that, over.

you don't hear news like this very often. a conflict that simply ends when the leaders of one side are killed. i am not saying that the effects of the decades old civil war are over, but that the hostile combat will end without anyone to lead the rebel tamil tigers.

this is all the more interesting when considering that outside of sri lanka, the most money was raised for the tamil tigers by the diaspora community here in canada before our government banned them as a terrorist group a few years ago, making it illegal for tamil canadians to support them financially. additionally, the tamil communities in ottawa and toronto recently staged protests that shut down main vehicular arteries as a response to the human rights abuses against the tamil people in sri lanka.

and this is where my education comes to my mind. had the canadian government or any other foreign power decided to take action against the sri lankan government due to its alleged (and surely accurate) mistreatment of civilians who were in the line of fire and had to flee their homes, the sri lankan government would not have been free to corner and capture (or kill, as it were) the leaders of the rebel movement, effectively ending the war.

and this is where my favourite professor mark duffield would say that when aid groups interfere in warzones and concern themselves with the conduct of war, they can effectively prolong conflict.

i am all too familiar with the immense challenges of establishing, building, and maintaining peace after an armed conflict, but none of this can be done until two sides of a war stop shooting at each other and that had not happened in so many years in sri lanka so i am hopeful that this will be the beginning of the country's arrival at peace and reconciliation between two ethnic groups and two religions that share the island country.


k said...

i've always been amazed by the "the war is over" statement. it almost seems fake. if you can just say "it is over" then how was it ever going in the first place...

Sara said...

two things about this fascinate me
A - that the war is over just like that
2. that if any foreign agency/country got involved it likely would have prolonged everything.

i am not naive enough to think that any foreign group can walk in and fix the problems lickity split, but rarely do i consider that they would be more harmful than helpful.

thanks for the insight!