Date: 20th of November 2008
Venue: British Council Auditorium Colombo
Cause: A forum Theater performance
Theme: Freedom of Expression at a time of war
The above information stands for a forum theater performance that I witnessed at the British council on the Thursday (20) evening. Before I take this any further let me first narrate the plot: (Some one may add if its wrong).
Few friends meet each other after a movie where they comment on it. The friends consist of a girls : a journalist , two Sinhalese youth and a Tamil guy. One of the friends relate a SMS that was send to him about some Tamil protest in southern India while the Tamil guy ask it to be forwarded to him.(Blackout). The next scene starts form the point that a personnel form the BNS (Not Bathiya and Santhush but the bureau of national security) arresting the Tamil guy with no clarification (BlackOut). The next scene was that the Tamil guy been harshly questioned and beaten by the the personal of the BNS for information. The reason for the arrest is that the Tamil guy had forwarded the SMS to all his Tamil friends. The story ends the Tamil youth giving the name of the Sinhalese who send it and the Sinhalese refusing to corporate. The journalist who is the girlfriend of the latter accuses him for been a coward. Finally the Sinhalese is left in the stage with desperation.
So the as an Srilankan Watching this play in an audience where I say a 50% was foreigners I was wondering what they were thinking and also about the impact that this play will have on them as this was staged by a group of youth in the country. Due the impression and the social background of their country they surely felt form the comments I heard at the end
The action done by the BNS is wrong.
A citizen should not be treated as was treated in the play.,
Srilanka is a country where there is no law or peace.
Sinhalesse are cowards that even cant defend a faithful friend.
Finally as the story was staged by the srilankan youth this is the reality.
As I strongly believe their have been several misinterpretations of the actual context of the country. First why would the security forces takes such actions. That question was never raised form the the audience . Well all the average Srilankans know the cause. Due to the present situation of the country the forces does not take chances. As its absolutely legal to arrest any one with out a warrant. Why is that its an necessity to make sure the terrorist does not get a chance. And to reveal the truth the forces cant play the role of the nice guy all the time. Even if they do they have to make sure of the safety of an entire nation.
In the forum it was sad to see the way the audience condemned the incident. In a narrow perspective it may look like a wrong act. Well at any case the torture is wrong. But there can be scenarios for the benefit of a larger group it is a necessity. May be not moral. But the history remembers of times much worse than these where no body had the courage to rose the finger.
In addition the the story crafted the idea that srilanka is a land with no peace or law which is not true. Many in the audience shouted about the white van incident and even narrated that on the stage. All these seemed to be exaggerating & misinterpreting the actual scenario. If I may note all the LTTE suspects are bought into the presence of the courts and changed. If he/she is proven innocent will be released. If some one do a survey will sure to find out the ratio. Not a single suspect will be kept in imprisonment without a court order. I would like to draw the attention to one of my personal experience here. A Klemo bomb was triggered by the LTTE terrorist targeting an innocent group of civilians in a bus near the university of Moratuwa. 27 people were killed. The police had to arrest all the Tamil students in the University of Moratuwa as it was the only settlement where a significant number of Tamil students study nearby. The following day all of the students were released except for 2 students who were proven to have a connection with the bomb blast. Few other Tamil students have vacated the university before the police and the army arrive at the university. (It took 2 hours to the police to come to the university as the permission form the vice chancellor is required). I think this incident provides a clear example of how things are done in the island nation.
The other point I felt that was misinterpreted was that the Sinhalese are cowards. But the truth is you cant trust any Tamil in the current context. May be your best friend, your roomer, your girlfriend who ever no Sinhalese or a Tamil is willing to take the responsibility of a other. It is the experience of the horrible carnage that has continued for 25 years. All the suicide bomber have been witnessed as close friends of many when their identity was revealed later. And all the close friends were in more trouble since that. Therefore no one is taking chances. Thats the truth and its OK.
The next idea that popped to my mind was, is this some kind of a propaganda campaign to make a misinterpretation of the current situation. As this was staged by the Srilankan youth I was ashamed. Well its not about the plot or the story it was about the way they interpreted it. And in the forum which took part later there was a predefined framework for the audience to view their opinion. It was not beyond borders but inside the defined border. For example there was no way the BNS becoming the good guy. Well they don’t have to. In addition it went so far finally the audience started making fun of the secretary of defense. Once it reached this point it was disgusting. The actual problem why does these things happen and what is the primary concern of this cause was never discussed.
As the conflict of Srilanka has lasted for more than two decades a more broader discussion should be opened to look for a actual long lasting solution. Observations on minor incidents and commenting on them will not affect or make a difference in at actual issue. As terrorism should be defeated militarily a long lasting solution should be placed in front of the nation. The above play denotes an attempt to narrow the scope of a conflict which will then open false solutions and misinterpretations where it will finally become another propaganda campaign of whom who doesn’t wish the goodwill of mother lanka.
Open for discussion.