Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hometime

Signs that it is time to go home: drying last pair of knickers with a hairdryer; have had to buy another bag to take home all that I have collected and bought; miss family; too exhausted to walk the Colombo streets and knock back the calls of  'Hey taxi Darling'; have to move house over Easter; need to get Adam re-elected.  All good reasons to head home.

I ventured to the K-Mart equivalent yesterday to buy a 'goodies' back.  Mayhem.  But I survived. It was a public holiday for Buddhist new year.  Busy beach, busy streets.  35 degrees.  Time to retreat to the hotel and enjoy one day of rest and reading.

A short ten day trip and I am much wiser about Sri Lanka, about Australia's potential to develop meaningful and helpful policy positions, about the history of the country and the experience of Tamils during the war years, about the tensions that still exist.

The President of SL is part of a ruling family dynasty: with two brothers as Ministers, a son as an MP and another relative involved at high levels.  There is mistrust and sceptisim on both sides.  There is a complex web of international relationships and an explicit fear of ex-pat Tamil communities on behalf of the Government.

Many accuse the President of awarding potential war-criminals with diplomatic immunity by posting them as Ambassadors overseas - such as in Australia.  The international community has a responsibility to take this seriously.  Sri Lanka wants the international community to butt out.  But with Tamils arriving on our doorstep, this is unrealistic and unhelpful.

There is more the international community can do - but that will never make up for what it didn't do between January and May 2009, the last months of the civil war, when probably over 100,000 civilians were killed.  Hopefully, the Tamils in indefinite detention in Australia will be released in the next few months - and we will take steps towards a more refined and constructive foreign policy with respect to Sri Lanka.

Out of here for now. See you Lanka - you beautiful, and complicated, country.

1 comment:

Anna Symes said...

Thank you so much for sharing these extraordinary experiences, Rose.