Is this the beginning of the end?
Not to be overdramatic, but
Did everyone read the front page of the Mirror (and the other papers, but why would you) today? This ‘mysterious group’ claiming to have killed Sivaram is using some bloody scary language in their letter: “…all those who are doing harm to the motherland, while being nourished by the motherland, should be ready to become manure to the motherland soon.”
Indi has of course much more to say (and more people commenting more intelligently) than I do, so go see him, but for those not paying attention, recently a well-regarded LTTE-favorable Tamil journalist was abducted and murdered; a group that no one’s ever heard of has two weeks later claimed responsibility in the worst possible Sinhala nationalist, anti-peace, anti-Western rhetoric. I mean, “motherland.” Folks: the motherland is Russia, the fatherland is Germany, the homeland is not America for pete’s sake. Other lands may claim other family structures as necessary.
And what I am worried about: the PA government isn’t being referred to as such in the press any more. That’s probably because the SLFP and the JVP (for those not up-to-date: the 2 major elements of the PA coalition majority) are at odds these days, with the JVP threatening to leave the coalition over every little thing but especially the LTTE-cooperation joint mechanism for tsunami rebuilding. Thus, there is nothing to report about “the PA” and everything to say about the two parties feuding like a pair of second-graders would fight over a sparkly pen.
Meanwhile the UNP is pretty much sitting at its desk there in the corner, with spokesguy Peiris (not the G. Peiris of the ISLE Program, sadly) madly waving his hand to get called on so he can say “the peace process is in danger!” In reality, where some of us live, there is no peace process going on right now. Chandrika was actually sort of right about that—after the tsunami she said the country would have to focus on rebuilding and thus the peace process would be on hold. I was mad then, but hey, at that point there was some hope that there would be a focus on rebuilding.
Now this feels not like “on hold” ie the nice lady lets you listen to elevator music (and live in a tent, and eat shitty rice for six months), but like “on hold” wrapped up in brown paper, tied tightly with string, addressed to Timbuktu, and posted with not-enough-stamps so that it sits on a back shelf of the Kandy post office while the ‘foreign parcels’ guys watch teledramas and eat biscuits on the job. Or on hold in a morgue. Luckily people had been too busy being traumatized and not-rebuilding to start up with the violence again. That is changing.
Today on the way home from the movies Jill noted that the Heerassagala junction checkpoint on Peradeniya Road, usually just a little empty booth thing (sponsored by Soorya wax matches, thus ordinary and domestic) was actually manned with two cops, one with a semiautomatic rifle. They had one of their rickety roadblock fence-on-wheels things across the middle of the two lanes, to make drivers slow down. No one was getting stopped but understandably people are nervous—checkpoints have been fired upon and burned in the North; there were hartals in the North and East early this week. That junction isn’t a place of importance (just a railroad crossing; lot of traffic) so the presence of the polisaya isn’t encouraging; why are they clamping down?
Vesak is coming, which means increased crowds and increased aimless loitering, to see the traditional lanterns and decorations. Also Vesak is specifically a Buddhist holiday (birth, enlightenment, and death of The Man Himself) thus definitively sectarian, unlike New Year. The combination of these pragmatic and emotional/cultural factors should obviously make security personnel nervous. Still, the checkpoint violence elsewhere hasn’t been well reported or dealt with. Big shock.
I don’t want to scare anyone in the States (or elsewhere) but what the hell are we seeing? Is this the disintegration of ‘no-war’ that has, for about three years now, been the minimally livable alternative to a negotiated and settled peace?