We recently had someone support our campaign and the name not only looked Sinhalese but seemed to come from within Sri Lanka. This is unusual so we followed up asking if this was so and what motivated them to take the risks, given the email hacking and the like.
This was their initial reply:
“Yes I am in Sri Lanka. I hope the UN does not with withdraw the panel.
There has to be some justice for those innocent people who lost their lives as well as the living who suffered and continue to suffer.
Although I belong to the majority community, I don’t like to see the minority being treated differently.
Our country is in trouble!!! Our apathy at what is happening is disgusting. We don’t fight against injustice – our mentality is – if we are not affected why get into trouble with the authorities (the family).
I do get mad about the situation but like most I do nothing.”
We commented that signing the letter, and even more, networking the e-petition to friends, was from “doing nothing”. As Sri Lankans have slipped into “bystander culture” – turning a blind eye, even justifying what cannot be justified – these actions are very brave.
Of course there are always “positive deviants” in every society – the Hutus who saved Tutsi’s and in Sri Lanka too, the Sinhalese who protected Tamils in the 1983 pogrom. But the ethical culture can be eroded over time and Sri Lanka today is very different from how it was even in the 80s. And this context can make a big difference as is now well known from Europe during the 2nd World War.
In some countries – Denmark, the Netherlands – ordinary people did a lot to protect Jewish people. Even some governments that supported Nazi Germany – Italy, Hungary – tried to avoid complicity. But France – no less educated, no less sophisticated –Nazi German directives were, in general, without question. Indeed, it was only after the death of a President who was involved in that complicit period that France has been able to start to face this dark part of its history.
Back to our new supporter. This was their reply to our attempt to acknowledge their bravery and commitment:
“Yes I have tried to do my bit to change the path we are on. Still I feel weak since I have not been able to convince even my friends to be more active. Of course they are concerned but for various valid reasons do not want to come out in the open.
I hate violence of any kind and injustice upsets me very much. As you are aware, at the moment we have the law of the jungle. People in this country have been turned into utter fools by feeding them on patriotism – not the true meaning but the version most convenient. Even intellectuals are talking like lunatics. The average people are fed also with instant glamour on TV to make them forget their hunger. People who can think rationally are getting less and less. Buddhism is turned on its head, specially by the priests. The true meaning of our religion is lost although outwardly there are more temples more religious ceremonies. Loving kindness is practiced selectively. A very sad state of affairs.
Strength to all of you to help us.”
One cannot help but wonder why this person can have such generosity to engage and thank others whilst many Sri Lankan diaspora – of all ethnic groups – do their best to avoid these issues
It’s messages like this that make us more and more resolved to go succeed. For the people in Sri Lanka and for all the people in other countries where dictators and tyrants might be tempted to try the “Sri Lanka model”, we MUST make sure their crimes don’t pay.