Trinco is a town dominated by the military. As you enter the main city you have to pass through multiple checkpoints, where uniform clad youths clutch their presumably Chinese made kalashnikovs. In the town itself, Tamil is the language of choice. Sinhalese is about as useful as English, many people don’t speak either.
Archives For Sinhalese
As a 6’1″ tall white guy, I stand out in Sri Lanka. My looks really influence people’s interactions with me here.
When speaking Sinhala I take people off guard, as they don’t expect a foreigner to know the language.
At the store today I thanked an attended in Sinhalese, ඉස්තුති (istuti), and in return I received a blank stare. Thinking I had fumbled my words, I repeated myself. When he still hadn’t registered the words I spoke, his coworker – speaking perfect English – said, “he’s thanking you in Sinhalese”.
The expectation in Sri Lanka is that foreigners don’t speak any Sinhalese. Many people aren’t mentally primed to hear Sinhalese come out of my mouth, so when I try to speak it takes them a moment to register the fact that the words I’m saying aren’t in English.
Expectations influence perception.
A government shelling civilian hospitals, providing the false hope of ‘No Fire Zones’, and corralling 130,000 people in one square mile.
I’ve just finished watching Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, and am in a state of shock. This documentary sheds light on the final weeks of Sri Lanka’s Civil War – as the Government crushed the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).
A UN Panel believes that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the final weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war. International observers were forced to leave the Tamil occupied regions of the country, while civilians were deliberatley targeted by both the Government and Opposition forces.
The LTTE are the pioneers of the suicide bomb, and the nations of Sri Lanka was plagued by civil war for a quarter century. It is difficult for me to fully judge the government’s actions when contextualized – though nothing can justify the bombing of civilian hospitals in a designated no fire zone.
I am thrilled to find that on July 27, 2012 the Sri Lankan Government announced it will begin conducting formal investigations into alleged human right violations (Indian Express). This is due to pressure on the Government from the international community, and it is expected that their report will be filed within 6 to 18 months.
With this investigation, I hope the nation of Sri Lanka will take another crucial step towards resolving this conflict.
Update: Thanks to a reader for sharing the Sri Lankan Government response to this documentary: