Yesterday I read an interview with Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, in which he said that he didn’t know what to expect when he returned to Afghanistan after 27 years in the United States.* Although I am not Sri Lankan and have never been there, I now have some understanding of that sentiment. I have read so much about the Sri Lankan conflict, and in a few days I will see if the violence is as bad as described in recent news reports or worse.
In times of conflict, the international media tends to focus the major parties involved, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) and the Sri Lankan government and military, in this case. Unfortunately the people most affected by the violence are the innocent civilians caught in the middle. I have tried not to form opinions from what I read in the media and expect to do that from my own experiences and observations. But six frustrating weeks of visa applications have led me to two initial opinions: (a) one should always deal with consular affairs through the Washington, DC Embassy rather than a regional Consulate and (b) the Sri Lankan government has something to hide.
Several people have asked if I am scared since the conflict has escalated in recent months. I have never thought that fear should stop me from doing anything that I really want to do. Furthermore, the recent escalation makes the need for the world to see the conflict’s impact on the Sri Lankan people that much more important. This is a critical time to be there and helping local advocates raise awareness domestically and internationally. I ask each of you to help me by forwarding the link to this blog to friends and contacts. It is amazing what we will be able to accomplish in three months if we work together.
I am very grateful to the Advocacy Project (AP) for this opportunity to spend the summer working with its partner organization Home for Human Rights (HHR) in Colombo. I agree with the AP’s mission 100%, and I think that local advocates are effective because they understand the historical and cultural context of human rights better than anyone. The people of HHR live with the conflict every day and see its effects on every victim that comes to their office. By expanding HHR’s network in Colombo and raising awareness in the United States, I hope to supplement their efforts to advocate human rights for victims of torture particularly with the United Nations Human Rights Council.
I am leaving tonight from New York City. The next time you hear from me will be from Colombo.
Posted By Madeline England
Posted May 24th, 2007