Preceding the dawn of the new year every politician staked a claim that this would be the year in which they would defeat of terrorism, secure a homeland, deliver economic prosperity, attain glory, or otherwise succeed in whatever political or personal cause they happen to champion.
Unfortunately, although perhaps with sad predictability, the new year looks very much the same from the start as the year recently past. As if to leave no question of this reality, unidentified assassins gunned down a prominent Member of Parliament from the current opposition United National Party (UNP) at a Colombo area temple on New Year’s Day; the attack also killed one other person in the spray of bullets while wounding 12 more. On the second day of the year a remotely detonated bomb blasted a Sri Lankan Army bus in central Colombo which killed four and injured 24 military personal and civilians. Subsequently, the Government announced its formal withdrawal from the ceasefire agreement signed with the LTTE in 2002, a truce long ago abandoned de facto by both sides. Both of these attacks stirred many voices from all circles of society to discuss the import for the coming year; misgivings of more fruitless politics through violence, but holding on to hope for a meaningful alternative to the discord.
Later in the first week a protest march of various political and civil movements against the continuing violence accompanied the funeral for the slain MP. By chance I wound up observing as an unofficial member of the media. Police provided an escort and halted rush-hour traffic as the procession of cars, pedestrians, and the casket repeatedly surged and halted along the length of a wide city boulevard. At the cemetery, mourners dressed primarily in white pressed among the gravestone, gathering in a vacant corner where the body came to rest. The ceremony and speeches stretched through dusk into the fall of night; then the funerary pyre burned almost silently as the crowds departed.
Posted By Adam Nord (Sri Lanka)
Posted Jan 6th, 2008