Coming together in the national interest
Guyana Chronicle
October 3, 2002

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IT WAS an emotional and touching sight on television - soldiers from the rebel Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan national army, previously bitter enemies, mixing and smiling with each other, while manning security checkpoints in the monitoring of the disarmament and reconciliation process currently under way in that country.

After nearly four decades of a bruising and brutal war between the two armies, which resulted in the loss of numerous innocent lives and of property, and of course the psychological and emotional scars from such terror and violence, it seems finally that good sense has prevailed.

This has brought much relief to a country that was pounded with suicide bombs, gunfire and armed combat which battered it.

Sri Lanka, a former colony of Britain, like so many other former colonies, is characterised by a division along ethnic lines, in this case between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

The former are descendants of Portuguese who once ruled Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, while the Tamils are descendants from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Amid the differences, the Tamils formed an army and resorted to extremist and terroristic methods to further their cause.

But after the four decade-long battle, through prolonged negotiations between the rebels and the government, agreement was recently clinched on reconciliation and an end to violence.

The violence there was similar to what used to characterise Northern Ireland and what has been taking place in the Middle East for the past five decades.

Notably, in Northern Ireland through negotiations, peace eventually emerged bringing an end to one of the bloodiest episodes in the modern age.

But what is to be learnt from these experiences?

The reality is that violence causes more destruction and suffering to society, contradicting the very objective of bringing an end to human suffering, which in most cases the propagators of violence claim they are struggling to end.

Contradictions and conflicts there will always be - that is inescapable.

Many philosophers have contended that contradictions are the basis for development.

However, when those contradictions are allowed to become antagonistic, in most cases, the result is bloodshed.

Therefore, leaders whether political or non-political, should always strive to steer a conflict away from violence.

A veteran World War 11 Russian General once said in wars there are victors, but not winners.

Many developing countries are currently torn by violent conflicts, with senseless slaughtering of innocent people.

In Guyana, the continuing crime rampage is taking a heavy toll on the nation and there have been calls for the political and other leaders to forget their differences and come together in the national interest to fight the scourge.

If Sri Lanka and other countries ripped apart for years by bloody wars can reconcile their deep-seated differences in a peaceful, sensible and humane manner, it should not be too difficult for leaders here to heed the rising calls for forming a common front against bands wreaking terror on the nation.

This is a time for all those of goodwill to rally to the cause of preserving a society based on law and order and the observance of the rule of law.

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