In the shoes of Nimalaruban’s Parents

Whilst going through ‘Groundviews’ I came across the link to this shocking and disturbing article (http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7855). It’s about the murder of 28-year-old Nimalaruban from Vavuniya, allegedly by state authorities.  I’m surprised that I didn’t come across it much sooner (see http://groundviews.org/2012/07/31/ganesan-nimalaruban-a-damning-murder-funeral-and-silence/ ).

I will not speculate the authenticity of this story, there is always two sides to a story, but considering that it is true, there are a few things that I would like to draw attention to that will help the reconciliation process of Sri Lanka.

First of all, I was saddened by just reading what the parents would have gone through, not only that they  were unable to understand completely what was going on due to the language barrier, but just being sent from place to place with no proper direction, and not being able to see their son for five days, whilst being told that he was in a seriously critical condition. I was sitting on my desk, safe and sound, but my body felt like it was somewhere else, frozen, my eye threatening to tear.

I have taken the initiative to study and analyse the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) as a part of my masters research project.  Many great recommendations have been made, of one being concerned about the treatment of detainees. Now is the right time for these recommendations to be fully implemented.

It’s commendable that the government has made many developments to infrastructure, however if Sri Lanka needs to move forward towards sustainable peace, the government urgently needs to ensure that all citizen fully enjoy their rights as human beings. The government needs to prosecute the perpetrators. This culture of impunity needs to vanish in order for us to see even the slightest glimpse of peace; real peace!

Secondly, something that struck me was the fact that the parents of Nimalaruban could not comprehend what was going on because of the language barrier. Something else that is really needed is policy directives on language reforms. I completely agree with this recommendation by an anonymous author:

“Full implementation (of language reforms) would mean that the different ethnolinguistic  communities in the country, that is, the Sinhala- and Tamil- speaking peoples, would be able to access public and state services (for example, court systems, police stations, government offices and army outposts) and university education in their vernacular languages, or alternatively would be granted access to translators and interpreters. A concerted effort to ensure language parity in the postwar arena will certainly demonstrate the country’s commitment to ‘dealing with’ at least one of the root causes of the ethnopolitical conflict.” (Anonymous 2011:49)*

Finally, if those of us who feel this way when we hear about human suffering can do something about it, we should try, we should never ever give up until we reach our goal of true peace; a peace where there is no fear, anger or mistrust amongst the people. I have a voice and I will use it courageously on behalf of those who don’t, I hope you will too.

*Anonymous. (2011). “Against the Grain: Pursuing a Transnational Justice Agenda in Postwar Sri Lanka”. The International Journal of Transnational Justice. Vol.5, pp. 31-51.

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