Expecting the best, prepared
for the worst
By Wilson Gnanadass from Kilinochchi
Pix by Ishara S. Kodikara
far will it go? That's what many nervous civilians in
Kilinochchi are wondering as they brace for what is showing
signs of becoming the biggest war in decades.
If the atmosphere prior to the Allaipitty
incident in Jaffna, where a family of four was killed by the
government armed forces, was calm and had a hope for peace, the
situation after the incident is tense.
The incident where a four-month-old infant, a
four-year-old child and the parents of one family, were brutally
killed by armed forces has apparently sent a strong message to
the civilians; that soon there would be an outbreak of
Fears of such an outbreak have forced the
Kilinochchi citizens to take a number of measures. First to
ensure that they are protected from any attacks.
Kilinochchi is a bustling town. People are busy
attending to their day-to-day chores. Young ones frequent the
fast- mushrooming web cafes while others with their books cycle
to various tutories.
The mothers, who have already faced untold
hardship in the past due to hostilities between the government
forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), are busy
attending the training offered to the civilians by the LTTE
every morning and evening. For them, self-protection is
important. If they had to provide at least the minimum
protection to their loved ones, they feel they should first
learn how to protect themselves. Therefore, they are on their
stomachs on the ground every morning, taking instructions from
the LTTE, as to how they could escape during an air strike.
The fathers, though fearful of facing a war
situation, don't exhibit their fear for obvious reasons. They
encourage every member of their family to participate in the
civilian training offered to them free by the LTTE. "We have to
face the situation somehow," they say.
Over all, though the people living in
Kilinochchi opt for peace, they are ready for war. One
consolation they have is that if a war breaks out, the Tiger
rebels will fight on their behalf.
For T. Dharma-lingam, a businessman, both the
government and the LTTE have failed to achieve peace in the
country. He believes if both parties can't sit down to talk for
the sake of salvaging the faltering peace process, then the
obvious end result would be war.
"For four years the LTTE discussed with the
government. But what has happened? The result is the same.
Violence is escalating, the cost of living is rising and we
continue to suffer," he pointed out.
Therefore,he justified a war, adding that at
least one of the parties would realize what the war could offer
at the end.
Dharmalingam's concern was also on the growing
number of widows and orphans the war has produced, adding that
Kilinochchi was inundated with such victims.
Nadeson Thanigasagam (33), married and father of
two children, is also a businessman but with a thirst for peace.
He feels both parties must continue to discuss and never give
up. He is of the view that war will bring more disaster to the
entire nation and he says it is not too late for both warring
factions to seek an amicable settlement, keeping in mind the
civilians who would have to face the consequences.
He said though the people have lost hope in the
government to grant them relief, the people however have placed
confidence in the international community who he says could, if
there is a desire on their part, avert a war situation in the
"But the government must be able to listen to
what the International Community says. For instance, the
international community does not want the government to engage
in the aerial bombardment and the brutal killings of innocent
civilians. But the government does not give a damn to what this
community says," he said.
However for S. Pathmawathi (53), a courageous
woman, if the soldiers went on killing the innocent civilians,
including newly born babies, then the LTTE should fight back in
"If our children are killed, we must kill the
soldiers too," she said.
The LTTE on the other hand, are all geared to
fight the government forces.
If the Tiger rebels are seen as terrorists and
murderers by some in the South, they are seen as saviours by
most of the Tamils living in the north and east.
The fighters go through hard training and are
fully prepared to face any consequences. "We have to get the
order from Thalaivar. And then it is full-scale fighting. We
will not wait an extra second," young fighters told The Nation,
on the condition of anonymity.
A female cadre with a permanent smile on her
face, who has also been assigned to work at the LTTE peace
secretariat, said that she goes to fight also with the same
"We don't go to fight in sorrow or fear. We go
smiling. We like to fight our enemies. We are also ready to die
at any time," this 20-year-old fighter said with a smile.
"You must be happy that we are still alive. The
next time you come to Kilinochchi, you may not see us," another
young fighter said.
The morale of the fighters seemed to be high
especially after the Allaipitty incident. The fighters were seen
as alert and in a mood to hit back.
"If war breaks out, it will not start here in
Kilin-ochchi. But in Colombo," another senior cadre hinted.
Most of the people living in Kilinochchi and its
suburbs may be sympathizers of the LTTE. They might perhaps be
even helping the Tigers through the side door.
However, all they want is peace- an environment
where they could live with dignity.
The people of Kilinochchi worry about a gamut of
matters - about disappearances, killings, aerial bombardment and
all forms of violence against the Tamil civilians.
They are sad, fearful and angry with the
government forces. They are also disappointed with the Rajapakse
administration for the escalation of violence. They feel it is
only after he assumed duties that there has been an increase in
If the current cycle of violence continues in
this fashion, or increases, then the mood of the people may
change further: they could join the Tigers in fighting the war
against their arch rivals.