9 May, 2021
Forty-four-year-old Naguleswarakumar Subothini of Pooneri, Jaffna, is the mother of two school going daughters.
The oldest is sitting for her Ordinary Level examination and the younger daughter is in grade 8. Both children are keen students and excel at their studies as well as sports.
The same pride the mother has about her school children is reflected in the eyes of the children; their heroine is their mother.
As their mother dons her Sri Lankan Civil Security Department (CSD) uniform every morning, the two youngsters take turns to tie her shoe laces, adjust her hair and place the cap neatly on her head.
They will then straighten her collar, arrange the sleeves and smile proudly at how smart their mother looks.
This uniform is slightly similar to the attire worn by the Sri Lankan military.
One of the most valuable lessons these two children learn from her every day is to inculcate loyalty to Sri Lanka; loyalty to the unity of their motherland – the motherland of all; the Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers and Muslims.
Although non Tamils are not frequent visitors to the interior of Pooneri where this family lives, Subothini’s husband runs a small restaurant in the nearby Palavarayan Kattu town which is about five kilometres away from their home.
Sometimes, when Sinhalese visitors from the South turn up at the restaurant, they will be hosted without charge, as happened to me during my visit.
Smilingly the restaurant owner will inform the visitor that as they are guests from Colombo that the meal is complimentary.
At Subothini’s house the conversation turns to the concept of patriotism and the importance of national security.
She speaks of some of her official duties as a Civil Security Department (CSD) member.
These include ensuring the social wellbeing of the people. At present she is part of a cultivation project initiated by the government aimed at village sustainability, two kilometres away from where she lives.
Her salary as a member of the CSD is Rs.30,500 per month and helped also by the income from the restaurant, the family prioritises the education of the two children and leads a content life.
She said CSD members are asking for an increase of Rs. 7,000 as the cost of living is high.
Hope is theirs. They work hard on their official Government assigned social projects and approach each day with a strong loyalty to the country.
Yet, 12 years ago the life Subothini currently leads with her family would have seemed an impossible fiction.
She was then courting death each day as a member of the LTTE.
She was among the thousands of young Tamil men and women indoctrinated to terrorism who were brainwashed into believing that the Sinhalese were committing ‘genocide,’ and that every Sinhalese was waiting to kill Tamils.
Although she was married and her first child was born 15 years ago at the height of hostilities between the LTTE and the government military, she was unsure whether she will get through each day alive.
Young men and women such as Subothini who had mostly joined the LTTE terrorists in their teens or early twenties, were made to understand that ‘their country’ that they were ‘fighting to safeguard’ was the fictitious mirage of ‘Tamil Eelam.’
The same mirage segments of the Tamil Diaspora and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) still seem to be dreaming of.
If the calamity of terrorism was not defeated in May 2009, lives of those such as Subothini would have perished in Vellupillai Prabhakaran’s mill of bloodshed and destruction.
Young Lankan Tamil men and women would have continued to believe the lies they were fed by the opportunists of terrorism.
The same lies that sections of the Tamil Diaspora are still telling a gullible world.
In one of the rarest decisions ever taken in the world in connection with the de-radicalisation of terrorism, the gift of forgiveness, normalcy and reconciliation was given to the entire LTTE terrorist fighting force which surrendered to the Sri Lankan military by 2009 May 18.
The Government, instead of prosecuting the terrorists for their countless crimes against humanity, (as Western nations do), created a world record by pardoning every single one of them.
The decision was taken swiftly within days after the annihilation of the LTTE.
Within three years, by 2012, almost all of the surrendered LTTEers were successfully de-radicalised, rehabilitated, re-educated and re-integrated back to their families and society.
Vocational training related knowledge was made available to them and many rehabilitated beneficiaries took up the completion of their school and university education.
The training in vocational skills they received at the rehabilitation camps ranged from driving to carpentry which helped some of them secure jobs.
Those such as Subothini rehabilitated beneficiaries who showed a high level of strength, commitment to peace and loyalty to Sri Lanka were recruited to do the opposite of their past acts.
They were recruited to the CSD to nurture the wellbeing of the country and citizens.
Alongside the pardoning of the entire LTTE terrorist force, this major trust-building challenge adopted by Sri Lanka where over 2,000 de-radicalised former members of an internationally proscribed terrorist organisation were enlisted in good faith to maintain peace and security of the very nation they were once destroying, is yet another indescribable achievement the international community has avoided hailing.
Thus failing to recognise the unparalleled acts of reconciliation and peace building of Sri Lanka, Western nations, without a single similar merit are ironically the self-appointed judges of human rights and reconciliation.
If the international community wants to genuinely learn about war crimes and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, their basic first step should be to talk to those who indulged in terrorism; those who for three decades ravaged the country but who have been granted amnesty by Sri Lanka and who have faithfully respected that gesture by being exemplary loyal citizens.
It is these people who lived through terrorism, bloodshed and suffered from it and not the pro LTTE Tamil Diaspora.
Segments of the Tamil Diaspora who funded terrorism still live in their own opportunistic fantasy, collecting enormous amounts of money in Europe and elsewhere, of which hardly even a pittance is used for the Tamil people of Lanka’s North.
“If they set foot anywhere near our village, they will never dare to show their face again. I know what to tell them. They helped to ruin our lives and have still not stopped,” said Subothini referring to the Tamil Diaspora.
Her usual calm manner of speaking is replaced with harshness and anger.
“You don’t know what we went through because of them. They still sit in comfort abroad and continue attempting to destroy the peace Sri Lanka has achieved today which is a luxury to us.
It is a luxury to our children. All we want is to be law abiding citizens of this nation – of one united nation.
We do not want to go abroad and be aliens to this country. We just want to live here and protect our country,” says Subothini emotionally.
She said, “All what we did in the past, we did then due to a false belief and out of ignorance. All we want now is to ensure no one teaches these.