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Sri Lanka: The Conquest Of Bread

By Chandi Sinnathurai

06 December, 2008

In any conflict the innocent victims are civilians. Inevitably, they suffer enormous losses and undergo unbearable trauma and carry for generations psycho-physical scars. Furthermore, civilians often get caught, right in the middle of a grand scheme of huff and puff called propaganda.

Sri Lanka's A-9 highway connects the Capital Colombo to the North through Tiger territory. It was dubbed "Highway to Hell" when the government chose to close the Northern bit of the highway in 2006 to all traffic, including lorries and trucks which transport food, medicine and other essential items.

This was a strategy of control.

The essential signal to the Tamils was to reveal how dependant they are on the Sinhala state. Recently, a government communiqué stated that this highway will be opened soon. This was a coded message to the Tamils that, they are under control of the Cingalam. And that the State is in the process of capturing Tiger territory.

Even as we write there are thousands of IDPs (Internally Displaced People) suffering with inadequate help. They are suffering not only by the consequences of this long-war but also by natural disasters.

An adage of ancient past put it succinctly, the one who controls water and bread is the king.

The tragic irony of it all is that who is the protector of the Tamil civilians?

Appeals have poured-in from the Tamil territories to various agencies and churches in the West asking for prayer and support. The trouble is how do you send these items, who will deliver it when there is a state-sponsored blockade?

Those who escape the terror of aerial bombs and land-mines, one commentator writes from the ground, mothers and children in particular, gets bitten by poisonous snakes. Many have sadly died. It is heart-wrenching to note that many of these IDPs (Internally Displaced People) have already gone through the tsunami!

The Sri Lankan war is multifaceted. If it is purely about control, then one who controls the civilians has got an upper hand. What use will it be to the other taking control of 'empty' territory?

On the other hand however, people without bread is volatile.

Equally, gaining peace militarily is a silly notion.

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