This blog is not one about the news or politics coming amount of Sri Lanka. However, given the recent momentous events that have occurred in the country with the end of a 26 year old Civil War, we feel it would be unnatural not to address it. Apart from anything else, it does of course have a huge impact on the tourism industry in terms of safety and security, which as we explained in our very first post has been a primary reason why many people have decided not to visit the country.
The inherent emotion is obvious and during our recent trip, such feelings were reflected by every local we talked to. No individual or family has not lost a son or friend in this battle. They are now jubilant and hero worship their President Rajapaksa, who is assured re-election next year. And it is widely believed, despite the many negative stories and reports regarding the humanitarian catastrophe that exists, that tourists will soon return in abundance.
This remains to be seen, although many hotel owners we spoke to feel that after a “period of respect”, Sri Lanka will once again become a choice destination. There have been many views about what really went down with the end of this war. We tend to agree with a rather unconventional, independent view by Atlantic Monthly correspondent, Robert Kaplan:
The biggest takeaway fact about the Sri Lankan war that’s over now is that the Chinese won. And the Chinese won because over the last few years, because of the human rights violations by the Sri Lankan government, the U.S. and other Western countries have cut all military aid. We cut them off just as they were starting to win. The Chinese filled the gaps and kept them flush with weapons and, more importantly, with ammunition, with fire-fighting radar, all kinds of equipment. The assault rifles that Sri Lankan soldiers carry at road blocks throughout Colombo are T-56 Chinese knockoffs of AK-47s. They look like AK-47s, but they’re not.
They’re building a deep water port and bunkering facility for their warships and merchant fleet in Hambantota, in southern Sri Lanka. And they’re doing all sorts of other building on the island.
Now, why did the Chinese want Sri Lanka? Because Sri Lanka is strategically located. The main sea lines of communication between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, and between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. It’s part of China’s plan to construct a string of pearls – ports that they don’t own, but which they can use for their warships all across the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka defeated, more or less completely, a 26 year-long insurgency. They killed the leader and the leader’s son. But there are no takeaway lessons for the West here. The Sri Lankan government did it by silencing the media, which meant capturing the most prominent media critic of the government and killing him painfully. And they made sure all the other journalists knew about it.
The Tamil Tigers had human shields by the tens of thousands, not just by the dozens and hundreds like Al Qaeda. They put people between themselves and the government and say “you have to kill all the people to get to us.” So the government obliged them. The government killed thousands of civilians…The U.N. is investigating whether as many as 20,000 civilians have been killed during the last few months.
It was the only insurgent terrorist outfit that had a navy and air force…They had a few planes that they used for bombing missions over Colombo. Not even Hezbollah has either of those, and Hezbollah is the most sophisticated Islamist terrorist group in the world.
We at Ceylon Luxury pray for the Sri Lankan people– that there will be peace, harmony and prosperity in future years. They have waited a very long time and certainly deserve a chance to heal as a nation now.
More on these after our next visit….
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Originally posted on July 4, 2009 @ 10:50 am