The Right to Live

Brief: She is a mother of a young son. She is a social worker who has dedicated her life to others. She is 45.

  • 1
    It’s difficult to talk about my elder brother that died. I am the only girl in a family of 6 children. We were working in the field when I heard a rumour that LTTE were attacking Niyadella village. When I got home I heard that my ayiya had gone there to harvest paddy. I lit an oil lamp to pray for his safety. But I forgot all my gathas. At around 1 a.m. my father shouted, “Aiya came, aiya came”. But that was just a dream and we found out later that he was already dead by that time. 23 people including women and children had been killed by the LTTE that day. This happened in April 1991.
  • 2
    People are innocent and poor in my village. Poverty is like their shadow. They cultivate the land mostly, and they mine for gems. In 1991 with the LTTE problems, people were asked not to go to the jungle. This had a bad impact on people who did gem mining. And then people only cultivated one season with rainwater so they experienced very difficult times.
  • 3
    In the late 1980s I experienced the terror of the JVP insurrection. We couldn’t speak our minds; we could only speak about the good things done by the JVP. Because we spoke against the JVP atrocities we were constantly watched and followed. They would question us all the time, often at gunpoint. We were terrorized.
  • 4
    I remember Black July in ’83; there was so much turmoil and tension. There was suspicions and mistrust among Sinhalese and Tamils. I know that there were Tamil people that simply left their shops and ran away when the killings started.
  • 5
    I have worked in refugee camps that housed both Tamils and Sinhalese. I noticed that there was anger against Tamil people amongst the Sinhalese. When I feel angry about the LTTE, I start thinking about why it was formed. I recognize that the LTTE was struggling to gain rights for the Tamil people. No one was willing to hand them their rights on a platter. But I wish they had fought their war without hurting innocent people. Neither my mother nor my father had the slightest hatred towards Tamil people. They are clear that Tamil people are not to blame for my brother’s death.
  • 6
    This country belongs to all our communities. We need to build that sense of shared ownership. For this we need to dispel the suspicion and mistrust that’s grown between us. We must give people their right to live: They should also have their rights to their language, to their land, to education and to work. That’s the only way we can have a secure and happy future for all of us.