15 February 2015
Sampath* squints at the large screen before him, trying to watch the English movie on it. He is sitting, inside a large tent, waitingfor the State Minister for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene to make his official state tour to the Army Camp in Palali. “Hats on and stand up when the minister arrives,” shouts the platoon leader. The minister has arrived and Sampath along with several of his officers and colleagues, from the Jaffna peninsula stand to attention to listen to him. Wijewardene quietens Sampath’s fears that the new government would not demobilize the current numbers in the forces. Later at tea, the minister who is in a mood to socialize with the soldiers met Sampath and asked him what resources he currently lacked. “It would be nice to have more sports equipment and a better gym. We need more leisure activities,” said Sampath.
The Palali Army base, a place which was once flooded with dead bodies and ammunition is deserted except for the soldiers who survived it all and the new recruits who know not what war is like. They now have a luxurious entertainment complex where movies are shown for free every Friday and Saturday.
Sampath is one of many soldiers who after the war are having to find something to do. As the minister continues to visit the camps in the North he meets bored faces and restless soldiers. Unnoticed by him, the question emerges, what does the military do once the mission is complete?
…International terrorism expert and head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, when asked about the demobilization of the military after conflict said, “Security is first. Without security there is no freedom and development. As in the past, whenever a new Government came, the rulers played with security. If security is compromised, violence will return. After their defeat most insurgent and terrorist campaigns worldwide resumed within a decade. After the US military declared victory in Afghanistan and Iraq, the insurgency and terrorist campaigns recommenced. Even the world’s finest armies, the US and British forces, failed in their missions. Sri Lanka learnt from other conflict zones and kept those forces intact. Otherwise, terrorism would have re-emerged in the North and the East again during the phases of humanitarian assistance, socioeconomic development and political engagement. The TNA, a proxy of the LTTE, emerged because the separatist ideology is still intact. A segment of the TNA is still calling for the withdrawal of the security forces from the North. If the new government dismantles the security platform, the extremists and terrorists at home and abroad will exploit the situation and a return to violence is inevitable.”
GPO / ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 01/12/2015