Crime And Punishment, In Rajapaksa Sri Lanka
When seven Tamil families loose their homes and all their possessions because one Tamil boy did not call a soldier ‘sir’, does it not smack of collective punishment? If an outrage of this order can happen in the South, in 2012, what could not have happened in the North, in the midst of a total war without witnesses? If a soldier on leave can take the law into his own hands with such alacrity and impunity, in Galle, what cannot the tens of thousands of soldiers on duty do, in those villages beyond Omanthai, and beyond the reach of law?
The soldier’s actions would have been explicable if he believed, however mistakenly, that the Tamil youth was a Tiger. He did not. Military personnel suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) commit crimes, including homicide and suicide. The soldier’s assault on the Tamil youth could have been explained away as a result of (unacknowledged and untreated) PTSD, but not the subsequent orgy of looting and arson. The composite picture points to a crime of an entirely different order, a crime premised on and informed by the primordial identities of the perpetrators and the victims and the total imbalance of power between the two.
In the North, Sinhala soldiers rule; Tamils have only one right – the right to obey. Such a state of affairs is bound to habituate even the most junior soldier into being treated with grovelling obsequiousness by every Tamil. That mindset, born in the North, is permeating the South, affecting the manner in which the armed forces, as an institution, perceive and deal with Tamils, as a community. This does not mean that every serviceman will act as criminally as the soldier in Dilithura did; some will; many, due to an innate sense of decency or kindness or an inborn aversion to excess, will not. But all will have the capacity to do so..