A trip to a hot humid night in December 2007.
Myself and a Dutch lady who was married to my friend who had come down and two other friends one of who was in the army were having a deep discussion in the middle of the night. The Dutch lady was telling us how the only way to peace was through negotiations and that there was not one country in the world where terrorism has been beaten. I too shared her opinion. During this period the war was being brutally fought and the Sri Lankan forces had not made significant gains. My friend from the army was leading troops in the front lines. And as the argument flared he very confidently told us that within one and a half years they would win the war. This was not mere wishful thinking according to him. He said that this was the first time in the history of the war that the forces had the manpower the equipment and the political backing to achieve their objectives. And one and a half years later on the 18th of May when Sri Lanka announced to the world that the war was won I couldn’t help but think back to how accurate my friend’s prediction was.
Of course we all know what really happened during the last few days of the war are shrouded in a blanket of mystery and there are lots of opinions floating around. It was to shed some light on this that I started wanting to read “The Cage” by Gordon Weiss. Sadly there was not even on copy available. One of my friends had checked all over and he was told that the only copy available was at the Vijitha Yapa book shop in the airport. Which wasn’t any help at all.
Amazingly a couple of days ago when I was in Liberty Plaza I ran into Rohan who owns this little book cupboard in front of Uthum pathum. Just for the heck of it I asked if he had a copy – I mean I had nothing to lose – and amazingly he dug into his pile of books and voila out came a copy of “The Cage”. Apparently he had got three copies just a couple of days back. One of which I was glad to relieve him of.
I did read the book to the end. But I have mixed reactions. Firstly it was tough reading. One has to wade through the first few chapters of the book as it gives quite a lot of historical and political background. And some of the atrocities described in it are chilling. Some people called this book biased but I did not think so. It did call a spade a spade and was quite straight forward in its criticism of both the LTTE as well as the government of Sri Lanka. What this book has done was put a lot of information which was floating around into one document. But if I were to ask the question did I learn something new earth shatteringly new about what happened during the end of the war? The answer has to be a resounding NO.