The monuments are impossible to miss. Rising from the flat and otherwise featureless Vanniâ€”the broad, scrubby northern region so different from the dense, fertile vegetation of the islandâ€™s southâ€”these official markers to the end of the civil war project a story that is unashamedly heroic, triumphal and militaristic. In this story of good versus evil, of Tamil terrorists versus Sinhalese protectors of the nation, there is little room for multiple narratives or recognition of civilian sufferingâ€”or apology or contrition. The monuments are reminders that the war, though it officially ended on 18 May 2009, continues in new formsâ€”not least through the narrowing of space for remembrance and mourning of those who did not support the winning side. The proliferation of state war monuments has, in fact, gone hand in hand with army surveillance of civilian-led commemorative events and a deliberate destruction of non-state memorials and cemeteries. And yet, if the eleven years since the formal end of the conflict have shown anything, it is that dissonant memories are not so easily erased.
|Publication status||Published - 2020|