(55) Interview with AFP Colombo Bureau Chief on Sri Lanka's Civil War and Future Situation in Sri Lanka

Travels in Sri Lanka, the Holy Land of Buddhism

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (55)
Interview with AFP Colombo Bureau Chief on Sri Lanka's Civil War and Future Situation in Sri Lanka

One thing I was particularly looking forward to during my stay in Colombo.

That was the meeting with the Colombo bureau chief of the AFP news agency.

AFP is a global media company based in France, and I had the opportunity to meet with its Colombo Bureau Chief through a chance encounter.

I had read many books about Sri Lanka before embarking on this trip, but there was one thing I could not understand. That was the political and economic situation in recent years.(52) Distant view of Hambantota Harbor, symbol of China's "debt trap" - departing for Colombo, Sri Lanka's central city."As I mentioned in the article "Sri Lanka's Political and Economic Situation", books explaining the latest political and economic situation in Sri Lanka are almost impossible to find in Japan.

Although it was possible to research on the Internet, I wanted to hear directly from local experts, and I was blessed with this opportunity. I can only express my gratitude to everyone who connected me with this opportunity.

The Colombo bureau of the AFP news agency is located in the city's office district. I was anxiously awaiting the start of visiting hours. My heart was pulsating with tension and excitement.

And now the time had finally come!

We headed to our assigned location and headed to the office.

We were welcomed by the staff at the entrance and taken to the director's office. The hallway and stairs were decorated with numerous photographs. They must have been a number of special stories taken in Sri Lanka in the past. I felt a journalistic atmosphere typical of a newspaper company. I could not help but be excited by this atmosphere.

And now it was time to meet the branch manager.

When we entered the director's office, the branch manager greeted us with a smile.

He is Amal Jayasinghe, AFP Colombo Bureau Chief. He was a man with an intelligent and open atmosphere. My mind was once again blanked by the dreaded partition.

But I had prepared in advance for such an eventuality. I had made a list of questions in English in my notebook in advance.

I have prepared 13 questions in total. The visitation time would be two hours, which would be pretty much at the last minute.

I immediately took out my notebook and showed it to him, and the Q&A session began.

The time from this point on was like a dream. Such an exciting time is rarely experienced. The two hours literally flew by. And what's more, the intensity of these two hours was extraordinary!

I had one concern before the meeting: my head would get too tired from listening to English for two hours straight. However, my fears were completely unfounded. To my surprise, I did not feel tired at all.

This was probably largely due to his English is surprisingly easy to understand. I had heard that Sri Lankan English is easy to understand. Moreover, his explanations were extraordinary. He explained from various angles according to our level of understanding with clear logic. It was as if I was receiving a one-on-one lecture from a university professor. I have never had such a stimulating and enjoyable time!

As I mentioned earlier, my questions to Mr. Amal Jayasinghe were mainly about the civil war and the current political and economic situation, so I cannot present them all here. I cannot present all of them here because they are too complicated, especially regarding the civil war, and it is beyond my ability to explain them here. Therefore, in this article, I would like to introduce some of the most memorable stories from our meeting time.

Question 1 What did the people of Sri Lanka think of each other during the civil war? Did they hate each other?

[There was no mutual hostility at the level of the average person in Sri Lanka to begin with. There have been occasional incidents that have raised feelings of rivalry, but on the whole there has been no animosity. We have mutual marriages.

Besides, the inhabitants of northern Sri Lanka, who are predominantly Tamil, did not want to secede either, but were forced to do so by the LTTE. (*The LTTE was an armed group that advocated independence for northern Sri Lanka.)

The civil war was solely due to the LTTE's attempts to ethnic cleansing Sinhalese and Muslims in the predominantly Tamil areas in the north and east. It then attacked the Sinhalese and Muslims and tried to drive them out of the area. To prevent this, Sri Lankan government forces fought the LTTE.

In other words, it was not an ethnic conflict involving the entire island of Sri Lanka. There were occasional terrorist attacks in Colombo and other western areas of Sri Lanka, but there was no large-scale fighting. The fighting in the civil war was solely in the north and east of the country. This is the reason why most of the Sri Lankan people were not mutually hostile.

But it is not only the LTTE that is to blame. The government has also been instigating the fight to distract the public from the economy and many other issues. It is not an either/or issue."]

Question 2 In Sri Lanka, religion and nationalism have been linked and the conflict has been fueled, what should the Buddhist side do now?

[This is the most important issue!

It is the monks who are involved in politics and who incite nationalism that are the problem.

Dharmapala was a nationalist. He called for boycotts, discrimination and violence. This is unacceptable.

The important thing is that monks should be more Buddhist.

We should respect other religions and ethnic groups.

Buddhism that preaches superstition and nationalism is dangerous.

We should learn more Philosophy and educate ourselves about it. It is the same for Tamils.

With the start of the civil war in 1983, Sri Lanka lost all opportunities. Business and tourism had seemed to be going well until then. But we lost all that. We still have to pay reconstruction taxes.]

The important thing is that monks should be more Buddhist."We were all very excited when he said, " Amal's words were rich in irony, and anyone who knows the history of this country would have had the same reaction as we did. The agitation by the political monks was that intense. How can Buddhism, which preaches peace, become a discourse of "kill the Tamils"?

Question 3 What is the relationship between President Rajapaksa and China?

[The relationship between Rajapaksa and China is a Good Friend.

The connection between construction projects and bribes is now making all Sri Lankans angry. Have you seen the radio towers in Colombo city?

That is also a Rajapaksa and China construction project, but it too is unusable as a radio tower. It was built as a radio tower, but it was a defective building that could not transmit radio waves. It is nothing more than an observation tower."]

Question 4 What will happen to the port of Hambantota that has crossed over to China?

[It will be quite difficult to get Hambantota back. It would be tough to overturn an international agreement. It is possible, but it depends on how the world looks at it. It's not a good idea to get emotional and do things too quickly.]


Question 5 What will happen to Sri Lanka now that former President Rajapaksa is gone?

[Rajapaksa is a strong leader. A strong organizer, he was very popular with the old and conservative classes. He has placed his sons and relatives in important government positions, and only he could do that. When he is gone, no one will be able to replace him. I think the situation in Sri Lanka will be different."]

Question 6 What do you think about the United Kingdom?

[In the past, some people had a nationalistic mindset, but today's youth seem to want to go to England and other countries around the world."]

Question 7 I know that in Theravada Buddhism they believe in samsara, but if you wish to see your loved ones, e.g. wife, children, parents, etc. in the next life, do you wish to see them in the next life?

There would be a bit of an addendum to this question.

In Southeast Asia, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced, reincarnation is emphasized. In other words, the idea is that after death, one is reborn in the next life. (*For more information, see(30) A Brief Explanation of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka - A Word on its Differences from Japanese Buddhism.(See article in)

But we do not know what we will be in that next life. I may be a human being, or I may be another animal. Furthermore, since we have no memory of our previous lives, we cannot be certain that we will have a memory of this life in the next.

In other words, "See you in the next life" is extremely close to impossible to achieve.

The idea of "see you in the afterlife" or "see you in heaven" is based on the premise that the present life and the next life are one continuous self. The Japanese Buddhist view of life and death is similar to this. The Southeast Asian view of reincarnation differs from this linear view of life and death. In the next life, we will live a completely different life.

This would mean that the hope of being reunited with loved ones again would not be fulfilled. I wanted to ask what Sri Lankans think about that. I could not ask this question to the presidents in Kandy. I thought to myself, "From a doctrinal point of view, this is probably nonsense. However, I was very curious about what Sri Lankans, who are not monks, think on a daily basis. That is why I boldly asked him.

And that he answered as follows.

['I want to see my loved ones in the next life. That is the wish of every Sri Lankan."]

I was truly happy to hear his answer. I was worried that Sri Lankans might be a bit dry in this respect, but I was also glad to hear that they felt the desire to see their loved ones again. Although the Theravada Buddhist view of reincarnation may not be strictly true, I felt that we have something in common in having this kind of feeling.

The two hours flew by. As I mentioned earlier, I was so absorbed in the experience that I did not feel the slightest bit tired.

Finally, I asked him if he had any recommendations for learning about the Sri Lankan Civil War, and he recommended two books. He said they are the most appreciated books for learning about the Sri Lankan Civil War.

I ordered these books from Amazon and ordered them from overseas and was surprised when I read them. In "INSIDE AN ELUSIVE MIND" on the right, Mr. Amal was introduced as one of the "best minds" of the Sri Lankan civil war. Amar was introduced as one of the "best minds" of the Sri Lankan civil war. Mr. Amar was an amazing person, after all. How lucky I was to have such a person give me a lecture for two hours.

Unfortunately, these two books have not been translated into Japanese. Although the demand for books on the Sri Lankan civil war may be low and the commercial situation may be difficult, we hope that these books will be translated and published.

The meeting with Mr. Amal Jayasinghe was one of the best memories of my stay in Sri Lanka. I would like to thank all those who connected me with him. Thank you so much. And I don't know how to thank Mr. Amal Jayasinghe for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to me. Thank you so much.

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