Name any country that does not recognise the sacrifices of its citizens, and Iâ€™ll guarantee that its government has no real legitimacy in the eyes of their own constituents.
Sure they rule, but that is most probably due to the use of oppression to perpetuate their authority. Their tenuous hold on power promotes the culture of fear. Theirs is the law of force, rather than the force of law. That government will not last too long, but even if it did, it would do so on a bed of unrest and strife rather than stability.
This is not the situation which we have signed up for when 98.4% of us voted for the new charter, whose central tenets are human rights and modern institutions of governance. How different we are today – a mere 6 years hence – of those days of hope. What we are now left with is confusion and mistrust which feeds the continuous skirmishes we suffer from at almost any occasion.
There seems to be no end in sight. Each side is steadfast in their refusal to listen. Theirs is the view of â€œnot giving inâ€, as if this is a battle in which an exclusive winner is declared. They fail to realise that the only losing side in this equation are the normal people who have grown tired of this predictably contentious state of affairs.
The resolution of this condition couldnâ€™t be simpler – to me at least. All must recognise those who fell in the defence of this country and its peopleâ€™s aspirations by at least anointing a single convenient and mutually agreeable date at which their memory is commemorated. That would be a celebration of national pride and will go a long way at inculcating the missing feeling of true patriotism.
The countryâ€™s National Day would lend itself completely to this cause. Isnâ€™t it the day that nations all over the world lay wreaths at their martyrsâ€™ graves and at symbolic locations? This act draws the whole nation together, further cementing their sense of belonging to their land. It is by no coincidence that some countries also observe a minute of silence. One in which remembrance is a natural result of contemplation.
Whatâ€™s so different with us that we cannot fathom a route to that goal? The disparity in positions suggests that there is something intrinsic to this impasse. Could that difference be a disagreement on the definition of the word martyr?
The dictionaryâ€™s definition is rather bland, it does not taken into account the cultural aspects of this word. But although the difference in interpretation is wide – oneâ€™s martyr is anotherâ€™s terrorist – the common denominator is rather static: it is the sacrifice of oneâ€™s life for oneâ€™s belief.
Taken in this context, it is easy to understand the somberly lavish commemorations in laying wreaths at the foot of the Unidentified Soldier to remember the dead in a bygone wars and other calamities. They are all in the past, though.
Our situation is different. Ours is the commemoration of lives lost during a current reign. Having the rulers to agree to this is akin to their acknowledgment of their own culpability in the demise of those we are paying tribute to. This, I feel, is the crux of the problem. It is why laws like the General Amnesty for Crimes Affecting National Security have been promulgated and tremendous efforts exercised to brush these issues under perennial carpets.
As the various conflicts at every martyrs commemoration activity since 2001 attest, this is not a wise resolution. Much needed closure is missing.
A new way of thinking is required to resolve this issue. Another set of sacrifices is needed by the disparate parties to achieve the status of equitable equilibrium. All need to honour the memory of those who laid their lives to provide the foundation for this country. Their memories should be made into a recognised beacon guiding current and forthcoming generations not to take things for granted.
Thirteen civil societies intimately and correctly recognise this condition and its dire need for closure. They proposed a program through which truth and reconciliation is pursued. We know that this works from experience gained from countries which have trodden this path before us. Their enacting such commissions took great courage that paved that difficult road with further necessary sacrifices. The end result; however, was their ability – finally – to turn over a brand new page. It allowed them to go forth into their futures with an assurance that they made peace with their past. From those hard lessons they gained tremendous strength that proved to be a bedrock of their stability.
Isnâ€™t it high time that we consigned tired and empty platitudes to the rubbish heap and boldly trod the courageous road to an equitable future?