The first time I went to Sri Lanka, 10 years ago, nobody talked—not about the important things. Not about the elephant in the room; what was obvious everywhere you looked: roadblocks, armed soldiers, a machine gun emplacement at the hotel.
There was a war going on, a long, bloody, incredibly cruel ethnic war with unspeakable acts of violence and terror on both sides. But I saw only one side. My crew and I were restricted to the south, to the area controlled by the Sinhalese majority.
One was not permitted to go north. Certainly not to Jaffna, the center of Tamil resistance, which, at the time, was being pounded mercilessly back into another century.
The Tamils we spoke to in Colombo, the capital, were too terrified to speak. The Sinhalese who might have had reservations about what was happening or had even an appreciation of the nuances, the moral grey areas of total war, could hardly speak out. There were consequences to such words.
But things have changed. The war is over, and if the underlying problems are far from solved or even being adequately addressed, at least you can now SEE the Tamil people, SEE Jaffna. And people, finally, are feeling freer to talk.
So, this episode is a correction—not a balance; not a free and fair or comprehensive overview. It asks simple questions: WHO are the Tamils? Where do they live? And what do they do now?