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Roots of Hatred Run Deep
An Essay by Vikram Singh

audio Listen to Singh's essay.

For Sri Lanka, India's neighbor to the south, terrorism is very much part of the fabric of daily life. An ongoing conflict between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and ethnic Tamil rebels has killed over 60,000 people since 1983.

Oct. 16, 2001 -- In my three years in Sri Lanka, I have seen dozens of brutal terrorist attacks. I have walked among the dead and reported the carnage. Terrorist bombs strike cities, often killing innocent civilians. The government retaliates with military operations and air strikes, which often have similar results. But reprisals can never stop the terrorist attacks. Every time a military operation claims an innocent son or daughter or parent or sibling, another terrorist or freedom fighter is born.

"Every time a military operation claims an innocent son or daughter or parent or sibling, another terrorist or freedom fighter is born."

Vikram Singh

Attempts to increase security can only be flawed. Sri Lanka is a gauntlet of military and police checkpoints. Vehicles are inspected going into shopping malls. You have to reach the airport three hours in advance and pass through multiple checks and searches, multiple X-rays and at least one hand-search of all baggage. The bombings continue.

The ever-present security discriminates by profiling people of the same ethnic community as the rebels causing resentment and deepening divides and mistrust. It does not make me feel safe.

Because the underlying causes of the violence are not fully addressed, the attacks continue. In Sri Lanka and many other devastated parts of the world, fighting evil can only succeed if the approach is sophisticated and profound. It must be rooted in the most difficult strictures of the scriptures of the major religions and the deepest springs of the human heart.

Vikram Singh is a journalist who lives and works in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo.