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Reporters on the Job

What About Peace?On his recent road trip in Sri Lanka, contributor Adam Karlin said it was puzzling and disappointing to see how lovely the warring majority Singhalese and Tamils Tiger rebels are to everyone but each other. "It's hard to understand why two of the most hospitable and polite peoples I've ever met try so hard to kill each other," he says.

Adam says he takes road trips because he feels they are the best way of seeing a country. Sri Lanka was no exception.

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"On the road, I realized that while Singhalese and Tamils may seem to speak at cross-purposes, they all want the same things: safety, security, opportunities, education," he says. "What's depressing is the sense they could have these things if they just established a little empathy among each other. And there are some who seem to have made war their life; no matter what pretty pictures of peace and prosperity they claim to fight for, I have a feeling some of the soldiers I met on both sides won't be happy unless they die fighting."

Over several days, Adam traveled the roughly 250 miles from Colombo in the south to Jaffna, on the northern tip of Sri Lanka. He passed through Tiger-controlled territory in the process, and ended up being interrogated, while in the Vanni region, in a little room.

"It wasn't very fun. My Tiger interrogator warned me that undercover Tiger cells prowled Jaffna, so being there as a journalist asking questions made me feel a bit nervous. I remember smiling at some kids who looked old enough to have just joined the Boy Scouts - until I remembered that was a pretty common age for Tiger recruits to start opertaions. Wondering if a 13-year-old kid is going to radio back to guerrilla headquarters and report your presence is not a good frame of mind to spend the day in."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor