Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lanka Dahanam

Yes, I did watch the movie Madras Cafe, but this is not the first movie that talks about the problems in our neighbouring country. And this post isn't about any movie either. I just felt compelled to write this article while I was watching the movie.

The history of Srilanka was always intermixed with that of India from ancient times. The arrival and the subsequent colonization of the island nation by the imperialist nations in the Imperial Age wasn't different either, except by the factor that a large Tamil population was now present on the island to work on the increasingly profitable plantations and other areas of work.

The strife between the two communities had begun during the British times itself and it naturally percolated down to modern times. After winning its independence in 1948, it didn't take much time for communal tensions to reach a point where the LTTE came into existence(1976) with Vellupillai Prabhakaran leading from the front. The rest is history.

The conflict continued for more than a quarter of a century and ended in a bloody, very bloody showdown.

Living through those days
The developments of  the struggle was a popular subject in the subcontinent, at least in the southern parts. We used to hear the adults talk about it every other day, and the news channels and papers used to carry news of the distant struggle almost every week or so. But apart from that, the one thing that stood out was the name of the notorious leader of the outfit, Prabhakaran,commonly known as Puli Prabhakaran. He was regarded both as a hero and a villain, kind of akin to the fame that the forest brigand Veerappan enjoyed among the common folks.

The 'general' knowledge was all there about how India was involved, and that Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE for it. But what didn't percolate down to the kids at that time was the intricate politics of power,ethnic cleansing and economic strength. For me, the Srilankan struggle was a by default something perennial and didn't change through the busy days of school and college. I saw it as two sides opposing each other's communities and had taken up arms for it. Seemed too ridiculous a reason at that time, given the way Indians live with all communities in relative peace. The names of Puli Prabhakaran and Veerappan were held at same regard until curtains fell on them soon enough(each killing carrying its own clouds of controversy with it).

But it took me many more years to understand and fully denounce the horror of the conflict in the tiny island, which was supposed to be a beach paradise and cricketing power. A few books and mostly lots of reading on the internet after watching movies like Kannathil Mutthamital and Mission 90 days helped. But the real eye openers were the articles I read after the bloody showdown in which the tiger of the Tamils was silenced in deceit. The swiftness and the aggression showed by the Government naturally hinted that all stops were off and killing was relentless. There were no rules on the ground. And the thousands of international reports, leaked picture,stories and footages, international appeals and studies; everything pointed in the same direction. A grotesque genocide in the neighbourhood under the watchful eyes of all the international big brothers and the perpetrators walk scot-free!!

I think both sides were responsible for illegal and inhuman methods of targetting civilians for their own military needs, but with the wipeout of the LTTE(which could have been avoided by the Government if it had not gone back on the unconditional surrender), it is now only the Government officials who are supposed to be tried in the international court for rampant war crimes. Horrifyingly, all international appeals and reports were simply rejected or oppressed by the Sri Lankan Government.

Watch the video below titled Sri Lanka's Killing Fields by Channel 4. Viewer discretion is advised as the footages shown are raw, violent and often grotesque. You need a very tight gut and brave heart to sit  through the terrible scenes that have been caught on camera. The accounts of systematic brutal attacks on hospitals and civilian settlements makes one feel like the so called "tyrants" of the Middle East that the Security council is happily declaring war on are Messiahs. Even the UN officials who were forced to leave express their views that it was a deliberate move by the govt to have no international witnesses on the ground for what was to come.

It makes me wonder, how a proactive organization like the Security Council can crackdown on minor ethnic oppression in the middle east countries while turning a blind eye to the almost Nazi-style ethnic cleansing in Lanka. Well, the way I see it, the dynamics of oil rich countries is different from that of an island nation whose support can help countries gain footholds, both economic and military over the entire Indian Ocean. And that is not a small factor at all. Shipping line supremacy is a very very big factor for every economical  power and having military presence is absolutely necessary to balance power against the rising dragon.

But unfortunately, all this happens at the cost of millions of innocent civilians and the Indian political and bureaucratic paraphernalia got entangled with this conflict in all wrong manners. The Tamil population has bled itself and is at logger heads with the centre over this issue. Also the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi added so much masala into the landscape of Indian politics that essentially took away the ruling class from the common man. Traditionally, being slow at making right judgements, the Indian bureaucracy presents sitting ducks for the hostilities this quarter century long episode has generated within and around its national borders. 

The issue is very complex and I am no expert on the topic to write any further. Refer the follow links for substantial reports, books, articles by international news desks,supporters for both sides and so on..
Genocide Watch
Reports without Borders
Wiki: War Crimes in Sri Lanka
War without Witness
Official website of the LTTE
South Asia Terrorism Portal(SATP)
Human Rights Watch - Sri Lanka

Pray for peace...

1 comment:

  1. I had read a book called Anil's Ghost which is fictional and covers some of this from a different perspective. After clicking through some of the links is when I am getting a picture of the horrors of what was happening just a stone's throw away from Kerala.'s_Ghost